Review by Gruel

Reviewed: 08/04/09

Easily one of the best games of 2009

Diehard fans of the original Resident Evil games may not like the new direction the latest two installments in the franchise have taken. With the games being more action driven now instead of true survival horror games, it is easy to see how some fans have felt burned by Capcom. Regardless, Capcom still delivered another superb game to keep the Resident Evil name on a high pedestal with Resident Evil 5.

RE5 stars Chris Redfield and Sheeva as the two protagonists, and for the first time in franchise history (spinoffs excluded), the game can now be played in co-op (be it split screen, system link or online). There is also the traditional single player option, and no need to worry about the offline partner AI being an incompetent fool as they rarely rush into outnumbered battles and are usually prompt to revive and heal. The setting for RE5 is a little out of the ordinary and in a new continent with the heroes trying to track down a virus in Africa that is turning everyday Africans into mindless infected killers (that’s right, no “zombies” here). Players will encounter a number of journals and fantastic cutscenes that help flesh out the back story on how this heinous virus originated.

The controls are unique compared to a typical third person action game as players cannot run and shoot (or knife slice) simultaneously, just like in the older Metal Gear Solid games. These controls initially seemed clunky and unintuitive, as watching Chris and Sheeva have such a limited range with their knives seemed awkward. Luckily the controls were easy to adapt to after a few checkpoints, and sooner than later players will be eager to mow down the next wave of infected. The gameplay is extremely satisfying and well balanced throughout with plenty of puzzle solving, on rail shooter sections and intense boss battles to keep Chris and Sheeva’s journey fresh from beginning to end.

Capcom loaded up RE5 with a plethora of additional content to keep gamers coming back for more. There is the obligatory “New Game+” option where players can start a new game with their previous completed games’ inventory and weapon upgrades, and if a weapon is fully upgraded than that weapon will be granted unlimited ammo. New graphic filters and character costumes can also be unlocked to make the second RE5 go around rather bizarre. Mercenaries mode also returns where Chris and Sheeva try to survive as many waves of infected as possible. Finally, available as a $10 downloadable add-on, online versus multiplayer is available for the first time in franchise history.

If one was to look at a screenshot and compare RE4 to RE5 there may initially not appear to be that much of a step up in visuals. That changes dramatically once RE5 is seen in motion. The animation is more crisp and fluid and the character models look incredible, especially in the aforementioned awesome cut scenes. A little more variety in enemy design would have been appreciated as it seemed like Chris and Sheeva were squaring off against the same seven enemies repeatedly. The voice work is a big supplement to making those cut scenes come to life, Capcom did not skimp out on their budget as each character delivers their lines with aplomb, except for Wesker who is his usual monotone-yet-creepy sounding self.

Do not immediately dismiss RE5. Some players are understandably burned with its new direction, and some may still be unaware that the series is no longer a survival horror game. Do not let any of that get in the way because Resident Evil 5 is easily one of the year’s best games so far and an early contender for game of the year.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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

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