341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

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341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 3:29 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5) for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by delb2k » February 1st, 2018, 4:07 pm

In a lot of ways this is a pretty good game, it just was not the best game. Which after 4 was always going to be the problem. It took the pure adrenalin and action of 4 and tried to amp it up without ever managing to hit the heights due to the annoyance of a CPU partner that barely displayed any competance and level designs which never managed to remain memrable after the credits rolled.

And in a nutshell that was always my issue with this game, the playing of it was never particularly bad or annoying, it just never stuck in my head or caused a warm glow when thinking back on it. The action followed the same template as 4, and it still felt good to make infected heads explode, it just lost a lot of it luster because it was the follow on to one of the best games ever. And by following one of the best games ever, any drop in quality was always going to be seen in a more negative light than it probably deserved to.

This is a shame as the game still displayed the same ridiculousness that I like about the series. Chris Redfield looks like he has been shot up with more testosterone than 100 weighlifters, the fianl boss battles takes place in what appears to be the middle of a volcano and Weskersuddenly transforms into some form of black coated matrix reject. All of which is so Resident Evil. It is just a shame that 5 always comes after 4.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » February 1st, 2018, 10:06 pm

I'm going to shock everyone and say that I liked Resident Evil 5 more than 4. I know everyone puts the fourth entry up on a pedestal, but the thing is I had more fun with the fifth game.

And I will agree that the fifth game is the least "Resident Evil-y" of Resident Evil games, but that's not necessarily a negative thing. I mean, if Resident Evil is series that you hold scared, then, well, I can't help you with that! I guess don't think of the fifth game as a Resident Evil game?

Here's the thing: I actually finished the fifth game. I gave up on the fourth game, not when I had to start babysitting Ashley, but when I had to baby-sit Ashley in the castle. Annoying as shit. It's a great first half of a game.

In Resident Evil 5, I could at least make my AI partner useful. It helps if you don't give her items that she'll waste, like ammunition or healing items (she tends to get a bit carried away), and you can instruct her to go stand in the corner, and mostly she will.

Basically the babysitting in the fifth game is much easier to manage. Your partner is pretty much a backpack for items you don't use a lot, but may come in handy later.

Of course, we cannot gloss over or excuse the controversy regarding racism in the game. There are interesting arguments: on one side, there's a very interesting interview with Glenn Bowman, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kent, which is worth a read. And on the other side there's Dan Whitehead's breakdown of the first three chapters, and to cherry-pick a quote:

"There will be plenty of people who refuse to see anything untoward in this material. "It wasn't racist when the enemies were Spanish in Resident Evil 4," goes the argument, but then the Spanish don't have the baggage of being stereotyped as subhuman animals for the past two hundred years."

I'm under the personal assumption that perhaps any insensitivity regarding racism in the game comes more from ignorance rather than malevolence. It doesn't give it a free-pass or excuse it, and not everyone necessary interprets the imagery the same, but the worst thing that has come out of it, nine years after it's initial release, is discussion. It may not be comfortable discussion, or easy, but it's always relevant and healthy to address these issues in games, or any other media.

Resident Evil 5, through perhaps no intention of it's own, tripped over and because something interesting, and controversial. And that makes it a far more interesting game than Resident Evil 4, and accidentally, more important.
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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by KSubzero1000 » February 2nd, 2018, 12:20 pm

Okay, two questions:
  • Will the show incorporate a balanced debate about the allegations of racism surrounding this game?
  • Would this be an appropriate place for the community to discuss this?
Basically, I want to respond to Joshi, but I don't want to talk to a wall and I would be perfectly willing to respect your decision to circumvent the subject entirely.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Michiel K » February 2nd, 2018, 1:56 pm

I expect we'll talk about it. Spoiler, the short gist of my personal opinion is that only if you're blind to context you can flat out discard the notion that the setting and adversaries in Resi 5 are at the very least racially charged. And that's totally divorced from the developers' actual intentions.
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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Combine Hunter » February 2nd, 2018, 2:59 pm

Agreed. Coding isn't always intentional, but it's important to discuss coding and its impact all the same. Obviously I want to save my detailed thoughts for the recording, but as a sort of preview you should know that I think it's completely possible to love this game, while also acknowledging the problematic elements. Those two thoughts don't need to be opposed.
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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by KSubzero1000 » February 2nd, 2018, 4:32 pm

Combine Hunter wrote:
February 2nd, 2018, 2:59 pm
it's important to discuss coding and its impact
I completely agree, but let me point out that it won't be much of a discussion if everyone is on the same page to begin with. Which is why I'd like to know if there is going to be a balanced debate on the subject.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, and I'd love to participate in a polite and constructive debate if there's going to be one. But I don't want my contribution to be in vain or, worse, misconstrued. It is a sensitive subject after all, and I think it's important to treat it in a responsible way.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by ratsoalbion » February 2nd, 2018, 4:59 pm

We haven’t planned out the show yet as it’s many months away.

I have no idea whether or not it will be a ‘balanced’ debate before we have the conversation. It depends upon those present and what their views are.

All I can say is that we’ll make this podcast the same way that we make the others, and as such (parts of) forum posts will be used to represent various viewpoints and as jumping off points for the panel.

I absolutely cannot promise that every viewpoint will be represented, nor will we spend a vast amount of time on the topic as we’ll still be reviewing all aspects of our RE5 experience within two hours.
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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Michiel K » February 2nd, 2018, 7:56 pm

Why does there have to be a debate? I don’t think you can discuss the game in its most important aspects and skirt around that particular one. IF the views of the panel members turn out to be largely agreeable, then it doesn’t make sense to artificially represent viewpoints not our own... if I’m getting what you’re saying correctly, KSubzero.

I also think that, if you want to write on the subject in your correspondence, you shouldn't have to be too worried that your points are getting misconstrued. Posts are usually read out in their entirety, and none of us would be insensitive enough to really have a go at your written opinion on the show if you're not there to defend your point of view.
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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » February 2nd, 2018, 11:15 pm

In a brief response, I will say that I personally didn't find the game intentionally or deliberately "racist", but I also have to acknowledge that I'm saying that as a middle-aged white male living in a first world country (Australia, a country that has plenty of issues regarding racism and colonialism). I have never had to deal with discrimination with my race or gender, so that has to be taken into account with my interpretation of the game.

Personally, I kinda treat the game as "dumb" fun. I don't think it is an intelligent-enough game to try for any sort of social commentary or anything particularly deep, nor does it need to or have to. I think the intention was simply to take a Resident Evil game and set it in "Africa", simply because "why not... seems like an interesting setting". To borrow a quote from this interview with Karen Dyer, who did the voice acting and motion capture of Sheva: Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Again, a emphasising white-guy opinion here. It's very easy for me to take this point-of-view, as I wasn't personally offended.
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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by KSubzero1000 » February 3rd, 2018, 8:17 pm

First and foremost, I realize I may have come across as a bit pushy yesterday. I apologize for that, it's just that I think this is a sensitive and important topic which should be handled with the care and nuance it deserves.

I'll dedicate this post to the subject of the racial controversy surrounding RE5. I'll post my thoughts regarding the rest of the game at a later date.


The most important point I'd like to make is this: The very foundation of zombie and zombie-related fiction is that becoming a zombie robs you of your identity and humanity, effectively killing you in spirit if not in body. The Majinis in RE5 may not technically count as conventional zombies, but I think the notion still applies. They are not attacking the protagonists out of their own volition fueled by their allegedly brutal nature or because their allegedly primitive cultural values dictate it, they are doing so because the parasites force them to. Whatever personality traits, values, belief systems they had in the past are gone by the time the events of the game transpire. For all intents and purposes, the human beings they were have ceased to exist, and only their bodies remain as hosts to the parasites. In that sense, the color of their skin matters just as much as the color of their eyes or their blood type.

This is the fictional context the game is set in. It's hardly highbrow literature, but to dismiss it out of hand is not very intellectually honest in my eyes.

Another thing that should be pointed out is that the game does have a noticeable anti-colonialist thematic at its core. It's not exactly the most fleshed-out or thought-provoking message, but it is there and shouldn't be dismissed either. The backstory makes it clear that the events in Kijuju are the direct result of TriCell's exploitation and interference in the area. The Majinis aren't the villains, they are the victims of a western pharmaceutical corporation. The actual villains of the story, namely Wesker, Excella & Irving are all white westerners, while the two most heroic supporting characters, Sheva & Josh, are both locals. I don't think this was a purely random choice on the part of the writers.

I've never felt any animosity towards the Majinis while playing this game. I've always considered them to be the tragic victims of TriCell's wrongdoing, devoid of personal responsibility for their own actions in accordance with the established tropes of zombie fiction. Nothing more and nothing less.


Now, onto the few things I do have a problem with:

The scene of the locals beating on a sack in the very beginning is in bad taste. It seems to reinforce negative stereotypes and the game would be better off without it.

The closest I can come to accuse the creators of bigoted intent is in regards to Sheva's design. Not because of the alleged notion that her mixed ethnicity is meant to imply her to be more civilized (as evidenced by Josh's presence), but rather because Capcom thought they had to make her as light-skinned as possible in order for her to qualify as attractive, thus pandering to bullshit female beauty standards that are especially prominent in East Asia. That's my assumption, anyway.

That's about it. My ideal "political" version of the game would remove the scene in the beginning and maybe a couple of other minor scenes, commit more firmly to Sheva's african heritage, and would ideally include a prologue chapter or cutscene in which Josh and Sheva are evacuating the non-infected members of the local population. The rest of the game would be more or less the same, because I find the overall fictional context to be acceptable and plausible enough for the type of story it tries to tell.


With all that being said, I can see how some people would find some of the imagery uncomfortable. If I remember correctly, the first time I heard of the controversy was through an article about a politically active middle-aged african lady who had seen one the first trailers and had had a strong negative reaction towards it. I can't honestly blame her for reacting that way, it's unrealistic to expect everyone to be perfectly informed of the rest of the game's themes and characters and the imagery alone does indeed resemble some of the imagery that have been used in bigoted media in the past. Here's the thing, though: evoking questionable material does not inherently make it questionable material. Proper critical analysis should not begin and end with a simple screenshot. I'll gladly take a work like RE5, with insensitive imagery but a decent and positive core message, over the opposite case of a work with subdued and/or inconspicuous aesthetics but with a more pernicious and toxic core message, of which there are many examples. To see it being paraded as the most prominent example of "Racism in Games" so many years after release leaves me perplexed. It's a very low-hanging fruit as far as I'm concerned. If the logical conclusion to this train of thought is that zombie-related fiction can not be set anywhere on the african continent, then all I can say is that I don't find this to be a very progressive or persuasive mindset.

Needless to say, I would be having a very different reaction if the game was only about a white dude in Africa being attacked by crazed non-infected locals without rhyme or reason to it.


So yes, I can understand how some people would find the game to be racially and/or culturally insensitive. But that doesn't make it inherently racist. My preferred definition of racism has very little to do with offensiveness, it's about a bigoted mindset and a sense of deeply ingrained demographic hierarchy. In other words, it's about the intent of the author rather than the perception of the recipient. I think this is a very important distinction to make.

In short, I get where the criticism is coming from, but I think that Substance should outweigh Style.

Joshihatsumitsu wrote:
February 1st, 2018, 10:06 pm
I'm under the personal assumption that perhaps any insensitivity regarding racism in the game comes more from ignorance rather than malevolence.
Joshihatsumitsu wrote:
February 2nd, 2018, 11:15 pm
I think the intention was simply to take a Resident Evil game and set it in "Africa", simply because "why not... seems like an interesting setting".
I agree with both of the above.

Joshihatsumitsu wrote:
February 1st, 2018, 10:06 pm
the worst thing that has come out of it, nine years after it's initial release, is discussion. It may not be comfortable discussion, or easy, but it's always relevant and healthy to address these issues in games, or any other media.
This on the other hand is more tricky. I completely agree with you in theory: If this game can indeed spark healthy and productive discussions, then it is a beneficial thing. But I've literally seen people being labelled as "white supremacists", piled on and banned (on another platform) for saying pretty much what I'm saying right now or what Glenn Bowman was saying in the article you've quoted. That crosses the line into aggressive dogmatization.


Speaking of Glenn Bowman, and to end on a slightly more light-hearted note, I'd like to point out that this guy
Maybe they'll make the next game happen in Finland and you'll have a whole series of Inuits and the like being really scary and running around with Walrus heads on.
would probably have been a better scenario writer for RE6 than what we ended up with. :P


PS: I'm open to further discuss any of the above with anyone who's willing to do so.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Alex79uk » February 3rd, 2018, 9:38 pm

I really liked Resident Evil 5. I've not played it in years, and don't remember a great deal about it, but I know I had a lot of fun with it. I think it got treated a little harshly by the public for not being Resident Evil enough. They were obviously testing the waters for taking the series in a new direction after the success of the fourth game, and I guess it didn't work out especially well for them. The game was gorgeous, though. I remember getting a friend to sit and watch through the trailer, as I excidedly jumped up and down telling him how good it looked! Not much more to add really - just remember enjoying it.

Oh, and it didn't strike me as racist at the time. Still doesn't really.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Andy CT » February 26th, 2018, 11:43 pm

I'm part of that awkward subset of players who probably has stronger fond memories of playing Resident Evil 5 than its numbered predecessor. I'll very quickly add that this statement is in no way meant as any type of criticism of RE 4 which is unquestionably closer the series horror roots, and deserving of every acclaim it receives. My preference for RE5 simply stems from some personal preferences and my own experience with playing each of the titles.

At the time RE5 was released I was living and working abroad in South Korea - Given that the move was quite a large one, the main comfort I'd taken with me from home in the UK had (of course) been my Xbox 360 and during the year or so I was over there I'd continue to order games I wanted to play and have them delivered to my family in the UK who would periodically ship me out a care package of new games, Marmite, Cadbury Chocolate and Tea Bags. RE5 was one of a few co-op experiences that gradually coaxed one of my housemates, a teacher, punk band front man and lapsed gamer back into playing games again (along with Gears of War 2 and Fable 2). As the week's following the game's arrival passed we found that we'd both finished it individually and as a co-op pair but rather than moving on had both been compelled to replay levels in attempts to top each other's rankings and race to acquire unlimited ammo for more weapons by grinding out treasure runs arcade style.

Post game meta challenges aside however, while RE5 admittedly was a step further towards the action heavy focus that eventually RE6 would take a step too far for my taste I still found that the danger of the enemies and situations characters were placed in evoked enough panic and fear and items were scarce enough (without replay unlocks) that you had to place your shots and manage your resources carefully, especially when facing large mobs of enemies or special enemies like the chainsaw Majini, with smart play for shooting environmental hazards or setting traps with mines both rewarding and key to survival.

Personally, I didn't have an issue with Sheva's AI and usefulness as a partner, though naturally inferior to times when my housemate took control of the character I'd take her AI over several others from my gaming history any day (aside this jab is specifically aimed at YOU - Mome from Phantasy Star Online). The more arcade feel of the game with play split into selectable chapters also gave the game greater appeal as something I could have a quick go of, and I'd often run through a level or two during a lunch break, something I've yet to replicate with any other game in the series which I'd typically not dream of sitting down to play without a hour in the bank to dedicate (at least). Finally, character wise as the first Resident Evil game was a hugely influential title for me, I've always gravitated more towards the characters from the original and held their stories most fondly. As such the rivalry between Chris and Wesker was a severe case of unfinished business that had been growing since he'd been revealed to have survived the events of the original game when he returned in Code Veronica, only for us to never really get to confront him. The story reveals that come throughout the game dealing with his treatment of other series favourite Jill Valentine made that final confrontation in the Volcano a pinnacle moment that no amount of bolder punching QTEs was going to spoil for me.

While I haven't gone back to it since the 360 days, my enjyoment of RE7 and the ready availabilty of the vast majority of the series being available on current consoles (along with ongoing chatter concerning an RE2Make) the urge to replay the whole series start to finish is something that's becomming harder to ignore.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by Simonsloth » March 7th, 2018, 2:31 pm

Resident evil 5 was released during the golden age of co-operative games. Forgive me if I’m remembering incorrectly but gears of war, left for dead and army of two were released around this time and it was seemingly a must have feature.

When resident evil 5 arrived I was living and working a long distance away from home in hospital staff accommodation of a questionable standard. In my tiny room was a huge television with a PS3 attached and I bonded with one of my flat mates over co-operative games.

Resident evil 5 was an absolutely highlight. It’s probably the most story-lite in the series but in co-op this works in its favour and with its action focussed approach the bombast creates real punch the air moments.

Outside of this context the game doesn’t have the same impact. Played solo your AI partner often is more of a hinderance than a help particularly during the boss battles or the more tricky encounters.

With this in mind I attempted to play online when replaying the game recently which surprisingly still has an incredibly active community. Obviously all the players have fully upgraded weapons, know every level in and out and have little time for those less competent.

Perhaps I am unlucky and I apologise for painting with such a broad brush but whilst playing I encountered probably the worst examples of co-operative partners.

Highlights or should I say lowlights include: Repeatedly shooting me with a rocket launcher, waiting for a moment where I would be grabbed by an enemy then spinning around in circles waiting for me to die, deliberately failing quick time events and laughing. I’m sure all of this sounds funny (and at first it was) but the joke became a little tiresome tenth time around. Each time I pressed restart I thought “haha that’s enough now” but my partner had other ideas.

Eventually I did find some excellent co-operative partners who were patient and willing to share their resources and expertise with me. This made the game far more enjoyable to play and enhanced the experience greatly.

Overall I’d say this game hugely depends on who you are playing with and unless you have someone on the couch beside you the likelihood of finding someone vaguely tolerable online is (in my experience) very unlikely. It doesn’t feel much like a resident evil game, more like gears of war with worse voice acting and mechanics. It’s still fun to play despite its foibles and would recommend it as a cooperative game.

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Re: 341: Resident Evil 5 (Biohazard 5)

Post by brazenhead89 » March 28th, 2018, 11:56 am

My enduring memory of Resident Evil 5 is of comedy; side-splitting, thigh-slapping comedy. And whilst that's not high praise for what's ostensibly a horror series, it does make Resident Evil 5 an absolute riot with the right friends.

In single player, 5 is something of a middling experience. Sheva, when not getting annihilated by swarms of enemies, is running up to you and spraying healing kisses in your face like a drunk aunt at a wedding. Gone was the strangely satisfying Teris-like management of the inventory system, and in were turret-section mid-bosses. Groan.
One thing about Resident Evil 4 that very few people seem to appreciate is that its pacing is spot-on; I'd go as far as to call it the game's true trump card. In 5, it's not half as considered, belching out a stream of scenarios all designed to be more exciting and more explosive than the last. Its lulls are less sombre; its set-pieces less considered.

But co-op! Good grief, co-op. It's absolutely the way this game demands to be played. The moment I stole a green herb from a friend and then somersaulted from a second-storey window, cackling on my way down, the wacky precedent was set. In a game that climaxes with a man punching a boulder into a volcano, using biceps wider than his own stupid head, it pays to go in to Resi 5 with a friend, giggling and guffawing at its campy, B-movie charms. There's even the opportunity for some utterly juvenile griefing - find the end of a level, and you can endlessly bellow at your companion to follow, resulting in a glorious chorus of "Sheva!" "I'm coming!" Sheva!" "I'm coming!" "Sheva!" "I'm on my way!" "Sheva!" "I'm coming!". There's enough ammo-sharing and health-spraying to prevent the game becoming pure farce, but otherwise this is dumb, stress-free fun.

Onto slightly darker topics, let's discuss racism.
I didn't find anything overtly racist about a game set in a predominantly black continent featuring predominantly black enemies. It makes sense. However, there were more subtle parallels to racism that left me feeling uneasy, deliberate or not.
There's a sequence near the beginning of the game where a woman is attacked by a black enemy. She was of a blindingly Western appearance, almost Aryan with her blonde hair, blue eyes and porcelain skin. Given that she was clearly not indigenous to the game's location, nor an integral part of the game's plot, it gave off something of a predatory vibe; as if establishing threat via one race and innocence via another. Also, let us not overlook the unfortunate "tribesman" segments and Shiva's 'National Geographic in the 60's' unlockable outfit. Blerg.

I do consider Resident Evil 5 one of the weakest in the mainline series (although unlike 6, I DID finish it). It's imperfect, problematic and forever in the shadow of its classic predecessor. Furthermore, however entertaining co-op is, that's less to do with the game's design and more the company you keep. There is some semi-ironic fun to be had, but you need to get over a few hurdles and squeeze it out with the help of a friend first.
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