Once upon a time, there were two big names in survival horror, one was the Silent Hill series and the other being Resident Evil. Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan) began on the Playstation platform has spawned numerous sequels and related titles. Today we will look at the latest version of the series – Resident Evil 5. This version is set in an African desert area known as Kijuju. You play as protagonist, Chris Redfield and have a new partner, Sheva Alomar who is a newcomer to the Resident Evil universe. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of familiar names and faces as you progress into the game.
As a fan of the Resident Evil series, my main issue with this game is that it is not scary. There are no jump out of your seat moments as in prior Resident Evil games. Games such as F.E.A.R and Deadspace have usurped the survival horror crown and Resident Evil 5 does nothing to try and take back its crown. That being said, Resident Evil 5 is not a bad game, in fact it is quite good. It just does not match up to its predecessors in the scare department which may disappoint some hard core Resident Evil Fans.
Here are some box shot of the game and the declassified booklet on Resident Evil 5 sent over from the good folks at Capcom.
Please check out these game play videos before we get to the rest of the review.
Somewhere in Africa, innocent villagers are transforming into ruthless abominations. Chris Redfield and his new partner, Sheva Alomar, must stop whatever is causing the disturbing turn of events. Now featuring online co-op, players can experience the next generation of fear together as terror moves out of the shadows and into the light of day.
* Two Playable Characters – Chris Redfield, protagonist of the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, returns and is joined by new playable character Sheva Alomar, an African BSAA agent tasked with investigating the epidemic
* Two Player Online Co-op – New cooperatively-focused gameplay revolutionizes the way that Resident Evil is played. Chris and Sheva must work together to survive new challenges and fight dangerous hordes of enemies
* Next Generation of Fear – Features groundbreaking graphics that utilize an advanced version of Capcom’s proprietary game engine, MT Framework, which powered the hit titles Devil May Cry 4, Lost Planet and Dead Rising
* “Quick-Select” Inventory System – Improved inventory system allows items to be traded between characters. To add to the intensity, all inventory management is done in real time; items can even be assigned to the directional pad for instant access
* New Control Schemes – Features new modernized third-person action game control variations as well as the return of the traditional Resident Evil 4 control schemes
* New Enemies Bring New Challenges – Enemies boast increased speed and intelligence, making them as dangerous alone as they are in groups
* Powerful New Weapons – The number of weapon variations has been greatly increased providing new ways to keep enemies at bay
* Fear Light as much as Shadow – Lighting effects provide a new level of suspense as players attempt to survive in both harsh sunlight and extreme darkness
The basic game premise involves Chris Redfield, one of the original characters from the 1st Resident Evil game, working for a group known as Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). He is sent to investigate a possible weapons deal set to occur in Kijuji.
At the beginning of the game, Chris is teamed up with Sheva Alomar, a member of the BSAA African branch. Your original goal is to capture Ricardo Irving who is helping to distribute B.O.W.S (Biological Organic Weapons) to the indigenous population. Along the game campaign the player will discover that things are more insidious than originally expected.
During most of the gameplay the player will be facing off against the Majini who are humans infected with the Las Plagas parasites. As the game progress these Majini become tougher opponents to face off against as there are various types of Manjni ranging from Town Majinis to Chainsaw Majinis to Gatling Gun Majinis. These Majini are not your lumbering zombies of old as the Las Plagas parasite possessed humans react with intelligence and awareness of their surroundings.
Earlier versions of Resident Evil featured fixed camera angles and limitations on how and where the characters could move. Resident Evil 5 like the acclaimed Resident Evil 4 does not have these limited boundaries as the characters can now move more freely.
Gameplay in Resident Evil 5 will feel very familiar to those who have played Resident Evil 4 as they closely resemble the latter’s control scheme. Players are controlled in the third person with an over the shoulder camera view focused behind either Chris or Sheeva. When aiming a weapon, the camera will zoom in and add a laser site to help aim at targets. Shooting enemies knocks them off balance allowing the characters to perform physical attacks which helps conserve ammo.
Once enemies are defeated, they will disintegrate into goo and most times leave behind some sort of loot whether it is ammo, gold or other supplies. In addition, supplies can be found by breaking objects such as vases, food stands, tribal masks as well as in chests and cabinets scattered throughout the various levels.
Context sensitive controls make their return as Chris and Sheeva can interact with their environments by pressing the circle or square buttons. Some examples of this include dodging attacks, jumping through windows or down from heights, climbing ladders, etc. Some puzzles need team interaction to solve, such as assisted jumps can help Sheeva get to points otherwise unreachable. Even boss battles involve these context controls as in one battle where you fight a Giant from behind a turret at the end of the second chapter.
Resident Evil 5 can be played in “Rogue” which is single player mode or in co-op mode locally with a split screen or online through the Playstation Network. In co-op mode players can enter or leave gameplay at any time and can separate at different junctures in the game.
Graphically, the game is stunning. Played on a large screen 1080P screen the game is fantastic to look at and play. In the past, the cut scenes were generally much better looking than the actual games. This is not the case with Resident Evil 5 as the game looks as detailed as the cut scenes. Like most next generation games, the game includes Dolby Digital, so get those 5.1 surround systems ready for a work out as the audio is almost on par with the graphics.
As I previously mentioned, Resident Evil 5 is not a survival horror game as it is an action game. That does not mean that Resident Evil 5 is a bad game. In fact it is quite enjoyable, as long as you do not expect jump out of your seat thrills. The other main complaint I have about the game is the control scheme was irritating. There were many times when I was in the middle of a battle and ended up pulling out a knife instead of a gun. What do they always say about bringing a knife to a gun battle again?
In the older Resident Evil games, ammo was precious and hard to acquire. Luckily in Resident Evil 5, it seems to be omnipresent which is good because you WILL need it. Weapons range from Handguns such as the classic M92F to Shotguns to Machine Guns, Rifles and more. Each weapon can be purchased and upgraded in the Play Game menu or before a mission starts. Obviously, not all the weapons are available initially and need to be unlocked as the game progresses.
Besides weapons you will need recovery items such as First Aid Sprays and the familiar Red and Green Herbs. During gameplay you will treasures that can be sold for gold and then used to stock upon on equipment and weapons. Of course there is also plenty of gold to be found on each level.
To help the player navigate the Kjulu territory, there is a map place in the upper right hand corner of the screen. On this map we can see Character Icons, Enemy Icons, Locked Doors, Objectives and Documents. This can be a life saver at times, so pay close attention to it.
On the bottom right of the screen we find Sheeva and Chris’ health and weapon meters. The outer rings show the health of each character, while the inner circle shows the weapon and amount of bullets in that round. Outside of the circle is the amount of extra ammunition and below the secondary character is the status of their actions; whether they are in Cover or Attack modes. When either character is in extreme danger, there will be a flickering Help icon inside the ring meaning the other character needs to get to the endangered character before they shuffle off their mortal coil.
As with most video games, death is not final in Resident Evil 5. Chris or Sheeva’s death will fail the mission and bring the player back to the mission start up screen. Here you can change your supplies and upgrade weapons in the shop if needed then return to the last saved checkpoint.
Of course, it would not be a Resident Evil game without the requisite Boss Battles and there are plenty of these in Resident Evil 5. As with most games, each Boss Battle requires a little different approach or tact to defeat the big bad. Sometimes the environment will be used as a weapon or hold the key to defeating these foes. So pay careful attention.
Once you finish the Resident Evil 5 campaign, there is an additional The Mercenaries mode. This game is reminiscent of Horde mode in Gears of War 2. Your goal is to survive an incoming scourge of enemies until your retrieval team arrives. This mode can be played Solo or Duo as the main game. In addition, there are Combo Bonuses and Time Bonuses which help increase your scores, but must be searched for through the board being played. Performance is ranked based on enemies exterminated, overall score and maximum combo count.
Resident Evil 5 is another winner in the Resident Evil series. While it is not a direct descendent of the original Resident Evil or Resident Evil2 as it tends to borrow more from games such as Drake’s Fortune or Gears or War, it is still a fun game. Plus there is plenty of Resident Evil history scattered throughout the game to know you are still in the Resident Evil universe. Plenty of familiar names and faces will be brought up through out the campaign.
My main issue with the game was the control scheme was a little complicated and there were plenty of unnecessary deaths due to wrong button presses on my part. The good news is that dying will bring you back to the mission set up screen for retooling Chris and Sheeva and returning to the level of your last demise.
Overall, Resident Evil 5 is a fun game, but may disappoint hard core Resident Evil fans who expect to be scared out of their pants while playing. Watch out there is a Majini behind you!
Intense game play
Co-op campaign mode (both local and online)
Controls can be frustrating
Not a survival horror game