For those of you who don’t know it yet, I feel like it’s necessary to open with the following statement: Resident Evil 5 Remastered is not a definitive edition, nor is it an HD remaster. In fact, there have been practically no changes to anything in this release at all, no necessary problem fixing, no updated graphics, and no gameplay or mechanical tweaks whatsoever. The only addition to the game, apart from being bundled with all DLC as standard, is that it now runs at a pretty consistent 60 FPS and at glorious 1080p, and not a moment too soon either.
The process of re-releasing a game on the latest generation of consoles is something that we’ve been doing for ages, and it occurs in many different forms. Sometimes we remake them from the ground up, sometimes we release them with newer textures, features, and bug fixes, sometimes they’re bundled with other games of the same series, and sometimes they’re just…released again. Now, on the whole, there is nothing wrong with this practice, even if it can feel entirely unnecessary sometimes, but some of these releases have flat out refused to fix glaring issues with the games they’re re-releasing.
If you can’t tell where I’m going with this, there’s an issue with this game that really had me “hacked off” (plug!!, plug!!). The crux of this issue is that the PlayStation 4 version has a huge drawback when it comes to co-op play. On the PS3 you could only log in as a single user at a time, meaning that in Resi 5’s co-op mode the second player couldn’t buy upgrades or earn money and treasures, basically giving the second player a joke of a gaming experience akin to the ‘co-op’ of Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive. I can see no reasonable excuse why they couldn’t fix this glaring issue when getting the game ready for its PS4 release, since it is now possible for more than one player to log onto the console at a time. However, they didn’t, significantly limiting co-op’s appeal.
Anyway, with the co-op rant over, let’s get on with actually reviewing the game. At this point it almost feels like a formality to discuss it. This game has been out for seven years now, it’s not any different, the story has already been continued and entirely ruined by this point. Either way, the story concerns series staple Chris Redfield and newcomer Sheva Alomar attempting to stop the trading of a bio-weapon on the black market. Along the way they discover corporate intrigue, a conspiracy, and even an old friend of Chris’s.
The story really isn’t anything to write home about, it doesn’t have the batshit insanity of Resi 4 or the hilarious dialogue of the early titles (1-3), all it really has is a seriously grim monkey/human hybrid and a suspiciously English sounding African woman. At least, for the most part, the gameplay is pretty good.
So yeah, the game is still fun to play, and in fact I’ve played it through several times, usually with a friend in co-op mode. The gunplay is satisfying, and once you start upgrading the weapons, they do gain a decent amount of force as well, something that’s always nice to see in a progression system.
As you work through the linear stages, there’s plenty of exploring to be done in order to get your hands on the various collectable items you can find. There are BSAA emblems scattered throughout the world that you have to shoot, earning yourself points for special unlocks; there are treasures found in hidden places and earned by killing certain bosses or mini-bosses; and there are piles upon piles of gold lying in hidden places or just under piles of fruit (because, obviously).
Many people argue that Resident Evil 5 is where the series really lost its horror teeth and became a dull, generic action game. I would argue that, while it is true that Resi 5 isn’t scary, it’s still a good game. It just became a fun action game with horror theming, rather than a horror game per se.
In the later game, there are still moments of gameplay that create tension and anxiety, especially when Resi 5 begins to introduce torrents of special enemies like the giant insects that insta-kill you when they get too close. You also eventually have to deal with gun-wielding enemies, which can make some of the early game tactics useless, but they’re usually pretty easy to adapt to.
There are a lot of sections that up the tension in similar ways to the later enemies, places where you are separated from your partner, and you both have to survive as more and more enemies crowd around both of you. There are also sections where you’re both boxed in on all sides by minigun-wielding zombies and even areas where you have to shoot the right zombie in time, or you and your partner both die a brutal and gruesome death.
The only issue is that the game is really easy on the lower difficulty levels, and if you decide to play through it on easy mode first and then step up later, you’ll be so overpowered in the weapon department that it’ll be like you never left easy mode in the first place. Also, it’s far too easy to exploit the game to get infinite amounts of certain items like rocket launchers and some treasures.
By far the biggest gameplay sin Resi 5 commits is the inclusion of some sometimes frankly ridiculous quick time events. This problem is compounded by the fact that half the time you’re not expecting them to occur as the overly long cutscenes come to a protracted end, and you can end up dying and having to start the entire process again. Worse still is when you’re on your second playthrough and you’re skipping scenes; you press skip expecting more gameplay or the end of mission screen, and instead you have to quickly tap X or you get your nuts sawn off by a passing motorcycle zombie.
One final factor dragging down the gameplay is the friendly AI. As I said before, you can’t really get the full co-op experience on PS4 thanks to Capcom’s glaring oversight, meaning that you’re probably going to end up playing either online with a stranger or with the game’s built-in AI. The main problem with that idea is the fact that the AI is frankly terrible. It takes your moronic partner about 5 hours to decide to actually fire their gun after aiming, and they will do their best to either steal all of the ammo you need or just die at really awkward times so you have to repeat a difficult moment again. So you should remember that all the gameplay positives discussed above come with the caveat that they only really count if you’re playing co-op with a real, live human being.
The graphics are pretty much the same as they ever were, with basically no perceptible difference between the last gen and next gen versions, other than the framerate and resolution. The only real difference as far as I can see is that the newer version is ever so slightly darker than the older version is, but to see that I had to do a side by side comparison.
Visually therefore Resi 5 is the quintessential last gen game, with depressingly murky visuals and constant brownish/blackish towns that exist the entire time that you’re playing through the universe. Sometimes it’s a wonder that anyone in the universe can ever smile considering how grim absolutely every moment of this game actually feels.
Given this visual monotony, it’s unsurprising that Resi 5 also has one of the least memorable soundtracks in the entire series, a damning criticism given that this isn’t a series renowned for the high quality of its soundtracks. Overall, there’s something entirely unnoticeable about the music, it passes as if it was never there and it’s hard to shake the feeling that it’s trying to imperceptibly sneak by so that it doesn’t have to try too hard to impress anybody.
(Authors note: The score given to this port of Resident Evil 5 Remastered is partially due to a lack of crucial bug fixes that were required to make this game fully functional on a modern system. If these changes are patched later, the score may be altered to reflect this)
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Release Date: 28th June 2016