For every video game that is released, there is a plethora of online reviews, both from professional game critics as well as your average everyday blogger. So I thought that rather than adding my general opinion of a video game to the mix, I’d try for something a little different with…
Resident Evil 5 – A Technical Review
I’d like to briefly review some of the more technical aspects of the XBox 360 version of Resident Evil 5, including video & audio quality, virtual camera work, and offline multi-player mode. So let’s get to it:
Like any game on XBox 360, Resident Evil 5 features resolutions up to full 1080p high-definition. But unlike many games where textures aren’t fully created or rendered at high resolutions, Resident Evil 5 features nothing but high quality visuals throughout the game. Every aspect of the game looks fantastic on my Samsung 1080p DLP HDTV. I won’t go as far as saying that it looks real, but I might be too frightened if it did. Instead the game features a pseudo-realistic visual style that is based on real-world textures, lighting, and physics, but still retains an overall polished video game feel.
What strikes me the most about Resident Evil 5′s visuals is the lighting. I’ve played too many games that use the same color scheme and overall ambient lighting no matter if the characters are inside a building or in the middle of the desert. Every location in Resident Evil 5 features a unique lighting profile, appropriately altering the overall colors and brightness. Inside dark caves, the lighting is often a soft blue/green with details fading into darkness. Outside, lighting shifts to a washed-out yellow/orange, emphasizing the heat in the game’s African setting.
The only visual item I dislike in Resident Evil 5 is the overly repeated use of a handful of enemy characters. It’s not uncommon for two or three enemies on the screen to look 100% identical to each other, with the same face, hair, skin color, and clothes. Every time that happens, it reminds me that I am playing a video game… though I suppose that may not be a bad thing.
Resident Evil 5 sounds like a well-mixed Hollywood film. No single sound overpowers another. Distant noises and words sound appropriately far away and nearby sounds are correctly placed within the 5.1 surround sound region. In other words, when this chainsaw guy (a Resident Evil staple) comes at you and you run away, just listen closely and you’ll hear him suddenly appear in your rear channels just before he ends your game. Good times.
For the first time in a Resident Evil game, Resident Evil 5 features co-op play, either with a computer-controlled second character or with a friend. While communication between characters isn’t as common or needed in this game as it is in first-person shooters, there is still some chatter that goes on between the main characters of Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar and it’s always very easy to hear what each one is saying, as long as they are within a realistic earshot of each other. Further away, words are appropriately muffled.
While I do think that the camera controls during Resident Evil 5′s gameplay could use a little work (spinning the camera around seems so slow – even with aiming speed turned to the fastest setting), that’s not what I’m going to review here. I’d like to mention that the virtual camera work featured throughout all of Resident Evil 5′s cutscenes is phenomenal. I don’t remember the last time I watched a video game cutscene and actually though the cinematography was great.
Many of the shots used in the cutscenes are creative, unique, and help to move the scene along. Action scenes feature a lot of Hollywood-style swooping helicopter shots as well as quick cuts between close-ups of people meeting their demise, explosions, or other exciting happenings. Dialogue scenes aren’t filled with the usual locked-off shots that plague so many video games but are shot with what feels like a handheld camera, walking along with the characters.
Even the mini-cutscenes that take place during “assist jumps” are fun to watch, with a combination of fast and slow-motion action. Nothing but well-framed shots all the way through the game.
Offline Multi-Player Mode
When I first heard that Resident Evil 5 would feature a secondary character helping players throughout the game, I thought it was a lame twist on what the RE series has always been. Then I learned that the secondary character could be played by another person, either remotely over the Internet or using a second controller on the same console. Resident Evil has never featured multi-player gameplay before, so I was excited about the prospect of blasting enemies with my wife (who’s a HUGE Resident Evil fan).
Of course, being an over-the-shoulder shooter, Resident Evil 5 couldn’t just throw another local offline player’s character into the same screen and have it controllable. Instead, they had to use split-screen, which inherently makes each player’s view considerably smaller than if they were playing in single-player or Internet co-op mode. I’ve never been a fan of split-screen gameplay, as it’s generally hard to see what’s going on in the game, so I was worried that Resident Evil 5 wouldn’t be very fun in this mode. I was dead wrong.
I’ve been playing Resident Evil 5 in two-player split-screen mode with my wife for a few days now and have loved every minute of it. It only takes a few seconds to get used to looking at what amounts to just 1/4 of the full HDTV display. Whenever the game switches to a cutscene, it jumps to full-screen mode and after staring at the smaller split-screen view for so long, the cutscenes seem even more dramatic this way.
Thankfully, Capcom decided to keep each of the two player views in a widescreen form, rather than simply vertically dividing the screen in half, which would effectively kill each player’s peripheral vision. Staggering the two views prevents players’ eyes from needlessly wandering to the other player’s screen. And as an added bonus, when mini-cutscenes do show up (such as the above-mentioned “assist jumps”), they’re displayed from two different angles on each of the smaller views, making for a fun cinematic moment.
While it is often difficult to see exactly where a gun is aiming in split-screen mode, it’s still a heck of a lot of fun to play. I wouldn’t recommend it for any screens smaller than 42″ however, as everything would simply be way too small to enjoy.
If you have an opinion on the more technical aspects of Resident Evil 5, comment!Tweet