The runaway success of Resident Evil 4 meant that all eyes were on the follow-up, which was scheduled to be released on next-generation consoles. With the new, improved technology available, this sequel was eagerly anticipated by the public who were waiting to see how the Resident Evil franchise would continue after the complete change of style seen in Resident Evil 4.
RESIDENT EVIL 5 – 2009
Originally announced in 2005 alongside it’s predecessor, Resident Evil 5 had a year of its development devoted to its story, gameplay and concepts being planned out. Jun Takeuchi, director of Onimusha and producer of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition was named as the game’s producer. The gameplay introduced in Resident Evil 4 would be retained, whilst themes from the original Resident Evil games would return. This was enhanced by a number of developmental staff working on the game having also worked on the original game in the series, Resident Evil. One major style difference was the lighting, with Resident Evil 5 being set mostly during the day. The bright sunlight and heavily lit areas were in contrast with previous games, which were set almost always at night. The new technology available to the development team influenced this decision, as it was possible to create more diverse lighting due to the advanced graphics capability. The idea of surviving in daylight was also influenced by movies such as 28 Days Later, which had large section set during the day. Takeuchi stated that movies such as this showed that horror could be created without darkness, and also that the idea of being in a well-lit area would no longer be seen as safe to the player, putting them on edge throughout the experience.
Another key change to the gameplay was the inclusion of a co-operative mode. initially the idea of adding a second player to the game was not a popular one, as the prospect of having a partner alongside you throughout the game was thought to dampen the tension and suspense. However, the team soon realized that the tension could in fact be heightened in situations were the players were separated, and one needed help in a timed situation. Two players were originally intended for Resident Evil, but technological problems prevented this, and the idea had been abandoned until now. The popularity of online multiplayer was also a large influence on the inclusion of a co-op mode.
A trailer for Resident Evil 5 was released at E3 in 2007, with details of the game published shortly afterwards. Chris Redfield was announced as the returning protagonist after starring in Resident Evil and Resident Evil Code: Veronica, alongside a new character to the series, B.S.A.A. operative Sheva Alomar. The game was to be set in Africa, showcasing the artistic decision to set the game outside in the blistering sunshine. This setting would generate some controversy when the early trailers were released, as they featured a white protagonist being attacked by a largely black crowd of enemies, and Sheva’s inclusion was accused of being a way for Capcom to try to counter the allegations of racism. However, not all of the enemies were black, and the fact that the game is set in rural Africa meant that it should be no surprise that the majority of characters would indeed be black. A number of allies to Chris and Sheva were also African, whilst the main antagonists of the game were all white. Therefore, allegations of racism were likely an early knee-jerk reaction to the imagery seen in the trailer, which was intended to give off a Black Hawk Down vibe, which was another major influence to the game.
Set five years after the events of Resident Evil 4, Chris Redfield arrives in a remote village in Africa to meet up with his new partner Sheva Alomar. They are on a mission for the B.S.A.A. to stop a man called Irving from selling a new BOW on the Black Market. As they begin their mission, they discover the villagers have been infected with parasites similar to the ones seen in Resident Evil 4. Chris is also dealing with the loss of his former partner, Jill Valentine, who is presumed dead after an encounter with Albert Wesker. After Irving injects himself with the Las Plagas parasite, Chris and Sheva defeat him.
He tells them to search a nearby cave, where they discover a flower used in the creation of the Progenitor virus, which in turn led to the creation of the T and G-virus. This flower has now been used to create Uroboros, a new strain of the virus combined with Las Plagas. Chris also discovers that Jill had been kept in captivity in the facility, but is no longer being held there. Both he and Sheva discover that a company called Tricell, who fund the B.S.A.A., has taken over where Umbrella left off, and that the CEO of Tricell, Excella Gionne, is working with Albert Wesker to fire missiles carrying Uroboros across the globe. Jill is revealed to have been working for Wesker, having been captured and mind-controlled. Chris and Sheva manage to free Jill from the device used to control her, and they eventually confront Excella. Wesker reveals he has betrayed Tricell, and infects her with Uroboros.
Chris and Sheva kill her, and board Weskers aircraft as he prepares to infect the world. He states his plan to save a select few, and that he will create a new breed of humanity with himself as their ruler. The duo manage to stop him, and the ship crashes into a volcano. They weaken a now Uroboros-infected Wesker, and are rescued via helicopter by Jill and another member of the B.S.A.A., Josh, and finally kill Wesker once and for all with two missiles fired at the same time.
The story in Resident Evil 5 was shorter than the one presented in its predecessor, as director Yasuhiro Anpo found that Resident Evil 4 was slightly too long, and in some places “tedious”. He chose to shorten the length of the campaign in order to keep the action constantly flowing with little let-up. The story for the game also referenced the majority of the previous games’, and linked the Umbrella virus’s and the Las Plagas seen in Resident Evil 4. One section of the game also saw the protagonists fighting Lickers, an enemy from Resident Evil 2, and also featured a cameo appearance of the franchises main enemy, the zombie, not seen in the previous game. Another cameo appearance made is from El Gigante, a massive troll-like creature introduced in Resident Evil 4
Another returning enemy was Albert Wesker, who had last appeared in a main role in Resident Evil: Code Veronica. Having made small appearances in other games in between, Resident Evil 5 saw Wesker return as the main antagonist, and also saw his demise at the hands of his longtime nemesis, Chris Redfield. He retains his superhuman powers acquired in Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and merges with the new Uroboros virus at the end of the game to become a deadly adversary. His death was decided upon as the team felt that Wesker would be seen as less of a threat if he constantly lost his battles yet survived to plot a new scheme another day. He would still be referenced in future games in the series, and his back story and origins were hinted at in various files that could be collected in the game.
Jill Valentine also made a return to the franchise, having last starred in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. During the game, the player is led to believe she had been killed prior to the events seen in Resident Evil 5 by Albert Wesker, having seemingly sacrificed herself in order to save Chris from Wesker. These events were detailed in the downloadable story pack “Lost in Nightmares”, which featured Chris and Jill investigating the residence of Umbrella co-founder Oswell E. Spencer. After her “death”, Jill was experimented on by Wesker, and brainwashed into working for him with the help of a device implanted on her chest. She displays superhuman reflexes and agility whilst under Wesker’s control, but is eventually freed from his control during a fight between the four characters. She manages to escape the facility with the aid of Josh, a B.S.A.A. operative working with Chris and Sheva, and this is also detailed in another piece of downloadable content, “Desperate Escape”.
Whilst not quite as well received as it’s predecessor, Resident Evil 5 was a success, garnering positive reviews and becoming the best-selling Resident Evil title in the franchise’s history, as well as the all-time best-selling Capcom game. The addition of two player co-operative play was seen by many as a positive aspect, however the single player version was hampered by questionable AI from your partner. The ability to play the game using the PlayStation Move was added in future updates, with gameplay similar to that of the Wii version of Resident Evil 4. A multiplayer “Versus” mode was also included, as well as a new version of “Mercenaries” from Resident Evil 3. These would add to the longevity of the title, but it was the main campaign and it’s story based DLC which would be remembered in the years to come.
Also, there’s a scene where Chris Redfield punches a boulder inside a volcano repeatedly until it’s no longer an obstacle. What other game gives you that?