RE5: The Final Resolution?
I think one of the problems I had with this game was coming to terms with the fact that Resident Evil 5 is indeed the final installment of the current series (revamp pending). Everything was resolved so abruptly that those who have stuck with the RE franchise since its original conception on the PS1 will feel underwhelmed and slightly let down.
The final encounter between Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker feels like something out of a Japanese action show; hero and villain converse, hero beats villain, villain transcends into a more powerful and hideous creature, hero beats villain again, villain morphs into deadlier creature etc etc. I honestly was expecting more of a stand up knockdown brawl between the two. Aside from the lackluster ending, the game progresses through levels nicely. I felt as if there were more puzzles than RE4, which is either good or bad depending on how you feel a Resident Evil game should play.
Things stay fresh with a variety of new monsters and villains that appear sporadically through the game; you have to concoct a different strategy for each of them. You may have to lure a crowd of Manjini next to explosive barrel to get a one hit crowd kill to conserve ammo, or you may have to hide behind walls Gears of War style to fight Gatling gun manjini. While there are not many advancements to the control scheme, it still feels comfortable. The combat is intense and it is even more intricate when you have Sheva Alomar constantly at your side. IMHO, Sheva is a double edge sword, sometimes I wonder what her AI's mental damage is, and sometimes I find her saving my ass from some pretty hairy situations. Having a partner is a different experience from past REs, and much less frustrating than escorting a snobby rich girl (I'm looking at you RE4).
The graphics are spectacular, but I get the feeling the visuals are the reason this game gets a lot of flak for racism. In no way does the plot ever show an inkling of racism, but I can understand based on the character models why someone would be pissed off. Almost all of the manjini have a very dark almost grey skin color. I don't know if this is because they are infected with Las Plagas, but every African character has a very off colored pigment except for..suprise!..main character Sheva Alomar. It's kind of like that Loreal advertisement scandal where they photoshopped Beyonce to look like a white woman. I know first hand that this game is not racist, but to the casual observer I can see why there is such a fuss. I know what your saying, "Hey, almost all the zombies were white in other REs, and they were all Spaniards in RE4!", I understand that, but Africa is a very touchy area to write fiction about, that's all I am going to say.
The sound is very, very good. Gunfire, explosions, screaming manjini, giant bugs screeching, and crocodiles jumping out of the swamp to eat you all sound crisp and realistic. You can hear manjini mumbling from a distance away, and the groans get closer and closer until they are swarming you. This game takes full advantage of surround sound.
The replay value is very high. The game challenges you to play on every difficulty level for maximum achievements and super sweet unlockable options. Also as a bonus, the awesome Mercenaries Mode returns for those who just want to shoot manjini into oblivion.
In summary, the gameplay is exactly like RE4 with the addition of a partner that can actually defend herself, albeit sometimes has questionable AI. The graphics and sound are top notch, the story is so-so but for a video game its above average. The replay value is very high. While some people complain that RE5 has lost the horror edge and is not scary anymore, I say attempt to beat the game on it's highest difficulty. It will put the "survival" back in "survival horror".