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Resident Evil 5 Review

publisher: Capcom Entertainment
developer: Capcom Entertainment
genre: Action

ESRB rating: M

release date: Mar 13, 09
» All About Resident Evil 5 on ActionTrip

Resident Evil hasn't changed after all these years. Sure it went through a number of makeovers over the years. In terms of gameplay basics, however, the series is still proudly clinging to its roots. That's one of the reasons why I respect Capcom. They rarely allow industry tendencies to get in the way of a unique gaming experience. Their recent release Street Fighter 4 is a good example for that. On the other hand, when it comes to reinvigorating a franchise such as Resident Evil, I must admit there were some initial concerns, especially, after we experienced a press version at last year's GC. Capcom explained that the priority was to spice things up by incorporating a co-op mode.

Unlike Resident Evil 4 and earlier releases, Resident Evil 5 centers exclusively on two main characters. The fate of these characters is strongly intertwined, which brings a few crucial changes into view. You are no longer concerned with surviving hordes of zombies with just one hero -- which has long been RE's tradition. In single-player, the AI does its best to make sure your female companion stays alive, while lending a hand whenever Chris is in trouble. Fans are, naturally, going to want to know which gameplay elements are absent from the previous installment. Resident Evil 5 does away with the briefcase retro-style item management system, which some regarded as an unnecessary and rather time-consuming gameplay ingredient (frankly, I kind of liked it). Instead players have a simpler inventory system with the option to place items and weapons in specific slots to ensure easier access during gameplay. Having placed items in the desired slots, players may quick-swap via the D-Pad on the 360 controller. It's a great system that makes gameplay a whole lot more user-friendly (and it would work even better if the D-Pad wasn't generally screwed up).

Puzzle-solving is gone too. Well, there are occasional passageways that have to be opened by completing challenges, but you won't find any brainstorming. So, it's definitely not like Resi 4, where players had to solve quite a few puzzles (most of them weren't easy at all; just the opposite actually). We sorely missed this in Resident Evil 5. Still, Resident Evil 5 is more action-oriented, which, from our experience is not a bad thing.

We've noticed how a majority of younger gamers complained about the main character's inability to move while shooting. Certain fellow gaming journalists regarded it as a stale game component and that Capcom should've considered making the two heroes more mobile. After finishing the entire single-player campaign (more than once) we can safely say that Capcom's decision to retain the trademark shooting stance was undoubtedly a good one. The fact that the character remains stationary while firing weapons helps preserve the atmosphere and the series' trademark survival horror play style.

Initially, I tried the single-player and after completing it I dived into the much-touted co-op mode. Fans are no doubt going to head straight for the single-player and (speaking as a fan) I have to admit there's a great deal to enjoy here. The presence of a second character may seem like a burden from time to time, but players should soon get used to it. Conversely, those looking for a serious single-player challenge may not be content with what Capcom has done here. Increasing the difficulty, for instance, causes your partner to die repeatedly, so it's really not an issue of one's playing skills. From that perspective, Capcom may have been better off sticking to just one character. Why? Well, here's the thing. Boss sections are a good paradigm of how weak-minded the AI can be. When confronting one of the first major bosses in the game (a huge flying scorpion-like beast) Sheva keeps yelling how she's going to try and distract the beast, while you shoot at the creature's weak spots. Hardly a well-oiled plan, as Sheva continues to follow Chris (i.e. you) instead of staying put and firing at the damn monster.

The co-op is an entirely different matter. This represents the key innovation for the ever-popular horror series and the developers obviously went to great lengths to make things run smoothly. Even though you're not alone, the game possesses that special survival horror feel to it and playing it with a friend in co-op is one of the most entertaining gaming experiences to date. The split-screen takes a bit of getting used to, but should prove to be a sufficiently rewarding ride. Mind you, we sincerely recommend you play this game in online co-op, because it leaves enough room on the screen for players to fully admire this game's potential (half of which, of course, lies in its tremendous visual appeal). Tactically, it's a great advantage having a human-operated companion. Overall, the co-op commendably pushes the series forward, so as far as innovation goes, the team delivered what they originally promised.

Hardcore Resident fans keen on trying the game's Veteran difficulty in single-player are bound to be disappointed. Again, your companion dies way too often, severely decreasing your chances of survival. It's really quite frustrating. What bothers us is that Capcom didn't quite take into account how many people will want to focus exclusively on single-player.

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8.8   Very Good

Co-op is the defining moment of innovation for the franchise, stunning visuals, monster design creepy as usual, terrific atmosphere, a great survival horror experience;

The single-player suffers on account of AI slip-ups, we expected more eye-openers in the game's narrative, not quite as replayable as RE 4.


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