Resident Evil 5 Review

The Resident Evil series was my first taste of the Survival Horror genre many moons ago, and it’s hard to believe that the franchise has been around for nearly 13 years.

After 4 entries into the series proper, and more than as many spin offs, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the franchise may have lost it’s sheen over the years. After Resident Evil 4 breathed fresh life into the series, RE5 was going to have to step it’s game up if they wanted to be relevant when there are a number of other Survival Horror titles out there on the market challenging it’s status.

So, how does RE5 stack up to it’s critically acclaimed predecessor, and others in the genre? I think rather well.

Resident Evil isn’t known for it’s gripping narrative, or even passable voice acting, and RE5 is no different. For series fans, not much is new here, barring a few pieces of intel documents that shed some light on the origins of this entire mess. When it comes to narrative, all you need to know is that a buffed out Chris Redfield, who is now a member of a group called the BSA, has been sent to Africa to investigate some strange happenings at a remote village.

He is partnered up with newcomer to the series (and damn fine hottie) Sheva Alomar, who can give as good as Chris, and then some, without the need for steroids, to boot.

Personally, I thought the voice acting was weak, but on par with the other Resident Evil games. The rest of the audio, from enemy cries, to disgusting splorchy noises and weapon fire is very good.

Graphics wise, the game is impressive, with clean textures, very good lighting, and detailed character models. The only issue I have with the visuals are the animations that look like they were ripped out of Resident Evil 4. Considering how games like MGS4, Uncharted, and Heavenly Sword have pushed character animations in games this generation, it’s disappointing to me that Resident Evil 5 falls so short here, especially considering how fantastic the overall visual presentation is.

On the gameplay front, I found the title to be highly enjoyable, especially in co-op mode. The environments are varied and well designed, and the set piece battles are intense and spine-tingling. The boss battles are also rather varied and unique, requiring a different strategy in order to defeat each.

Enemy AI is relatively non-existent. I mean, they are zombies, afterall, but the sheer number of them on screen at once, and their knack for ganging up on you makes up for their lack of smarts.

The context sensitive actions are enjoyable, and it’s very satisfying to fire a shot into a Maijini’s kneecap, dropping him to the ground, then running up and delivering a powerful blow or kick to their head.

The controls will be familiar to anyone that has played RE4, but I admit it was a bit of a disappointment to not be able to move and shoot at the same time like other contemporary shooters out there. It only took me a few minutes to get used to the controls again, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means.

The inventory system is done in game, there is no pause to access items, so that ratchets up the tension a bit, and makes you more aware of your surroundings, and when and where you attempt to switch items.

Fortunately, a handy quick select feature is implemented on the digital pad, where you can assign whatever weapon/item you’d like on the up, down, left, and right buttons, and access them at your leisure.

But is the game scary? At times, yes, it is, but Resident Evil 5 is an “Action Horror” game through and through. There are scares to be had, but due to the control scheme, and the game’s emphasis on action over building tension and suspense, the scares are generally limited to the tried and true, jump out and frighten you variety.

The fact that Sheva is always by your side is also a comfort, and somewhat dilutes any scares. Speaking of Sheva, she is certainly one of the most usefull ally AI characters I’ve encountered in gaming so far. She will collect items and money, heal you when you are critical, and lend a hand when you are in the grip of a vicious Maijini. She very rarely, if ever, gets in the way, but Sheva, and the game itself, really shines when you bring another buddy into the fray for some split screen, or online co-op.

Having another human character watching your back is always more favorable than an AI, unless they aren’t quite up to snuff, which can be frustrating.

Throw in a nice amount of unlockables (like game mode Mercenaries, and new characters to play as), upgradable weapons, and other secrets to be had, and Resident Evil 5 is a solid, entertaining Action Horror experience.

VERDICT: BUY – If you enjoyed Resident Evil 4, I don’t see how you wouldn’t enjoy Resident Evil 5, even in light of it’s lack of a “current gen” control setup. Co-op is where the game really shines, so I highly recommend teaming up with a friend and tackling the story and Mercenaries mode together).

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