Reviewed by Adam McCabe
Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developed and Published by Capcom
What’s up, Redfields and Valentines? Adam here!
Capcom’s zombie driven poster child finally lurches its way into the next era of gaming and I’d like to say the horror video game genre will never be the same … but I can’t. Not because Resident Evil 5 isn’t genre defining, but because it’s such an extreme departure from everything the zombie-infested franchise has ever been that I can’t figure out what kind of game RE 5 actually is! Is that a bad thing? Hell No!
For most, Resident Evil 5 will feel like a successful evolution of the series and a fantastic continuation (and in a lot of ways, conclusion) of the saga we’ve been following for over a decade. You know that battle between Chris and Wesker we’ve always wanted? It’s here. Want to know where and how the T and G-viruses originated? It’s here. This … *dramatic pause* … is the Metal Gear Solid 4 of the Resident Evil franchise. For those of you who know what that means, your stomach just dropped a little. Soak it in. It’s a good feeling.
We begin our tale in a fictional region of Africa known as Kijuju. Our hero, Chris Redfield, is sent in to investigate the experiments of a power-hungry corporation who are continuing the work of the now-defunct Umbrella Corporation. Before you can say “That dude has blood oozing out of his eyeballs!” … you’re teamed up with your new partner, Sheva, and swarmed by some of the most spine-chilling baddies this side of Raccoon City. What follows is a spiraling vortex of lies, deception, and explosive action that will blow your mind and leave your muscles tightened with suspense … but it won’t scare you.
That’s right, gore-hounds. One of the biggest departures for this game is that I often found myself describing it as Indiana Jones with Zombies … a description you wouldn’t normally think to associate with a series renowned for scaring the daylights out of you. Building horror is replaced with tension and paranoia.
Capcom really went out on a limb with this one, but it’s so stellar in its execution that you’ll find very little to complain about. Some of the puzzles are a little too easy and the split-screen play looks a bit awkward, but I rate games on their fun factor. Is this game fun? To that question, I reply a resounding YES, and then I do three back flips and throw glitter in the air. That’s how I react to fun things. Don’t judge me.
Continuing on the subject of departures, Resident Evil 5 is a game clearly built around co-op play. You and a friend will rock-paper-scissors for who gets to be Chris, and who is stuck with “the chick“, and then off you go! There really is nothing quite like being backed into a corner by a group of crazed, infected villagers, only to see them suddenly blown to pieces by your buddy on a nearby rooftop with a grenade launcher. That is truly the heart of RE5 and it’s pulled off flawlessly. No worries, rogues. You still have the option to play solo and the Artificial Intelligence works very well … for the most part. Sometimes “A.I. Sheva” will get a little trigger-happy, but she’ll never steal your ammo or call you a “n00b“. Also, upgrading her weapons and making sure she’s taken care of is, believe it or not, an awkwardly satisfying experience. When I upgraded the amount of critical damage Sheva’s gun can unleash and set her loose on the battlefield, I got that feeling of “Yeah … that’s my girl!” as she exploded heads left-and-right.
As far as gameplay options go, you can chose to turn “friendly fire” on or off and have the option to randomly match yourself with a partner online. It’s like E-Harmony if the weirdos who spam your e-mail were replaced by zombies! Wicked!
The controls are almost identical to Resident Evil 4, but tightened and a little more fluid. You still aim over-the-shoulder and the targeting system (along with melee attacks) are crisp as ever and thoroughly engaging. Capcom has always been consistent with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle. RE5 sticks with what works and exceeds expectations in the areas that needed a significant change. As different as this entry is, it feels like a natural and worthy evolution of the beloved franchise. That is a hard feat to pull off and Capcom boldly steps up to the task, guns-a-blazing.
I decided to cover “style” last because this is truly where the game excels above all others (thus far) in the current generation. As epic and insane as this story is, it still has that B-movie feel that defined the series and kept it light-hearted. The characters are nowhere near as deep as those in games like Metal Gear and our heroes seem in-no-way fazed that they just fought a giant, foaming bat-scorpion. They just move on in an “all in a day’s work” kind of way. I love it. Personally I’d be like “DID YOU JUST SEE … WHAT THE HECK WAS … OMG DID *pant pant* GAH THAT WAS RIDICULOUS!!”, but I digress.
Then there’s the graphics. They are nothing short of mind blowing. Everything from lighting textures and mouth movements, to Chris’s facial hair breathes virtual life into RE5. It seriously isn’t fair to compare this to other games. It’s just that beautiful.
If you’re looking for classic “boo” scares, you won’t find them in RE5. If you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure that plays incredibly well and consistently challenges your elite gamer super-powers, this is your title. Resident Evil 5 provides something fresh and innovative for both veterans and casual action-adventure players while setting the bar for the next generation with stellar visuals. Weather you’re with a friend or going it solo, Resident Evil 5 is an experience you absolutely can not let pass you by. This is a must buy!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back in my air-boat and mow down some infected zombie tribesman. Play it. You’ll know what I mean. WIN.
4 1/2 out of 5
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