I have played Resident Evil 4 to completion no less than 6 times on two different consoles. I consider it one of the bright points of the last generation of consoles, so why haven’t I picked up Resident Evil 5 yet? After all, it’s been described as “Resident Evil 4.5” across the blogosphere; it should be right up my alley.
[[image:sheva.jpg:Dumber than a box of rocks?:center:0]]
I started thinking about this when I came dangerously close to sending an angry message to a notable former member of the gaming press when he publicly called out his former employer’s review of Resident Evil 5, wondering “if they even tried co-op.” What I wanted to say to him is that most people don’t have a friends list full of people who play games for a living, that most people are probably going to end up playing RE5 as a single player game — so why shouldn’t it be reviewed as one?
Resident Evil 4 is a game I can throw on at a moments notice, whenever the fancy strikes me. According to fans of Resident Evil 5, though, if I’m playing by myself I’m “doing it wrong.” If I want to play RE5 the “right” way, I first have to convince someone else to play it with me, and then I have to schedule a time to actually play. In other words, RE5 is something that has to be planned for and scheduled. If I can’t convince some sucker to rearrange their life to accommodate my wish to shoot some not-zombies, I’m stuck with an inferior experience, with a computer-controlled partner whose AI is apparently dumber than the average YouTube commenter.
RE4 came out years ago, and I can still wring a lot of enjoyment out of it. A few years from now, who is going to be there to play RE5 with me? Gamers have notoriously short attention spans, and it’s doubtful anyone on my friends lists will even care about RE5 once the next hyped-to-the-gills Event Game comes out.
When I consider spending my depreciated American dollar on RE5, I only have to look over to Left 4 Dead and Little Big Planet gathering dust on my shelf to remind myself that games that require me to beg people to play with me via Twitter or messages boards aren’t the greatest investment. When it comes to gaming, the only person I can count on to be available to play in my very limited free time is myself, and if a game is designed in such a way that the fun comes from having another person there with you, instead of from actually playing the game, than that game does me no good at all.
I worry that games are abandoning the single player. What hope is there for the single player experience when BioShock 2 is adding multiplayer? I had hoped that BioShock‘s success had proven that game publishers can afford focus on single-player experiences… but the way things are going, by the time Bioshock 4 rolls around we’ll be in MMO territory.