Deadly hordes of bloodthirsty biological weapons rampage across Africa in Resident Evil 5, the latest entry in Capcom's classic survival horror franchise.
Resident Evil makes the jump to current generation consoles in this fifth installment, which features the return Chris Redfield as a Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Alliance agent investigating an incident in the African desert. Before long, Chris and his new partner Sheva Alomar are up to their armpits in virus-infected humans, trying to uncover the source of this latest outbreak.
With a new setting, new controls, and a new co-op gameplay feature, does Resident Evil 5 manage to bring new life to the series, or does it stumble and fall, overtaken by its own ambition? The shadowy game critics reveal all.
As luck would have it in these games he stumbles upon a plot that involves a virus similar to the Las Plagas nastiness of Resident Evil 4. From here the game devolves into a pursuit of various characters and "the truth" behind the experiments that are the backbone of the Resident Evil storyline. While it begins with promise to wrap up the lingering details with the operatic pomp of Metal Gear Solid 4, RE5's narrative quickly turns clumsy and slapdash. Secrets that are reveled are so blatantly telegraphed from the outset that they lack punch, and the thrust of the narrative is so adolescently linear and told through such embarrassing dialogue that any resonance that was hoped for at the end of a thirteen-year story arc are lost forever in the mess.
Possibly the most jarring initial impression is how little has changed in the core game mechanics. While the prospect of split-screen or co-op online play tantalises, there's an inescapable feeling of deja vu and frustration as you play with an AI partner. To all intents and purposes, this looks and feels like a reskinned, high-def Resi 4, and what was hugely impressive back then often struggles to repeat the trick this far down the line.
...expect to get very frustrated with one Miss Alomar. Although at times she's as helpful as having your best friend sat next to you, within seconds the world's most beautiful colleague seems to have given up entirely. It may be that she decides not to shoot, leaving you with the arduous task of trying to take down a host of enemies that were designed to be assaulted by two people. If Sheva is on task with that, it's likely she'll turn into the world's most selfish BSAA agent. No matter how many times you request an item, be it a gun or a ammo pack, on occasion she won't give it to you. Responses such as, "You can't be serious" and "Not right now" will have your heart worrying about its immediate future. What's worse is that, on a particular boss fight, Sheva was so useless we had to purposely kill ourselves and rearrange our weapons in order to have the grenade launcher we needed.
What makes Resident Evil 5 so much fun to play is the way it's impossible to know what's coming next. You start off in a seriously atmospheric African town, complete with villagers, but you're soon off to an oil refinery, a pitch-black mine, a secret bunker, a yacht and more. Tie these environments to some breathtaking set-piece encounters and you'll be looking back on your time with the game and reminiscing about certain moments just as many people do with Resident Evil 4. There are some spectacular on-rails sections too, and superbly directly QTEs that never make you wish they were traditional gameplay elements.
While retaining much of the spirit of the previous entry, Resident Evil 5 is unquestionably an evolution. A revamped inventory system keeps you in the moment by eliminating the heavy item-management requirements, and the control scheme ditches most of the archaic holdover mechanics from the series' past. However, games like Dead Space have proven that moving while aiming does not kill the mood in a horror game; at this point, rooting Chris and Sheva in place while firing seems more like a cheap and artificial way to increase difficulty than a technique to enhance tension.
Despite my qualms and hand-wringing over what type of game Resident Evil 5 is, one thing is clear, it's fun. From beginning to end, this latest Resident Evil delivers a riveting and intense experience well worth the time spent playing it.
Yeah, still not sure myself.