Resident Evil 5 Review!
Overview:Systems: PC, PS3, XBOX 360
Pros:Excellent graphics, well implemented co-op gameplay, Mercenaries mode expands replayability.
Cons:Clunky controls, 2 players have to share money and weapons in the PS3 version on split-screen.
Team up to fight for survival in the fifth official entry to the Resident Evil series. Does this iteration continue the acclaimed survival-horror gameplay of the previous games or have the new concepts to the series evolved it into something new?
Alone in the dark, supplies extremely limited, and surrounded by hungry undead. This describes the typical setting in any game of this survival-horror series. It has never been about combat; instead players were expected to conserve as much as possible and simply attempt to make it out alive. Resident Evil 5 changes up the formula by adding a partner and many scenes that require you to defeat all enemies before advancing. Many fans have dubbed this title a survival-action game because of this, but does that necessarily make it a bad thing? Not in the slightest, as the game is built around these concepts and adapts rather well to the new style of gameplay.
Chris Redfield, one of the original characters from the first game in the franchise, is back in action with new partner Sheva Alomar at his side. As part of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), Chris and Sheva must investigate and stop the sale of a Bio-Organic Weapon in Africa. This game is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 4, taking place five years after Leon Kennedy defeated the Los Illuminados cult. The story is very straightforward without any option to modify the outcome or take an alternate path. The plot remains pretty basic and mostly predictable until Chris discovers that an old partner may still be alive and an old enemy has returned to wreak havoc on the world.
Overall, the story is a great tale that ties into the roots of the series and gives details about previous events leading up to this game. Like Resident Evil 4, the outbreak is in parasitic form rather than the standard virus scenario. This gives the infected a human aspect and heightened abilities to match. Early on we witness multiple people being infected with the parasite and then are forced to fight them, reminding the player that these aren’t undead husks they are pumping bullets into. The moral aspect of this concept could have been highlighted more, but it is apparent at times through character dialogue and cut-scenes.
Ever since Resident Evil transitioned into its current action-style gameplay, fans have been split. Some love the new over-the-shoulder view introduced in RE4, some prefer the static camera and heavy resource management from the previous games. It is very hard to give the player full control of any situation and force a feeling of helplessness at the same time. Despite the changes to the core concepts that resulted from the new control system, moving around and fighting is very well implemented and the few shortcomings are very manageable. You cannot aim and move at the same time, which is a topic of much debate, but it does add a bit to the nervousness of any situation. Having to stop and not knowing what is behind you builds tension and forces you to keep distance between yourself and the enemies.
Playing with another player in co-op is optimal, but playing with an AI partner is tolerable and the computer mostly stays out of your way. While AI Sheva won’t cover you to the extent another human will, she will pick up anything in her path, is very accurate when shooting, and will offer suggestions when fighting seemingly invincible creatures.
The game progresses through scripted areas that are normally empty upon entering them and spawns a wave of hostiles upon a certain trigger, such as pulling a lever or going through a door. The focus of each area is directed more toward eliminating all enemies before proceeding, where the original titles required the player to avoid dangers as much as possible in order to survive. There are several large-scale boss battles throughout that provide ammunition and other helpful items before and during the fight taking away from the feeling of having to manage precious inventory items. This is remedied by offering multiple ways to defeat the large creatures and providing large areas in which to battle hordes of enemies. This makes the game more of an action title than a pure survival situation, but it does the action concept very well. Foes each have specific weak spots and will react according to where they are shot. Some even carry spears, stun rods, machine guns, or rocket laun chers, mixing up how you need to approach each opponent.
Graphically, Resident Evil 5 is very impressive boasting smooth models and excellent animations that transition very well. The various creatures and especially player characters are incredibly detailed, and surprisingly do not drop the frame rate at all with many models on-screen. Many of the human foes share the same models, but this does not register in the moment as you are trying to keep the horde of spear-carrying villagers off of you. The BOW beasts all look somewhat bland and overly shiny, but it’s hard to fault this game on that because the creatures in question are usually gigantic so some corner-cutting is expected.
The environments are also very detailed and fit the geographical setting nicely, but overall they do not give the feeling of a horror experience. Most of the game is spent outdoors during the daytime, once again taking away from the dark feeling of previous games. For the direction of setting this game takes, it does it well and stays very consistent through the various locations.
With a series that generates much of the fear from the visual appearance of the horrors that are trying to kill you, standards are high when it comes to enemy design. This game is very mixed in this department; some enemies look terrifying, some don’t look dangerous at all. Lickers for example can crawl on any surface, have large claws, and have long tongues that can attack from a distance. The claws alone are enough to send you running the other way when these things turn your direction. Most of the humans in the game appear to be just that, people that look much less terrifying than even a simple zombie would. The Uroboros monstrosities are comprised of slimy, black worm-like creatures that deal massive damage upon attacking, but don’t really instill any sense of fear through their bland appearance.
The sound effects generate more tension than anything else. Each monster has its own cry, and will audibly signal what it is about to do. Many dangers will alert you with their sounds before they even enter the area, such as the revving of a chainsaw or the warcry of a giant, masked villager carrying a mace. The voice overs are all high quality and dialogue stays minimal as to maintain immersion without any unnecessary chatter.
The music is comprised of an orchestral soundtrack that is very heavy on pounding scores when the player is under attack. Much of the exploration time in the game is spent in silence with the music appearing during confrontation. Each track does its job in creating further tension and signaling danger, but for the most part the music in the game is completely background-oriented and somewhat dull on its own.
Resident Evil 5 is a great game on its own, but very different from the original games of the series. Players looking for a true survival-horror experience should look to the earlier titles, while anyone that enjoys a great co-op action experience will be right at home with this game. Once the game is over, weapons will carry over to the next game, allowing you to upgrade your weapons and unlock new ones in the process. There are also 30 emblems to find throughout the game that unlock further bonuses. The true replayability, however, lies in the Mercenaries mode. This is unlocked after completing the game and allows you to select a character, each with different weapons and equipment. You are then dropped in an area with constantly spawning enemies and must survive while building up a high score. This mode has its own unlocks and is also a great co-op experience. Whether you are a fan of the Resident Evil series or are just jumping into one fo r the first time, this game is a must-play and will retain its value long after completing the main story.
A special note for the Playstation 3 version, players cannot sign on with multiple accounts as they can with the XBOX 360 version. This requires each person to share money and weapons rather than each having separate inventories and upgrades. It is very limiting, but at the same time does add a bit of challenge.