BY ARTHUR CHIGUMADZI: My first fully formed gaming-related memories stem from the occasional dabble in the early PES games and Mario Sunshine. They are all fond memories, sure, but ones that don’t mean as much as the first game that I played from start to finish. That game is Resident Evil 5.
With Resident Evil 5 being the first Resident Evil game I’d played, I went in with no expectations. I had no previous experience with the franchise’s characters or major plot points, so I was able to enjoy Resident Evil 5 for what it was rather than what those who had followed the series from the beginning expected it to be.
I had no problems with the over the top boulder punching action; I actually loved it – experiencing a game with that level of spectacle was a completely new experience for me and even now outside of the Uncharted, Call of Duty and God of War games, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something similar. It received a rocky reception from fans who were expecting a survival-horror game in line with the originals, but for those with an appetite for action, it delivered.
The adventure began almost immediately with Chris helicopter-ing (yes, thats a word now) into an African village meeting up with Sheva, a local B.S.A.A operative to begin investigating the “weird” events that had been reported in the area. You walk around for a while on your way to locate a local weapons supplier and that’s all there is for an introduction. Welcome to Resident Evil 5. Strap in. Here we go.
The game explodes into life as you witness a public execution and a horde of Majini (the in-game name for zombies) attack you alongside a massive tank-like executioner Majini, beginning the most frenetic and confused coming-to-grips-with-a-game’s-mechanics moment of any game ever – and all this is less than 10 minutes into the game!
I won’t dive into specifics concerning the Uroboros virus, Albert Wesker and “AVA” to avoid spoilers if anyone hasn’t played it but it maintains what I’ve come to realise is a series tradition in having enemies transform into gross multi-story gooey flesh monsters.
There’s never been an overabundance of story in the Resident Evil games and what is there has always served to tell an interesting while sometimes hilarious story centred around the Umbrella Corporation, its experiments, the group of people that fought against it and its bioweapons/abominations, so without ruining the plot there is a fair amount of story content to get involved in should you desire that.
Thematically, Resident Evil 5 has similarities to its predecessors including ideas such as corporate exploitation of the vulnerable African villagers by using them as test subjects for a virus (they disguise this by pretending to offer vaccines against dangerous diseases). Annihilistic anarchism and hubris portrayed by the main antagonist, greed and unchecked wanton empowerment all resonate through the story of Resident Evil 5. This is difficult to pick up on usually because major story elements are hidden behind time random notes that are hidden around the world that players may or may not stumble across and may or may not read even if they do, which is a shame as it enriches the narrative told by the game tenfold.
Resident Evil 5 also marks the first appearance of tank Chris who seemingly gobbled up multiple of Resident Evil 1’s scrawnier version of the character and appeared as a professional bicep model. This alone exploded the internet and his subsequent muscular downgrade in later games was so maligned the developers returned to the hulky design from Resident Evil 5 for Resident Evil Village.
The most entertaining aspect of the game though has to be big baddie Albert Wesker. Biologically enhanced soldier Wesker absolutely takes over any scene he is in due to his character gravitas alone. This is surprising especially because his look was basically designed using generic villain cliches like a long coat and sunglasses and his dialogue was laughable but his delivery and general presence is what stood out most. While he went one spouting nonsense about separating the wheat from the chaff and his survival of the fittest philosophy, the player sits enraptured by this morally reprehensible character yet can’t help but root for him. World destruction wouldn’t be as bad if he did it, would it??
Lastly, there’s the integral side character of Sheva Alomar, arguably the most badass NPC companion character other than Elizabeth from Bioshock. All she can do is save your life, but what more could you want?
In a bit of a jam? She’s there. Out of ammo? Open her inventory and take hers. Getting mauled by a zombie? She’ll superkick them off of you. Oh, did you forget to smash crates and/or pick up items? She’ll pick them up for you. Need a first aid spray? She’s got one and will use it on you – although she might be a little too loot crazy and begins smashing crates before all the enemies are dead, but nobody’s perfect right?
In conclusion, Resident Evil 5 is a must-play, even 12 years after release. You owe it to yourself to experience the campaign, which can be enjoyed in co-op as well, which is an added bonus.
P.S. Resident Evil 5 is also way better than Resident Evil 2, 4 and 7. And, yes, I will die on that hill!!