Saturday, March 30, 2013

Toning down the action in my Survival Horror / Resident Evil 5 DLC

Yes, this is late. I play video games late, normally when I can get them in sales or in special edition packs. This is why I'm only just playing RE5 now.

I played RE4 through on my Wii (after it'd been out a while) and thoroughly enjoyed it - I.e. it scared the willies out of me.
I loved the tension. I loved the claustrophobia, the fear that a mob of infected villagers could be lurking round the corner, or, worse, a chainsaw wielding mutant that feels no pain. Or a dog. Or a ludicrous boss.
I found that whenever I reached a save point I was "right, that's it for the night" even if it was only 15 minutes of play, because I was scared.
The first time I reached the village encounter, where the villagers swarm and you first see a chainsaw gimp, I had to switch the game off and go and have a quiet lie down somewhere safe.
I enjoyed that as the game progressed and I upgraded my weapons and became a better shot that the low level villagers dropped like flies and dreaded the boss encounters and set pieces.
And I hated Ashley...

So I had high hopes for RE5. I'd read the previews and seen some of the gameplay and decided to ignore the controversy.
It apparently was more like RE4 than the other RE games, which was good. I found the first three unplayable due to the fixed camera angles, so something more like 4 was a good sign.

Playing it, though, is a very different feel. RE4 was a slow burn. The plot unfolds slowly, as does the cluster fuck value. You just meet aggressive villagers at first, and chainsaw mutants only appear to signpost significant challenges and to let you know that things are going to get much harder soon.
The story starts off as a simple hostage rescue and evolves over the course of the game into a conspiracy to control mass populace with a mutant parasite.

In contrast Resident Evil 5 pretty much starts off with "look, all these tribesman and townsfolk are definitely infected with the parasite from the last game!"
There is no mystery. No tension. It's a tactical shooter from the first encounter.
Oh, and I keep dying.
In the first encounter.
Which sucks.

So I was ready to give up on the game, but only once I'd tried out the extra material from the Gold Edition DLC I'd bought.
The multiplayer verses mode didn't appeal to me. I'd just die. I have no idea what Mercenaries is either, so I tried Lost in Nightmares, which tells the story of one of the main characters don't something previously (I'm sure that the actual details are not important).

It's ace! It's set in what looks like the mansion from the original Resident Evil, and is dripping with tension.
I've reached two checkpoints so far and not had a single combat encounter, which is brilliant.
I've come across lots of foreshadowing of the immense cluster fuck yet to come - blood on the walls and floor, destroyed scenery, dead security agents, broken cages and cryptic entries in abandoned journals.
It's going to go south very soon.
Which is the key. I'm loving the anticipation. I'm not disappointed when there's nothing around the corner, I'm relieved.

So I'm probably going to play through the DLC before returning to the main game, which is probably a bit perverse.