Resident Evil 5 Review: Scary and Good, but Not Scary Good
The Resident Evil franchise has always been a cash cow for Capcom, and for a good reason - good games, especially ones about zombies, usually sell a lot of copies. The survival horror genre may have already existed in 1998, but the original “Resident Evil,” arguably, brought the genre into the limelight. While the “RE” franchise may be known mostly for its scare factor, and thrilling cutscenes, it’s also known for its longevity. In 2005, Capcom took a series in dire need of a transformation, and gave it a makeover that resulted in critical acclaim, the world over, with the release of “Resident Evil 4.” Thus, the bar has been set extremely high for “Resident Evil 5,” and while it’s a worthy addition to the storied franchise, it will ultimately fail to achieve what its predecessor did 4 years ago.
“Resident Evil 5” stars series veteran, Chris Redfield, and his partner/newcomer Sheva Alomar. Without giving away any of the game’s secrets, some other characters from the series’ past will make appearances as well. Hopefully, by the time you play “RE5” you’ll still in the dark about most of major plot points, event hough Capcom could’ve done a better job keeping certain things under wraps. If you are lucky enough to have avoided either leaks or hints about the game, the story will not disappoint you. A new company has overtaken the role of the Umbrella Corporation, and is manufacturing a new wave of horrific bio-organic weapons (B.O.W.’s). “RE5” also includes its fair share of mysterious, yet memorable characters, many of which are up to no good. The game does emerge a little on the short side, but its length never becomes a noticeable problem, as one can complete its six levels in roughly 10 hours, and still have a satisfying experience, since the action seldom lets up.
One impressive feature of the game is the amount of series history it offers. Not only will many dangling plot lines from previous games be answered, but there is a myriad of information uncovered about many of the characters and events from past games in the form of files and debriefings. While it wouldn’t hurt to have played a “Resident Evil” game prior to “RE5,” you’ll definitely have the chance to catch up on the franchise’s storied history, provided you have the willpower to read all the information presented. The game also comes with a complimentary coupon to get your head checked in case you haven’t played a “Resident Evil” game before.
The gameplay for “RE5” is its greatest strength, and weakness. A “Resident Evil” game finally has co-op, and it works blissfully, feeling like a game that was made fore two people. Numerous amounts of enemies take cooperation and coordination to take down, and it’s completely satisfying to do so with a friend. However, purists may argue that this is a franchise made for one, and for those without online, or a buddy willing to put in the time, problems may arise. Every so often your partner Sheva’s AI starts acting like its missing a few screws, and while she rarely is the cause of death, she sometimes feels like deadweight. While the solo experience is fine, it simply doesn’t match that of playing with a friend.
Most of the game’s controls deviate very little from those seen in “RE4,” and the formula still works great. The tank controls have always been a slight pain in the ass, but that seems to be a “RE” staple, and it’s nothing you won’t be able to get past after the first ten minutes. Controlling Chris and Sheva soon becomes second nature, and the combat is as gritty and pleasurable as ever before. The weapons are a fairly standard “RE” affair, with your rocket launchers, magnums, and shotguns all thrown into the mix, but the game does offer some brutal weaponry if you’re willing put in the time to earn them. Boss battles, another “RE” cornerstone, are frantic and intense, and, for the most part, never disappoint. There were a few scenarios where strategies for toppling end-level foes weren’t abundantly clear, but with enough experimentation you’re likely to survive.
“RE5’”s biggest downfall comes in the final third of the game, where the infected suddenly wield guns, and force you to use cover. You may remember in “RE4” the machine gun Ganado, they’re also present here as well, but are accompanied by a throng of baddies that carry other weapons as well. During these segments, the game throws you into situations that are very similar to that of “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” and feel thrown in to appeal to the action gamer junkie. However, in reality, they destroy any cohesiveness between the beginning and end of the game. Since you don’t encounter these scenarios until the later half of the game, you’re forced to adapt to this new mechanic amidst some of the more demanding parts of battle. This truly is the game’s biggest letdown, because it results in a loss of that “Resident Evil” feel, and substitutes it for the feeling of playing a generic, bargain bin action game.
With all that said, “Resident Evil 5” is still damn fun to play. With a huge amount of unlockables, the return of Mercenaries mode, and the addition of co-op, you’d be a fool not to give it a try. Graphics, sound, and replay-wise; everything is all there, but if you’re looking for something as memorable and genre-defining as “RE4” you’re likely to walk away disappointed. Hopefully, Capcom will work out the kinks by the time “Resident Evil 6” rears its head, but if they keep straying away from what made the series popular, which was delivering unforgettable scares, and instead continue to cater to the action adventure crowd, the “Resident Evil” franchise has its darkest days ahead.
“Resident Evil 5″ was released on March 13th, for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. This review is based on the PS3 version of the game.