Will Capcom’s latest be known as RE5 or RE4.5?
Ah, Resident Evil. The original survival horror series finally hits the next-gen consoles, is it nothing more than a clone of RE4 or does it create its own identity as a must-have title?
Resident Evil 5 takes you to Africa as original hero, Chris Redfield who is joined by newcomer Sheva Alomar. Both of which have joined a new organisation to tackle the virus, it becomes clear that they are soon in a lot of trouble as the locals become hostile. Faces both new and old make appearances, some of you will have seen them from trailers but if you wish to remain spoiler-free then I won’t mention who they are.
The game handles exactly like RE4, but it feels more refined and responsive. You are handed a co-op buddy in Sheva, although it’s best to play with a friend over Xbox Live as she can be pretty dumb sometimes. For example, she can stand in front of you and shoot at you when she’s trying to shoot an enemy in front of Chris. She also has trouble running away from some enemies, I had an encounter with 2 chainsaw crazies and she managed to get killed several times while I tried to flip a bunch of switches. Despite these small niggles, she can be reliable for the most part and can hold her own against a horde of villagers.
RE5 is built up of 6 chapters, some with 1 act and some with 3. In length, it’s maybe a bit shorter than RE4 and in terms of difficulty…I didn’t struggle that much, although I have yet to tackle the game on the harder difficulties. The game does suffer from the same problems that RE4 had like not being able to shoot and run at the same time, but I personally am not bothered by that…I just know many have criticised it for that. But if they did that, it’d just be another third-person shooter. Instead, RE5 does things different and that’s what the series is famous for. In every game, the controls have always been a bit iffy but most have coped with them and found a great game each time. The same applies to Resi 5.
Having said that, it does focus more on action than puzzle-solving. I only came across a few puzzles in the entire game and most of them were just collecting keys/emblems to put in doors to open them. The others are fairly easy and didn’t take me much time to do. There’s also a complete lack of horror in RE5, in past games you would be scared to go down corridors through fear of a dog smashing through a window…but I only jumped once through the campaign. I know RE4 was similar, but it did have a few more jumpy moments that RE5. It’s a shame, since that’s what the series was known for…but now it seems to have become something else.
Chris and Sheva are given 9 slots for items like weapons, herbs and ammo. Items like keys and money take up no slots, but I personally would have liked more than 9 slots for each character. They become full incredibly quickly and trying to rotate items during onslaughts of Majini can be hard. Sheva will heal you if you become troubled, so she has her uses but wastes ammo terribly. Luckily after each act or death, you can put unwanted items in an inventory box before continuing. It would be nice to be able to do this at any point during the game, but it’s only a small complaint.
As you progress, you’ll find gold and treasures to sell that can buy or upgrade your weapons. It will cost a small fortune to upgrade everything and sadly, that’s one of the achievements to unlock. Luckily, you can replay any act and I hear there’s a small glitch involving eggs and a co-op buddy, but I’m not entirely sure how to do it. Also, there are 30 hidden emblems to shoot during the game which unlock points to spend in the special features menu for items like infinite ammo of weapons that have been fully upgraded, special costumes or screen filters that can do things like turn the game black and white.etc, there are also figurines to buy which will work towards another achievement. The weapons are fairly standard, although my favourite has to be the Stun Rod…with 2 hits, an enemy can die. Just don’t give it to Sheva as an AI! She will hit you and disable you for a few seconds; she can be so stupid sometimes…Luckily, any bullets or attacks to each other do not inflict any damage. If it did, I would have died a LOT.
Enemies can be clever; they can attack from a distance, take cover and run at you. But they can also be dumb, sometimes just waiting to be shot. There’s luckily a nice mixture of enemies from the basic villager to big guys with mini-guns and let’s not forget the inevitable boss fights. I found most of them fairly easy, but can imagine them being quite tough on the harder difficulties…especially alone with Sheva at your side. By now, you’ve probably established that I didn’t really get on with Chris’ new partner and you would be right. But I do like her as a character, just not as a co-op buddy. There are times where I wish I could just be solo and have 18 slots instead, but it passes.
The overall story of Resident Evil 5 is excellent, although it does present a question. Where can the series go from here? I won’t spoil what happens, but you will wonder the same thing that I am. If there is to be Resi 6, where will it be set? Who will be in it? Who will be your enemy? Questions that will probably go unanswered for at least a year or two. After completing the game for the first time you unlock The Mercenaries mode which debuted with Resi 4. It’s good to see it return and its great fun overall. You will be pleased to hear that a patch has just come out that enables online co-op through this mode for the 360 version, I’m uncertain if the same applies to the PS3 version but I would imagine a patch is available or is on its way.
Visually, Resident Evil 5 looks stunning. Everything from the detailed character models to the locations look superb, I can’t help but notice a small flicker across the screen during some cutscenes…but it didn’t bother me that much, you may not even notice it. You may be surprised at just how good the game looks and without any slowdown at all. There are load times every once and a while, but it’s not as frequent as the original Resident Evil. Voice-acting is surprisingly good for a Resi game, although not without being cheesy at times. Sheva’s voice is a little irritable, but it’s nothing major. I’m really impressed with the score for the game; it fits it very well and matches the atmosphere superbly.
Resident Evil 5 may play and act exactly like Resident Evil 4, but it has grown into an action-packed game with some of the best visuals this generation has seen. It may seem like the game hasn’t evolved that much since the last game, but it has…you just have to look closer to see it.