It has been roughly six months since Resident Evil 5 hit consoles, and it has been a long and enduring wait for many PC enthusiasts. Through various media outlets, we’ve heard tales of the grandeur the game possesses, but we’ve never been given the chance to appease our fingers to the delight of the PC version until now.
Now that the wait is over and the game is among us, how does it stack up? Does the legend live up to its hype, or is it another Resident Evil port gone horribly wrong? Inject the progenitor virus for further details.
If you’re not up to date on the latest events surrounding Resident Evil 5, allow me to fill you in. Chris Redfield has traded his S.T.A.R.S. role for a place among the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (B.S.A.A.) whose duty is to stop the spread of biological weapons. He is sent to Africa to investigate a possible threat where he is met by his new partner, Sheva Alomar. Through their investigation, they are confronted by friends and foes of each of their histories, and in the process, they unearth new information that extends beyond Umbrella’s misdoings.
Essentially, this is the same exact game ported from the PS3 and Xbox 360 except with a few tweaks here and there. One major change is players are now allowed to use the keyboard and mouse as opposed to being solely reliant on the controller.
What’s great about using this new desktop control method is that Chris and Sheva’s inventory is hot keyed to the corresponding number pad on a player’s keyboard. Instead of cycling through a long arsenal trying to pick the right weapon for the right situation or pulling up the armory in the midst of battle, players can simply hit a number and abracadabra! The weapon appears.
The drawback is that players have to coordinate a system or memorize which slot s/he placed the weapon in, and with so many weapons and very little space, one will find themselves punching numbers in hopes of pulling up the right item.
Similarly, the keyboard includes a quick turn button. This, single-handedly, is probably the one tool that saved me many times over. Rotating around or walking backwards is a sluggish movement, but tapping the quick turn keys quickly removes the player from immediate danger. It’s a nice touch that makes the experience a bit smoother.
Despite using the keyboard and mouse, the control schemes don’t feel as smooth as they could be, however. This is largely attributed to having to manage two players at once. While playing as either Chris or Sheva, the computer AI takes control of the other.
Often times, the AI will get in the way of your shots; if you go to crush barrels or crates, they’ll often times be hit by your knife swipes; or if you have to split up, the AI will send the character headstrong into battle. Similarly, it’s hard to manage the computer when it cycles through ammunition quite quickly. Also, players don’t have the ability to equip specific weapons on the computer; you can only give weapons to it and hope it equips the desired gun. On a game built around partnership, there are a lot of trust issues between the player and the computer.
Aside from being known as a survival horror genre, Resident Evil has built itself up as a series that had many fun little puzzles that players had to solve by exploring and thinking critically. More specifically, in Resident Evil 0, players controlled Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen simultaneously, and although it was daunting at times, much of the fun came from being able to switch between the two characters and play on their strengths to solve complex problems.
In RE5, it seems as though the differences between Chris and Sheva is nonexistent. You’re only given glimmers of time when the two break away from each other, and in those situations, it doesn’t matter who leads and who supports. Similarly, much of the puzzles feel as though they have a Prince of Persia: Sands of Time feel to it. Players have to run through a maze of obstacles to get from point A to point B, and in the middle of it are various zombies and monsters.
This allows for a constant forward momentum of action, as there will never be a dull moment in the game, but it’s a bit disheartening going from room to room blazing through a vast amount of ammunition only to have to do the process all over again.
Thanks to Windows Live, RE5 is able to support multiplayer. As far as joining a game with a random stranger, it can be a bit intimidating, as players don’t know each other, and their skills can vastly differ, but for the most part, it’s an extremely enjoyable experience. Picking and finding a game that caters toward a specific chapter can be a bit of a nuance. On the other hand, if you have a friend, the two of you can mow through the game together without any qualms about finding and picking random friends and levels.
As an added bonus, when you complete the game, PC players are allowed to choose one extra costume for Chris and Sheva. Chris’ road warrior outfit is pretty unattractive, but I have to admit, I’m very fond of Sheva’s business attire. It doesn’t add anything to the replay value, but it’s something nonetheless.
Similarly, in the mercenary side-game, a new mode is included called “No-Limit.” The mode pits you against mass amounts of zombies that prove to be quite challenging. Because there are so many zombies and monsters, it’s easier to chain kills together to get ridiculously high scores, as long as you can stay alive that is. The only drawback is that often times your frame rate will take a huge hit when there is so much animation occurring at one time.
While the framerate will take its hits, the game is visually top-notch. The drawback is that it requires a beast of a computer to get the full experience. I ran this game on a dual-core at 2.5 Ghz with 4GBs of ram on a Nvidia 9800, and I felt like my machine wasn’t enough to support this animal. I initially tried to run it through DirectX10, but that proved to be an intense slide show at times, so I had to tone it down to DX9. Even then, there was visual tearing, but it wasn’t enough to take away from the experience.
Also, what’s interesting about the game is that it’s one of few games that take advantage of Nvidia’s 3D vision. Unfortunately, I don’t have the gear to experience it, but if you do, it’ll add definition to both Chris and Sheva with a bit of depth that gives it that 3D visual vibe. It’s definitely a huge treat for the PC port.
In conclusion, while die-hard fans to the series will find the game a huge deviation from the originals, there is a lot of up-side to the game. There is never a dull moment, as players have to stay alert at all times; even when you’re sitting back watching a cut-scene, you have to be ready for anything.
It doesn’t compare to the GameCube’s remake/port of Resident Evil 1, but it definitely is a grade above Resident Evil 4’s port to the PC. Although the controls are still a bit sluggish and stiff, the visuals take huge leaps and bounds. And quite frankly, for any PC gamer, this is definitely a game worth having in your inventory.
RE5 goes to great lengths to deliver an extremely thought provoking and artistic story, as there are many themes and juxtaposing ideas to think about. That aside, the port delivers some of the best graphics ever seen on the PC if your machine can handle it.
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The game maintains a constant pace of action and excitement that will undoubtedly keep players glued to their seats. Although, managing two characters at once is a bit cumbersome, as the AI component will continually test your patience.
Much of the sound cues, music spikes, sound effects transfer well from the console to the PC. On a side note, occasionally quirky dialogue will pop up that will bring you back to the original RE days.
The game will take roughly 15 hours for one play through, but with side games, upgrades, unlockables, secrets, and multiplayer, gamers can easily invest another 20+ hours into it.
As a game, RE5 has its share of faults, but as a port, I have to say that this is one of the best games converted from console to PC I've ever seen.