Review by therealdman

"Survival? Horror?"

Let me start this review by saying I am a huge freak when it comes to Capcom games, the Resident Evil series, and all things horror/zombie -related. Some years back when I first heard that Resident Evil 4 would not feature any zombies, but rather parasite-infected humans, I was a little taken back. However, even though I was taken back by this, I had faith in Capcom that they would revive the series in a tasteful way and that the removal of zombies would not ruin the game. I was actually more worried that the change in gameplay would tamper with the Resident Evil formula more than anything else that was then new in Resident Evil 4.

All worries were shattered the day the game was released. I was blown away by the game! It was different from the other Resident Evil titles, but that didn't bother me. Sure, the zombies were replaced with infected people. Yeah, headshots were ridiculously easier now – as well as combat in general. And yes, with the plentiful amounts of ammo and health available, survival wasn't nearly as much of a factor as in the previous games, but the gameplay was still solid, so I had to let it slide. After all, the horror/creepy aspects were also still very much present in the form of smarter enemies, an eerie atmospheric score, and plenty of parts that were capable of making you jump if it was your first play through.

One may be wondering why a Resident Evil 5 review two paragraphs in has only mentioned the previous game. Well, since this is the second Resident Evil game done in this style, I believe it is important to state where Resident Evil 5 lives up to, surpasses, and falls short of its predecessor. To put it simply, the Resident Evil games prior to Resident Evil 4 were true survival horror games; roughly equal parts survival and horror, mixed with action. As stated previously, Resident Evil 4 greatly increased the action aspect while decreasing the survival aspect, but it also kept the horror element very much alive, even if done in a different way. Resident Evil 5 on the other hand is pretty much an action game that just happens to have horror overtones and slightly less health and ammo next to your average third-person action/shooter game – but much more than your standard Resident Evil game. Also, Resident Evil 5 only has about two major puzzles in the entire game, which is a letdown for any longtime Resident Evil fan.

I'm sure after reading all of this, one would assume that I hate the game. Not the case at all! What I failed to mention is that while Resident Evil 5 is much more of a regular action game than a survival horror game, it is a great action game! The gameplay itself isn't much different from Resident Evil 4 besides the inclusion of co-op as well as a real-time menu system. Many people who were letdown by the game mentioned how upset they were that you can't move while aiming your gun (not something new in Resident Evil…) and that the menu is in real-time. I was not upset with this at all. The fact that you can be attacked while in the menu and that you can't move while shooting are two elements that keep the tension at least somewhat alive in the game. Were these people complaining about the “tank controls” in the original Resident Evil games too? Probably.

I beat the game single player the whole way through my first time and Sheva's A.I. isn't as bad as some reviewers exaggerate it to be, but she is still quite capable of pretty stupid decisions. For example, she died once by walking right into a tripwire that blew her up – effectively causing me to continue… for something that wasn't my fault. Co-op isn't mandatory, but it sure is fun. In fact, the co-op option is probably where the most replay value is in Resident Evil 5. So if you're on the fence about whether to play co-op or by yourself, play it co-op. I also think they could have possibly implemented a better cover system for firefights, but that is just nitpicking. For the most part, if you liked the gameplay in Resident Evil 4, you'll probably like the gameplay in Resident Evil 5 as there aren't too many changes present.

Also noteworthy is an interesting story that ties in much more with the pre-Resident Evil 4 games than Resident Evil 4 itself. In fact, besides the virus itself, and a brief reference to Leon Kennedy, this game has practically nothing to do with Resident Evil 4, story-wise. And as cool as the Los Illuminados cult was, I am happy to see the writers return to the original story ark. There are also plenty of interesting showdowns as well as some familiar faces that make an appearance in the game that are sure to make longtime fans smile. That's all I'm willing to say about the story, I don't want to spoil anything major.

Setting the game in Africa was a wise decision as it is a continent that boasts many colors, thus taking advantage of the current-gen's graphical capabilities. The graphics are actually really spectacular. While the places you visit through the course of the game are interesting to look at and play through, nothing from Resident Evil 5 can compare to the overall “badass-ness” of Salazar's castle in Resident Evil 4. Sorry, that was just too cool!

The soundtrack isn't bad or great. Though by the standard of the series, it is quite dull and average though. The music wasn't as tense or creepy, thus contributing to the previously mentioned reduction of the horror element in the game. Another culprit of said reduction is the lack of frightening enemies. The villagers were very creepy in Resident Evil 4 as well as (and especially) their robed counterparts in Salazar's castle. The infected people in Resident Evil 5 aren't nearly as scary for some reason. And while the chainsaw wielding enemies are still capable of causing much anxiety the moment you hear them rev their weapon combined with their sinister laughs, they are just not as scary as the burly Jason Voorhees a la Friday the 13th – Part 2 meets Leatherface-looking dudes from Resident Evil 4. Despite some of these enemies not being as scary as in previous titles, the enemy designs are still quite cool. The infected tribal warriors are really too awesome. You don't run into too many monsters that aren't bosses sadly, but Lickers (you read right) have returned in this game and they are just as glorious as ever!

I could go on about this game, but I fear I've already done that more than enough. Resident Evil 5 is a great game, but falls short of the standard the previous game had set. Sure, it may not be all that scary anymore (I actually didn't jump once – a first for a virgin-run with a Resident Evil game) and you may not exactly be fretting over a lack of health or ammo, but there is much fun to be had here by way of the great action gaming, the tying up of various (previously) loose-ends of the story, stunning visuals, and the amazingly fun co-op mode. Oh, the extra difficulty modes and unlockables aren't too bad of an incentive to keep playing either! If you didn't like Resident Evil 4, you probably won't like Resident Evil 5 either as it is pretty much a slightly inferior game in the same style. However, if you're a fan of the series or even just Resident Evil 4, pick this game up!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/17/09

Game Release: Resident Evil 5 (US, 03/13/09)

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