Friday, February 20, 2009

Resident tensions

The (accidental) racist undertones in Resident Evil 5 haven't gone away, you know.

The original argument lay in early footage which saw Chris Redfield, the white protagonist, popping caps into the asses of manjini, this game's version of Resident Evil 4's "intelligent zombies", the ganados. The unease was palpable - white man travels to Africa and kills black population. A population which are infected with a virus which destroys all their sense of reason and motivates them to rip his fucking throat out. Unfortunately, diplomacy wasn't a viable option.

But the concerns still remained, and rightly so. In an effort to appease the game's detractors, developers Capcom introduced Chris' partner, Sheva Alomar, herself of African origin. The introduction of Sheva is more than an olive branch, however - it's a wonderful game mechanic which breathes some new life into the franchise. Rob's argued to me that her AI is poor - she frequently gets in the way of your line of fire - but unlike other games, you genuinely feel part of a team. You help each other out in tight spots, you combine to solve puzzles - she's genuinely helpful and doesn't need her hand held, as is the case in other games which have tried to implement this system.

Sheva's introduction hasn't placated people entirely, though. Can she been seen as a symbol of women standing up to male oppressors in what is a typically patriarchal society? Or am I reading too much into this? Probably the latter.

Whatever the case, I'm willing to look beyond the game's heavily fabricated supposed political leanings. No doubt fire and brimstone will be stoked up upon its release by a number of amateur Keith Vazes who will never so much as see a screenshot thereof. Shame, really - it'll probably be a cracking game.

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