It’s easy to crap on, but Capcom delivers another masterpiece
A little over four years ago, Capcom revitalized its flagship franchise. They threw away the pre-rendered backrounds and slow pacing of the original Resident Evil titles, bringing the zombie franchise into modern day. Resident Evil 4 released on the Gamecube and rewrote the rules on third-person action. I for one, consider Resident Evil 4 one of the best games of last generation, I also believe if it wasn't for the game's innovations, games like Gears of War wouldn't exist in their current form. Poor director Shinji Mikami set the bar so unreasonably high, no subsequent sequel can possibly make the same impact.
Now we have the long anticipated Resident Evil 5. While the game doesn't break new ground, RE5 is an incredible game that shouldn't be missed. You could argue that back when Resident Evil 4 came out the shooter genre needed evolution, but most people are comfortable with where the genre currently stands. To be honest, this game is merely a slightly improved version of Resident Evil 4. So if that game turned you off for whatever reason, there probably isn't much here that'll change your mind.
You still can't move while shooting, and that'll be the only alienating aspect of the game, especially to those not familiar with the franchise and have been spending the last four years playing Gears of War, Rainbow Six, or Ghost Recon. With that said, RE5 doesn't need those fast paced controls because the pace of the game and the enemies are slower and more methodical than other representatives of the genre.
If you've been with the franchise since the beginning, you're in for a treat. The major Umbrella Corporation plot line is tied up, and most of the other plot holes are filled in. You'll also be treated with the return of some characters, in addition to an important protagonist. I wouldn't want to ruin that special moment for you! The plot takes us back to the beginning as you presume the role of muscle-man Chris Redfield. Following the Raccoon City biohazzard, Umbrella's bio weapons have fallen into the hands of terrorists, and unstable African countries face a possible zombie outbreak. Joined by indigenous hottie, Shava Alomar Chris investigates a rumored weapons dealing. Of course the mission goes from bad to worse, and the duo is forced to traverse through dangerous locations, and ultimately discover dark secrets about what the nefarious company has been doing in the African region.
This plot confuses me on Capcom's ultimate intentions with the franchise. Resident Evil 4 tried very hard to push itself far away from the Resident Evil universe by creating a new story, yet, Resident Evil 5 goes back to fill in the plot holes past games created. While the parasitic Las Plagas is still the ultimate reason these “zombies” exist, they are more relevant in terms of gameplay than story. Wherever the series goes to from here, it's safe to say the Umbrella story arc is behind us.
What past Resident Evil games have been predominately about it is you, alone, in the dark, and was mostly successful at composing a chilling atmosphere. You never felt like you were on control of the situation at hand, which was aways nerve racking. RE5 on the other hand, is in this weird spot where it isn't an action game, but isn't survival horror. With the voluminous weaponry you always have control over the situation and only feel stressed about the pure quantity of foes hunting you down. It's nice to have the AI partner, and co-op is a unique take on the RE4 formula. But her presence adds a layer of comfort that vanquishes the creepy atmosphere the game might have had running solo. The AI does have some issues with dying unnecessarily. Sheva will sometimes get in your way, especially during boss fights. But the game is obviously intended for two human players to go through the campaign.
The biggest problem I have with RE5 besides the merchant (what are ya buy'in?) being absent, is the location. I'm aware Africa is a location that's been a major player in the Resident Evil universe since the beginning, but this is also the problem I have with RE4. Resident Evil 1-3 took place in middle America, and had this sense of realism to it. The familiar location held more weight to it, and the argument is the same as to why Fallout 3's setting is such a huge success. Now we're going to weird European countries and shanty towns in exotic Africa, it merely doesn't play out to the game's benefit.
It's really easy to crap on RE5, and critique all its mistakes. The friendly AI sucks, the game rejects its horror reputation in favor of pretending it's a shooter, and you never get that B-Movie feel the other games were so notable for. Gameplay is very similar to RE4, which isn't a bad thing. While this game screws up so badly in a lot of areas, it's still one heck of a ride. The moment-to moment encounters are always a blast, and the game is simply, fun. The game's hardly been out a week, and I've been through it twice, and starting my third African trip shortly. Players who persevere through the main story will find plenty of rewards, including the return of Mercenaries Mode. This mini-game throws 10 unlockable characters at you, for you you to utilize in a series of time attack challenges were you attempt to kill as many zombies as possible. You can also bring a friend along, online, or on the couch. You can also unlock weapons with infinite ammo, a giant Gatling Gun, fun achievements, emblems to collect, higher difficulty settings, the list goes on.
I'm very excited to tackle the additional challenges Resident Evil 5 presents. Considering the volume of quality content, this game is a smart purchase. This game is also one of the best two-player experiences on store shelves. With that said, RE5 is a fat package that'll keep you coming back.