The 5th Element – Are we in our element? [RETRO-1998]

RETRO – One of the biggest budgeted French movies The 5th Element was a smash hit at the box office, and restored the French cinemas’ reputation. In the game based on the film, the sexy alien girl, will have to save the world with the yellow-haired taxi driver from Evil.


When the French makes a science fiction movie, they usually create something unique, so much so that Hollywood at times copies the entire basic idea. Luc Besson’s Fifth Element is also part of this category: the weird, ironic Blade Runner, mixed with some Star Wars was a great success both at the box office and test audiences.

It basically screamed that there would be a video game adaptation of the movie. The creators of the movie did not just support but actually took part in the making of the game: for example, Eric Serra scored the music for both the movie and the game. Just like the movie, the game became a sort of national treasure: Kalisto’s team was even on France 2’s news, giving an interview about the game (saying that they made one of the world’s best game).


Stars and stunt double

In the advertisement campaign, only Leeloo was featured, and that was not a coincidence, as it was doubtful whether Bruce Willis’ character the taxi driver will even be in the game. This was due to mostly financial issues, as Willis asked for too much money to “be” in the title, but in the last moments, the character did make it into the game.
As the movie is detailed, Korben Dallas was not always a taxi driver: in the levels, a lot of weapons can be found which will allow Korben to use its old experiences from the Commando days. The movement is reminiscent of Willis’ image: we can jump left or right, roll, and also burst fire against the enemy.

During the game, our hero becomes more accurate, agile, and faster, which will allow us to kill enemies faster. Controlling Leelo we will have to use her agile body, fists, and kicks to take care of the enemy. We can take care of the enemy quickly with her, and at times reminded me of Street Fighter regarding the move sets (it is lucky that the enemies do not have any laser guns to use against her). Leeloo’s abilities also get better later down the line, her kicks, punches become more accurate, faster, and stronger, plus she’ll be able to run faster.

Cops and Aliens

Our heroes in total have to face twenty-five different enemies. Besides the brutal Mangalore from Space, they’ll have to defeat human, and cyborg cops, and the body guards of Zorg – of course at the end of the game we will also have to face Zorg himself. Our enemies have also been blessed with some AI by the programmers: they do not wait blindly for us to slaughter them. They can dodge, hide, against our bullets, and they can also use a sneak attack against us. If we do not want to die quickly, then it is a good idea to use Dallas to shoot them from afar, and then later use Leeloo to take out the slow moving enemies with her quick melee attacks.


Police departments and skyscrapers

According to the story, we are in 2259’s New York, and we roam its different skyscrapers, malls, and police stations. If we have a 3D card, then the effects will be even better, and a lot of colorful lasers will swoop by our heroes’ head. Sometimes we do not even fight the enemies, but the environment, as one wrong step and we fall into the deep, or one of the flying cars will hit us, or the metro will go over us. There are electric doors, laser walls that hinder our progress, and these can only be disabled if the right switch is found. The levels are much smaller compared to Tomb Raider and its clones, so no need to worry about having to roam level hours just to find the right exit.


“Now dear player please forward the tape to the final scene.”

The eternal problem with movie adaptation is the animation: should the cinematic be drawn or real life? If the later would have been decided the publisher would have needed to find the correct actors and story for the game (See Dune 2000, although that was not really a movie adaptation). For the Fifth Element, they just decided to cut in parts of the film. Those who already saw the movie would not be surprised too much, but at least they won’t have to laugh (or rage) about the “stunt doubles” lame acting in the game.

I did not even like the movie that much, and the developers did not create anything godlike with this game – it is a standard Tomb Raider clone. This would not be a problem as we are used to clones – but I believe that the gameplay should at least be as good as the original that it is copying. Unfortunately, the controllability is weaker than Tomb Raider: it was irritating that you could not grapple, and climb with your heroes.

Another issue is that there is no first person view in the game just like in Tomb Raider. Which I think was a huge misstep by the developers, as thanks to the basic view sometimes we do not even see what is in front of us. It is especially annoying when we do not see where we are shooting as Dallas is being shown from a side angle, or when Leeloo falls into an abyss because we could not look down….

“Are we really in our element?”

I did like however that they are finally taking the AI seriously in third person shooters: our enemies do not stand in one place stupidly, like in Tomb Raider 2. Instead, they run away, hide, take cover or chase us. The game’s graphics are pretty, even though some of the parts look barebones, luckily this was amended by making the levels diverse, and interesting. The main characters are also really detailed: maybe some of the Tomb Raider fans will complain, but I think Leeloo is way sexier in her dress than Lara Croft.

All in all this game is saved by the movie’s originality, fun ideas, and Eric Serra’s great music, but I must say the publisher was smart to release this game before the release of Tomb Raider 3 and the Christmas Rush

-Bad Sector-


+ Milla Jovovich
+ Milla Jovovich from front
+ Milla Jovovich from back


– Graphics were pretty bad by even 1998 standards
– The blonde hair of Bruce Willis
– Boring Tomb Raider clone

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Kalisto Entertainment

Genres: Action

Publication: 1998

The 5th Element

Gameplay - 6.4
Graphics (1998) - 6.5
Story - 6.4
Music/audio - 6.8
Ambiance - 6.3



All in all this game is saved by the movie’s originality, fun ideas, and Eric Serra’s great music, but I must say the publisher was smart to release this game before the release of Tomb Raider 3 and the Christmas Rush.

User Rating: 3.35 ( 1 votes)

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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