This past week I had the pleasure of being able to play through Resident Evil 5. Though I enjoyed it, I found it to be significantly lacking in terms of the originality and excitement of its predecessor.
I had mixed feelings going into the game, knowing that longtime series mastermind Shinji Mikami had long since left Capcom. Without him pulling the strings that he pulled so masterfully on Resident Evil 4, the 5th game just came across as a solid, average adventure game.
The graphics were top notch to be sure. However, my favorite Resident Evil games are when you're going it solo. RE5 sticks you with a partner, and you've got to manange he or she (depending on if you play as Chris or Sheva) throughout the whole game. While RE4 mixed up the gameplay by having you escort another character through danger infested zones, RE5 was pretty much a straight, linear experience, broken up by some on-rails shooting sequences.
The enemies were pulled right out of RE4, and given a fresh coat of paint. While they looked pretty cool, I'd seen it all before, and knew what to expect. Aside from a bat-like creature that tore itself from its host's body, there were literally no new enemies. The "ganados" were back, the dogs were back, the chainsaw maniac was back, etc....yawn.
I clearly remember reading previews for the game back in the early days of the 360 and PS3, with the development team boasting all about how it was going to use light and shadow to scare players, but I failed to see this, or any such creativity in the final build. It's almost as if the suits seemed to clamp down, telling the developers to give gamers more of the same action as in RE4, just with a multiplayer component.
I highly recommend the game, but RE4 is still the best game in the series. Considering that Chris and Wesker seem to finally settle their longstanding feud in this fifth installment, perhaps the franchise will undergo a significant reboot for RE6.
We'll have to wait and see.