Chris Redfield is a Villain. I can prove it.
I am enjoying Resident Evil 5 a lot more than I did RE4, although that’s mostly because I’m less frustrated going in. For me, Resident Evil 4 was an interesting case of a game being ruined by incorrect expectations.
I didn’t play console games at all in the 90’s. I played PC games all the way. (Not that I ever took part in the “PC vs. console” debate, an argument so childish it should be sent to its room, forever.) I just didn’t have a console and didn’t care to. I missed basically everything between the Atari and the Playstation 2, aside from dabbling with them when visiting friends.
Once I started playing console games, someone handed me Resident Evil 4 and told me it was awesome and that I would love it. I had just played Silent Hill 2 and it had blown my mind, so I was looking forward to another experience like that. I mean, they’re both survival horror, right?
I went in expecting physiological survival horror like Silent Hill, and instead I got “emo boy-band goof fights Midget Napoleon for the president’s daughter”. So I wasn’t just disappointed in the plot, I was actually offended by its stupidity.
But my real problem with the game was the controls. I’d never seen a quicktime event before in my life. Worse, it was the first game I played on the Gamecube. I was still new to modern controllers in general, and completely new to the Gamecube controller specifically. (And it was horrible, anyway.) I wasn’t used to playing games with my thumbs, I wasn’t used to quicktime events, wasn’t used to “gameplay” during cutscenes, and wasn’t familiar with the button symbols. When I got the flashing prompt of “PRESS A AND B NOW OR DIE!!!!!” it was basically hopeless, because my reaction times were far, far too slow to pass the events reliably. Since events were chained together, being able to nail prompts with 80% accuracy wasn’t good enough. The fact that the game shuffled the actual prompts between attempts didn’t help either, since I couldn’t beat it with memorization.
People kept telling me, “It’s all about the gameplay. Just ignore the story.” I WISH I COULD THANK YOU.
Oh: And just a slight decrease in skill leads to a massive drop in survivability. At 75% accuracy, your chances of making it through are just 13%! Have fun!
So the game was really frustrating. I didn’t get the hang of quicktime events until near the end of it, by which point I was filled with hatred for the whole idea. I was expecting an “awesome” game of thrills and resource management, and instead I got a shooting gallery with an idiot plot and tedious gotcha gameplay. I really only finished it because I was bored. (I can’t imagine having that kind of free time now.)
But now I’ve been playing console games for a few years and I’ve got the controllers down. Quicktime events are now just annoying, instead of annoying and hard. And now I know Resident Evil is – either by design or ineptitude – pervasively, relentlessly stupid. The upshot is that I’m enjoying Resident Evil 5 a lot more than RE4, despite the fact that by all counts RE4 was the better game. I’m actually on my second trip through the thing and playing around with the harder difficulty level.
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