The lights are on
As this is the Gold Edition, I will only touch lightly on the actual content of Resident Evil 5. Resident Evil 5 did a few things right, and did a few things wrong. It took all the action sequences from RE4, the more limited ammunition and supplies from every other Biohazard game, and left most of the horror previously found in the franchise on the cutting room floor, to combine these elements into a mediocre game that was never remotely scary or unsettling.
As a third person shooter, it was fun. As a survival horror game - it wasn't one. RE5 tried to transplant the gameplay of RE4 into the heart of Africa, leaving all the castles, dark corridors, Street Fighter characters (garradors), dark prisons, camoflauged bugs and creepy stuff behind, in favor of an entire environment of well lit buildings and predictable, over the top Hollywood action. Resident Evil 5 also has the honor of having introduced the single most concentrated and significant amount of retcon to the franchise, to date - moreso than every other RE game combined.
The story teetered on the edge of a thin line between terrible and good - thus, mostly being in the "bad" zone. Game play was pretty much a carbon copy of Resident Evil 4, with a few caveats. Most importantly, you have an almost infinite inventory in RE5, but while you are playing, you have 9 inventory slots - much more similar to the older RE games. Like RE4, you can customize your weapons. Unlike RE4, after you customize them to the max, you can unlock infinite ammo for any and all weapons appropriate (which is pretty much the only way to win a co-op game on professional mode, you cannot afford not to kill something in one hit - ergo, meet your new friend, the infinite magnum/RPG), granted you have enough points to buy the infinite ammo mode for that gun. Also like RE4 there are a few alternate costumes available, and it of course includes mercenaries mode, which can now be played co-op on split-screen, network play, or via XBL/PSN.
Gold Edition marks the first time Barry and Rebecca have been seen in a game in 7 years, since Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil Remake - in Mercenaries Reunion mode. Reunion takes Mercenaries, adds in far more enemies and far harder enemies, but replaces the Mercs characters with Barry, Rebecca, Excella, and variations on Chris and Wesker. The characters in Reunion are also much better than their Mercs counterparts - Barry's pistol destroys things, as does his Revolver, and Excella's Beretta M93R (from RE:CV and RE2) is just broken. As Barry, you also get to spout off everyones favorite line by default: "What is it!?" and you get to do nice movies like Barry Sandwich, Miranda Rights, and others. Why they did not go the full mile and combine both rosters is beyond me - I suppose to force a reason to buy Mercs 3D.
Gold also includes Desparate Escape and Lost in Nightmares. Desperate Escape is an extra scenario that lets you guide Jill and Josh from the Ruins to the helicopter, and is just as fun and difficult as the rest of the game, if not more. Lost in Nightmares is the story taking place before the fateful encounter with Spencer and Wesker, and is reminiscent of the hooked man beta of Resident Evil 4. This scenario is far more survival horror and a much greater challenge than most of the original game. In addition to this you get extra figures, though Gold does not come with Versus Mode.
If you can find a new copy of Gold for 20 dollars, there is absolutely no reason to buy Resident Evil 5 anymore. Even if you don't like RE5, I recommend gold just for the three extra game modes. Once you play as Barry you'll not want to use any other character in Mercenaries.
This game loses points for a few reasons:
1) Split-screen co-op. Capcom saw fit not to use the entire screen when they made this game, for split-screen local play. I don't know why and it's the stupidest thing I've ever seen. This persists no m atter what set up you use. I have played on widescreen 1080p TV's, I have played on a CRT TV, its irrelevant to setting - it was designed this way. Instead, you get a smaller rectangle of screen real estate than you should.
2) Instead of offering console owners a glimpse of the Mercs experience to come in the future in Mercs 3D, they put in two distinct mercenaries game modes, when they could have reworked Mercs into one game function where you could choose difficulty and choose between a lot of characters, etc.
3) It is a blatant departure from survival horror and the enemy encounters in the game are split into very predictable, distinct segments that do not provide a challenge, until the very end of the game where you have to fight - potentially - three different enemy types at once. Oh no.
I meant moves, not movies. Whoops. Also I forgot to mention that quicktime events and button-prompt melee combat are a giant part of this game, much more so than RE4.
I also say this as someone who, granted, has played this game through over 100 times in the past 3 years, but I remember clearly the first time I played through - it was on professional mode, on split screen. My friend had, obviously, an infinite hydra. I had my pansy beretta. Our deaths didn't result from not being able to kill things. They resulted from QTE discrepancies between the time I pressed prompts and the time he pressed prompts, or they resulted from one person getting hit while the other person was more than an inch away to save them. We died at least 300 times in the process of beating this game, on Pro mode. Funny enough, when I got my own xbox a few days later and played this game on pro mode, I had significantly less trouble.