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Resident Evil 5

AT A GLANCE
  • Co-op campaign is immensely fun
  • Amazingly gorgeous visuals
  • After-game content is quite generous
  • You still have to stop to shoot
  • Lacks the mystery or suspense of RE4
  • A couple of really frustrating areas

It’s impossible to overstate how important Resident Evil 4 was to the zombie-smashing franchise, and (surprisingly) the industry as a whole. Within one game it banished the shambling undead, revamped the rustic, horrid controls and pioneered the over-the-shoulder view that countless games have since taken as their own (see: Gears of War, Dark Sector, Dead Space). It was the definition of revolutionary, and successfully reformed the aging series into a must-play experience.

 

Resident Evil 5, on the other hand, can’t possibly do all that again. It can’t set a new standard for third-person action as it so closely apes RE4 that it’s almost the same game with amazing new visuals and a few enhancements. In other words, kind of like what RE3 was to RE2 – a technical improvement but lacking in imagination.


Above: A rough analogy, but apt 

However, RE5 does manage to improve upon certain gameplay touches we all adored in RE4, as well as deliver one teeth-shattering scenario after another, so don’t for a second think RE5’s come up short. It had an impossibly tough act to follow and even caught in the long, long shadow of part four, manages to stand out as one of the most memorable action experiences of late, particularly with two players.

But realize what we said – one of the best action experiences, because…

 

Resident Evil 5 humbles even part four’s more-fight-than-flight gameplay. The vast majority of the game, which takes bio-terror agent Chris Redfield from the sun-baked village of Kijuju to elaborate underground facilities, focuses on shooting the living hell out of anything that moves. There’s no fright, no jump scares, no sense of terror whatsoever. You’re almost always weighed down with ammo and top-notch weapons, ready to eviscerate infected Majini villagers, bat monsters or whatever other bioengineered horror is scurrying through the hallways (including one long-absent creature from the PSone days).


Above: Lickers are back! 

Button-mashy melee attacks are far more prevalent than before, and are key to downing enemies quickly. Shoot a guy in the leg, for example, and he’ll stumble into a position where Chris can uppercut, then stomp his head into paste, saving several bullets in the process. You can even chain these together with a co-op pal, flattening some big baddies in no time. Naturally you’ll need to break out the firearms for groups or larger than life monsters, but there’s definitely a more visceral, in-your-face approach than before. It’s a drastic change, but one that makes asploding parasitic monster heads immensely entertaining.


Above: Chris winding up for a face-caving uppercut 

Other action-oriented changes: the map is an easily read heads-up display instead of a separate screen, and you buy/upgrade weapons in between each level instead of tracking down a gravel-voiced vendor. Die, and you pop right back to that item screen for re-stocking, then return to the mid-level checkpoint. This ups the adrenaline and gets you back in the game quickly, but sacrifices any remaining chance of the game ever scaring you in any way. There’s hardly any sense of danger or loss at all.


Above: You know what’s not scary? Turrets! 

The “KILL IT NOW!” direction makes repeat plays quite inviting, as you no longer have to worry about conserving ammo or losing tons of progress per death; you’re free to unleash hell at your leisure.

Combine this streamlined interface with enemies that are even more active than RE4’s bloodthirsty Los Ganados, and you quickly forget you’re playing Resident Evil. The afflicted Majini soldiers lay down cover fire, man boats, talk openly amongst themselves and deftly race motorcycles across bumpy African wilderness while firing automatic weapons. They’re about as far from zombies as you could get, but, in tandem with all the toothy monstrosities, definitely make for exciting shootouts and offer plenty of over-the-top gore-splosion moments.


Above: So many ways to die (boss spoilers!)

 

Control, usually stiff and limiting in RE titles, has been further tweaked to accommodate all the rocket launching, grenade tossing violence. You can now walk with the left stick and move with the right, plus quick-select weapons with the d-pad, enabling quicker responses than even RE4’s improved handling. Strangely, remnants of vintage Evil are still intact, squishing RE5 in between two disparate genres:


Above: It’s an action game with horror trappings 

Despite the much-appreciated two-stick control, you still cannot walk and shoot at the same time. Capcom has said this is due to the series’ survival horror roots, but um, what “roots” are we talking about? The ones part four trimmed, or the ones part five douses in weed killer? If it looks like Gears, has occasional cover like Gears and has the same one-button partner revive like Gears, we expect to be able to at least walk and fire at the same time (hell, we’d even settle for a dive-away-from-danger jump like every other action game on the market).

The idea is that limiting your movement ups the fear factor. It worked for the first four games just fine, but given that RE5 is in no way a horror experience, it would have made a whole lot more sense just to let us move freely.

 

Other horror silliness disrupts the “go-go-go” gameplay, like puzzles involving crests and chalices (which are slowly working their way out of the series) and knee-high objects that neither Chris nor Sheva can step over, forcing you to sniff out the proper path when, if it were any other gun-heavy game, we could hop right over. If you’ve made your peace with this kind of stuff, it won’t bother you at all. If you’re trying RE for the first time because of the cool-ass trailers and explodaganza screenshots, such bizarre restrictions could irritate enough to make you put the controller down and fire up a game that doesn’t insist on clutching dusty old ideas.

Next page – how co-op makes the whole thing better

More Info

Release date: Mar 13 2009 - PS3, Xbox 360
Sep 15 2009 - PC (US)
Mar 13 2009 - PS3, Xbox 360
Sep 18 2009 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Franchise: Resident Evil
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
PEGI Rating:
18+

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  • tororosso - May 1, 2010 12:19 p.m.

    HUGE MISS What where they thinking changing our original horror game that started it all into a copy cat Gears of War style image. Playing this game is like trying to finish a B rated movie. Its just that horrible... Hope they bring back the team that made RE4 and RE:Code Veronica because this crew who produced this one totally trashed the RE culture. (360)(Surround sound) Story: 60 Gameplay/Immersive: 90/70 Video:92 Audio:85 Overall: 79 More info on Story:(Bad pacing, horrible writing. Voice actings suffers because of it.. I can tell the actors trieds so hard to make it work but writing so horrble that was useless) One good thing is the controls.. its much more enjoyable with the new control format. But RE identity was lost in the process. I say bring back guys that did past RE but keep the guys who made this game to cover graphics / gameplay department.
  • FluffyDestructo - August 25, 2009 8:49 p.m.

    Great game but waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too easy and not very scary at all. The only things that could really actually scare somebody is when a big guy comes up and screams and grabs you from behind. The enemies in RE4 are a lot scarier than the ones in RE5, but it's a still a lot of fun, and at least you don't have to protect some little teenage girl that can't do anything for herself adn get's killed and captured very easily in big battles like in RE4...
  • BEASTMODE1236 - August 6, 2009 10:57 p.m.

    sorry ment till i get it
  • BEASTMODE1236 - August 6, 2009 10:56 p.m.

    i cant wait for this game to come out it ganna be soooo sick
  • coolkiid407 - July 31, 2009 5:40 p.m.

    I think dat RE 5 is tha best out of all tha RE games tha only problem is dat its not scary but its a really cool game.
  • ghostofwar - July 19, 2009 1:45 a.m.

    It's ridicuise becuase you can't walk and shoot. Also run out of ammo too quickly!!!
  • gamer49 - June 7, 2009 12:01 a.m.

    i haven't had a chance to play this yet but i will probbaly be mad by the time i get done. But the game will still be good.
  • Da-Ku - April 4, 2009 9:20 p.m.

    COD5 Has the same ofset split screen system the bane of mine and my dads life...
  • jasoncon17 - March 30, 2009 9:31 p.m.

    WE R THE REAL REAIDENT EVIL
  • deathwhisper9602 - March 27, 2009 6:05 a.m.

    yeah that sucks how you cant run and shoot.
  • Biohazard82493 - March 19, 2009 2:45 a.m.

    damn i didn't see the comment of DawgsFan117 until now men stop complaining about this game. if you dont like go play a game you like why do you have to critisize a game you dont like damn i hate than kind of people you say you heat retarded fanboys well see who' is talking DawgsFan117 what you think you are the masterchief or what hell men you are pathetic
  • GoGoGadgetFlow - March 14, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    my apologies for the double post, but i forgot to mention my hatred of the addition of co-op. RE4, and the RE series for that matter, were meant to be played by onself and to be hard in the sense that you had to play and replay parts that you died on. By having two people, the challenge factor is shattered
  • GoGoGadgetFlow - March 14, 2009 11:18 p.m.

    i agree that the stand and shoot idea is outdated. it worked for RE4 because that game WAS scary, so in reality, it was like being "scared stiff". I am dissapointed to hear that ammo is no longer scarce as it was in RE4. Thta added some challenge to the killing and the boss fights (the demos was far too easy IMO). And WTF not scary? I was hoping to soil at least one pair of underwear while playing this (RE4 made me jump more than once). I will be buying this, but with a heavy heart. RE4 will still be top dog.
  • crimson_soulreaper305 - March 14, 2009 5:03 p.m.

    sorry about double post i dont want to completly crap all over this game like adam sessler its still really good but to me it couldnt live up to its hype just like assassin's creed and force unleashed
  • Phantasmagorical - March 14, 2009 7:13 a.m.

    An excellent score for an excellent game. I agree with every point you made, so this review makes me very happy. Lucky for me I don't mind that it's missing some key points that RE should have. I can of course say, "Yes, if it had that it would be a better game." But it's certainly an impressive game either way.
  • ThunderMuffinsMcgee - March 14, 2009 12:39 a.m.

    This game is awesome. I hated RE4's controls so I didn't play all of it. I didn't get too deep into the previous games so I never really like the series. But I rented this game this afternoon. So far it is really good even though you can't shoot and run. I didn't think that RE4 was that frightning anyways so this one not being so is just another reason to play. Good review!
  • Diamondis - March 13, 2009 7:37 a.m.

    Yeah... Except the chainsaw guy has stupid AI meaning you can stand infront of him, then walk past him while he tries to attack thin air and kill him. Personally I think Capcom forgot about move + shoot, then called it a feature lol. RE isn't a scary game anymore, so no point trying to make it scary with one tiny annoying feature.
  • Synster - March 12, 2009 7:46 p.m.

    Keep defending this game by saying "That's what RE is/Etc." Whatever though. I've heard many Professionals on many different sites say this is a Great Game, but fails to live up to it's expectations. See. The reason you might have thinked previous Resident Evil games were 'Scary' was because the controls were so infuriatingly frustrating. At first this was a rent, but now I'm not so Sure.
  • loves2spoon - March 12, 2009 12:43 a.m.

    Wow you guys are like moody old ladies. It sounds like you would complain about any little thing in the game. Like the fact you cant run and gun. Thats part of all RE games, survival horror or not. If they had changed this I bet that you guys would have started to whine because they changed it. Face it you guys aren't easily pleased. This is a great game with fun gameplay and awesome replay value. The one thing I would have liked to see is a longer story mode but because of the replay value I'm satisfied. Also why did you guys have to compare this with Gears and Dead Space? Because they are in the same genre category..... Not good nuff... Gears may have a better multiplayer but only because it was meant to have that function. RE4 wasn't multiplayer so why would RE5 be. It has co op yes but only because your partner isn't a whiny blonde bitch. That being said I think it is unfair to compare the two games that way. Yes I have rambled on for like 2000 words but only because certain things that you said in the review really pushed my buttons so I kinda had to vent lol. Other than the few picky comments it was a nicely done review and the score..... I cant argue ^_^
  • Phazon117 - March 11, 2009 7:21 p.m.

    Gaylo is one of the stupidest fanboy puns around. Nice review btw, GR.