Review by earvcunanan
"Resident Evil 5 builds upon RE4's groundbreaking mechanics, but does it deliver?"
Resident Evil 5 is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil series, but this time -- Shinji Mikami (creator of Resident Evil) isn't at the helm. Four years ago, Capcom brought to the world Resident Evil 4 -- a game that revitalized the RE franchise and took the third-person action/horror genre to unparalleled heights. Capcom looks to build upon the success and groundbreaking gameplay of RE4 with RE5, but can lightning strike twice for them? Not quite.
The player takes control of the buffed-out Chris Redfield, who now works for the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance). You are sent to Africa to investigate a threat from terrorists who are distributing bio-weapons. Upon arrival, Chris meets his new partner, Sheva Alomar. Together, you must uncover the horrific truth about the incidents in Kijuju, Africa. It will be a dangerous journey, as you will traverse across hostile villages, run-down marshlands that are populated by man-eating crocodiles, and infected humans (Majini). What's a Resident Evil game without plot twists that keep you guessing? There's a good amount of plot twists within this 12 - 20 hour adventure. As usual, Capcom tells a compelling story.
Resident Evil 5's gameplay revolves around a buddy system... at all times (whether you like it or not). If playing alone, Sheva is A.I.-controlled and follows you instinctively. There are times when she can get a little annoying -- like taking items that you're about to take, not resuctitating you near death when the A.I. can't get around or past a few enemies, and sometimes being ineffective during boss fights. The single-player mode is a bit hampered because of some questionable design choices from Capcom. You can't tell Sheva what weapons to use, and you can't order her to mix red and green herbs. It's certainly best to play this game offline via split-screen or online via co-op; it'll enhance the experience much more and you can strategize with one another -- making for an effective, faster outcome.
It doesn't matter how you play RE5, but you'll be quick to notice that scares are pretty much non-existent. It has got to be the design choice of having a partner with you at all times. The environments are too open, and pretty much every set piece you've already seen before. On top of that, RE5's gameplay mechanics are pretty much a copy and paste job of RE4, but not's that a bad thing. The gameplay mechanics aren't the only things that were a copy/paste job, but it would seem pretty much everything around you as well -- from breaking pots to barrels, the same wired explosives, and a rampant chainsaw-wielding sack wearing maniac. Despite the African setting, the game feels disappointingly familiar.
Flaws aside, one can't deny the beauty of Resident Evil 5's gorgeous graphics. Capcom brings Africa to life with amazing lighting and texturing effects. Designs of hideous looking bosses are top-notch and can even send a shiver down your spine, but they all take a half-hearted effort to beat. Exploration is the staple of the series, and you'll certainly be exploring in RE5 -- with beautifully crafted villages in marshlands, caves, and more. Capcom certainly went all-out with the production values of RE5; with lots of details put into character designs, towns, carvings on walls, and nice looking explosions.
Resident Evil 5 packs a lot of content -- which range from figurines, scenes that you can replay, the returning Mercenaries mode with online play, and more. Lore gatherers will be happy either way, as references to Resident Evils of yore crop up at every turn: scattered journals fill in the picture around the ravaged, corpse-strewn environments, loading screens are graced by snippets from the backstory, and a few monster types from prior iterations get a fresh coat of paint. There's also the option to buy extra modes via downloadable content -- which range from team deathmatch type games and more. If you're looking for a game that's rewarding and with a lot of replay value, then Resident Evil 5 is a game to challenge; especially if you're into the Trophy/Achievement system implemented by the PS3 and 360, respectively.
Overall, Resident Evil 5 is both amazing and disappointing at the same time. It packs an intriguing story with interesting characters, plot twists, and dialog -- but ultimately it does not deliver when living in the shadows of Resident Evil 4. Sure, RE5 features all of the nifty game mechanics from RE4, but it just does not execute them as well. With scares pretty much non-existant, and the old "Resident Evil" feel beginning to wither away, one must think if this game would get any attention if it didn't have "Resident Evil 5" slapped on the front of the box. Thankfully, a no-strings-left-untied ending may signal RE5 is the final stop for the franchise as we know it.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/16/09
Game Release: BioHazard 5 (JP, 03/05/09)
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