8.5 / 10 Banzai!s
Known as Biohazard 5 here in Japan, Resident Evil 5 continues Capcom’s action-horror series which began on the first Playstation back in 1996, and has since spawned a franchise of comic books, action figures, novels, and even films. Resident Evil 5 had a world release in March of 2009, and has since been the biggest selling title in the series.
Chris Redfield, now working for the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, has been sent to Kijuju in Africa, where he partners up with Sheva Alomer to stop a bio-organic weapons deal on the black market. But upon arrival, they discover the locals have been transformed into Majini – which are more like messed-up monsters than zombies. To complicate things, Chris finds evidence that her sister, Jill Valentine, may still be alive – as well as his old nemesis, Albert Wesker.
The game features both split-screen and online co-op, as well as an online Survival mode and plenty of DLC to keep you busy. Despite racial allegations which began during its E3 press release, Resident Evil 5 has enjoyed both critical and commercial success, leaving fans wanting more.
What I Liked:
Before I begin, I’d like to mention this is my FIRST experience to play a Resident Evil game. I’ve never played any of the previous titles, and am only as familiar with the Resident Evil world from what I could gather from the films (which don’t help). So keep in mind, this review is based solely on this one title.
The first thing I liked about the game was the setting. Gotta admit, Africa’s a continent that’s been overlooked in the video game industry – most either taking place in America, Japan, or other planets and halos. The only game I can think of that was set in Africa was, well, Afrika. It’s a setting with its own personality, brought to life with some fantastic graphics, from small villages to train yards to marshes. The constant changes in scenery alone prevent the game from ever feeling dull.
The soundtrack is simple, but adds to the creepiness of the game, with its droning don-don-don-don-don-don… whenever you’re about to run into some nasty Majinis, much like the bah-dah…bah-dah… in Spielberg’s Jaws. I’m not recommending you run out and buy the soundtrack to Resident Evil 5; just saying that it really adds to the suspense to the game’s atmosphere.
And there’s nothing more fun than playing a co-op game with a buddy! (In this case, with our Videogames and Sushi Korean correspondent Mr. Lee). Much like the Gears of War series on the Xbox 360, Chris and Sheva work together in fighting off bizarre split-in-half dogs, masked chainsaw-wielding Majinis, and weird things that look like golems made of tar. You can also swap weapons and healing kits during gameplay, save each other’s butts, and occasionally split-up to complete individual objectives.
What I Didn’t Like:
I have a few nitpicks. The first is concerning Sheva as an NPC. When she’s controlled by a friend, it’s great. When she’s under the game’s control, Sheva turns into a complete and utter retard! She’ll use up all your health kits, waste bullets with one gun while she’s got another with infinite ammo in her holster, and get lost in hallways in which you’ll have to wait for her to catch up. Did Capcom purposefully make her this stupid to force you into playing with a friend? Is Capcom that worried about our social lives? Quite possibly, as I can’t see any other explanation for her stupidity. The enemies don’t act that way, only your partner.
The other nitpick concerns some of the boss battles. Not all of them, but the ones where they’re more like a puzzle – such as the run-ins with Wesker. How the hell am I supposed to know to turn the lights off, then launch a missle at him, then shoot the missle, then inject him with a syringe? I can’t – not unless I look it up online. Personally, I consider this to be old-fashioned Japanese game development. Those days of looking up tips in Nintendo Power or asking your friends during recess about defeating Link’s shadow are over. I’m not saying leave out all the easter eggs and secrets from the games. But when I have to check out a walkthrough online just to pass a level, there’s something wrong. I dunno, maybe I’m just dumb. But even Mr. Lee was stumped at times – and he’s played all the previous Resident Evil games.
One last thing – and maybe it’s not fair of me to say – but I had problems following the story; mainly because I hadn’t played the previous games. Character background aside, I didn’t fully understand the plot’s set-up, what the different factions were – and so, of course, didn’t get the “twist” near the end. Perhaps it can’t be helped – this is a series, after all. But the previous games were on Playstation 1 and 2. My only options are to visit a flea market and buy the older games to get caught-up in the story, or read about them on wikipedia. It would be nice if they stuck some explanations in the game (like in the Tekken series). I don’t necessarily see this as a flaw in the game, but something which may cause problems for Capcom later down the road. As newer generations of gamers start buying future consoles, they might not be so interested in starting with a game high up in a series – particularly one with a continuing story.
Bottom line is, if you haven’t played the previous games, don’t expect to understand everything that’s going on.
Despite the nitpicking, I thought Resident Evil 5 was a great game. Lots of fun, with changes in the setting and challenges to constantly keep you interested. Fantastic graphics, with an eerie atmosphere and some nice voice acting. I can’t compare it to other titles in the series, but I can say that it fueled by interest enough to go back and play those previous games. And that’s saying something.
Now, to hit the flea markets!