Resident Evil 5 Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
March 13, 2009
Third-Person Shooter

Resident Evil 5

Action-packed sequel, more thrills than scares.

Review by Andrew Calvin (Email)
March 25th 2009

“I’m getting swarmed . . .”
“Get out of there!”
“Oh crap, I’m dying. I’m dying!”
“Where are you?”
“Wait, I’ll use an herb. . . . I can’t use it. I can’t use it.”
“It must be red. I’m on my way.”
“It’s too late. I’m dying.”
“I know. I can’t get to you. Where the hell are you!?”

If atmosphere were the overriding element that drew me to Resident Evil 4, then intensity is that thing for 5. The game is addicting, frustrating, and, at times, outright brilliant in its use of co-op. Getting bum rushed by frenzied lickers while severely underequipped and trying to push a crate in order to pull a lever that will thrust you even deeper into hell’s arms - now that is edge-of-your-seat gaming. Taking a friend along and forcing him to do this all while you snipe cover him (even though he hasn’t played the series since the PlayStation days) - that is why you should stop reading this review, suit up, and head to Kijuju to save the world all over again.

Resident Evil 5 brings the series triumphantly to current-gen consoles with a new co-op focus and gorgeous presentation. For vets, there is little connecting the dots all the way back to Raccoon City, but I’m not complaining and you shouldn’t be either. I accepted that 4 shed itself of most of the genre’s trappings. RE5 does the same, opting to shift further towards pure-on action, though it holds on to arguably the worst aspect of the series’ past: no strafing. While some may argue that this inhibitor ups the scare factor, realistically, this latest entry isn’t really scary at all. No longer do we have the plodding zombies that haunted many of our childhoods. These new infected sport intelligence, can and do carry weapons, and need to be dealt with by expert hands - ones that can move while shooting. Then there’s the A.I. While I had far fewer problems than some people, it was still difficult to get Sheva to do what I needed. Often she was in the way or wouldn’t offer the proper support even when I repeatedly issued the right commands.

And those are about all the complaints you’re gonna get in this review.

Resident Evil 5 brings the series triumphantly to current-gen consoles with a new co-op focus and gorgeous presentation.

Reveling in the B-movie goodness that has championed the series since the “master of unlocking” days, this latest entry in Shinji Mikami’s ode to zombies sees the return of Chris Redfield, still haunted by what happened to ex-partner Jill Valentine, and newcomer agent Sheva Alomar as they head to the African desert to investigate suspicious activities. This Hollywood-paced actioner will take them through sunlight-drenched shantytowns, remote tribal villages, pervasively dark mines, and aboard a giant ship. Environments are gorgeously detailed, as are character models; even the cut scenes are worth watching, highlighting just the right amount of campy dialogue and frenetic fight sequences. Everything about Resident Evil 5 has been streamlined to encourage replay - even the overall length is purposely shorter than 4. The story unfolds over replayable chapters with automatic checkpoint saves. This allows solo players to work their way through at their pace, farming for treasure and items, and then jump in at any point with a friend, either local or online. Other factors such as infinite ammo, new costumes, and special weapons add to the fun factor as you work your way up through the professional difficulty mode.

Resident Evil 5 extends the over-the-shoulder view and redesigned controls of 4. Though action fans (especially those used to Gears and other overly-adrenalized offerings) may disagree, I felt the controls, while a bit slow, were very responsive in targeting and overall movement. Setting the aim speed to fastest helped, as did utilizing (and mastering) the game’s many non-shooting elements. Aiming low will often make the infected stagger and open up all kinds of melee options that can be comboed between partners for massive damage. Finisher attacks also make their way into the series. Quick turn is your essential escape device, as boss fights and other confrontations start you facing the enemy. On harder difficulty levels, quick time events became nearly impossible in Resident Evil 4. Thankfully, they are used more sparingly here. Item management has been optimized to allow nine slots per player and that’s it. Everything else is stored in a cache that can be accessed between chapters. Weapon purchases and upgrades are also handled between chapters. Skilled players will learn to navigate the real-time item menu with ease, often reloading there because it’s faster than doing it in-game. The d-pad is now a hot select, with each direction being assignable to any available weapons and items.

Capcom has gone out of its way to craft a truly remarkable followup to its groundbreaking predecessor. Co-op is so expertly infused into every nook of Resident Evil 5 that you’ll be coming back again and again, to carry new players through the adventure, go for that higher rank in the insanely addicting Mercenaries Mode, or simply max out those last few weapons you want to unlock infinite ammo for. Every once in a while, I think about being a kid and clunking through the darkness trying to scavenge a few rounds to fend of the seemingly endless waves of zombies and wonder: what happened? Then I remember what a revelation Resident Evil 4 was. Sure it was action survival horror, but it was still, at its core, a breathtaking leap into a fictional world, one that inspired me to write for this very site. Sure I’d love to see zombies make their way into the series once again, but maybe it’s best to just ride this one out and see what 6 will have in store for us. The way things are going, I’m confident we won’t be disappointed.

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