Review by Archmonk Iga

"Capcom sacrifices what its beloved franchise is known for to bring in newer gameplay elements."

With the survival horror gamechanger that was Resident Evil 4, Capcom knew they had a lot of expectations to meet with number 5. Leon's little affair had concluded, the president's daughter is safe, and the Los Illuminados have been taken care of. But aside from the storyline in RE4, Capcom uncovered a new control style that seemed basically perfect the way it was, while simultaneously engrossing gamers in a frightening situation with addicting gameplay. Was Capcom able to do us one better with Resident Evil 5?

Resident Evil 5 does an excellent job of presenting a well-rounded story, both on a personal basis and on a grander scale. We welcome back Chris Redfield, who is called into Kijuju, Africa by the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), to check out an iffy situation regarding some of the locals. As you would assume, it's a little bit more than just “some of the locals” once you get playing. Chris is soon joined by a RE newcomer, Sheva Alomar, who is a welcome addition to the RE family. While Chris is a bulging-bicepped brotha with a soft spot (like every manly man), Sheva is, well… a bulging-bicepped sista with a soft spot (like every womanly woman). Okay, so the characters in RE have never been the videogame world's Holden Caufields and Elizabeth Bennetts, but they are special to fans of the series. You may be wondering where Jill is in all this. She's Chris's right-hand woman, after all. You'll just have to play to find out.

Before long, our duo realizes that the citizens of Kijuju are growing extra limbs out of their bodies and their faces are opening up into entire mouths. Yes, it seems something is indeed wrong here… Did you expect it to be a walk on the beach? So of course, the main storyline in RE5 is to uncover and ultimately dispose of whatever is causing these poor citizens to turn into such monstrosities. Can Chris and Sheva do it? Well, with a bit of determination, heart and friendship (not to mention a conveniently-placed volcano), maybe they can.

Throughout the game, we will be kept guessing and guessing—both about what has happened to Jill and about the unfortunate happenings going on in Kijuju. This fact alone makes the storyline solid. But there is something extremely important that RE5 is nearly completely devoid of—horror. Sadly, this is far and away the least scary RE game yet. The scariest part is in the very beginning, where you are walking through a village and every single local is staring at you—they will even stop what they are doing to give you the most evil glare in the world… it's not the warmest welcome in the world, but then again Chris is no ordinary tourist. Unfortunately, the scares are mostly finished once that part is over (there maybe be some croc-infested waters though, so be wary). RE is known for being scary… it is what the franchise's success is based upon. Sure, the monsters are hideous, but they're just missing that certain something that we loved to dread back in the day.
STORY: 7/10

As expected, the graphics in RE5 are nearly flawless. The character and monster designs are more realistic than anything we've seen so far, and the environments are spoiled just because the game takes place in Africa. Seriously, for a game that thrives on blood and gore, it sure makes its setting beautiful. Lighting is perfect, a framerate is seemingly nonexistent, and the textures ooze realism. Now about those alternate costumes…

Sound is always important in scary stuff, but as I said before, RE5 lacks a lot of that. The typical “approaching enemy” music is back in full swing, and there are a few other tracks for the cutscenes, but other than that we don't hear a whole lot of music. The voice acting is great, especially for the two protagonists, and the sound effects are perfect. It's a shame they couldn't take more advantage of them, though, because they have little to no effect when it comes to scares.
SOUNDS: 9/10

It is tough to be generous on the controls for RE5 when I played RE4 on the Wii right before I started. They just don't compare in any way, shape or form. Nonetheless, RE5 brings back the over-the-shoulder look from before and it works out quite well for what it is. You have the red laser for your aiming, and you still cannot walk while you shoot. The enemy types vary nicely and they all have their own levels of AI, which for the most part is excellent. While it's pretty much the same as before, the formula works out well enough… it's just too bad there's no Wii version, eh?

Despite its lack of anything remotely scary, you will no doubt be a very busy BSAA agent throughout this action-packed game. While I already mentioned the basic deal, with the shooting the guns at crazy monsters and whatnot, I haven't yet talked about the other stuff. There are some great action moments, whether it's riding a slow elevator to the top floor of a huge building, to riding in the back of a truck while shooting at other people riding in the back of other trucks, to sitting in the back of a broken-down truck while shooting at a giant baby-strosity. Jokes aside, these situations and others bring us players great challenge, great strategy and great fun to keep us hooked. The boss fights are also stellar, full of quick-time events, secret strategies and even some trash talk between characters. So while you will never be scared while playing RE5, you will definitely be kept busy in other ways.

Aside from the cool monsters, bosses, locales, and weapons, RE5 tries to take advantage of having two main characters instead of just one. While it's sweet that another player can join in for a two-player campaign –not to mention that computer-controlled characters have excellent AI – and of course two people with giant guns is better than one, the most noteworthy thing about having two characters is in Capcom's utilization of teamwork. Unfortunately, it was mostly just added into the game for some extra flair. “Sheva, pull this lever so I can cross the bridge, so then I can pull another lever so then you can cross the bridge.” That's about the gist of it. We have seen much better teamwork gameplay in other games, and the way it's given to us in RE5 is almost like a slap in the face.

Another problem with this survival horror game involves another lacking necessity—survival. Like always, there are loads of secret items hidden in every corner of the game. Unlike always, the bullets and gemstones that you acquire seemed to have lost some of their luster since Leon saved Ashley. Ammo is a lot easier to come across, and is made even easier by the money and many treasures to be found while playing. Now this has been done before with RE, even to the same extent of finding something around every turn, but this time around the rewards are a bit too generous. Coupled with an overabundance of checkpoints, the game is a little too easy.

Does 5 improve anything over 4 in terms of gameplay? Well, of course having a partner is cool (though not necessarily an “improvement”). And the enemy AI is better, too. But my favorite improvement (and what I think is the most important) is in the menu, which is much easier to manage than before. Instead of the briefcase menu where you have to fit stuff in it depending on its size and shape (which gave many people a headache), it is simplified to a more… menu-ish look. It's also cool that the action doesn't stop while you're using it. This simplicity makes it much easier to go in and out, whether you're healing, changing guns, or giving your partner one of your items.

So when I say that RE5 lacks horror and survival, it almost sounds like it's NOT a survival horror game. I honestly don't think it is, actually. It is a tried and true action game, but not much else. Not to say it's a bad one (because it sure as hell ain't), but there is no doubt that RE aficionados will be a bit disappointed in the lack of scares and ease of that the franchise is best known for.

If you blaze through it your first time, you may be done in under 15 hours. If you're a scavenger, you could be looking at around 30. Either way, it's a good chunk of time. What's more, you can do the whole New Game+ deal, which is extremely rewarding—limitless ammo? Sign me up!

Beating the game gets you tons and tons of bonus stuff that will make your playthroughs different every time. There is also the Mercenaries mode, which is the most action-packed part of the game and is a lot of fun. There's no online multiplayer other than what I've told you about, but for a mostly offline game, RE5 delivers.

So the RE franchise has taken a shift from scary to action-packed, and it will most likely pay a bit for this shift. But gamers shouldn't ignore the fact that this is an otherwise well-put-together game, with a cool story, intense pacing, and lots of secrets and extras. Whether you like it or not, Resident Evil 5 successfully does most of what it sets out to do.
OVERALL: 8.4/10

Thanks for reading =)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/04/10

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

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