Resident Evil 5 review (originally written in 2009)
Resident Evil 5 is a divisive game. There, I said it. It takes gameplay mechanics from early 2005, and injects them into the modern era. And for the most part, it works. Albeit with a few minor tweaks.
Those of you who played the genre-defining Resident Evil 4 will know what to expect from RE5. The zombies of old are no more, and have instead been replaced with a faster, deadlier and more intelligent set of walking corpses. They can use pitchforks, grenades and even hulk around with giant Gatling guns. Of course, in true Resident Evil style, we also see the return of the screen filling bosses. These guys can prove to be a real test, especially on the harder difficulties. Luckily for us, they also come with visible weak spots, which seems rather ridiculous when you think about it.
The story comes full circle in this fifth iteration, with you taking control of the original games protagonist, Chris Redfield. Chris now works for a global organization tasked with combating bio-terrorism, the BSAA. His mission takes him to Africa to meet his new partner, Sheva Alomar, to investigate a weapons deal. Unsurprisingly, the mission goes bad, sending the pair through a series of nasty locales and horrific situations that end up uncovering some dark truths in the process.
It’s hard to put into words how good RE5 looks. The graphical fidelity on both the characters and the environments are mind blowing. You certainly cover a variety of different ground in this game; from sun addled shanty towns, to dark and confined laboratories. But each location looks as impressive as the next. Also, for you explosion enthusiasts out there, you will be pleased to hear that things that go boom, go boom in terrific style.
The introduction of Sheva has a lot of impact, and I’m not just talking about the plot here. Her arrival opens up a whole new element to the Resident Evil experience, I am of course talking about the co-op. This mechanic is enabled from the offset, even in single player. You can trade items, perform melee combos and access alternate pathways. The enjoyment you get out of this feature, however, will depend on whether you play through this game with a friend or by yourself. With a friend, it works seamlessly both online and off. Without one, it’s extremely frustrating. AI controlled Sheva will die constantly, waste healing items and refuse to use any weapon but the pistol. Want her to take out that chainsaw toting enemy with that awesome shotgun you gave her? Then you will have to game the system and literally remove any other weapon from her inventory. It’s practically game breaking for you solo players out there, and that is a real shame.
The game itself plays like its predecessor, and that can be perceived as both a pro and a con. You aim with your left trigger, and shoot with your right. Sound good so far? The difference between this and a Gears of War, however, is that you cannot move and shoot. This presents quite the unique challenge, one that you will either welcome or despise. I saw it as a tension builder, watching that axe man stomp towards you as you helplessly try to pop off a few more rounds definitely makes you break a sweat. It really is the great divider though, and it’s impossible for me to tell you whether you will like the way this game plays or not. My only suggestion would be that if this sounds at all off-putting, either rent this game or avoid it.
I spent a lot of time in RE5, and I mean a lot of time. I unlocked every costume, fully upgraded every weapon and collected every figurine. I knifed through every crate, looted every item, found all of the treasure. And to what end? For the achievements? The trophies? The pride? No. Maybe it’s my completionist mentality, or maybe it’s the slightly perverted incentive to see Sheva in a bikini. One thing’s for sure though, Resident Evil 5 has the most impressive amount of replay value that I’ve seen in a long time. You certainly get your moneys worth. We also see the return of The Mercenaries mode, where you kill enemies in a variety of ways to gain points against the clock. This mode also offers unlockable characters and levels, with the added bonus of proving to your mates that you’re better than them.
Resident Evil 5 was always going to be subject to criticism, set with the impossible task of outdoing it’s older brother. Resident Evil 4 set a standard, a standard that has since been iterated and improved on by the likes of Gears of War and Uncharted. Capcom decided to play it safe with RE5, and kept the experience pretty much unchanged. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, keeping in mind that Resident Evil 4 is still one of the best games ever made. I played through RE5 countless times, and enjoyed every damn minute of it. It made a positive enough impact on me to inspire me to even go through it on its hardest setting. It’s a superb action game that will entice players, both new and old.