Review by CrimsonGear80
"Chris Redfield only cares about two things: his freaks and his peaks. He'll be getting plenty of both here."
When Resident Evil 4 was released in 2005, it was a masterpiece. No other game combined action , horror, and tension so well, and in my opinion it saved the franchise from becoming stagnant and quite possibly from dying off. With the success of RE4, it was a no-brainer that Resident Evil 5 would eventually be announced for next-gen systems. However, series creator and RE4 director Shinji Mikami had already left Capcom to work with the newly formed Platinum Games, so the development of RE5 rested on the shoulders of Jun Takeuchi (Onimusha series, Lost Planet) and Kenji Inafune (RE2, the PS2 version of RE4). With Resident Evil 5 finally being released, I can safely say that the game lives up to RE4's pedigree and is easily a fantastic game in it's own right.
HOPE ITS NOT CHRISS BLOOD
RE5 sees the return of arguable the series' main protagonist Chris Redfield, who's last appearance was all the way back in RE: Code Veronica. Since then Chris has joined the BSAA, a bio-terrorism countermeasure force, and he has also become YOLKED THE HELL OUT! Jeez Chris, did you go to the same gym as A-Rod sometime in the last few years? Chris don't need no dictionary, cause he's got all the definition he needs! And look at the size of those arms! You're going to need two tickets to the gun show! Somebody call a vet, because those puppies are SICK! Those are the types of arms someone would use to kick the crap out of a 5-ton boulder! Hopefully there are no boulders in Chris's way at some point in this game
Anyway, Chris has been sent out to an area of Africa called Kijuju, as it seems a weapons dealer named Irving has been seen with some very dangerous biological weapons in his possession. When he gets there, Chris is greeted by fellow BSAA agent Sheva Alomar, and is informed that she will be his partner for this assignment. Chris has no problem with this, although upon hearing the word partner he gets an uneasy look on his face. The duo suit up after meeting an informant and start the search, only to discover something terrifying. It seems that the biological weapon in question in a new form of the Las Plagas virus from RE4, and that most of the locals have already been infected, turning them into parasite-hosting psychos who want to kill anyone who get in their paths. Now Chris and Sheva have to endure various horrors in order to complete their mission and find out the truth behind the incident. A certain sunglass-wearing former STARS captain may also be involved
If there was any RE game story that serviced the franchises fans, RE5 is it. The story is full of references to every canon game in the RE series, whether its during the game, in documents you'll find in the field, or in the game's library mode that chronicles the history of the franchise. Suffice to say, fans of the series will get the most out of this story, and being a fan of the series I found it to be pretty good, despite the fact that most of the new characters (excluding Sheva, I suppose) are throwaway. Irving in particular is very annoying, but then again so is anyone who uses the word Youse. If your new to the franchise, it would be wise to read the aforementioned History of Resident Evil document in the library before playing, or even head over to wikipedia and read the plots of each individual game. It will help, trust me.
IT'S REALLY POWERFUL, ESPECIALLY AGAINST LIVING THINGS!
If it ain't broke don't fix it thank god Capcom remembered this old saying when making RE5, as for the most part the gameplay remains the same from the genre-changing RE4. However, Capcom did include some alternate control schemes in order to appease the crowd who may be way to use to the straight-up shooters that have been dominating the market. The game's camera is still situated right behind Chris just like in RE4, but the default control scheme makes some changes to movement and aiming. Chris can move forward and backward and even strafe with the left analogue stick, with camera control handled with the right stick sounds familiar, huh? However, with staying with the RE4 gameplay, RE5 requires precise and accurate shots over running and gunning, so Chris will still stand still when firing off his weapons. Some may not like this, but then again those some are too used to all those third and first person shooters, and don't realize that RE4, and in turn RE5, have this type of combat system as a design choice. It helps keep the tension up when facing off against hoards of enemies and helps RE5 straggle the fine line between all-out action game and survival horror. Basically, it keeps the RE feel while changing the RE gameplay. With that in mind, I stuck to the tried-and-true RE4 control scheme when I played the game, as it just felt much more natural to me here than a semi-shooter control scheme. The only complaint I have is that, yes, I still need to hold a button to run. One day, I sincerely hope Capcom remembers the control sticks on modern controllers are ANALOGUE, and that it's not necessary to hold the square button when I want to move faster.
RE5 keeps the formula that RE4 set-up intact: you move through levels getting into fights with hoards of infected enemies and other creatures, solving some minimal puzzles, and defeating horrific bosses. The game is paced very well, putting you in a battle for a couple areas and then giving you an area to catch your breath before throwing the **** at you again. Your main enemies in the game is the infected humans. Called Ganados in RE4, here they are called the Majini. These enemies come in a variety of flavors, including those who use sickles, axes, broken bottles, and other various tools to strike and throw at you. Then there are those who employ shields, bowguns and even assault rifles later on in the game. Finally, there are the bigger and more powerful Majini that take plenty of ammo to take down, including the return of Chainsaw and Gatling Gun wielding psychos. You'll be in plenty of nerve-wracking fights with tons of these guys at a time, sometimes even more so than in RE4, and they sport pretty good AI on par with that game where they employ flanking and rushing tactics and even dodge gunfire. Of course, you'll have to contend with more than just the Majini, as also on the bloody, bloody death menu we have infected dogs, Majini that will have a huge tentacles grow out of where their heads used to be, giant insect-like creatures, the return of the Licker, and other monstrosities I wouldn't want to spoil. Then we come to the game's bosses, which keep in tradition of the franchise and are usually grotesque, huge, and fairly challenging. A couple of boss fights, against more human enemies, are among the best I've ever played in a game, especially the final boss fight. The toughness of the enemies, including some nasty insta-kill attacks, will definitely keep you on your toes during the adventure. The only section that actually did kind of feel out of place in the game was the on-rails shooting section, where you gun down a bunch of Majini riding motorcycles and trucks. Definitely a section that can feel like it's ripped from any other shooter on the market, but thankfully it doesn't last too long so it isn't that big of a deal.
Of course, the biggest selling point of RE5 is that the entire game is an co-op experience, as Sheva will always be by Chris's side. Co-op isn't actually anything new to the Resident Evil series (Resident Evil Zero was a co-op game) , but this is the first time that two human players can actually play together, both online and off. I'll get to that later, but let's talk about the AI that takes control of Sheva when you decide to tackle the game by yourself (which most people will probably want to do the first time through the game). I will say that Sheva's AI does do a few things right. For one, she will be pretty good when it comes to healing you. If she has a first-aid spray or a herb, she will use it on you or herself when the going starts to get tough, and it's nice to know you don't always have to baby-sit her health bar. She will also be quick when reviving you when you are in the dying status, as here in RE5 when your health drops below a certain spot your character will enter a state where he/she will move around very slowly and unable to attack, and the only hope for survival is for your partner to heal you or (if they have no healing items on them) resuscitate you so you can at least move quicker and attack. The AI is very good at dropping everything and rushing to your aid when this happens. The Sheva AI also happens to be a perfect shot. Give her a sniper rifle with plenty of ammo and watch her make life easier for you. Finally, there are (of course) many situations where teamwork will be necessary, such as boosting Sheva onto high ground or into other building to cover Chris or open a door. A lot of the game's boss fights will also require some ingenious uses of teamwork to take out, including my favorite later in the game when one person needs to use a flamethrower to keep the boss's weakpoints out in the open while the other person deals out the damage to them. In these instances, the AI also performed admirably. However, it's not all peaches and cream when it comes to actually controlling the AI. You only get two orders to give Sheva: attack and cover, and for the most part they are pretty much the same thing, only with the cover option Sheva will waste ammo while standing behind you instead of in front of you. Yep, she will go through ammo like candy, and you'll wish there was a command to tell her NOT to attack. She will also default on using the weapon she currently has the most ammo for, and once again you can not order her to use a different weapon. This thing even gets silly if you give her the stun rod weapon. Since the weapon technically has infinite ammo she will continue to use that instead of any of her guns! You would have to take the weapon away from her to stop her from using it against tougher foes. It's pretty ridiculous, and I wish Capcom had implemented more commands to give her, as it would have made life a whole lot easier.
Another thing that irks me about the game is the new inventory system. New is in quotations, because the awesome attache case system introduced in RE4 is gone, replaced by a classic limited slot system just like in the classic RE titles. During the game, you access the inventory screen by hitting the triangle button, and while you in the screen the game doesn't pause, so everything is in real-time. This doesn't bother me much as I'm used to this in an RE game thanks to the Outbreak titles, and truth be told it works out rather well in RE5. They also added the ability to hot key weapons and items to the d-pad, which is something that I thought was desperately needed in RE4. The biggest problem here is that as you get deeper into the game and pick up more and more items, weapons, and ammo, 18 total slots (nine between Chris and Sheva) just will not cut it for inventory space. You're able to store extra items you don't need to carry in the item management screen, but during gameplay if you can't pick up an item, you have to leave it. Chances are that down the road, you're going to wish you picked up that item or ammunition instead of leaving it, but you couldn't because then you would have had to discard anther important item. If they had given use the option to send items we couldn't pick up into storage for later use, it would have been awesome, but instead we're stuck leaving useful items behind and it's a pain in the ass. Speaking of the item management screen, it replaces RE4's merchant as your go-to-place to buy new weapons. Of course, the main currency of the game still consists of gold and hidden treasures you'll pick up from fallen enemies and from exploration. While I will miss the merchant telling me that I don't have enough cash stranger, the simple system here does it's job just fine. However, Capcom has found it fitting to only let us access this screen before actually starting a game, after you die, or when restarting at a checkpoint. There are no places during actual gameplay where you can access the screen, so basically they are making you exit the game in order to re-organize your inventory. Sorry, but that's just pretty dumb.
With all that out of the way, let's get to the good stuff. As Keanue Reeves would say: whoa. As he would also say: We need guns. Lots of guns. Boy oh boy, does RE5 have some fun weapons to use. Outdoing the selection in RE4, you'll be able to handle plenty of different handguns, shotguns, sniper rifles, machine guns, magnums, and explosives to destroy your enemies with extreme prejudice. All weapons will have their strategic uses as well: handguns being your main and back-up weapons, shotguns to clear crowds, machine guns for more accurate and fast kills, magnums to deal out huge damage, and the list goes on. All weapons, just like in RE4, can be upgraded in different categories from the item management screen using your accumulated wealth. Power, reload speed, and clip size are the shared categories with all the weapons, even though each weapon has it's own limits to each of these categories. Most weapons also have special perks that can be used when upgrading them, including increasing the chance for critical head shots and the ability to pierce through shields. Tons of variety, and it will tons of fun finding out which weapons suit you the best. Chris and Sheva can also use a knife and perform context-sensitive melee attacks by getting close to a dazed or helpless enemy. Chris shows them the power of the punch while Sheva shows off her fancy footwork to their faces. The context-sensitive action cut-scenes also make a return here, despite them not being as plentiful as they were in RE4.
Finally, we come to the biggest addition to the franchise: 2-player co-op either online or off. An friend can join your offline game at anytime by simply pressing start on a second controller, at which point the screen splits and he/she will take control of Sheva. As for an online game, you can set it up in two ways. The first is to set it up before you start your own game so that anyone can join in and take control of Sheva at anytime. You can also set it up as a private game and invite friends from your friends list to join. When the person controlling Sheva leaves, the AI simply resumes control of her. The other way is to find a game to join by either quickly joining a game or by searching for one based on preferences you set up. You can find a game based on difficulty, chapter, and other choices. The game will then show you a list of games that meet your requirements, and you can pick and join one. When you join a game, you take your own items and weapons and such into the game with you, and your able to keep any items you pick up during the game for yourself. Suffice to say, the game is that much more fun when played with a live person than the so-so AI. If your looking for an action packed co-op experience, RE5 is easily among the best on any console.
MASTER OF UNLOCKING
Simply put, Resident Evil 5 is one phenomenal looking game. The environments look fantastic and are expertly designed, from the sun-drenched African shanty towns to deep and dark mines to ancient ruins, all these places are almost epic details and scale. The lighting effects are some of the best this side of Killzone 2, and there is some fantastic texture work (look at the ground and the dirt. Wow). Character models are phenomenally detailed as well, especially the games more grotesque looking creatures (the tribal Majini, the lickers, pretty much every boss character). Cut-scenes are very fun to watch and well directed, some of which include choreographed fight sequences. Special effects, including weapons and gore effects, are also impressive (blood splatters pretty damn good)! On the flip side, the framerate stays locked at 30fps for most of the game, but there are times when a lot of carnage is going on on-screen when it will drop for a few seconds. Also, while most of the animation in the game are excellent, a lot of them (particularly enemy reactions and reloading) are ripped straight from RE4, and they can get pretty boring to watch over and over again. Despite those wrinkles, the game runs at 720p and is easily one of the best looking games on the market.
On the audio side, sound effects and such are all very good. From roaring gunshots to the primal screams of the Majini, it's a definite workout for surround systems as you can hear them approach from behind you. The music score is also very good, giving you calm but nerve-wracking tracks in-between fights and upping the tempo when your facing down a hoard. Great tracks for the boss fights as well. Voice acting, in typical Resident Evil fashion, is usually delivered in an over-the-top fashion that will probably find fans loving it, but newcomers hating it. I'm in the former, so it's fine with me! All in all, no complaints.
YOU'RE AN AMAZON, RESIDENT EVIL 5!
Clearing all six chapters of RE5 will take most gamers about 10-15 hours, actually making it a little bit shorter than RE4. However, it may just have RE4 beat in the replay value department. In regards to the main game, you have 3 initial difficulties to tackle, a fourth professional difficulty to unlock, and the ability to play as Sheva instead of Chris when playing alone. You are also able to take all your inventory from a previous game to use in a new game plus. The game's bonus features screen allows you to trade points you'll earn by getting good clear rankings in the main game (like in RE4, you're graded based on your performance when you clear a chapter or sub-chapter) for things like action figures of the game's characters that you can view and alternate costumes for Chris and Sheva. To actually ear the ability to unlock most of these, you have to find and shoot hidden BSAA emblems in the main game. You can also buy infinite ammo for all the weapons in the game by upgrading them to the max, which in turn will also unlock some special weaponry to use (mini-gun, anyone?).
However, the biggest unlockable here is the RE tradition that started in RE3, the Mercenaries mode. You start off with two characters (Chris and Sheva), a set arsenal of weapons, and one stage (public assembly) to play. You start with two minutes on the timer and a simply premise: kill as many enemies as you can before time runs out to earn a high score. You can pick up various time bonus scattered in each level to increase your killing time. Kill as many enemies as you can in a row to up your combo and earn tons of bonus points. Be careful though, the enemies are numerous and fierce, and a powerful sub-boss is thrown into the mix once in a while. When the time runs out, your graded based on your performance and if you get a good enough grade, you'll unlock another character to use and a new stage to play on, and in turn doing well on those stages will unlock more stages and more characters. With a total of eight characters and ten stages, RE5's merc mode is easily the best version of it yet. Oh, and throw in the fact that a launch day patch allows Merc mode to be played in co-op just like the main game, and dammit, you've got a FUN AS HELL extra!! Finally, leader boards and future DLC that will add a 4-player versus mode to the game round out an already extensive package that sees you easily getting your money's worth.
Resident Evil 5 is not a better game than 4, but then again RE4 was revolutionary. However, despite some flaws with the AI and a less than stellar inventory system, RE5 lives up to it's hype and delivers yet another tension-filled, action-packed, and deep experience that any action/horror fans will enjoy. Being able to survive the horror with a friend is a great addition as well. Now will someone call 911 for Mr. Redfield, because he has become ripped all over!
+The action/horror gameplay established by RE4 is still phenomenally fun and addicting
+A great story for RE fans
+Tons of weapons that are a blast to use
+Fun Co-op mode works well online or off
+Tons of replay value!
-Some partner AI quirks can be annoying
-Inventory system seems a step down from RE4's
-Newcomers may not get into the story as much as the fans
-Some slight tech issues
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/09
Game Release: Resident Evil 5 (US, 03/13/09)
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