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Resident Evil 5 Review

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Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: March 13, 2009 Available On: PS3 and Xbox 360

In January 2005, Capcom released Resident Evil 4. It was a reinvention of one of their most popular franchises. Gone were the magical chests where you could store items and pick them up at different points in the game, camera angle issues and robotic controls. A refined control system was complemented with an over-the-shoulder camera making and improved targeting system. All of this made Resident Evil 4 stand out as the pre-eminent game in the survival horror genre.

Resident Evil 5 has been a long time coming. It also has come with high expectations after following up the now classic Resident Evil 4. It is a good thing that they took their time since this game looks every bit a next-generation title. The cinematic storytelling is on par with the best, including Metal Gear Solid 4. You play as Chris Redfield from the original Resident Evil. Following the Raccoon City incident Chris left STARS and is now a member of the Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Alliance. He gets dispatched to Africa where he is to stop Ricardo Irving from selling viruses on the black market.

The demo of Resident Evil 5 scared me. And not in a good way. As I said in my preview of the game: “My biggest gripe so far with Resident Evil 5 is the controls. They feel like they are a step back for the series. The robotic feel of the old Resident Evil games is back. Simple things such as reloading require you to press multiple buttons while changing weapons is a tedious task itself. You have to open a menu where all of your equipment is, select the item with the radial (which is not precise) and then press ‘equip’ to use the item. All without pausing!”

I stand by my original assessment that the controls are antiquated. You will get used to them, so it is not like they render the game unplayable, but they do tend to get in the way more often than you would like. For instance, the system of selecting, using and giving items is slow and tedious. Going through a menu in the heat of action, particularly when you are fighting a boss, is always quite annoying. You can, however, put four different items in your nine item inventory on a hot key. The control pad is used to access these hot keys. Again, it will require a certain amount of planning ahead of time for what items you will want to put on your hot keys.

Thankfully some of my fears were unwarranted. For instance, I complained about the lack of a “true” single player experience since throughout Resident Evil 5 you are always accompanied by a second player named Sheva (either computer or human). Sheva turns out to be not nearly as incompetent as I thought she would be. Most of the time she conserves her ammo better than a human player would and rarely gets herself in a situation that she can not handle. There are times that she will get in the way of your shot, but for the most part, she is fully capable of performing her role.

One of the new features in Resident Evil 5 is the introduction of co-op. While Resident Evil Outbreak was a first step towards online multi-player for the franchise, communication was a major hurdle. Resident Evil 5 is mostly a linear game without a whole lot of backtracking involved. That takes coordinating with another person a lot easier. As does the fact that you can not leave a certain area without your partner joining you. Of course online co-op is not the only option you have. You can also play split-screen co-op with a friend which will ensure even better cohesion.

Another change is the upgrade and purchasing system in Resident Evil 5. The guy with the cape that sold you stuff is gone and has been replaced by a simple menu system. At the start of each game, chapter and restart will prompt the inventory and upgrade system. This allows you to swap weapons, place them in your inventory, combine items, sell items and purchase upgrades. Jewels and various other treasures can be found throughout the game and sold for upgrades. Upgrading your weapons is essential if you want to succeed. Reload speed, capacity and fire power are among the upgrades that you can purchase for your weapons.

Despite the disappointing controls, Resident Evil 5 is a cinematic masterpiece that ultimately moves the franchise into the next-generation in a strong fashion. The online and split-screen co-op are welcome additions and Sheva plays surprisingly well as computer AI when you are playing by yourself. Graphically, this is a stunning title that stands out as one of the best looking games of the generation. With games like Killzone 2 and now Resident Evil 5, 2009 is shaping up to be one of the better years for gaming.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.8
Written by Kyle Write a User Review