Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Resident Evil 5 - An exercise in adding realism

If any Horror Survival (HS) game has tried to advance it's own genre, it is Resident Evil.

For the longest time, each HS title has kept a locked camera perspective or a combat system that sucked beyond all get out.
Silent Hill, Alone in the Dark and the original RE's all had systems in place to make you wish that you could throw your controller out the window.
I cannot count how many times I have screamed at my screen as I died another cheap death.

Then RE4 came along. With a new angle for the camera (behind the shoulders) and a combat system that was more forgiving with tons of ammo and health all around. The control of how you lived or died was handed back to the player.
Throw in an RPG like system of upgrades and ability to buy the stuff you could not find...RE4 is truly a new age in HS gaming.
Thanks to RE4, we got Deadspace, which has proven that a Western influenced HS title can work, and quite well. Using the same formula of RPG style upgrades, better camera control, and less of the "cheap" deaths due to sneaks, etc., the genre is coming pretty far.
Silent Hill tried to fix their game with the last release, Homecoming, with full visual controls to allow you to see all around you, and combat that worked...most of the time.
Alone in the Dark also tried some new formulas (but still kept locked camera's, and the combat is slightly wonky to be almost buggy).

RE4 still wins hands down.

Now we have Resident Evil 5. In comparison, it holds a lot of the "in the moment" style of action like Deadspace. What this means is that you do not have a pause to get an item type of gameplay that most HS titles still cling to.

Released this week for XBL and PS3, the demo gives an idea of the hectic "OMG" moments that a real person would be dealing with as they try to survive being attacked by these new forms of "zombies".
And it has been frustrating as you play the demo.
For the player who is use to fast turns in 3rd person like Gears of is not here. Standardized controls like Left Trigger, Right Trigger, reloads, etc...not here.
RE5 went with it's own control scheme which can be frustrating, but also manageable if you PRACTICE.

This is what I had to do with RE4 and their unusual scheme. Same for RE5.

After several play throughs, I found one scheme that worked for me.

But, then comes the Inventory system. This is definitely something Deadspace did right.
In Deadspace you could assign weapons to slots. Then using the D-Pad, select weapons as needed (for instant switching). Then all of the "heals" could be put in one spot for instant access.
RE5, everything is wherever you put it, and you need to align items as you get them for easier access. That or be prepared to die horribly and many times.
The issue is the menu screen comes up with a press of the Y button (on the 360). Then you use DPad or the Analog stick to move to an item. Then hit A to bring up a menu to Equip, Give or Throw away that item.
So, basically, we have 3 steps...Y, A, A to open, select and equip.


Think of heals. Y to open the menu, find the item (lets say you picked up an herb earlier, and it just went into the menu, so you do not know where it will be), move to that item, hit A, "USE?"..YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS....hit A......OMG, I am dead!

Frustration ensues.

So, as I played, I experimented with some options.

A unique aspect to the game is the AI driven partner. In this game, your partner is not some whiny girl you have to save...nope, this is some badass mama (who is HOT also...yum), that can also be controlled by another player...
She is a good shot, and heals you when needed.

So started the test. I would give her specific ammo. So she got all the handgun ammo, except maybe one or two loads for me. I took all the machine gun and rifle ammo.
I then started to give her all the herbs (which you can take back at anytime you have a breather).

But, there is no doubt that as a healbot, she proved very effecient. As long as we stayed close, we were good.

Another aspect that you learn is using various "hotspots" to hold yourself in as you are taking out mobs. Like GoW, cover is important (though not used as well).
Several burned up and gutted buses proved to be life savers, as the mobs used the doorways to enter, funneling in single file for easy removal from my weapons.
Backing yourself into corners helped somewhat, yet also proved to be death tombs, so you had to be careful.
Tactically the game is actually proving to be fun after the intial "OMG these controls suck".

This game is definitely on the "MUST BUY" as we the family being RE fanatics, must have it. Even with the frustrations (which seems to be a keyword when you associate Horror Survival with gaming...) I think the gorgeous graphics, and tense world of this lastest outing will be awesome.

I am sure the main game will give you more time to learn the in's and out's first, as the demo really throws a TON of stuff at you...difficult for sure. But, satisfying when you beat the level.

Just gotta learn those controls...ARGH!


Scott said...

One of the demo reviews I read said our current demo is an older demo for the media and he was surprised it wasn't the newer demo which *does* have item hotslots like you're talking about. Although the CRAPTASTIC control is still there.

Ya know, if all these damn games look for a hdd/memcard to save our games why don't they let us remap the controls the way we want?

Openedge1 said...

Agreed. I was able to remap RE4 to my liking thanks to the configuration tool on the PC.
The controls are comfortable (not perfect as you still have some issues) but, I could hold the left button to aim, and hit X to shoot, which felt very comfortable.
Aiming sucked in RE4 though as you had a "jitter" effect to make it feel more realistic (have you tried to hold a shotgun and aim, and not move in the slightest?), and because of that jitter, it would go off target, but it works as you "upgrade" the weapon.
The aiming really is smooth in RE5, so that should alleviate some combat issues.
And thanks for the heads up on weapon slotting.
THANK GOD for that!