Resident Evil 5
- Street Date:
- March 5th, 2009
- Reviewed by:
- Adam Dodd
- Review Date:1
- September 15th, 2011
- Game Release Year:
- ESRB Rating:
- M (Mature)
The latest installment in Capcom’s best-selling Resident Evil franchise took us on a decidedly different adventure from previous games in the series. In many ways it continued what its predecessor, Resident Evil 4, started, by focusing more on action and spectacle over horror and a creepy setting. Gone are the staples of the survival horror genre, like ammo conservation, sudden scares, and a foreboding atmosphere. Taking their place is the hot and sunny setting of Africa, an arsenal of guns and ammo to help you tackle any scenario, and most notably, co-op.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Resident Evil 4 was a drastic change over previous games, switching the camera to a third person over the shoulder view, replacing the tank-like controls with a more intuitive setup, and the total removal of the shuffling, moaning undead. Despite all this, the game managed to retain some semblance of what made the series so renowned in the first place, like the sense of dread that constantly hangs in the air, the terrifying creatures you encounter, and fantastic boss fights. Resident Evil 5 has some pretty stellar boss encounters and enemy designs, but you won’t be coming across anything that’s even remotely as disturbing as the Regenerator in RE4, though a modified version of the chainsaw man does return, and he’s almost as terrifying this time around.
Overall, the bosses are a bit of a letdown. A majority of them range from uninspired to insanely predictable, or a mixture of the two, with many of them requiring you to focus your fire on the large glowing spots. RE5 overuses the worm-like creatures created by the Uroboros virus, pitting you against them in one form or another on many occasions. There are a few highlights however, like the frantic fight against Irving on a stormy sea. Then, unfortunately, there are also the more frustrating boss encounters where you’re forced to sit in the back of a truck, holding the trigger for 5-10 minutes while aiming at the plagas protruding from a troll-like creature.
For the most part, the combat hasn’t changed much since Resident Evil 4.There are a few nitpicky things like how slow turning your character is, but the only thing that’s just fundamentally wrong with the combat is the inability to strafe. Capcom said they didn’t include what many people consider to be a basic feature in a shooter so the game would be “more intense,” but instead it just makes it more frustrating. So you might not be able to move while you’re fighting the waves of enemies that are thrown at you, but in many cases you won’t need to because of Chris and Sheva’s arsenal of melee moves. Both characters have a cache of melee attacks that are unique to them, with Chris’ attacks relying on his brute strength and Sheva using her agility and talent with bladed weapons to dispatch weakened foes. Using these moves to finish off enemies is a great way to conserve ammunition, though there will rarely be a time when you need to do so.
This game was built from the ground up to accommodate co-op play, so that’s without a doubt the best way to experience it, but if you don’t have someone to play with there are a few things you should know before getting it. First and foremost is the awful, item-hogging AI that is your partner Sheva Alomar. For the most part, Sheva’s a fairly useless companion to have to rely on in such dire circumstances, since she takes her time saving you and doesn’t really care if you’re low on health and really need that first aid spray—instead she’ll take it anyway and you’ll have to ask nicely to get it.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad. Sheva might not have been taught how to share but when it comes to killing, she’s a rather intimidating marksman. Give her a rifle and she’ll take out a startling majority of the enemies that come your way. As a character, Sheva is also one of the best new characters to be introduced to the series so far, and a fantastic addition to Resident Evil’s stellar cast of strong female leads—right alongside Jill and Claire.
Even though the series has strayed far from its roots in the horror genre, that doesn’t mean fans of the series won’t find plenty to love about it. There’s a ton of collectibles, like special costumes and powerful weapons, figurines of the various characters and enemies in the game, and more. If you’re the type of gamer who likes scouring every nook and cranny for easter eggs and hidden items, Resident Evil 5 will definitely satiate your appetite for such things.
The single player campaign doesn’t take very long to beat, somewhere around 4-6 hours total, but that number will likely be a little shorter if you have a friend to play with. When the campaign is finished there’s always the Mercenaries mode, which pits you and a friend (or you can do it alone) against waves of enemies and a time limit. The goal is to survive as long as possible, destroying golden items strewn about the environment to increase your time limit or add a bonus to the points you accumulate. The only downside is you will have to rely on your partner, because if one of you die it’s game over and you’ll have to start over from the beginning. The Mercenaries mode is a fun distraction and it’s evolved a bit since Resident Evil 4 introduced it back in 2005.
Resident Evil 5 is a cinematic experience that more than anything else shows Capcom’s willingness to adapt its flagship franchise to the times. Each new game in the series has done new and exciting things, and RE5 is no exception. It’s just unfortunate that the story is short and the AI is still sub par for a game of this caliber. If you’re a horror fan you won’t find much satisfaction here but if you’re looking for an action-packed experience full of spectacle and a plethora of exciting moments, Resident Evil 5 won’t disappoint.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
It’s been more than two years since Resident Evil 5 launched worldwide, and it’s still one of the best looking games out there. A ton of time and creativity was invested into the world surrounding you, from the special effects to the textures, to make everything look and act realistically. The character models are great, and the animations really bring them to life. The motion capture work and the fact that they brought on film director Jim Sonzero (2006’s Pulse) to craft the cut-scenes gives everything a cinematic look to it.
With the entire game taking place in and around, above and below the fictional area of Kijuju, Africa, this gave Capcom the chance to give us a setting that’s pretty different from most other games. You’ll be exploring ransacked shanty towns, massive underground labs, tribal villages, and ancient ruins, and each time the scenery brings with it a unique look and feel that keeps the game from looking like more of the same thing over and over again. It’s also obvious that Capcom invested quite a bit of time into making sure Resident Evil 5 looked as spectacular as possible on HDTVs, with full 1080p support, high-resolution textures, and gorgeous cinematics. This game really is a feast for the eyes.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
To go with it’s more Michael Bay-esque action, explosions, and deliciously cheesy dialogue; Resident Evil 5’s soundtrack is much more in your face and noticeable. Gone are most of the ambient sounds that make you wonder what’s waiting for you around the next corner. Instead, they’ve been replaced by a faster, more orchestral score that no longer sits idly with the sole purpose of building up the tension. Sure, there are a few moments where that’s its duty, but those sections are few and far between.
The voice acting is top notch, and there’s palpable chemistry between Chris and Sheva. The rest of the cast is good, particularly Wesker, who sounds as evil as any archetypal villain whose hell-bent on world domination before him. Unfortunately, everything’s brought down by some awful writing and a story that teeters between totally unbelievable and unintentionally humorous.
As I said before, Resident Evil 5 is all about the action, and this is something the game does extremely well. The bigger foes sound intimidating, the weapons are realistic and satisfying, and this game has easily some of the best monster sound effects I’ve heard in a game.
Out of all the Resident Evil games, this one is easily the most replayable. The sheer amount of unlockables and hidden items are enough to satisfy even the most hardcore of the series’ fans. Add to that the campaign, which can be played alone or with a friend, the Mercenaries mode, and if you’re willing to forgive the inability to strafe, there’s also the Versus mode. The campaign is pretty short but it pretty much begs for multiple playthroughs, especially if you want to unlock and upgrade the game’s vast arsenal of weapons.
Don’t worry about it feeling like the same exact experience each time either, because you’re looking to spice things up you can switch between Chris and Sheva, mess with their unlockable costumes, try one of the game’s four difficulty settings, and even add filters that can dramatically change the look of the game. One setting ups the contrast and makes everything black and white, giving everything an old school look. If you’re disappointed with the absence of any sort of creepy atmosphere this filter might be a quick way to give the game a Night of the Living dead vibe.
Resident Evil 4 was a departure from many of the things that made the series iconic, replacing the tense survival horror atmosphere and frenetic fights with hordes of the undead with a more action-oriented approach to horror. Resident Evil 5 continues to stray from its horror roots even further, to a point where it’s difficult to call this even an action horror series anymore. If the thought of mowing down waves of enemies with a variety of weapons, grenades, and hummers equipped with dual mini-gun turrets, then this probably won’t disappoint.
- Dolby Digital 5.1
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