Review by Stalolin (Steve Rosenburg)
The Resident Evil series decided to move from survival scream-your-lungs-out horror to a more action oriented style of play. Due to the overwhelming success of Resident Evil 4, Capcom has released the sequel. The plot is similar, only this time you play as a different protagonist who is too unbelievably huge to be comfortable with. Oh, and there's Cooperative play.
Resident Evil 5 takes place somewhere in Africa, where you, Chris Redfield are sent as a part of an anti bio terrorism group (BSAA) and investigates Umbrella's evil doings in an isolated area in Africa. You are joined by your nimble associate Sheva Alomar to put a stop to the evil of Umbrella, only to discover that a more horrible horror of unspeakable horror awaits. You need all your ungodly arm strength (did I mention Chris' arms are ridiculously huge?) and nimble athletics in order to survive.
Resident Evil 5 incorporates much of the game play found in Resident Evil 4, such as the camera view, the shooting style and use of melee moves including, but not limited to jumping, climbing and Falcon Punching. Because there are always two of you gadding about, be it an NPC or a friend in the same room or online, it's imperative that you work together in order to get things done. You need to share your heath, weapons and ammo as well as work together to solve puzzles.
The inventory space is greatly reduced since Resident Evil 4 and there is no way to increase it. This adds to challenge by not allowing you to cart around a full arsenal and thirty health items. You need to make sacrifices. Much to the dismay of many fans of the fourth game, that wacky merchant is no longer about, so you need to buy your items in between the chapters. This isn't so bad. You can keep all of your extras in your inventory and save them for later. However, you miss some of the great dialogue the merchant has, and great dialogue is indeed a rarity in Resident Evil games. This game does indeed improve on many aspects of game play. For example, there is a wider variety of melee moves to use. But it seems for every metaphorical game play step taken forward, the game takes two steps back. You cannot access the inventory via any kind of pause menu. It must all be done in real-time. While it's true that this adds tension, it can also be a major pain seeing as if you are inexperienced in the ways of inventory navigating, progress is slow and it is likely that you will end up with some sort of farming tool embedded in your skull.
I won't spoil the game for you, but there are an awful lot of areas from Resident Evil 4 that Capcom decided that they would remake and put into Resident Evil 5. This is a nice thing in some parts, but you can't help but feel a little cheated. Don't get me wrong, there are interesting new parts, new weapons, new enemies, but you still get a sense of deja vu. Not to mention the puzzles feel a tad 'dumbed' down. It doesn't really require much thought to progress from one area to another.
The Cooperative mode can be done either offline or online. It doesn't matter which part of the game you are up to, a friend can always jump right in and help you out. You also keep all of your weapons from single player when you access the online mode. You can pick your chapter, difficulty and partner and can play any chapter you like. It's also good to get in there with some of the newer players and lend a hand. It can also be helpful when you are having trouble making progress.
One noticeable improvement from Resident Evil 4 (and here I was promising myself I would compare the games as little as possible) are the graphics. The setting of Resident Evil four was grey, dark and damp. Africa is hot, dry and... yellow. Everything in terms of graphics has been improved (not surprising) and there are some really pretty moments (graphics-wise). But like previous games, this Resident Evil game suffers from bad, bad writing. Not just in terms of plot, but dialogue too. The lines aren't as corny as in Resident Evil 4, but it's still quite cringe-worthy and I don't feel that Sheva has been voice acted or characterized very well. The music is quite good and definitely builds the suspense in action sequences. There are also some nice traditional African tracks in there.
All in all, I like Resident Evil 5. Some people may say it's simply more of the same, with a nice co-op feature thrown in, and there is some merit to that. But I still feel it brings enough new delicious food to the table to warrant at least a small taste. I would say at least rent the game, though there are some very good extras, plus online to keep you interested.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/17/09, Updated 03/31/09
Game Release: Resident Evil 5 (US, 03/13/09)
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