I have to be honest; I only really began to like Resident Evil 5 after I played through the campaign again in co-op and began to really play The Mercenaries minigame. While it seemed like I enjoyed the game throughout in the VGJ, after I beat the game, I felt it was strangely lackluster. This is one game that must be played in co-op to be fully enjoyed.
But why is it lackluster? Well, I find lackluster things hard to pin down sometimes, and I could try to give a longer and more detailed explanation, but I think that the main issue here is that the game tries to be both too much like Resident Evil 4 and like other games that were influenced by it, like Gears of War. It’s too hard to make lightning strike twice like that. For better or worse, Resident Evil 6 shakes things up a bit, at least.
When I played through the game in co-op and started playing The Mercs, I found myself feeling that I was truly playing through the game for the first time the way it was meant to be played. I noticed how incredible some of the cinematography and choreography of the cutscenes were, and I realized how awesome Wesker truly is, mainly due to DC Douglas’ portrayal of him. Overnight, Wesker became one of my favorite villains, if not characters, overall. His strength and uncompromising will leave quite an impression. He’s just a cool character.
The VGJ itself is kind of average. I skipped a lot of stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t on another playthrough, like some of Sheva’s backstory, and Excella’s innuendos towards Wesker (“Oh, I have my eye on something much bigger.”). I also skipped The Mercs.
My final thoughts on the topics that interest me the most:
I find it interesting to compare Chris’ characterization to how he is in Resident Evil 6, but I will wait until we get to that point. I have some… issues with him there.
Sheva Alomar is an average character IMO. She’s just fine, but doesn’t quite stand out enough amongst the other Resident Evil characters. I would say that this is because she doesn’t have a “quirk” unique to her, like Jill being the Master of Unlocking, or Leon having girl problems, or Barry… being Barry. She’s a little too “normal”. From a design standpoint, she’s beautiful, but that doesn’t compromise her agency as a BSAA agent. Her backstory is actually very sympathetic, but it’s buried deep within one of the game’s files in the Library menu. It would have been better if they had brought it up naturally over the course of the game itself; though some may have had little patience for her explaining her backstory, others would have appreciated the extra characterization.
One thing that I was shocked by was my skepticism of Jill in the game. I don’t remember it ever crossing my mind that she could have been brainwashed. I regret doubting her so much.
The graphics have aged quite well. The game is clean and detailed. I think that I prefer this cleaner look to the grittier graphics of RE6. However, RE5 subscribes to the “Real Is Brown” trope, making for a game with very flat colors outside of maybe the volcanic area where you fight Wesker at the end. I remember RE6 being more colorful.
There are some good tracks here and there, especially The Mercs’ theme, but the music doesn’t stand out that much to me.
I would argue that RE5 has the greatest incarnation of The Mercs that has ever been in RE. It becomes insanely addictive to play around on the maps, learning their ins and outs, as well as how well the different characters fight and play.
The map that I remember the most is the Experimental Facility, which has short platforms for you to stand on. A savvy player can use these to keep the military majini and Licker-βs at bay, and rack up a ton of points. The points that you get for surviving can be used to unlock new bonus features like costumes.
My favorite character to use in The Mercs is Sheva (Tribal) (we’ll be getting to that in a moment), because of her weapons. She has a bow with infinite arrows that one-shots most enemies, and a Grenade Launcher with Freeze Rounds which can freeze a group of enemies solid. You can melee them for extra points and five extra seconds of bonus time.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how amusing some of Wesker’s dialog is in The Mercs, with some wonderfully arrogant lines: “It was in your best interest to assist me!” “I suppose I should thank you.” “Your assistance is required!” “How is this possible?!” ❤
The Racial Aspects
I do not think that RE5 has as many unfortunate implications as many feared it would with its African setting, but that doesn’t mean there are none. Capcom did add some non-black enemies, and gave Chris two African partners (Sheva and Josh), but then there’s the Ndipaya tribal enemies. Capcom shot themselves in the foot pretty well with this segment where you have to fight Plagas-infected tribal warriors (the Plagas is a creepy and cruel parasite that controls people and gives in infectees a hivemind brainwashing). This is the part of the game that made me the most uncomfortable because it’s such a stereotype, to have “savages” attack you.
As stated earlier, Sheva has a tribal costume as well. But she’s one of the protagonists, so it doesn’t seem like the game is demonizing tribespeople or exploiting tired, old stereotypes.
Surprisingly, a lot, despite the game’s divisive reception. The Wesker/Redfield feud continued in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and its updated rerelease, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, with faithfully recreated moves and a gorgeous celshaded style. Jill in her catsuit was also a DLC character.
Wesker made his formal appearance in the movies in Resident Evil: Extinction, and he also appeared in the next two movies. Jason O’Mara’s DC Douglas imitation in the last two is one of the more entertaining aspects of these later movies. Afterlife also used the ax-wielding majini from RE5, and featured Chris. The stinger of the movie showed Jill in her brainwashed, Umbrella-serving form. In Retribution, Jill comes back and Alice has to rescue her from her brainwashing to make her remember which side she’s on.
Then there’s RE6, which features Chris yet again, and Jake Muller, Wesker’s long-lost son. Their interaction is one of the more interesting parts of the game’s story.
Finally, Wesker makes his triumphant return… in the Raid Mode of Resident Evil Revelations 2.
Well, that’s all the RE in me for now. Next up, we have… a horror game sequel that, while not too bad, still makes me shake my head a bit. I’ll see you in the next VGJ.