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A Solid Zombie Killing Experience With Much To Offer

    "Awful" is how one friend described Resident Evil 5. He's a big fan of RE4, but dislikes RE5. More opinions from RE fans on the internet further solidified for me that RE5 seems to be a bad game. I was getting very nervous as I approached the end of RE4...will I like the next installment? Is it really as bad as people say? My worry was mixed with confusion having seen critics' reviews that praised RE5. I didn't get it. Critics loved it, but many average gamers didn't? Whatever the outcome was going to be, I wasn't going to back away from it. So, now that I've played it for myself, I believe it's time for a fair view of RE5 for what it is: a pretty great game. It does divert from what made RE4 so successful in several ways, but didn't that same tactic work for RE4? Going off the beaten path to appeal to the ever-changing tastes of gamers? Capcom likes to experiment, and they completely succeeded with RE4. I think they went about the same path to make RE5, and in doing so, created the most action-packed and bold RE yet. However, it goes a bit overboard on the action and has unnecessary changes that make it inferior to RE4 in some ways. These complaints aside, there is no reason why anyone should skip out on RE5 due to the controversy surrounding it. It's got excellent graphics, good game mechanics, an interesting story, and exotic environments unlike any of the other RE games.

Story:

(Small story excerpt below in italics)

    Chris Redfield travels in a jeep alone towards his destination. He's been assigned by the BSAA to meet a fellow operative named Sheva Alomar to investigate some suspicious activity in Africa. Chris eventually meets up with her and she fills him in on recent info for their mission. After a short walk, they meet with a secretive local to gather their gear and weapons; you never know what to expect. Coincidentally, everyone in the streets seems to disappear in a hurry as if they thought Chris and Sheva were coming for them. Getting back on the streets is met with a load yell from a man, which they quickly run toward to see what's wrong. When they find the man, deranged locals have surrounded him while they put a grotesque organism in his mouth. He collapses to the ground and emerges seconds later...attacking Chris and Sheva! They have no choice but to kill him, which is how they discover that the organism was some sort of parasite that took over his body. It's possibly a version of the deadly Las Plagas that Leon Kennedy encountered. What's going on here? They have no time to think because more locals are after them, and they are unthinkably thirsty for violence.

Chris and Sheva couldn't live without each other...in terms of survival.

    RE4 has a surprisingly compelling story compared to its predecessors. Thankfully, RE5 also manages to pull off an entertaining and intriguing story that has lots of surprises in store (there's an excellent plot twist too!), even though it can be linear and slow paced at certain times. Another thing that was really cool wasn't exactly RE5's story, but the story of the history of Umbrella. It's retold during loading screens that lists those who founded Umbrella, what their goals were, what they accomplished, and more. It's presented in a concise, logical order that's actually fascinating to read; the story of RE begins to seem less convoluted as you read it. There are also plenty of bios of the characters and events. So, if you've never played an RE game before and want to know about the story, don't worry! RE5 provides a sufficient overview containing important information of the entire story.

Rating: 8.5/10

Gameplay:

    If you're a newcomer to RE, you won't have a problem adjusting to this game. If you're a long-time fan of the series, I'm not quite sure how you'll react. RE5 incorporates the same type of look and feel of RE4 (Third Person Shooter style with tank controls). However, RE5 is heavily centered on nearly constant action and has a revamped control scheme. Thankfully, those that love RE4 have an option to switch to its control scheme or try a hybrid of the two. Moving on, there is one thing I was slightly disappointed in about RE5: the inventory system. Everything in every RE game is laid out in a clean manner where you have a case that contains all your items. To use, combine, or organize them at any time, you literally pause the game, take your time to mess around, and proceed back to the action. In RE5, everything must be done without pausing. You want to combine a red herb and green herb? You have to take about 8 seconds to do it no matter what's going on around you. Although this is more realistic, I found it frustrating at times where (for example) I wanted to quickly pick up an item as zombies are chasing me, but had no time to because my small inventory was full. I'd have to manually organize it on the spot, which is impossible because death would be certain in a situation like that. Speaking of inventories, you actually share one with your partner (Sheva). This way, you can exchange, give, or take items from her (if you're playing alone). This is a neat idea that works well to an extent, but it falls short for a couple of reasons. Sheva is an AI that normally acts on her own. It's cool when she picks up ammo and hands it to you or when she heals you. However, problems arise from this. If we're low on health and I have a red herb and she has a green one, she'll go ahead and use the green herb (even though it's much better to combine the two). If I give her a shotgun, she'll use a pistol the entire time...even during intense combat. If she's performing poorly and dies, I suffer the consequences because you have to start over at a checkpoint. The point is that she can be hard to trust, so I normally have to stockpile on items and give her excess stuff that is useless to me until needed. Regardless, she's a big part of the game; an integral character you must rely on. Adding such an important AI partner like her was new for RE, so I'm actually impressed with most of her performance.

Oh, Sheva. We all love your moments of stupidity.

    Sorry for the tangent there. Going back to the inventory system, a part of that is the store, which is also a slight step down from RE4. It's a menu you can access at the start or end of a level where you buy, sell, upgrade, exchange, and give items; it's where you best manage your inventory. It's less impersonal and fun than getting to interact with the famous merchant in RE4 at certain points within levels. Although it functions in the same way, this is where RE5 felt more "arcady" than the realistic feel of coming across a shady merchant in the dark. You also come across the same type of enemies that were in RE4. The difference? They're even faster, stronger, and smarter. Many will dash in your direction and madly throw themselves at you. A fair amount can wield guns (yes, I said guns). Others can even ride motorcycles. These zombies are a bit too smart for zombie standards, but I suppose it's for the best since the reasons behind this fits the story. I could continue talking about the differentiation of RE5 from its predecessors, but it'll suffice to say that it all depends on your playing style. I think it strays a bit too far from what makes RE a survival horror game, but it's still a great game with lots of explosive action. For anyone that loves big set pieces and excitement, you'll want to play this.

Rating: 8/10

Graphics:

    RE5 is the first game in the series on this generation's consoles. On the negative side, a few environments are bland and some textures are blurry. However, the lighting is very impressive, character models look fantastic, facial animations are extremely detailed, and environmental effects such as water and fire look great. What I love about RE5 are the levels, which can range from an underground temple to exotic grasslands. I was constantly impressed by the diversity of the environments, which were all skillfully and naturally laid out. The enemies are also creatively designed to look like creepy freaks of nature, especially the bosses. Definitely some of the best character design in any RE game. There are better looking games on the market, but RE5 is by no means an okay looking game. For a first run on the PS3 (the console I played on), RE5's visuals are very good and could easily compete with graphically intense games.

Rating: 9/10

Teamwork is essential. Turn that oversized valve, Chris!

Audio:

   To my surprise, not much of the music was memorable in this game compared to many of the great melodies in other RE games. It complements the game well, but I don't remember any particular ones that really stood out. I'm not complaining about the music because it's not bad listening to it separately, but it didn't stand out for me.

    The sound effects are just as great as they've always been. Guns sound pretty realistic; you could tell where you are just by listening to your footsteps (which means they're great); echoes and ambiance sounds can make environments creepier or tense, and more. I've always been impressed with the thoroughness of this category of audio in the RE games.

    Voice acting: the absolute worst thing of RE's past. The great thing is that RE5 has the best voice actors and actresses that I've heard yet. They convey emotion and power behind their voices in a way I wasn't expecting. There are some forced and flat lines here and there, but the majority of the voice acting is very well done.

Rating: 8.75/10

Longevity:

    You'd expect most campaigns to not be that long these days. I'm glad to report that RE5 (on Veteran) is a lengthy 15 hours. There're also two excellent DLC missions that add to the main story of RE5, a Versus mode where you can compete against others, awesome online co-op, and Mercenaries. There're also costumes to unlock, trophies to earn, and levels to max out on in stats. I've got to hand it to Capcom when it comes to the amount of content in this game. You're definitely getting bang for your buck.

Rating: 9.5/10

 

In Co-Op, never leave a partner behind. Stick together and kick butt!

Conclusion:

    After looking up some quotes online (because I'm not cool enough to have any off the top of my head), I found an interesting one from a man named Joey Skaggs. He said "Any deviation is looked upon as a perversion, is feared, and is usually a target of hatred and prejudice." I think RE5 is a great example of this to loyal fans of Capcom's beloved series. I agree that it slightly strays from the path of what makes RE so loved; that love being RE's ability to provide suspenseful and spine-chilling experiences. However, this is no reason to not like RE5! If it stood alone, it would be held up as a great game that manages to mix action, survival, and a bit of horror in an exciting way. I'm glad that Capcom likes to mix things up with RE. Sure, it may not meet all of our expectations, but at least they aren't pumping out the same game every time. If they're willing to innovate and make some slight stumbles in the process, Capcom can learn from their mistakes and come back with another game that's better than ever. I'm looking at you, Resident Evil 6! So, if you're interested in checking out RE5, I recommend doing so. The Gold Edition (the version I purchased) only costs $20 these days! It's definitely worth that admission cost. And with that, I conclude my "Entering Resident Evil" series of going through all five of the main RE games. Now I wait for RE6. Thanks for checking out my review!

 

Dr. J

 

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