That’s not all that Resident Evil 5 has done to remove the horror from the game either; and make no mistake that the horror has been pretty much totally culled. The game still gets plenty tense at points, but it’s a different type of tension. It’s the buzz of mowing down swathes of enemies, not the drenching sense of unease that comes from actually being worried.
In most of the previews and lead-up to Resident Evil 5’s release a lot of worry was attributed to the fact that the new setting for the game is heavily populated and so well-lit that you can probably see the glow of us playing our copy from where you are. Pessimists sulked that this shattered the suspense, while optimists theorised that enemies would hide in the bloom rather than the shade.
They’re both wrong because, frankly, the over-saturated sunlight that pervades Resident Evil 5 like the smell of a too-excited fanboy is pretty much irrelevant to the fact that the scares have been shed.
Yes, enemies do use sunlight as cover and the stark contrast between in and outdoor areas can give foes room to surprise you. At the same time though, yes, it does remove a lot of ambience and it’s hard to be frightened in full daylight.
The sun isn’t the cause of the lack of scares though, it’s just a symptom of Capcom’s efforts to westernise the series – and it’s that design decision which really scares off the scares in Resident Evil 5. In fact, that suspected design decision is the root of the major problem with Resident Evil 5; that it’s clearly and definitely moved from the survival horror genre to the third person action one.
It’s not just the over-the-shoulder camera that causes this change either, just so we’re clear. Resident Evil 4 had an OTS camera, but it was still a scary survival horror game. It had limited ammo, weird and slightly lecherous merchants, gothic castles, an unfamiliar enemy and a sense of bleak isolation. You were a lone agent surrounded by Ganado hillbillies, reliant totally on a weird man in a cloak for your ammo and guns.
Resident Evil 5 doesn’t have any of these elements. Ammo is plentiful, you’ve got the full support of two separate assault teams, an ally who can fend for herself rather than being a constant liability and the strangely-placed castle filled with monsters has been swapped for an oil refinery.
In Resident Evil 5 you never feel alone or out of your comfort zone – your enemies have crossbows and machetes while you have numerous guns and the backing of an entire army! Plus, since your ally is equally equipped, enemies will even have a tough time sneaking up on you.
This entire argument can be easily summed up in one point though, which is to say that Resident Evil 5 has turret sections, OK? It has whole sections of the game where you and Sheva man turrets with unlimited ammo on the back of a Humvee racing through the desert, gunning down men on motorbikes with scythes and sickles. Even worse, it then gives you quicktime events whenever the car has to corner hard – Press X not to be thrown from the car.
Capcom, if you’re listening, don’t take all this too much to heart though. Resident Evil 5 is, no matter how bitter we sound, still a great game – but it’s worth hammering home that this is a shooter and not a horror game for all those gamers who might be hoping otherwise.