Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Review: Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition (Move Edition)

After a thorough playtesting of Sony’s Move controller over the launch weekend I delivered my final verdict on the device and most of its launch line-up last Monday. A few games were missing however. One of those was Capcom’s seminal survival shooter (come on now it’s hardly a horror game is it) Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition; an updated version of RE5 containing two extra single player chapters, and via a patch available from the PSN, full PlayStation Move support.

Seeing as RE4 on the GameCube still ranks up there with some of my favourite games of all time (it’s in my top ten), and that the Wii Edition remains in my opinion, the definitive version to play, I was more than a little interested to see how the Move enabled RE5 would turn out. After all, surely the precision tracking and lack of latency on Sony’s motion controller would make for an even better experience than on the Wii? Sadly, that isn’t completely the case, with the developers arguably just including Move support without really thinking too much about the end results.

Okay, perhaps that’s a slightly harsh statement, because while RE5: Gold Edition does feature a few glaring flaws with regards to its new motion control implementation, it’s also still a reasonably playable experience, just not as much so as when using the standard Dual Shock or Sixaxis controllers.

Part of the problem lies in both the button choices used for each configuration (there are two types) and how the Move’s pointer has been implemented in place of using the standard analogue sticks. Character movement is handled by the analogue stick on the Navigation Controller, whilst all aiming and menu selection is done via the Move. Holding down the T-Trigger brings up your aiming cursor, and pushing the Move button shoots you gun. A quick waggle of the Move also delivers a delayed slice of your knife.

When using the Move there is no dual control for both moving and aiming at the same time, as is possible with the standard PS3 controller. Instead, you can only choose to either move, or aim and look around when stationary. The analogue stick on the Navigation controller allows you to look around freely, whilst the Move is used to aim. This will be familiar to those who have played Resident Evil 4 on both the GameCube and the Wii, and may come as a hindrance if you are not used to such a system. Thankfully, I didn’t find it to be all that much of a problem, though the lack of a Move equivalent to the dual analogue solution is somewhat disappointing.

Using the Move button to fire, rather than the T-Trigger also feels a little odd. When pressing down on the trigger, your thumb immediately uses the top of the Move’s surface to hold it in a steady position, maintaining a strong grip in the process. However, when you let go, and then push down again to make each shot (whilst still holding down the trigger) your initially steady grip is reduced somewhat. Surely, it would make more sense to have the Move button being held down in order to bring up the aiming cursor, and then using the T-Trigger as the fire button. That would make the whole experience feel far more natural.

Thankfully the existing set-up works rather well, and when blasting away at fifteen, twenty enemies pushing the Move button to fire whilst holding down the trigger isn’t particularly uncomfortable, just maybe not the most thought out choice.

What IS an issue, and by far the biggest oversight in implementing Move support, is how the aiming cursor constantly reconfigures itself in accordance to the Move’s position, often with unwanted results.

For example, when you push down on the T-Trigger to bring up your aiming reticule, the Move’s position is immediately determined at that point. However, after you’ve finished shooting, and thus releasing the trigger, the calibration seems to get thrown off. If you bring up your reticule with the Move positioned a little lower down than before, then it will appear higher up on screen than it should, or if you are aiming a little too far to the left or right before pushing down on the T-Trigger, the reticule also appears too far on either side of the screen.

By contrast, in Resident Evil 4 the position of the Wii Remote and pointer was always tracked from a specific point (I certainly don’t remember it being like this), so when you go to aim the reticule would automatically be positioned accordingly. Not so with Move and RE5 – the cursor on screen simply doesn’t line-up unless you position the Move at its starting position each time before hitting the T-Trigger.

At least the Move does provide noticeably greater accuracy than the Wii remote when it comes to lining up your shots, and quickly moving from target to target. Initially the default settings feel rather slow, and are in fact pretty sluggish compared to Wii Resi 4. However, you can adjust both the pointer speed and sensitivity in the options menu, which tightens up the controls considerably. Perhaps the only fault when doing this, is that when the game slows down, dropping framerate, the additional latency present is far more noticeable than if you had the cursor sensitivity, and speed set at lower levels.

Another issue is with regards to the use of the four face buttons found on the DS3 and Sixaxis controllers for performing certain moves, and to access your inventory screen. Running is done by holding down the ‘cross’ button, whilst ‘triangle’ is used to bring up the inventory screen. Now this doesn’t sound too bad, and in actual fact using ‘cross’ to run is perfectly fine. However, seeing as both ‘square’ and ‘triangle’ can be a little uncomfortable to reach it would have made more sense to make ‘cross’ or ‘circle’ the inventory and map buttons, leaving running to be done using the L2 trigger on the Navigation controller.

Playing in a dark room with the buttons obscured by the lack of visibility can be somewhat annoying, especially as the face buttons are divided by some length with regards to the Move button’s placement in between. The problem lies in being able to quickly toggle in and out of your inventory in the heat of battle, swapping weapons and items around between both characters, or just reorganising some space to equip new ones found along the way. Navigating these screens using the pointer is fine, as is using both the Move button to select items, and swap with other players. It’s just the ability to bring them up quickly that can be troublesome.

Other than that Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition does work reasonably well with the Move. Aiming in particular is faster and more accurate than when using a normal controller, and losing the ability to move whilst looking around or aiming isn’t a major loss. You can also see the reduced latency the Move provides over the Wii remote in terms of basic response time, although the game’s erratic framerate does on many occasions diminish this greatly.

Slight to heavy annoyances with the button configurations, and accentuated controller lag due to slowdown aside, it maybe isn’t quite as bad as you initially might think, once you get used to it. Sadly, it is a little behind the Wii version of Resident Evil 4 where the overall nature of fluid and intuitive controls are concerned. The Move might offer lower latency in moving the cursor around on screen, but it is also hindered by a game designed for far quicker reactions with a standard control pad.

Despite this, the actual RE5 game itself is still as fun to play as ever, though lacking any real sense of horror. Instead, most of the time you find it regularly turning into a crowded shooting gallery of sorts, with you becoming involved in a juggling act of babysitting your AI partner, and navigating menus as fast as possible. The storyline is classic b-move Capcom fodder, the character, and enemy designs are solid though sometimes uninspired. And visually. Well, it’s still one of the best looking games this generation. Resident Evil 4 may clearly be a better game all round, but there is still much to like about Capcom’s aging survival horror, turned survival shooter series.

Those after a state of the art reason to own the Move, or even just a finely tuned experience may want to look elsewhere. That said, even if you already own the Gold Edition of RE5, been playing through it to death, finishing every chapter, unlocking every little morsel of extra content, then it is more than worth another look if you so happen to own Sony’s motion control combo. However, it is also definitely not worth buying both a Move and Navigation controller specifically for. Or the other way around if you’re looking for more compatible titles.


The above score relates solely to the use of Move controls in RE5, and not as an assesment of the overall quality of the game.

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