Resident Evil 5
Nintendo Switch, 2019
Resident Evil 5 recently turned 11. Let’s all just pause for a second and lament how old we’ve become.
If you’ve come here for a review, I am happy to report that I’ve dusted off the one image review format:
I first played RE5 on the PlayStation 3 at the time of its initial release, way back in 2009. I played it extensively and enjoyed it quite a bit. To be frank, though, it wasn’t a title I had any burning desire to play again; it was a “one and done” game for me
That all changed this past Christmas, however, when I treated myself to a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Resident Evil 4 (because it’s important and wise to pay for new versions of games you already own for multiple platforms). I was surprised at how well RE4 worked as a portable game, and I thought RE5 might also make for a good small screen experience.
Does it? I really don’t know. Approximately four seconds after I threw down my cash, we got slapped with a COVID-19 lockdown, so I haven’t really had a good reason to take my Switch out of its dock for a few weeks. Regardless, I am happy to report that RE5 on the Switch performs quite nicely: it’s a competent port. If you have no desire to take the game on the go, though, you might want to consider playing it on another platform; the Switch Joy Con isn’t the best controller for precision headshots.
Playing RE5 again brought back memories of the critical backlash the game faced regarding its depiction of Africa and, perhaps more importantly, Africans. Indeed, the controversy surrounding RE5 made it to the pages of The New York Times, The Atlantic and the Wall Street Journal. Videogamer.com even got an anthropologist to weigh in on the issue. Of course, the enthusiast games press had plenty to say as well.
One thing you don’t see reflected in these old articles though is how little the average consumer seemed to care. As of this writing, RE5 and its various re-releases have collectively sold over 11.5 million copies.
The cynic in me thinks that a lot of the game’s detractors were chasing clicks, and they most definitely got them. I’m not blind, though, and I can clearly see how some of the imagery invoked by the game is problematic. At bare minimum, it can be horribly insensitive at times.
Is RE5 a racist game? Reasonable minds could differ on that, I suppose. I am, however, prepared to say that I don’t think its creators were coming from a place of hatred. Regardless, Capcom seemingly attributed the “controversy” to cross-cultural communication issues, and vowed to work “really closely with our producers in Japan to construct [future] materials for the West.”
In any event, RE5 still looks great and plays fantastically. It’s well worth a second look.