jkz's Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360) review

Despite feeling somewhat dated, RE5 is fun and highly re-playable

In 2005, Resident Evil 4 was released for the Nintendo Gamecube. Taking the series in an entirely new direction, it introduced concepts that have provided the groundwork for many of today's highest grossing games. Now, 4 years later, Resident Evil 5 has arrived. Despite a somewhat dated control scheme and some derivative enemies, RE5 is worth playing, if only to experience the beautifully crafted boss battles and technically stunning graphics.

Graphics:
Resident Evil 5 is the best looking game on any console. Barring Crysis, I have not seen a more technically impressive game released, on any console. Every texture is modeled perfectly, but despite that aspect of the graphics, what makes them so impressive is the lighting. The stark contrast between light and dark works wonders for the games immersion and realism. Despite this, there are some objects that feel like they should be effected by your interactions with them, but this is a small blemish on an otherwise stunning technical achievement. However, where the game truly shines technically is in the pre-rendered cinematics. They are made using the in-game engine, and while the voice acting is spotty, they are a treat to behold. The camera angles work to highlight the games technically impressive graphics, and immerse you in the game in a way nearly as impressive as many high-budget Hollywood movies. From the highly polished cinematics to the beautiful in-game environments and characters, RE5 is a technical feat worthy of the highest accolades.

Score: 9.5
Summary: Despite some limited environmental interactions, great lighting and beautiful texture work combine to create the most beautiful game on any console.


Audio:
The audio in Resident Evil 5 is a mixed bag. On one side, the guns and explosions sound very good, giving them a heavy, meaty feel that suits the game well. However, the trademark dodgy voice-acting that the Resident Evil series has been known for returns in full force. Chris is your everyday manly-man, while Sheva is the stereotypical badass-action-girl, and while these stereotypes are fine, many of the lines seem forced and overly melodramatic, wheras at other times the characters come off as stoic and nonchalant. Without spoiling any of the games bosses and enemies, the voice acting is, again, a mixed bag, varying from decently characterized evil-doers to the corny, cheesy bosses series fans have come to expect.

Score: 8
Summary: Good effects and weapon sounds, however, the game's audio package is marred by typical Resident Evil spotty voice-acting.


Gameplay:
This is where Resident Evil 5 truly becomes hit-or-miss. While Resident Evil 4 introduced revolutionary changes to the third-person action genre, Resident Evil 5 seems somewhat tentative in comparison. While it does not regress on any of the advances in RE4, it does not expand upon them either. This would have been more palatable had RE5 been released only a year or two following RE4, but in the series' 4 year absence, games have advanced upon the strides made in RE4, and this results in RE5 feeling somewhat dated in comparison. The game sticks to its stand-and-fire mechanics, and they are fairly successful in the game. However, when this becomes to feel dodgy is once you advance later into the game and the game begins force-feeding you cover sections. Compared to the advances made by games like Gears of War, (yes, I know that GOW did not invent cover-systems, but it revolutionized them), and Rainbow-Six: Vegas(1-2), the cover system in RE5 feels sticky and un-intuitive in comparison. The game simply does not achieve the flow that these titles achieved, and suffers for it. Cover is limited only to spots where the designers felt you needed to take cover, and thus ends up feeling like a contrived excuse to join in on the "new" fad. This would not have been an issue had taking cover merely been an option, a fall-back if you will. However, if it is your first play through, some of the enemies you face will end up forcing you into using the mechanic. However, if you end up finishing the game and go back for a second, (or third, or forth) play-through, with upgraded and unlocked weapons, this becomes less of an issue. Having unlocked the Hydra triple-barreled shotgun, or the trademark "hand-cannon" (S&W M500 Magnum), cover becomes less needed, due to the sheer amount of fire-power at your disposal.

This brings me to the biggest hit-or-miss aspect of the game. It is short, beaten on the first play-through in somewhere between 7-12 hours. However, this is not the end of the experience. Having beaten the game once, you will unlock new costumes, game-filters, and, most importantly, mercenaries mode, a score-based time-trial mode that is surprisingly addictive in the same way that Gears of War's horde mode is. Another big draw is that, if you have fully upgraded a weapon, you are then able to use points accrued by beating the game, completing challenges, shooting emblems, and the like to buy infinite ammo for the gun. Also, many of the weapons, when fully upgraded, allow for the purchase of even more powerful weapons, which can in turn be upgraded. This lends credibility to the games insanely difficult "Pro" difficulty level, which nearly requires a fully upgraded hydra just for survival. In short, RE5 is a game that is meant to be played multiple times, and the addictive mercenaries mode lends it even more replay-value.

Score: 8.5
Summary: A somewhat dated control scheme holds back an otherwise great game. Though short, the main campaign can be re-played at higher difficulty levels, and mercenaries mode and various other unlockables make this a highly re-playable game.

Scores:
Graphics: 9.5
Audio: 8
Gameplay: 8.5

Overall: 8.5

Summary: Despite feeling somewhat dated, Resident Evil 5 is a beautifully polished game with some memorable boss fights and sometimes hit-or-miss controls. It may not be a huge leap forwards, but it certainly is not a step backwards either, and is a must for fans of the previous game, and highly recommended for action-shooter fans in general.

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