Resident Evil 5, A worthy successor to the previous masterpiece?
Resident Evil 4 was a ground-breaking entry in the series which revolutionized the game play and style of the experience. Resident Evil 5 however is a much less innovative game which keeps almost all of the changes introduced with 4 and adds very little of its own.
In my opinion this is no bad thing as Resident Evil 4 was a spectacular game which was extraordinarily fun. Unfortunately being so close to its predecessor it is impossible not to compare the two games and Resident Evil 5 ultimately has a hard time measuring up to its ancestor.
Leon S. Kennedy, the protagonist of RE4 has been replaced with Chris Redfield (an old character dating back to the original Resident Evil) who this time is accompanied by a new character, Sheva Alomar. Like in 4, there is the inevitable single player mode but this time there is also a Co-op option where a friend can control Sheva and play with you. While the Co-op is great fun on its own, I got the impression Sheva was added just to make this viable and her presence in single player is a real hindrence. This is due to her poor AI which often makes her do stupid things, such as using grenades while right next to you or using healing herbs before combining them with others to make them more potent. In this respect the single player of RE5 is far worse than the stellar experience of RE4 and potential buyers who have no friends or no access to Xbox Live would be wise to stay away.
The storyline is a load of rubbish. This has no real negative affect on the game as a strong storyline has never really been what Resident Evil is about and the great action and graphics make up for any shortcomings in this area. It is annoying however when in a couple of cutscenes they try to hint at the character's back stories as it is just an absolute load of nonsense which poorly attempts to sound genuine and makes them appear even more stupid and stereotypical action movie heroes.
The game play basically involves working your way through the levels killing large groups of natives who have been infected with some sort of virus which makes them extremely hostile and dangerous. There are also boss battles which are both amazing and varied. Even when the game goes into cutscenes you are still not safe though as there often are quick time events where the player must press the correct buttons to make their character dodge or shoot or whatever the case may be in that particular scene. Weapons are available in abundance with probably slightly more choice than in RE4 and a similar upgrade system allowing money earned in game to be spent improving your arsenal.
Graphically the game shines and is able to outclass anything seen on the gamecube or playstation 2 which ran the RE4. Textures are sharp, models are very high detail and the lighting is extremely convincing as well as very beautiful. Animations are smooth and lifelike and everything seen on screen has a look of quality and detail which few new games equal.
The sound is also an area in which RE5 succeeds with powerful sounding weaponry and pounding explosions which are always going off and never get boring. Music is less memorable and perhaps not as flawless but certainly does the job and provides a fitting mood to the endless shooting of zombified natives.
The game is a good length with a first play through taking somewhere from 10-15 hours, which ends in a satisfying way with the expected heap of boss battles. Once completed there is a lot of content to keep you occupied such as searching the levels for emblems to unlock things, collecting points to purchase models of all the different characters and enemies and of course getting all 1000 achievement points.
While as a stand alone single player experience Resident Evil 5 cannot hold a candle to Resident Evil 4, combined with the stunning visuals, masterful presentation and vast amount of content to unlock after the game is completed it is a game everyone should try provided they have friends or an Xbox Live account.