Review by DarkDragoonZ
"Going out with a bang?"
Well, it seems that this is the generation for closing old wounds. MGS4 closed out that saga, GOW3 seems set to do the same, and RE5 wraps up the core drama of the series. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of mineable material in the saga, but the climactic story of Chris, Jill, and Wesker sees its finish at the end of chapter 6-3. With style.
Overall the game is strongly reminicent of RE4, but in a good way. Complex aiming, upgradable weapons, context sensitive battle actions... it's all back with a heart-pounding vengence. Smarter enemies, and an intelligent partner AI for single player make the game not only playable, but downright exciting. The moody atmosphere, dark corners, and lingering sense of dread have been abandoned in favor of a harsh light/dark contrast and frequent, exhausting encounters with brief rests filled with new story tidbits, vehicles, and booby trap puzzles. This makes the game feel less like a survival horror and more in the vein of an action movie.
The story is heavy, bearing the burden of the ENTIRE saga on it's shoulders. Fortunately a complete review is available from early on, and in depth character bios are unlocked as you progress, so newcomers and old fans alike can review what's what and why these things are happening. Initially the plot smacks of RE1(small team sent in, almost immediately wiped out by things they weren't prepared for), but there is a reason. As new facts come to light, the entire saga ties in one strand at a time. The truth, about the viruses, Las Plagas, Umbrella, and Wesker, is far grander than I was anticipating to say the least.
Newcomer Sheva gels well with the gameplay, following the basic orders availible, and providing a high speed, agile counter to Chris' heavy movements, and bar room brawl hand-to-hand moves. Unfortunately, she never quite sits well with the story, as the overuse of established characters now makes fresh blood seem out of place. Blessedly this dosen't damage the storytelling in any way, and at times forces Chris to recap events that were not played out in games or movies.
The gameplay is solid, with one worthwhile note. PLAY THIS WITH SOMEBODY, ANYBODY!! The entire game is co-op ready, and the AI, while good, is just no substitute for a human partner. The system is efficient enough that players can operate independently, but cooperation is the key to a stellar performance. Team attacks, cover fire, split paths, and co-op action movies mean that players must gel with each other quickly, or suffer the dreaded "You are DEAD" (or "Your partner died"!) screen many times (and these are often unpleasent.) Like Army of Two, watching each others backs, sharing guns and ammo, and healing one another are the way to go. Context sensetive actions sometimes require a co-op action, such as kicking in a door, or performing an assist jump so being on the same page is critical.
Single player is still engrossing, although the AI is still a throw short of perfect. Simple battle tactics work best, and often its best to just let your partner do the grunt work while you cover them, or solve the puzzle while they gather the loose items. As a game it plays almost just like RE4, with the exception of the partner actually being good for something.
All told, you could give this the title "Resident Evil 5: Chris Strikes Back", but that would be knocking a too well respected series... Definitely pick this title up if you haven't yet. A solid addition to a great series is always worth the investment. Oh, and parents, THIS IS NOT A GAME OF CHILDREN UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/19/09
Game Release: Resident Evil 5 (US, 03/13/09)
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