With the launch of the Playstation 3, many fans were anxious to see how their favorite PS2 games would fare on a next-gen console, myself included. The PS2 is one of the greatest video game systems ever, producing countless quality games across different genres. Seeing a sequel to a personal favorite game leaves one with anticipation and hype, and companies spend years crafting sequels to make that "next-gen leap".
Enter Capcom, creator of complete awesomeness like Viewtiful Joe, Godhand, Devil May Cry, Street Fighter, and yes, Resident Evil. Capcom had quite the legacy to live up to; RE4 was a masterpiece. A huge commercial success and winner of many GOTY awards, Resident Evil 4 took a stale, tired series and made it arguably better than its ever been. Resident Evil 5, released in March 2009, was a "success"(it sold millions of copies and got mostly good reviews). Unfortunately, it was nowhere near as good as RE4(and here's why!).
10. RE5 DOESN'T HAVE THE MERCHANT!
Leon does a lot of shooting in RE4, so he's gonna need a shop, and that shop is The Merchant. Throughout the game, usually at save points, The Merchant will be standing by his trademark blue lights, ready to get to business. You can sell weapons/treasures/items, buy weapons/gear/first aid spray/maps/etc, and upgrade your weapons(at a fair price, of course!). While you browse the menus, he regularly spouts his trademark lines that every RE4 fan have burned in their heads: "What r ya buyin'?" "What are ya sellin'?" "Is that all, stranger?". Don't get the smart idea to shoot him and steal his stuff; you do that, and he'll never be in that spot again! Even if you shoot him in the toe, its insta-death! Its the Merchant, with his memorable catchphrases, funny accent, and the ability to be ANYWHERE(even at the bottom of a pit full of spikes and dead bodies!), who made shopping a fun activity.
RE5 ditches this, instead having a plain boring shop being available at the end of each level. Sure, it basically serves the same function as the Merchant, but having some dull, automated shop thats only available at the end of the level really robbed the fun from the Merchant and his antics, and makes the world of RE5 seem smaller and less interconnected. In my book, the Merchant can "come back any time".
9. RE4 HAS A BETTER OPENING SCENE!
I stare through my binoculars and see one of the cops from earlier has been killed. I try to avoid the scene and move to the left, behind the houses. A woman is tending to some hay. As I approach, she turns and looks over her shoulder at me. She screams and stabs me with her pitchfork. I shoot her in the shoulder twice, then in the head, finally delivering a kick that shatters her skull, sending blood flying everywhere. A guy on the roof throws an ax at me that I narrowly dodge. I make my way to the middle of the village, fighting my way through the various townfolk. My health in the yellow, I manage to trigger a cutscene by entering a two-story house, showing the villagers preparing to invade and someone revving a chainsaw. Pushing the dresser in front of the door, I race upstairs to find a shotgun. Yes! No zombie can stand up this! I jump out of the window, ignore that buzzing noise and start blowing through groups of people. I'm invincible! That buzzing noise gets louder and louder, to the point where I feel like its on top of me. I do a 180 andHOLYSHITMYHEADJUSTGOTSAWEDOFFHOLYFUCKINGSHIT.
I then spent the better part of the next hour repeating the Village opening scene, and I know I'm not alone in admiring it. Resident Evil 4 introduces the gamer to the tension of battle, the fear of death around any corner, that no house is safe for long, that despite your weapons you can still get completely OWNED if you're not on the ball. Its a great opening set piece that really sets the tone of the game, as an action-packed ride of awesome that can be stopped by one sole Ganado or bad strategy.
RE5 tries to duplicate this opening, to little success. The insane, bewildered looks of the Majin are definitely scary, but they lack the "common folk turned crazy" persona that the villagers had. The area you fight in is smaller than the village and incredibly bright, destroying any sense of tension as you move around the level. The come-out-of-nowhere, HOLYSHITAAAAHHH chainsaw-wielding Dr. Salvador was replaced with the Executioner, who while certainly menacing looking, is also very slow and deliberate with his actions. The fact that he and his attacks are plain as day makes him lose all the terror Dr. Salvador and his fast insta-death attack had. RE5 misinterpreted the things that made the Village opening great, and squanders its potential. Sadly this is a theme that will repeat quite a bit.
8. RE4 HAS A BETTER MERCENARIES MODE!
In RE4/5, Mercenaries is a fun extra mode unlocked after beating the game. It allows the player to choose different characters(all with their own melees, speed, and weapons) and go through select, closed off areas of the game and get as many points as possible. Combo streaks, bonus time and extra time are the keys to victory, and the score is ranked from 1-to-5 stars. Its a brilliant, addictive mode that some players play more than the actual main game, and naturally, RE4 does it better.
For one, it has better characters. HUNK, big fan favorite of RE minigames, is not the strongest guy in the world. However, his insta-death "Necksnapper" melee attack and plentiful ammo make him a high scoring machine. Krauser is a complete monster, and I don't just mean that "Kill everything it touches" super attack of his. His melee roundhouse is incredible with great range, his Rambo-style arrows are powerful, his flash grenades plentiful, and he even has a very useful knife. And I can't forget Wesker, who has this awesome Thrust Punch and a great selection of weapons. Besides Wesker, RE5's cast just pales in comparison(although it now has Barry Burton, so perhaps its up to snuff now).
Another thing that annoys me is that everyone gets the same theme music. RE4 had individual themes for every character, including the totally kick-ass theme for Wesker. In RE5, its the one generic song for EVERY character on EVERY level. Ugh.
7. RE4 HAS BETTER DEATHS!
Resident Evil 4 can be a challenging game. There's a large variety of zombies, monsters, religious zealots, and crazy truck drivers just waiting to end Leon's journey prematurely, each with their own way of doing it. This leads to a variety of death animations Capcom has put into the game, and boy is there a lot of them. So much so, many players would purposely die just to see how Leon is gonna get owned by a new particular enemy(poor guy). Seriously, the amount of death scenes in this game are amazing! Here's 9 minutes worth of them!
Here's a comparison video with RE5's deaths:
Now, to be fair, RE5 does have a few cool ones(the mutant dog biting your head off, Wesker twisting Chris neck in mid-air, and the body get bitten in half are awesome!), but I can't shake the feeling that they've been neutered and toned down. When Leon gets impaled in RE4, you can clearly see the giant claws through his head. When Sheva gets impaled by Wesker near the end, he lifts her body so the death is off-screen. WTF? In RE4, Leon's head goes flying off a dozen different ways. In RE5, the head only comes off with the chainsaw(not even the giant Executioner blade can do it :/) and the kill is once again off-screen! No Chris or Sheva head sent flying with blood going everywhere!
This is a M-rated game Capcom! Why would you tone down the awesome deaths of RE4!? Seeing Leon get grabbed and spikes being impaled through his whole body by a Regenerator was my personal favorite death in RE4, and RE5 doesn't have any that come close.
6. RE4 HAS A BETTER STORY!
Note I didn't say "plot", but RE4 is better in that area too. When I say "story", I mean the plot, the characters, the storytelling, all those things that form the narrative. Resident Evil 4 doesn't ditch its B-movie roots, but it does it with flair, style, and(for the first time in a RE game) good voice acting. Leon is an endearing action hero, with all his cheesy one-liners("Saddler, you're small time." "Where'd everybody go, bingo?"). Luis is a charming companion who trying to right the wrongs he has set in motion. Salazar is the annoying little snake in the grass who gets more and more irritated by Leon's constant escape of death. The game is filled with lots of great characters, and seeing them interact is a treat. Even better, there's MGS-style codecs, where Leon trades barbs with Salazar/Saddler, ever increasing the tension and connection the player has to these villains and the desire to take them down.
In RE5, damn near every line is so generic. 90% of Chris' lines are about "keep moving", "Let's go", "We gotta stop him!" "Jill!". RE4's Leon is a character you could come to admire by his personality and attitude, and I have a hard time thinking anybody felt the same way about Chris Redfield from RE5. All the player gets to know about Sheva is that she is in the military and she learned everything from Josh Stone, and all the player knows about Josh is that HE is the military and he considers Sheva the little sister of the team. There's no memorable lines, interesting personality traits, or strong characters to be found in the game. Well, on the whole anyway; there is ONE person who rises above the rest, but we'll get to that later.
RE5's actual story is very weak as well. Through most of the game, the player doesn't really know what the heck they're trying to do. They're fighting zombies and they're appearently going after Irving, and that's about it. Its not until 2/3rds through the game does Wesker make himself known and the player is actually aware of who the antagonist is. There's no codec scenes with Chris verbally facing off with Irving or Wesker, and they both rely on odd flashback cutscenes to provide interesting traits(or in Irving case, not at all). RE4 had several big bads, each with their own awesomeness through the story. Mendez, Salazar, Krauser, and Saddler himself all make their own impression, and are unique adversaries throughout the game; something that RE5 fails to duplicate.
5. RE4 DOESN'T HAVE SHEVA!
Sheva is a zero-personality, completely stupid bitch who is responsible for many a game over for single player campaigns. Its not unusual for her to walk straight into enemy fire, use up all the health items, and then not come save you when you're dying. It's made even worse that she doesn't matter in the plot one iota. This is clearly Chris' story, as the two most important characters in the end, Wesker and Jill, are clearly focused on him. Taking Sheva out of the story would lose no significance whatsoever(except Josh would be even MORE generic, somehow). She's a complete waste of space, an irritating object players have to look out for in single player, and is duller than watching paint dry.
"But wait!" some D-Toid commenter thinks, "What about Ashley in RE4? Wasn't she annoying and something the player has to look after?" Yes she was, but she is definitely the lesser of the two evils. There aren't any boss fights in RE4 where I need her help or she'll stand right next to the deadly instant kill attack. She's not even with Leon for most of the game, and the player controls whether she stands still or follows behind him. Its your own fault if you allow her to be killed or captured, wheres its not unlike Sheva to rush ahead on her own and get hurt like a complete dumbass. Plus, Ashley actually has a personality, the scared little girl who wants to get the hell of this place. She can be a bit of pain, but it works as a good challenge and never hinders the gameplay. Sheva, on the other hand, needs to go die in a fire as soon as possible.
4. RE4 HAS ACTUAL TENSION AND HORROR!
Some RE fans have claimed that RE4 has turned their beloved series into an action game, forgetting the roots of the series to try and appeal to the mainstream. On the contrary, RE4 takes the best of both survival horror and action games and fuses them for remarkable results. From the beginning scene of the Village to scrambling around from the final boss, the player is constantly on edge, knowing that he has to be aware of everything or be quickly killed. This is aided by a wonderful atmosphere throughout the game. RE4 has a variety of locations, but the lighting, aesthetic details, ambient music, and dark tone always provide the sense of dread that drives the earlier RE games. Not to mention its actually, legitimately scary at times, like the SURPRISE flaming guy who bursts out of the oven, or the creepy as hell Regenerators stumbling and crawling their way towards Leon to kill him. Best of all, the game is challenging. Its not unlikely to be run low on ammo and health pick-ups, and have to rethink your strategy and scurry around for herbs. Its a new kind of "survival horror", one that ups the ante in terms of action and weaponry, but doesn't lose the feeling of "Holy shit I just beat that thing with two shotgun shells left and my health in the red aw yeah!".
RE5, on the other hand, goes completely overboard into action movie territory. Bright, sunny locales, constant explosions, and craploads of ammo seriously undermine the "survival horror" Resident Evil was suppose to stand for. I seriously used these two machine guns the ENTIRE GAME, with the occasional shotgun for boss fights and tougher opponents. I was never really in much danger, especially with my partner who could magically heal you when you're near death(which doesn't happen very often). Chris is a hulking, steroid machine who guzzles four dozen eggs and punches boulders for breakfast, he's never in any danger or barely gets by adversaries by the skin of his teeth like Leon. RE5 is the game that RE4 complainers should be bitching about disregarding the series' genre and origins.
3. RE4 HAS BETTER LEVEL DESIGN!
RE4 has a variety of great set pieces throughout its gametime. The village, the house defense with Luis, the minecart racing, the truck defense, the jetski escape, the first encounter with Iron Maidens, Regenerators, kicking giant bugs in the face, finding your way through the garden maze, "Hey its that dog!", doing the Matrix on some lasers, having a helicopter provide back-up on your assault on the enemy base(the pilot has more character than pretty much everybody in RE5, in about 15 minutes of screen time), avoiding giant dragon fire, there's even an Ashley level! Like Half-Life 2 before it, RE4 is a game that spent many years in the making, filled with incredible imagination and crazy ideas, throwing one cool set piece after another at the player for the entirety of the almost 20 hour game length.
RE5 isn't even HALF the length of RE4, and doesn't have nearly as many great memorable scenes. Most of the game revolves around getting this item for that door, shooting people in the face, and moving forward to the next area. For "variety", RE5 is contend with settling on the occasional "hold this lantern while I shoot" scene(which SUCKS with computer AI/stupid partners), or dull on-rails shooter sections. The one chapter where RE5 tries to match up with RE4 is in Chapter 4. This "Temple of Doom" style area has a variety of things that take the core gameplay and put interesting twists on them. Deadly lasers from the sun, guiding light around the room, pulling switches around giant ruins, avoiding giant balls of fire, and running from falling statues. However, at its best, they're only up to par with some of RE4's "B-tier" of set pieces, like the giant Salazar statue scene or guiding the light to get through the first big door on the Island. Doesn't help that right after this chapter, its back to the whiz-bang-bore of the majority of RE5.
2. RE4 HAS BETTER BOSS FIGHTS!
RE4 has an incredible group of boss encounters; I'm talking Treasure game quality here. Dozens of tough, creative encounters that test the player's survival skills. Who could forget the first time fighting Del Lago pictured above? Its a gimmicky boss, but its a great one, where you need to steer out of the way of debris and Lago himself, or you'll have to frantically swim your way to safety. The first encounter with El Gigante is intimidating, but hopefully "that dog!" you saved from earlier in the game will be there to help you out! U-3(the boss pictured on number 4) requires a variety of backflipping QTE skills, quick thinking, and utilizing the environment to help with the battle. Two Gigantes is unfair, so you can zipline down to a switch and throw one of them into a giant pit of lava. From beginning to end, RE4's boss fights provide entertaining gameplay sections that challenge the gamer in variety of ways. And, when theres a rare boss fight that ISN'T that great(I'm looking at you, tedious boss fight with Salazar), you can just buy a rocket launcher for 30,000 gold and blow them away! I think every game should have a costly but effective "skip crappy fight" weapon ^_^
Of course if you did that in RE5, you'd be skipping pretty much every single one. Every boss fight in RE5 relies on some sort of gimmick, whether it be getting this ugly unimaginative monster trapped in the room of fire, or using a flamethrower to kill the same bigger ugly unimaginative monster, or slowly waiting for the laser to load so you can kill the even bigger ugly unimaginative monster. They're not interesting, they certainly aren't scary, and just aren't any fun. There's one guy who stops the game from being completely mediocre, but even he doesn't have shit on the number one reason.
1. RE4 HAS JACK MOTHAFUCKIN' KRAUSER!
Jack Krauser is the fucking MAN. He's the guy Rambo wishes he could be. He's a complete commando badass with a huge freakin' mutant arm that you do NOT want to mess with. As mentioned above, he's probably the best Mercenary character; an absolute beast who can destroy anything and everything. However, its in the main story where he really shines. Krauser is seen in cutscenes with Saddler and Ada, but not much is said about him, 'cept that he's appearently working for Wesker and he's pretty badass. He really comes into his own in his incredible two-part boss fight late in the game. The first half is the incredible knife fight he has with Leon. Instead of just being some cool scene, the game requires the player to press the right buttons half a dozen times through the fight. It keeps you on edge throughout the scene, making you watch Krauser closely so he doesn't slit your neck or catch you by surprise(there's also a "checkpoint" halfway through the scene, so if you screw up near the end you don't have to start all over again). When Krauser is about to kill Leon, the "bitch in the red dress" Ada shows up to bail him out. Krauser does this awesome fucking backflip like 20 feet in the air and leaves Leon with a message: "You may be able to prolong your life, but its not like you can escape your inevitable death, is it?"
A bit later, Leon meets a now shirtless, more manly Krauser in a huge area. Leon has to grab three insignias to open the next gate, with Krauser having the last one. As the player runs around trying to get these, Krauser is doing everything he can to prevent Leon from succeeding. He ambushes him from behind, licking his knife and requiring a QTE to avoid your neck being sliced. He gets up in your face, requiring you to dodge and counter his knife slashes. He "can see your every move", mocking you with machine gun fire from afar. There's even one part where he's perched on a roof as you move behind pillars to avoid his exploding arrows(eat your heart out, Rambo). Sometimes, when you're battling his little robots he spreads around the area or dodging his attacks, he'll jump up to a perch and ask you a question, which you can actually respond to. Its a fight littered with lots of cool moments, requiring the player to use a quick wit and a crapload of shotgun shells to fend Krauser off. After getting two insignias, Krauser sets the area to self-denote in 3 minutes, and you have to finish him and his now monstrous mutant arm off and escape in time. Luckily for us, Krauser is hilariously weak to knifes, so you can stand right next to him and slice him up.
But besides that embarrassingly easy finale, Krauser is completely amazing in every aspect, and beats the shit out of anything RE5 has to offer.
And just because he's so good, he deserves his own reason!
0. RE4 HAS LEON S. MOTHA FUCKIN' KENNEDY!
Leon has got to be one of the most likable characters in video game history. He has a great design, being a cross between DMC's Dante, Leonardo DiCaprio, and James Bond. He has a rather good voice actor in Paul Mercier, who delivers every line with skill, no matter how crazy it sounds. One of his best aspects is all his great, corny lines that somehow become good just because Leon said them.
Its some kinda of strange, Star Fox 64 effect, where lines that sound stupid have just the right kind of voice acting so they come out awesome and memorable. Leon has tapped into that intangible power source and uses it the whole way through. "Where's everyone going? Bingo?" "You're right hand comes off?" "Can't remember the name? A senior moment perhaps...". I mean when a regular person's comeback is "You're smalltime!" it sounds stupid. When Leon does it though,
But best of it, Leon just fucking kicks ass. His Chuck Norris roundhouse smashes people's heads, his suplexs are brain-shattering, his costumes(pictured above) are oh so stylish, he is able to quickly react and defeat hundreds of crazy ass monsters all by himself, and oh course THIS scene:
So Leon, now we're done here you wanna go play some RE5 with me?
THAT said, there is that one person that keeps RE5 decent, who saves the game from being complete garbage.
His name is Albert Wesker.
For one, he looks and talks exactly like David Bowie, so he's already amazing. He has the only memorable lines in the game, including the now infamous "COMPLETE GLOBAL SATURATION". He has the one almost-decent boss fight in the game when you first meet him("Seven minutes. Seven minutes is all I can spare to play with you"). He's incredibly awesome in Mercnaries, with his powerful Hydra shotgun, badass melees, and that great running dash-to-Tiger Knee move. Wesker takes RE5 and carries it on his back. Quite frankly, he deserved a better game.
Was it unrealistic to think RE5 could be as good as the complete masterpiece of RE4? Perhaps, but even RE5 fans will admit there's a large gulf in quality here, and all leads back to the reason they were developed. Resident Evil 4 was a game born out of a desire for innovation, re-invention, and pure imagination. Resident Evil 5 was a game born out of a desire to cash in on RE4's success, trying to make it "bigger and louder" but ended up being empty and dull. Its much shorter, much safer, much easier(and then harder for all the wrong reasons, thanks Sheva), much dumber, less scarier and fun that its predecessor. I hope that Capcom tries to do something really new with RE6, because it appears as if the series has run right back into the pit of tired gameplay mechanics that plagued the series pre-RE4.
Thank you for reading, and come back next week for the "Top ten reasons why DMC3 is SO much better than DMC4".