Resident Evil 5 was an interesting game when it launched. As a follow up to Resident Evil 4, which till date holds its place as (one of) the best games in the series, Resident Evil 5 tried to up the ante in many ways. It addressed to the one complaint that many gamers had about the series – the lack of ammo. Unfortunately, that was the one thing that made the franchise so dear to the core audience as well. The game took an angle that did out you in a horrifying situation but made sure that you weren’t completely shortchanged when it came to providing the right firepower to deal with it. The result was a game that has its audience divided till date.
There are a lot of things that the game does right. Africa looks refreshingly new, not just for the series, but also for games in general that are guilty of using similar environments and set pieces. At the same time, it doesn’t cut away from its roots and frequently surprises you with some of the franchises legacy bosses and characters. Unfortunately, not much attention was paid to the story and it seems like a rejected script from a 90’s action movie.
The game is over 10 years old currently but thankfully it doesn’t easily show its age on the Switch. Its visuals are a lot sharper with better textures, and frankly I found it looking better than a lot of current crop of games on the Switch. It’s not exactly a port of the remastered edition that was launched on the PS4 and Xbox One, but it does have enough going for it to come across as an overall improved version, especially if you haven’t played the original. This is especially true when playing in the handheld mode where the graphics look even sharper on the small screen. Docked mode is not as impressive though and the sharp visuals take a dip towards blurry textures on the big screen. But that’s still a small cutback when you consider the advantages.
Speaking of which the Switch version does have a major advantage over the other console versions by associating the aiming mechanics to motion controls. Resident Evil 5’s controls have generally been on the sluggish side but with motion aiming, getting headshots was a breeze. I’ll have to admit this one addition made me enjoy the Switch version of the game a lot more than when I played the original version on the Xbox 360.
Another advantage that the Switch offers is that at any given point of time you can hand over the second Joy-Con to a friend to play the game in co-op – which is the way it was meant to be played in the first place. Having a human player control Sheva is definitely a lot more fun than the AI alternative. As an AI player, Sheva will often come in your way, require rescuing and be frivolous with healing and ammo. But at the same time, you can get her to fetch stuff for you, and she will come to your rescue any time the infected get the jump on you.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of Resident Evil 5 and perhaps also 6 is the series’ own legacy. As a standalone game, this is a really good horror-action game with interesting gameplay mechanics, and co-op play all the way through. It even looks pretty good on Nintendo’s handheld without performance hiccups. Though I have enjoyed the legacy Resident Evil games, I personally find the action refreshing. The first three games had tank controls and fixed camera angles, which are clearly not the way forward for any major franchise. Maybe it’s time to drop the baggage and give Resident Evil 5 another shot.