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Resident Evil 5 Review

March 23, 2009

The next-gen survival horror experience continues with the release of  Resident Evil 5 by Capcom. Featuring co-op play, both online and off, Resident Evil is taken to the next level. As a Resident Evil fan myself, RE4 remains one of my favorites, if not the favorite, game of all time. So how does RE5 compare?

Story

Chris Redfield is back. For those of you that don’t know, Chris Redfield was one of the two playable characters in the original Resident Evil on the Playstation One. Chris is in Africa where he teams up with his newest partner Sheva. As they are investigating the area, they come across “hostiles” only to learn that a virus outbreak has occurred here as well.

Gameplay

Ahhhhh…Resident Evil. It just wouldn’t be a Resident Evil game without seemingly outdated controls would it? I won’t harp on this too much as it’s not a huge issue for me, but newcomers to the RE franchise may very well be turned off to the controls in this game, with two drawbacks.

1) There’s no run & gun. You must stop, then hold L1 to aim, R1 to shoot. No moving while doing so.

2) The inventory system. The inventory system IS improved over past titles in that four weapons/items may be assigned to each d-pad direction. This allows for a quick-select between your weapons. However, for the other 5 items you can carry in your inventory, you must press triangle, then select the item, then select what to do with that item. So in the heat of a battle if you want to quick-select a grenade but it’s not on your d-pad, you better be quick or you’re going to take some damage.

Now that that’s out of the way, the rest of the gameplay in RE is incredible. The co-op play really improves the game in that you have a partner to help you out of a jam as well as spot items and treasures you may have missed. The only downside to co-op is that the scares are virtually non-existent in this latest game. RE incorporates teamwork very well also, in that there are areas where you will need to assist your partner to get them up to areas you couldn’t reach alone. Some areas you will be split up and one partner will have to try to cover the other partner from afar. All of this is done extremely well and is very enjoyable if you have a buddy to play with. If you’re playing with the AI….

The co-op AI is good but not great. Your partner will let you take on the enemies and doesn’t seem to really attack unless they get too close. This is good in that it allows you to rack up the kills, but bad b/c many times enemies will get too close and you end up needing to reload or run out of ammo. Your partner will also do a very good job of rescuing you if attacked and healing you when low on health, although the AI tends to heal me earlier than I like to use health. The frustrating moments come in the following example. I got to a level where you drive a boat. Well at one point enemies attack and since I was playing as Chris and driving the boat, Sheva says “You drive. I’ll shoot”. Well no matter what I did, she would NOT shoot the enemies. Fortunately it was a timed event so I was able to progress. For the most part though, these events are few and far between and the AI serves its’ purpose well enough. Fortunately I played the game with a PSN buddy for the majority of my play-throughs.

For the remainder of gameplay, if you’re not familiar with RE, you’ll have access to handguns, shotguns, rifles, magnums, machine guns, and grenades throughout the game. All of these guns can be upgraded as you play by using gold that you acquire. Ammo is limited and must be used carefully to avoid running out. You’ll also run across first aid sprays and herbs to heal. Throughout the levels there will be puzzles, but sadly, the RE series has moved away puzzles where you must think. There are really only a couple of “thinking” puzzles in the game. There are also a multitude of treasures to find as well as hidden emblems in the game.

Chris, Sheva. Sheva, Chris.

Chris, Sheva. Sheva, Chris.

Graphics/Audio

The graphics are incredible in this game, most notably the lighting. The character models are very detailed as well as the environments. There are moments when myself and my partner split up and he’d get a scare for a second b/c he saw a shadow, only to find out it was me up above. This is easily one of the best looking next-gen games out right now.

The audio is great as well. Just wait until you hear the sound that spiders make when they chase you. If you hate bugs, it will make your skin crawl. The music is good and appropriately creepy when necessary and supringly, the voice-acting is very good for the most part. Sure, it has some cheesy dialogue here and there, and there, and there, but it’s RE.

Boss Battles

What’s this? A boss battles section you ask? Yes! Games nowadays rarely feature boss battles and when they do, they usually aren’t very good or fun or difficult. I can say RE has MANY boss fights and they are all done extremely well with one exception. When I got to the 1st part of the last boss fight, the way to beat the boss is sooooooooo unintuitive that it really took away from the excitement that was built up through the level. It was by sheer luck that we figured out how to take the boss down and when we figured it out we thought “Seriously?! That’s it?!”. With that exception RE is a template for how boss fights should be done in games.

Yeah, this is the first boss you fight in the game. Hes real nice, hes simply misunderstood.

Yeah, this is the first boss you fight in the game. He's real nice, he's simply misunderstood.

Conclusion

If you’re a RE fan, this game is a must-buy. The co-op play really adds a great new dimension to the franchise and Capcom has stated that this will be the future of the series. Unfortunately, a few things keep it from being as good as RE4 and may impede gamers new to the franchise.

If you’re not a RE fan, I recommend downloading the demo off of PSN or Live which will allow you to try out both the single-player and co-op portions of the game.

Either way there is plenty of replayability to this title, such as maxing out all weapons, finding all of the treasures and emblems, and my favorite, beating the game in under 5 hrs for unlimited rocket launcher ammo (trust me…it’s fun). I’ve already beaten the game twice and I’m now on my third play-through. This is definitely a title everyone should at least check out and play.

Dave’s Score: B

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