The great Capcom re-release tour of 2019 continues later this month as both Resident Evil 5 and 6 are coming to Nintendo Switch. While the two games received quite the contrasting receptions on last gen consoles, it makes sense that Capcom is releasing them again on October 29. Both titles recognize the awkward period after the grand success that was Resident Evil 4 where the series suffered a serious identity crisis. Older fans wanted a return of the survival horror of the past, yet the series found a new level of commercial success by going in a more streamlined action-oriented direction. Capcom was trying to please everyone, which wound up being a much tougher balancing act than they had anticipated. As flawed as they are, there’s still plenty of reason to check out these games on Switch.
Part of the reason why it was so difficult to satiate all of their fans was that Resident Evil 4 largely nailed the formula they were going for. It retained a lot of the tension that made the early games in the series so memorable, and the need to save ammo gave it a survival horror feel even if the game didn’t revolve around it. Throw in the inventive (at the time) over-the-shoulder aiming, and you had an innovative release that took an already successful series to new heights. It is already a difficult task to follow-up on a masterpiece, but it is even harder when it helped revolutionize an entire genre.
Resident Evil 5 released four years after 4, but didn’t really bring many new ideas to the table. That wasn’t an issue as its addition of cooperative play wound up being a huge hit in an era where online play was reaching new heights thanks to Xbox Live, and the generation gap between 4 and 5 allowed for it to look much better than its predecessor. From a pure gameplay perspective, 5 didn’t shake things up as it retained the over-the-shoulder aiming and that was perfectly fine at the time as RE4 had still ushered in the status quo at that point.
Resident Evil 5 provides plenty of co-op hijinks
While Resident Evil 5 received critical acclaim a decade ago, it hasn’t withstood the test of time as well as its predecessor. Third-person shooters have evolved a lot in the past decade, and rather than feeling built around its control scheme like RE4, it is hampered by it. The cooperative play that was beloved feels rather lifeless when compared to games that truly require two players to come together like A Way Out, and the companion artificial intelligence leaves a lot to be desired. However, all of this isn’t to say that RE5 is a bad game. It’s quite the opposite, as the 2009 release is still plenty of fun as long as you accept its limitations and come in knowing that not every aspect has aged gracefully.
While definitely limited in its scope, Resident Evil 5 was developed with cooperative play in mind and is best when played with a friend. Playing the game solo can be frustrating as Sheva isn’t a great partner and the puzzles do require both players to perform actions (even if it’s just something as simple as flipping a switch). Simply having another human partner to do these actions make it a much more enjoyable experience, as you have someone to not just cooperate with but to talk to and the players can experience the game together. Since it is even more action oriented than RE4, there are still a lot of enjoyable shooting segments that two players can blast through together.
Another reason to play through Resident Evil 5 again is that it has an underappreciated story that helps explain the Plaga parasite that was introduced in 4. While it isn’t the greatest story in the series, Resident Evil has always been jam-packed full of lore and anyone that has enjoyed the other releases on Switch will want to experience this at least once to take that in. RE5 features some of the coolest enemy designs in the entire series, as there’s nothing much more frightening than landing a head shot on an enemy and then seeing a huge Cephalo pop out of the body revealing a second foe to take out.
Yes, even Resident Evil 6 has some value too
Resident Evil 6 received an extremely negative reception upon release, and while I won’t go as far to paint it as a good game (it simply isn’t one), it does feel like a modern release when compared to 4 and 5 thanks to it controlling like a standard third-person shooter. A lot of the game’s issues come from the developers trying to do too much, as the game blended four different campaigns together. Each of them is meant to play slightly differently with Leon S. Kennedy’s campaign playing up more horror elements and newcomer Jake Muller’s story sees him being chased by a gigantic bio-organic weapon in the vein of Resident Evil 3. These are all solid ideas, but it’s just that the execution ranges from woefully underdone to merely OK. The polish simply isn’t there and it fell short of Resident Evil‘s high benchmark.
Just like 5, Resident Evil 6 is best played with another player. All of the characters have companions and riffing on the worst segments will make those chapters all the more bearable. It’s difficult to recommend at the $29.99 that Capcom will be asking, but RE6 is still worth a playthrough after a heavy sale. The story has some major ramifications, and it really is fun to see all of the different characters come together and interact throughout its multiple campaigns.
While neither Resident Evil 5 or 6 are the best representative of the series’ survival horror, they are the two best-selling games in the series for a reason. Their action-oriented approach was simply more appealing to a wider audience and the cooperative gameplay allows it to be enjoy with friends. They are both a tougher sale in 2019, but at the right price both will give players some laughs (and a few facepalms in the case of RE6) as they make their way through. Even if you’re not a hardcore Resident Evil fan, these Switch ports allow players to experience an important, if inconsistent, part of the series’ history.