Yesterday we shared a pleasant time thinking about Resident Evil 4 and how great of a game it is. All that happiness is now gone since it’s time to talk about Resident Evil 5. I just beat it, and while I thought it was terrible compared to RE4, I couldn’t help but think more about whether the game happened to be, oh how was it put, ‘racist’? Is RE5 racist? That was the topic of discussion last year after people saw the first images of the game and then played it. I never got a chance to have a say until now, so it’s time I chastise the game for being guilty of stupid, not racism. Time for the first installment of the new feature, “Shame on the Globins.”
Racism is Bad, But Stupidity is Worse
The issue people took offense to from the trailer was that the game would take place in Africa, meaning that Chris Redfield, one of the whitest white guys ever, would be mowing through black zombies like they were, well, zombies. The overly sensitive cried foul and the gamer population said, “But it’s only a game and they’re zombies!” Capcom, being the ever-brilliant company that it is, heard the reactions and decided to give Chris a partner.
But not just any partner. No, it would be a female partner. A black female partner. “Ooh,” Capcom seemed to say. “How could we be racist? You’re partnered with an actual African!” Yes, Sheva, the name of your partner, is a black woman. She’s also borderline mentally challenged. No, that’s not fair, even the mentally challenged know basic concepts like, “Do not shoot partner with a rocket launcher,” or, “Help partner when he is dying.” Somehow Capcom managed to swap one stereotype with another. Instead of Capcom looking racist, they look racist and sexist.
Sheva’s character is absolutely vapid. She’s an archetypal video game female. She has a low-cut shirt for no reason, her mouth is always suggesting something involving more than playing video games, and her head is completely empty. She’s usually the first to look confused at any plot point, even when the gamer is able to see right through any “twist” the game may throw.
Here’s an example: Chris is in Africa to find Jill, who he believes to be alive even though he thought she was dead. You are looking for her through most of the game. The new villains are Excella, the archetypal female with an accent that thinks the villain really loves her, Irving, a sniveling waste of space, and a mysterious female wearing a bird-like mask and a cloak. She doesn’t speak, they make a point of never showing her face, and Wesker constantly tells her that she should be interested to see Chris. If you can’t figure out who that character is, I give up on you.
Just Resident Evil 4 With Black People and Bad Controls
So if Capcom consciously added Sheva as a means of looking less racist, how could they then make the mistake of including the Wetlands area? “What’s in the Wetlands?” Hold on, let me describe the shantytown of the game’s opening. Poor villagers come out from everywhere to attack you, which isn’t too surprising since the same thing happened in RE4. Yes, they’re black, but this is taking place in Africa, so why wouldn’t the infected population be African? You can say that Capcom is being racist all you want, but they refute the article perfectly fine by saying that the setting is accurate for the plot. I believe that fully.
Then you go to the Wetlands and African zombies in grass skirts carrying spears rush out from huts to blindly kill you. This would be a perfect moment to facepalm.
What makes matters worse is that RE5 is essentially just a copy of RE4 in terms of location. RE4 might even have slightly more variety since it has a huge castle section. RE5 has the shantytown, cliff sides, the Wetlands, some caves, some underground ruins that are in the caves for some reason, a research facility, another research facility or two, and a frigate. Oh, also a volcano just because, but that doesn’t count. RE4 had a run-down village, caves, a swamp area, research facilities, random ruins, cliff sides, and the castle area. The areas are just too similar. RE5 even has enemies recycled from RE4, such as the chainsaw enemies (they do at least look different) and the gattlin gun enemies (they do look exactly the same). The point I’m getting at is that they had no reason to take the game into the Wetlands and even less of a reason to send tribal zombies at us.A lot of the mistakes come down to game design. RE5 is just trying to be RE4 except it has no idea what made RE4 great. The new system for carrying everything is just a 9-slot deal per character. It makes things incredibly frustrating since you want to have a pistol, a shotgun, a rifle, ammo for each, a grenade, and maybe a healing item or two. This leaves pretty much no slot open for whatever you’d like, such as body armor (yeah, it takes up a slot for no reason). I always found myself wishing I had the briefcase system from RE4 back, especially when I had to run over to my partner to ask for a grenade that she’s holding and not using, only to get myself destroyed since I have to do all this menu navigating in real time, meaning I’m getting destroyed by the thing I’d like to throw a grenade at.
Disappointment Has No Race
All around I’m really just disappointed with the title. When I first saw the trailer I was excited for the new adventure. I thought, “Yeah, Africa is a good setting for this. Africa has a lot of natural danger such as wildlife. I’d love to see some lions or stampedes threaten me.” Instead I fight a lot of black zombies, some spider creatures, some other insect creatures, some big newts, and worm-like masses. I wanted more variety to the game, but I got a lot of repeating of things they already threw at me. I fight a chainsaw Majini and use up all my ammo. Suddenly another chainsaw Majini shows up and makes me fight it multiple times because my partner keeps getting her head sawed off. After fighting two of these stupid and very unfun enemies, I get treated to wave after wave of regular enemies, followed by yet another chainsaw Majini mixed in. Late in the game I have to fight a gattling gun Majini and then soon after two at once. That isn’t fun to me. Hiding behind walks in order to turn and unload all my ammo is not a fun gameplay style. Even after going through the trouble of upgrading my weapons I’m at a loss for enjoyment. I suppose the fun comes after a few playthroughs to build up my arsenal.
Would you like to know at what point the game officially became ridiculous? I fight a bat-bug-monster on a cliff and empty every single bit of ammo I have. I keep setting proximity mines around and my partner keeps getting caught in them. I beat the boss, triggering a cut scene where Chris shoots the bat-bug-monster in the face with his pistol (which is out of ammo), causing it to suddenly register pain in its previously impervious face and slam into a truck, falling off the cliff. Seconds after that someone skids around the corner with a hummer that has two gattling guns on the back, meaning I could have beat whatever the thing was if I had just waited a few more minutes for the vehicle with guns to show up. I hop into the hummer and shoot Majini on motorcycles before fighting an El Gigante. You know, one of those big enemies from RE4. Yup. Shenanigans.
Is Resident Evil 5 racist? No, it isn’t, but it is certainly guilty of being stupid. Sheva is an awful character to add to any game, specifically a game that’s been criticized for possible racism. It just becomes difficult to understand what Capcom was thinking when RE5 was in development. In the end, all I can say is “Shame on the Globins.”