Even if you’re playing solo, you’ll seldom be alone in RE5.
It’s been a long time since that first, creepy and suspense-filled romp in the mansion near Raccoon City. A lot of things have changed, but thankfully for the bigger and better. The latest Resident Evil is here and you’re in for a wild ride. For starters, this isn’t your old school zombie-fest. As with the previous game, you’ll be dealing with enemies that won’t mindlessly plod after you. The opposition in RE5 will run, stalk and chase you relentlessly from the get-go. Many will wield weapons, on occasion better than what you’ll be packing (unless you work on upgrading your arsenal to super-weapon status).
Resident Evil 5 isn’t a slow-paced struggle to survive like the earlier installments… it’s a high-octane, fast-paced and often frenetic and relentless drive forward, to work your way past obstacles and opponents either by firepower or by brainpower. And you WILL want to reach the end thanks to the intriguing (if quite predictable) plot.
Two’s company, but three’s a crowd. Though Captain Josh Stone (far right) will give backup occasionally, for the most part it’s just Chris and Sheva doing the dirty work.
Welcome to Africa!
Resident Evil 5 sees Chris Redfield, the series’ manly-man hero (as opposed to emo pretty boy Leon) returning for his finest (or darkest) hour. Currently an agent of the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance), which is a kind of INTERPOL against biological threats, Chris has been called to the (fictional) African country of Kijuju to investigate a black market weapons deal going down. Mission aside though, Mr. Redfield’s got a personal stake in his current safari… something that involves someone who was very, very close to him who is now apparently very, very dead. Or not. Oh, the drama!
Aiding Chris throughout his mission will be African BSAA agent Sheva Alomar. If you’re playing solo (which may usually be the case), Sheva will be controlled by the game’s A.I., and thankfully, to be fair, it works fine. Sheva almost never, if ever, gets lost or jammed anywhere, she can hold off enemies on her own (just don’t leave her surrounded by dozens of mutant freaks armed with just her knife) and in some ways her unerring sense of direction makes some things a lot easier. Yeah, she’ll use up her ammo fast and won’t know if you want to conserve that first aid spray or herb until you’re actually 99.5% dead, but she does her job pretty well.
If you think Irving here looks unpleasant now… wait till he gets an ‘extreme makeover’.
The ‘Partners’ theme is RE5’s unique new gameplay mechanic. For the most part a lot of the action is carried over from Resident Evil 4. You have your over-the-shoulder view and you still can’t move when you’re shooting (which is really no issue for me… this isn’t Gears of War, people). RE4’s creepy, cloaked weapon merchant is gone (probably retired after making a bundle off Kennedy’s sales) but you have an in-game shop that you access in-between stages. Money and ammo are often dropped by defeated enemies, so you’ll more or less always have adequate firepower, but not the humongous arsenal in RE4. Long story short, making shots count is still required so don’t go Rambo.
Well, unless you’ve unlocked unlimited ammo…
Glamor and Gore
Visually, this game is pretty. As in, Pretty Awesome. As expected of a game in this generation, the graphics are high resolution made specially to show up beautifully on HDTVs. Characters sport detail, texture and quality that is on par with stuff like MGS4. Monsters look suitably HORRIBLE and often are huge, like stories tall. Everything has an excellent, big budget, larger-than-life level to them, and that extends to the ‘makeover’ the characters have gotten (at least the returning ones). Chris has gotten buffer and more rugged, sporting some macho stubble and a build like an MMA fighter. Evil ol’ Albert Wesker has gotten slicker and cooler, like he’s watched far too much Matrix. And then there’s… well… you’re gonna have to play the game I guess. Overall, it all looks like you’re watching a blockbuster action movie, with some pretty wonderful fight sequences (albeit often one-sided… why do the bad guys always have the acrobatic stunt powers…?) and cutscenes throughout.
If there’s one thing that this game is sadly lacking, it’s a catfight between Sheva and wickedly hot Excella here.
The environments vary greatly, from the ramshackle shanties of ruined, plague-ridden Kijuju villages gone mad to claustrophobic mines, a couple of large, expansive outdoor stages and some impressive hi-tech facilities. Scale and detail is impressive, and gives the whole preceding a sweeping feel. You can almost feel the heat of the African sun in some stage… almost.
Sound-wise, RE5 shines with good to excellent voice acting throughout- there’s probably just one performance that can elicit unintentional laughs, but I rolled with it. For the most part, Chris and Sheva are fine, but it’s the villains, Wesker and Excella, who have the most fun, hamming it up with supreme arrogance, taunting the protagonists at every turn. Sound effects and music are superb, from the ambient effects like flies buzzing over corpses in ruined locales, to enemies making chilling war cries, screeches and screams as they approach. The music has a wonderfully menacing way of turning up as a monster readies to attack, giving you a warning to beat feet or turn to fire. On a great sound system, this game should ROCK.
Plays Familiar, Just Better
As I’ve mentioned, RE5’s gameplay is heavily influenced by RE4, but that’s not a bad thing. The controls take some getting used to, but once you get into the groove, after the first hour you’ll be doing fine. There are once again tons of instances where you’ll do Quicktime Events- cinematic cutscene-like sequences that require you to press a button or buttons to survive and continue. These will most probably surprise you when they first appear and result in instant death. One the good side, you’ll be able to try again quickly no problem, and they look pretty kick-ass anyway. Expect these a lot in the game’s cinematic and intense endgame.
Ah, Albert. How much he’s changed since his appearance in the first game…
And speaking of endgames, RE5’s climactic boss fights in RE5 are easily some of the most memorable in the series; one against a certain someone you would rather not fight, but have to (hmmm) and one against an enemy that’s been a long time coming. Both aren’t just simple clashes of firepower where the biggest gun rules- you have to use your brain a bit and engage in some pretty unconventional tactics. They’re cool and intense and quite unique, glad to say. But don’t worry- you still end up with some of the game’s staples, and then some.
Fear You Can’t Put Down
Even after finishing the solo game, you get your expected New Game+ to play again from your partner Sheva’s perspective, several difficulty levels to crank up the challenge, an unlockable all-action Mercenaries Mode and a host of stuff and unlockables to work for. Conveniently there are Files to read through for info on the characters and series’ background, a cutscene viewer to savor those lovely pre-rendered cinematics and a store where you can buy features and bonuses. There’s lots of incentive to play again and keep playing, making the game a pretty full package of gaming goodness. Don’t worry, this game will give you your money’s worth.
Who’s under the hood? Who can it be..? That’s a toughie…
Capcom hasn’t been prudent in their marketing for this game- perhaps in their enthusiasm, they pretty much spoiled a lot of the plot with at least a couple of the trailers. Anyone with a working knowledge of addition (1+1=2) will most probably know what is going on and what will happen in the game, and even those who haven’t seen the trailers will probably figure out the game’s ‘plot twist’ midway into the story. I mean, the only one who doesn’t figure it out is musclehead Chris himself (to quote Wesker… ‘So slow to catch on’)… what a dope.
Predictability aside, the story isn’t needlessly convoluted (even with a ton of background stuff and info accessible in the game) and the theme of bonds between partners is well presented. The drama thankfully never really gets cheesy and there’s little, if any, laughable dialogue. In the end I definitely came away happy and satisfied, and that’s all that matters.
The Last Word
Looking and playing great, Resident Evil 5 is a wonderfully spectacular, larger-than-life finale to the saga of the heroes and villains that began way back in the mansion near Raccoon City. It’s here where a longtime rivalry is finally fought to the conclusion, where just desserts are finally dished out… and they end it fittingly with a BANG. Fortunately though, RE5 isn’t as closed or final an ending as with MGS4 was, so I do hope Capcom doesn’t completely wipe the slate clean when they come out with the eventual and inevitable sequels.
Whereas the first Resident Evil was a B-Movie horror flick, RE5 is a Big Budget Sci-fi Action Adventure film that’s IMO better than all three of the live-action movies combined. With massive monsters, grade-A action sequences, fan service and megatons of firepower loaded, this is a highly-polished game that should please and satisfy longtime fans and is also accessible to newcomers. So pack your bags, bring plenty of sunscreen and book your ticket to Kijuju.
Resident Evil 5 is one of the best games I’ve played on the PS3. It’s a definite Must Have and a BUY on the system (and that should go with the Xbox360 version as well), and a sure-buy for fans of the series. Get it and enjoy it, people… not many games like this come out every day. Hats off to Jun Takeuchi and crew for coming up with this winner.