My first memory of Resident Evil was when I was around 13 years old, after purchasing Resident Evil 2 from a relatively shifty salesman at the local market who had previously sold me another game a week before, that didn’t work (thankfully, this one did). Admittedly I was probably a little young to be involved in a game that was heavily focused on a viral outbreak that transforms ordinary civilians into flesh munching cannibals, but with that minor oversight aside, the overwhelming sense of fear that consumed me as I emerged from the wreckage of the truck which was now fully engulfed in flames, and stepped into the abnormal and ravaged Raccoon City, was a terrifying delight. Every room I entered and subsequently exit felt like a huge achievement, to a point where I would shriek with delight at the fact I was still alive (just). It was my first experience with a game of a more mature nature, and it blew my impressionable young mind. But the series as a whole has been struggling of late, with every new iteration striding further and further away from the originals ideals and leaving many fans reeling and disjointed. Many believe that the series has lost touch with its terrifying roots, which the most common abuse directed towards Resident Evil 5, but was it really that out of touch?
Resident Evil was on the brink, the tired formula and gameplay where becoming painfully outdated, even by the time Resi 3 was released, and it took Capcom long enough to finally introduce the drastic alterations the series so desperately craved, and we were rewarded with Resident Evil 4. A darkly sinister game that captured the trepidations of the originals whilst incorporating a far more engaging way to navigate through the twisted world of Resi, a true classic by anyones standards. Resident Evil 5 offered much of the same, but failed to garner the same praise as the 4th, why? 3 of my main complaints when I first played the 5th were:
1. The surprising lack of terror.
2. The non-zombie ensemble.
3. The co-operative play.
But after a more recent play through I finally realised that none of these detract from the overall enjoyment, let me explain and address the previous gripes.
Yes, Resi 5 wasn’t the least bit scary, although those damn mutated bugs were unnerving, you never really felt unsettled enough to cower in fear behind your teddy bear (not that I ever did cough), but after so many incarnations, how can Capcom continue to scare fans who’ve seen it all before? How can they still include zombies? I mean where is the challenge in blasting round after round into shuffling, marauding, well, idiots, enemies needed to pose a challenge and zombies just didn’t. Ok, the Sheva dilemma. When I recall my first experience teaming up with Sheva Alomar all I remember is a haze of frustration and continuous expletives, and during a recent play through I found I was pleasantly surprised….at how accurate my vision was, she’s insanely irritating! *RANT ALERT* Because of course the obvious approach to defeat a giant deformed bat, is to continually fire rounds from your sidearm; yeah, that’ll work, how about using that shotgun I spent time/money customizing?!! *Rant Over* There is salvation however, in the form of co-op, yes it’s not as terrifying as battling hellish creatures on your own, but it is a darn site easier.
Sacrificing horror for a more action inspired approach will remain contentious, and will continue to divide and possibly alienate fans, but without these controversial modifications, Resident Evil probably wouldn’t be here. I’ll admit that when it comes to Resi that I’m a purist, in the sense that the series needs to be more apprehension focused, but don’t dismiss Resident Evil 5, because despite its obvious annoyances, there is still satisfaction to be had with these new nightmares.