The recent release of Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition made me remember: oh yeah, I played Resident Evil 5. That’s never a good sign.
Then it did.
I played it. I remain decidedly underwhelmed.
I played Resident Evil 5 with my significant other. I played as Chris Redfield, partly because I had a problem playing as the female sidekick to a supermacho dude. My boyfriend preferred a faster character with lighter weapons, and took up the controller as Sheva. This pleased us both, as it lent an extra layer of ridiculousness to the gender stereotypes present throughout the game. Particularly satisfying was the screaming option: “Sheva! HURRY!” or “CHRIIIS!”, amongst others, which amused both of us when we reached locked doors and could annoy the other until they arrived.
Oh, the gender stereotypes in this game. This is all from memory (the last time I played RE5 was summer ’09), but damn. The protagonist is a strong (‘roid-y sort of strong) male, the sidekick is a spaghetti-strap top wearing chick (on first playthrough; on subsequent occasions she’s wearing a bikini-inspired “outfit”), and the persistence of the talky female wears down the manly man enough to admit that he failed his first female partner and now she’s been kidnapped by the baddies or something. But then the two save the first female partner, who looks completely unrecognizable from previous games because she swapped her black bob out for a long blonde ponytail.
THAT’S supposed to be Jill Valentine?
Oh yeah—and the cleavage-y villainess Excella, who behaved provocatively to the male villain and was rewarded by being turned into a giant, ship-eating tentacle monster. Lovely.
Knowing me, this will sound surprising: the sex-stereotyping was the least of RE5’s problems. As a shooter, this game was not very challenging. This game was not scary. This game was, above all, tiresome and frustrating.
If I hadn’t had a partner to keep me going back, I would never have finished Resident Evil 5. The gameplay was very meh. Instead of being terrified—but exhilarated—to see what was around the next corner, the BF and I were fighting one another to have a decent amount of enemies to shoot first. The only parts that managed to get a scare out of either of us where when we went through a tunnel, where one player had to carry a lantern and the other one could shoot.
We played while drinking in order to suffer through the monotony, but several parts were just plain baffling, even while stone-cold sober. We ran around trying aimlessly to kill Wesker and evil-Jill for nearly a half-hour before realizing we couldn’t damage them during that stage. A helpful internet guide informed us that we just needed to SURVIVE for seven minutes during the first Wesker/Jill encounter. Thanks, helpful internet person! We ended it, and our game, by killing Jill nearly fifteen times before realizing we just needed to survive their attacks and save Jill with some bizarre button-pressing combination. Thanks! The final battle with Wesker was similar. Some attacks were clearly indicated by button prompts onscreen. Others? Not so much. Only thanks to internet-posting heroes were we able to finish the final battle and toast one another with the remains of our whiskeys.
Furthermore: no merchant. I missed that man and his promise of safety between harrowing parts of the game. Moreso, I missed those frightening parts of the game. Aside from a few parts (dark tunnels, running waste-deep in alligator-filled water) the game just wasn’t scary. I’m not judging the scariness from the co-op comfort of having someone by your side; Resident Evil 4 would have been plenty terrifying if my boyfriend could have played alongside me as Louis. The scares just weren’t there in RE5. Almost every time an enemy jumped out, I expected it. The Ouroboros tentacle-monsters just weren’t as awful as anything the Plagas infected, too. A giant bundle of tentacles was annoying, but hardly worth running away from and hiding.
At the game’s end, the boyfriend and I were so disappointed that we went back and (drunkenly, of course) replayed the entire thing on the highest difficulty level to see if it would scare us.
I’m still disappointed, though Chris Redfield’s zebra-striped, bleached-hair clubbin’ outfit somewhat ameliorated the pain of the second playthrough. Unlike either of Sheva’s bonus outfits (the first one of which was some sort of shiny bob wig metal-lamé club number, and the second of which was some horrifying faux Native American weirdness).
I adored Resident Evil 4 beyond the bounds of any defined love. Resident Evil 5, however, I’d avoid, unless I had a buddy to play it with and a few gallons of alcohol on a holiday weekend.
Disappointing, to say the least.