Resident Evil 5 is a highly anticipated game in the series released on March 13, 2009. In this installment of the franchise, you take on the role of Chris Redfield, a former member of S.T.A.R.S. who is now a part of the global unit B.S.A.A. Joining Chris is Sheva Alomar, an African native and member of B.S.A.A.
In my first play through I tried to pay attention to the finer details as much as I did the overall game itself: texture maps, lighting, and fluidity of movement and over all character appearances. To be sure, this game lacks nothing in any of those. From the woven poly-nylon super tight shirt and rippling biceps of Chris to the low cut halter top and painted on Capris worn by Sheva, the hi-res textures are all there. What really adds a nice touch is the sheen off the character's skin to give the appearance of sweat. In darker areas of the game it gives the players a grimy look, and adds to the feel of working hard and getting dirty (because they are). As for the lighting, the volumetric lighting (now a standard in many games) is well done and Hollywood style lighting effects are not overused to show off anything mundane. Water textures are usually realistic with exception to a few puddles that look like something a VooDoo2 card would render on Half-Life 1.
In truth the game play isn't all that different from Resident Evil 4, and it didn't need to be. Resident Evil 4 was one of the best selling GameCube games ever and praised the world over for how well done it was both visually and mechanically. On that note, Resident Evil 5 does introduce a few new features: No more awkward inventory. All items in RE5 take one of 9 spaces, so no more manually sorting inventory to squeeze in that tiny item all because you absolutely had to have the shotgun). And, players can actually play the game alone OR with someone else on or offline (and thank God that Capcom didn't pull that SF4 bullshit where you either let someone come in whenever they feel like it without warning or not at all – you have setting for this on RE5). A couple of things that should be familiar to players of RE4 is the over the shoulder view, which while a little awkward at first is a great compromise between first person and ¾ top down view. It affords the player to see the landscape and detect a threat while have a good even perspective from which to aim and move. Other similarities in game play include the need to press buttons to break free of holds and make follow up melee attacks to conserve ammo.
RE5 is new yet familiar at no expenses. The RE5 zombies are faster... not quite "28 Days Later" fast, but they're fast enough that a little bit of timing the attacks is in order. They're also not as gruesome in later stages. For the most part, RE5 isn't as gruesome as one may think. There are the cut scenes reminiscent of Parasite Eve (anyone remember the splitting dog head?) and the classic cult horror film "The Thing" but all in all it's not overdone. If the gore level was to be compared to something, Id have to compare it to the movie "Troll", where the evil troll pricks the bald asshole in the arm on his couch and he starts to puff up and bubble out, oozing purple goo from his mouth until he becomes a cocoon thing... Or, in Species when the little girl has all that stuff crawling under her skin and then these tentacle things pop out of her wrists and face to wrap her all up - Sadly, Natasha Henstridge isn't falling out of anything in the game completely naked.
Perhaps the best feature of this game is the single player co-op. If you take Winback and Resident Evil 4 and force them to procreate – You'll have Resident Evil 5 without a dorky emo haircut. Players will find themselves giving a few orders: Attack, Cover, Pick up, "use", with the latter being contextual. If the players tell Sheva to 'attack' shell break out her ranged weapons, seek enemies out and do what she can to pick off the enemy, though at the cost of some the shared ammo drops – meaning that if both characters brandish a handgun, if an enemy drops handgun rounds then it's dog eat dog for the ammo. She'll cover players when told to, she'll heal players when they need it and try to limit her fighting to when absolutely necessary. If players come across ammo for a weapon she has and they don't or if they want her to 'mule' for them then players can direct her to pick up the spoils – but each character only has 9 item slots so it is wise to spread some of the spoils out between the two characters. Players can use objects for cover and pop out from a wall or crate, taking over when under fire (yes, some of these zombies fire back). It is important to note that issuing commands are not done in a Brothers in Arms sort of way, most orders are contextual. Bear in mind though that Sheva isn't 'your bitch' per se – she'll tell players "no" if she's trapped, busy, or what is ask of her isn't possible at the time. For the most part though, Sheva is a reliable partner with AI that keeps her from getting killed, in your way, straying too far ahead, lagging too far behind and knows when best to let a target of opportunity alone. She's also not too bad looking (for a CG woman). Oddly, some players may notice that every weapon has a laser sight visually, but not physically depicted. This is to say that Capcom continued the visual aid for aiming but didn't physically put it on the weapons… and even then, with a weapon like a grenade launcher where the idea is "area target" does there need to be a laser sight? I get why it was done, but in terms of realism it just seems odd.
Unlike previous installments of RE titles, RE5 focuses more on the action and less on the puzzles. RE5 lacks a lot of the run around and find parts of things to open a door. While the element does exist, it is in minimal amounts used mainly for filler, and even then it is integrated into the plot beyond the hokey excuse that something was lost, hidden, or completely unknown.
Another aspect of the game spawned of the co-op play style is the need to plan ahead. Failure to properly outfit, or at least logically outfit the characters before a chapter can lead to a slow death in a dead end. In many instances, periods of plenty are followed by periods of drought. It is not uncommon to run dangerously low on ammo, but that's just another part of what makes the game so good – that feeling of "oh shit" in a tight spot. Players will look at their inventory and see their trusty handgun out of ammo, a shotgun out of ammo and only half a clip in the machine gun, and no more herbs or first aid sprays. Meanwhile their partner has nothing but a stun baton to fend off pursuant attackers… 'oh shit'. This bleeds into a players need to be aware of their surroundings. Many saleable treasures (used to buy weapon upgrades and certain types of ammo), BSAA badges (for unlocking graphic filters, collectable figurines, and various cheat codes), and enemy points of entry can be found all over the map. Sufficed to say, 'camping' isn't going to happen. The enemy AI isn't stupid and will flank, bait, and ambush players – and their actions are integrated well into the plot (i.e. why it is they are behaving differently from the zombies in past installments).
Fortunately Capcom saw fit to allow players a second chance at life. When the health ring dips into the 'red' and "dying" is displayed, the partner will rush over to you and pep you back up enough to hobble away and heal up and so long as your health isn't completely gone, your partner can do this (and the player can do this to their partner as well). Also, players can call out for help in a tight spot in which case a melee attack can be made to free the partner. One might even ask a partner to switch weapon with them or give them much needed ammo – and you can thank them (literally) which earns the reward "who do you trust", given to players who say 'thank you' to their partner times after being helped.
The game in general comes off as well polished with a fluid time line in such a way that the people, places and events of the entire RE world come together, and as a bonus the game includes a brief overview of all the events that lead up to RE5 so newcomers aren't going to be completely lost as to the reason any of the game needs to happen. This game is a 'must' for the following:
- Fans of the RE series
- FPS gamers looking for something a little different, but not too different
- Survival/ Horror fans
- Action/ Adventure fans
- Graphics Nazis
I'd have to give this game an 8.5 of 10. It's not perfect, but it is fun, driven, and well made. It definitely makes up for the feces they called Street Fighter 4 (too annoying, unpolished, and stupidity concerning the validity of earning colors, taunts and online tag titles – seriously, wtf?), and a sure pick over Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. (awkward controls, far too easy to beat even on "elite", very low replay value despite visual beauty - Ace Combat still rules the sky on the next gen consoles even if it is a tired game).