Resident Evil 5: Official Review
by Gotakibono


Basic Information:
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Date of Release: March 13, 2009
Trophies: 1 1 14 44
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Overview:
It's been thirteen years since Capcom released Resident Evil, a game which helped revolutionize the action-adventure world. Resident Evil would go on to define an entirely new genre dubbed "survival horror." In the years that followed, the series continued to build upon the standards set by the first game with Resident Evil 2 and 3. Then in 2005, Resident Evil 4 radically departed from its predecessors and broke new ground as a more action-oriented game. It was a massive achievement and is commonly referred to as one of the best games ever made. Resident Evil 5 is the latest offering in the long-running series and it expands on the action-heavy formula of its fantastic forerunner. Also, it has been built from the ground up in order to support co-operative gameplay with a friend or an online partner. Let's see if Capcom can match or improve on the magic that was Resident Evil 4...

Gameplay:
In many respects, Resident Evil 5 is more than content to follow the path of its much-loved predecessor while tweaking a few things along the way. It's still very much a series of abrasive set-pieces strung together by slightly ridiculous cut-scenes. Perhaps the main addition to the gameplay is the presence of a fully-controllable camera for the first time. Assigned to the right stick, you finally have the option to sweep the viewpoint around as you wish, and as a result the game is more fluid. Although four control configurations are available, the default works just fine, with a squeeze of the left trigger zooming the camera to the trademark over-the-shoulder view (which so many games adopted in the wake of Resi 4). The laser pointer remains, and a customisable level of sensitivity allows you to tweak to your own satisfaction.

Although it can no longer be considered a survival horror game by any means at this stage, Resident Evil 5 manages to retain a sense of tension into its new mechanics. This is the most important aspect of survival horror and it creates a fun, collaborative experience that will keep you on your toes throughout. So, if that doesn't strike you as mildly disappointing, then the almost complete absence of puzzles and exploration may come as a complete knockout. When you do stumble across puzzles, they're so amazingly basic that I was almost insulted. They pretty much all consist of simple, pointless object hunts that take place right next to their intended target. Far from the promised return to the adventurous exploration of old, you simply work your way through six extremely linear chapters where straying off the obvious beaten track is not an option. In addition, the presence of a new mini-map allows you to see exactly where you should be heading if there should be any lingering doubt. The dumbing-down of almost every aspect of the gameplay is depressing, but I was expecting it to be honest. There are even turret gun sections that made me forget I was playing a Resident Evil game.


The boss fights are fun as you'd expect. You'll encounter all sorts of wacky creatures that
you'll have to defeat to progress.

Possibly the most jarring initial impression that I felt was how little has changed in the core game mechanics. While I enjoyed playing co-op split-screen, there's an inescapable feeling of deja vu. I found myself frustrated when I was playing with my AI partner, as their actions would frequently verge on idiotic (especially on Professional difficulty). Looking at the game as a whole, it looks and feels like a reskinned, high-def Resi 4. While comparing it to Resi 4 might sound good, what was hugely impressive back then often struggles to repeat the trick.

With so much of the gameplay distilled to a sequence of set-pieces, a significant part of what made Resident Evil appealing has been removed, and what remains is the shooting portion. Pushed front and centre, it morphs what was a survival horror adventure into a survival horror shooter, and many will find (myself included) Capcom's transparent desire to appeal to the action gaming audience a little troubling for the series. Resi 4 skillfully straddled a perfect balance between old and new, whereas Resi 5 embraces the action element without concession. Whether it goes too far, of course, will be a matter of serious discourse.

Singleplayer:
Ten years after the destruction of Raccoon City, former S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team member Chris Redfield is an agent of the B.S.A.A. This paramilitary anti-bio-organic weapon organization travels the globe to seek out and destroy Umbrella's creations, which have fallen into the hands of terrorists following the collapse of the multinational pharmaceutical company. When Chris gets a tip that a known weapons dealer will be making a big deal in the remote African nation of Kijuju, he heads there to put a stop to it and learn what he can about the mysterious doomsday project known only as Uroboros. Chris is joined by Sheva Alomar, a local B.S.A.A. agent, and together they battle wave after wave of infected villagers, horribly mutated monsters, and even series archnemesis Albert Wesker makes an appearance. Sounds good right? Wrong, the story is brutally terrible and some of the dialouge made me cringe. Wesker sounds like he's doing a bad Liquid Snake impression and the cut-scenes made me feel like I was watching a Steven Segal movie. I'm not even going to explain how much I died inside when Chris punched that boulder into lava...


Things can get hectic and you'll need to work as a team in order to survive. Playing
spilt-screen with a friend is where Resident Evil 5 shines.

The setting might have changed a little, but everything else is inescapably reminiscent of the village sequence of the previous game, right down to the chainsaw-wielding giant, and the need to scale buildings to get some distance from the onslaught. Even the lurching enemies with their side-stepping attack evasion are the same. The weapons they wield are largely identical, as is their physics-defying animation, where foes reel back in classic exaggerated fashion. From sound effects to graphical style to core gameplay and AI, there has been little or no change apart from an admittedly arresting visual upgrade. It's a different setting, with different character models, but the game you're playing has, for the most part, essentially the exact same template repeated in a different setting.

Capcom has done what so many developers have done in this generation, and made it too easy. With all the checkpoints available, an average player will breeze through the game in around 10-12 hours, beating most of the bosses on the very first attempt. However, Capcom has made one exceptionally smart design decision in rewarding game completion with an infinite-ammo assault rifle. Which is yet another nail in the coffin of Resi's rich survival horror history.

Multiplayer:
Multiplayer co-op is Resi 5's saving grace. It enables you to tackle the enormously entertaining Veteran difficulty on a surer footing and wade into enemies like never before. The entire style of the game transforms, as one player harvests all the ammo while the other becomes a kind of point man, taking the lead and a lot of the risk into the bargain. Enemies are so much tougher at this level, and dish out so much more damage, what might have been a mindless procession turns into a challenging, tense affair that plays out superbly with a friend providing backup.


The crazy chainsaw people are back and Dr.Salvador would be proud of their chainsaw yielding
abilities. Safe to say you don't want to get too close.

Even better, Capcom has managed to get the whole thing working well whether you're playing locally or over the internet. Offline, the split-screen mode is excellent, with an interesting horizontal split system that, rather than splitting the screen in half, shifts both views to a specific portion of the screen area to maintain the aspect ratio. If you're lucky enough to own a big TV, it feels like having a proper screen to yourself, which is rarely the case in these situations. I played through the game with my friend like this and it was great fun. Online, of course, is at the mercy of connections speeds and lag, but in the right conditions it all holds up remarkably well.

Technical:
Resident Evil 5 is a lovely game to look at, textures, lighting and animations are all top-notch. The sound in the environments are well done and belivable and never stray from the desired effect. However, the voice acting is some of the worst I have ever heard, EVER. I'm a huge fan of the series so seeing Wesker prancing around with a heavy duty English accent left me slightly bemused. Chris sounds like he has a wedgie and Sheva has a remarkablely Lara Croft style accent. That aside, Resident Evil 5 is very strong technically.


Gameplay: 8/10
Pretty much Resident Evil 4 with added co-op. It's still fun to play but it's morphed into a pure action game and has all but abandoned its survival horror roots.

Singleplayer: 6.5/10
The story is very forgettable and it all feels like a desperate attempt to recapture the heights of Resident Evil 4. Some set-peices are blatantly copied and it seems to have lost that quality that made the previous Resident Evil games what they were.

Multiplayer: 9/10
Resident Evil 5 is definitely best played with a friend. I had great fun playing online and playing spilt-screen with my mates. This is definitely the strongest aspect of Resident Evil 5 and is a real saving grace.

Technical: 7.5/10
Graphics wise it's beautiful and the enemies' actions and sounds are suitably crazy. Textures, animations and lighting are all great too. Although, voice acting is dire. It sounds like Chris and everyone else is in a recording booth throughout and since when is Wesker English?


Overall: 7.5/10


Resident Evil 5 is a game that collaspes under the strain of its immaculate predecessor. Instead of reinventing the core gameplay again, Capcom have pretty much remade Resident Evil 4 and have thrown co-op into the mix. It's not a bad game per se, but it just doesn't feel like a Resident Evil game. Survival horror has a new king in the form of Dead Space, so seeing the Resident Evil series coalesce into a full-on action game is slightly disheartening.