Sessler Slips on Soapbox

14 Mar

bold-re5

I spent nearly six hours playing Resident Evil 5 today with a friend (we were close to two-thirds complete when I left), and we love it. It’s like a suped up version of Resident Evil 4, a game we both rank as one of our top favorites. Adam Sessler of X-Play would probably agree that RE4 is a great game considering his show labeled it their game of the year in 2005. Sessler isn’t too pleased with RE5, however. He goes into detail in his written review, video review, and his Soapbox.

While I typically agree with Sessler (especially on Crisis Core), I think he’s dead wrong about Resident Evil 5.

[RE5’s] control scheme mirrors that of RE4 which was an improvement for the series back then but comes across as an unfortunate anachronism wholly unjustified by the game in 2009.

There’s been lots of discussion regarding just how “horrible” RE5‘s controls are, despite their being extremely similar to those introduced in that RE4 game everyone loved so much. Sessler gives some of the specific reasons he feels the controls are so lacking.

Chris Redfield and his co-op partner Sheva once again move with plodding sluggishness that is only partially relieved by running and still cannot move while shooting.  Rotating the character to aim or just see what’s happening is equally slow and the quick 180-degree turns so frequently discombobulate your perspective that the aggregate effect of the controls neuters the satisfaction of combat.

Sessler is proposing that, in four years, RE4‘s control scheme has gone from “revelation” to reject. Apparantly the controls were rapidly outdated, faster than any game in history.

Reading Sessler’s review, one would assume RE5 (and RE4 by default) finds the player bumbling around clumsily, struggling more with exploring his surroundings than with eliminating the zombie hordes. “Of course, you cannot move or even pivot in place while shooting,” Sessler says matter of factly. This is a half untrue and half misguided statement.

You can pivot while shooting, just as you could in all of the other core Resident Evil games. And while it is true that you can’t fire while on the move, anyone who has played RE4 or 5 should realize that allowing such an action would work against the games.

The radically different control scheme and playstyle introduced in Resident Evil 4 placed great emphasis on pinpoint accuracy. Of course, limited ammo also played a part in the game as it has since the series began. Accuracy and ammo conservation would fly out the window with the ability to shoot while running.

Sessler moves onto RE5‘s heavy emphasis upon co-op gameplay, but only uses it to deliver another blow to the game’s control scheme.

The concept clearly is that the challenges presented by the controls and the more 360-degree nature of the combat are alleviated by having another character that can flank enemies and offer assistance.

In 2005, Leon had to escort the President’s daughter through infested villages, castles, caves, and military complexes, forcing her to hide in dumpsters when things got rough. That didn’t stop the game from receiving X-Play’s (and many other game reviewers’) “Game of the Year” award. Four years later, Sessler feels that Resident Evil 5‘s inclusion of a partner who can shoot, heal, and carry your extra ammo is an effort to draw attention away from the game’s lacking control scheme, the same control scheme you had when a high-picthed teen you literally treated like garbage was your only sidekick.

I’m sure the introduction of a much more involved partner brings some new issues to the Resident Evil series (I wouldn’t know as I’ve been playing the game the way it was intended: co-op on the same system), but to claim that it was done in an effort to make up for poor controls is just plain ignorant. Sessler never makes it quite clear how four years time has rendered useless the controls of a widely celebrated game.

I could go on about Sessler’s misguided opinion on RE5‘s plot and the contrast he makes with Metal Gear Solid 4‘s “satisfying plot wrap-up” (really?) or his pretentious disapproval of the game’s “loaded images” (ie, the “racism” Kotaku won’t stop advertising), but I’d rather not draw the focus away from Sessler’s hypocritical control complaints.

The idea of Resident Evil 5‘s controls being so significantly poor would seem to imply that Resident Evil 4‘s are equally poor. So, is nostalgia the only thing that allows me to enjoy RE4 in 2009? Am I ignorantly bumbling around fictional regions of Spain and Africa, oblivious to the fact that I’m not having fun despite the smile on my face during an extended play session?

Sessler is a smart man and a good video game journalist, certainly better than the legion of writers who just fall in line with popular opinion, but I really think he missed the mark on Resident Evil 5.

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