65The fifth iteration of the Resident Evil franchise does a lot.‚  It’s got fan favorite Chris taking the reigns and guiding himself and a female colleague, Sheva, through all the twists and turns that gamers have grown accustomed too.‚  Guns?‚  Check.‚  Action?‚  Check.‚  Women?‚  Check.‚  Unbelievable monsters?‚  Check.‚  A convoluted story that unfolds through six chapters and inevitably concludes exactly where you expected it too?‚  Check.

It’s still a fun game to play.‚  Whether you’re playing through the game by yourself or with a friend, it’s still fun.‚  A few things have changed however.‚  Firstly, the fact that you have a partner apparently revolutionizes the way you play Resident Evil.‚  If you remember Resident Evil 0, where you play through the game as the medic from the original Resident Evil, Rebecca, and her ex convict friend Billy, who fight their way through a train, then you’ve played computer co-operative Resident Evil.

Third-person action
Mar. 13, 2009

As if Capcom thought their first attempt at co-op was a failure, or wasn’t as fun as they would have liked, they brought it back (Leon Kennedy RE4, solo).‚  Now, considering this is a next-gen video game, the A.I. of Sheva throughout the game is better, and I emphasize better, than any computer controlled character to ever be featured in a Resident Evil game.‚  It’s not perfect.‚  She still has a tendency to stand in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just expel all of her ammo without even taking into consideration that she might need to save it.‚  She may have a knack for finding herself trapped in situations that you are not in, and that you, being the human player, must then turn around and fight your way through hordes of enemies just to progress further in the game. ‚ I guess that’s the game trying to imitate the experience of playing with another player but if you’ve even got one friend who’s played Resident Evil before, it will be easier.

By lacking the ability to replicate A.I. that you can feel safe with, the combat becomes more of a, “HELP ME!” tap B to save, affair.‚  It’s much harder to manage two inventories, to delegate who opens what, due to the fact that the combat is so intense, opening the inventory mid battle can become more of a hindrance than a benefit. ‚ The inventory system is accessed through tapping Y, but it doesn’t pause the game. If your partner runs out of ammo in a town where your mission is to outlast a horde of the infected, good luck getting out alive.

The weapons are well polished and easy to use.‚  Weapons like the proximity mine add some variety to the combat.‚  Upgrading is a must but with the ability to continually purchase newer handguns even though I’ve been upgrading another one teases me.

Besides having to baby-sit when you’re playing by yourself, RE5 does have some redeeming qualities.‚  The graphics are polished, everything from Chris’ uncomfortably muscular body to the facial expressions of the boss as he talks his plan (Wesker from Resident Evil), all look pretty fluid and realistic.‚  The game play itself, the aiming and shooting, the melee combat, the knife, is all fun.‚  In RE5, the melee combat system gets an overhaul.‚  Now each character has options for how they wish to pummel their enemy.

However, Chris and Sheva can’t just pummel any enemy.‚  New monsters like the Executioner, a monster wielding a bladed sledgehammer spice up the combat.‚  The return of the Licker was a nice inclusion.‚  The Licker seems like a close relative to another new monster, the Reaper, who has an irritating way of one hit killing both Chris and Sheva whenever they’re near.‚  It’s best to just run past them, and get away.‚  Otherwise, get used to having about seven total bullets for most of the game.‚  But, you should already know that you can’t kill all of them.

Quick-time events are strewn throughout the cut scenes to keep the player involved.‚  It’s a good way to maintain attention.‚  But wait, shouldn’t my attention always be towards the game because it’s completely entertaining and interesting?‚  Shouldn’t I be able to play through the game and understand the story completely, understand why there are mutated Africans attacking my character and his friends?

You’d think they might have taken that into consideration, you know, the story and the dialogue.‚  However, from the first mission it is clear that the developers didn’t want to distract gamers with a story.‚  Forget empathy, forget even sympathy, here is some formulaic dialogue.‚  A character I used to think was a pretty good protagonist, Chris, becomes a variable to an equation.‚  Instead of having him do what any rational person would do and assess the situation he’s throwing himself into (mutations, rival, love, safety, just to name a few), he blindly runs through hordes of mutated things for another Resident Evil character, Jill.‚  You see, they were partners.‚  And partners never ditch each other, right?‚  Yeah.‚  Totally.‚  Real people never do that.‚  So he instead runs through the game spitting phrases like, “Let’s do this together,” and “we’re partners, together until the end.”‚  The entire time I was playing, I expected that at the end Chris and Jill would fall in love or something, or Chris and Sheva.‚  Instead, he says almost absolutely nothing after he saves her and just stares at her.‚  I don’t know how that comes across to you, but to me that is creepy and cheap, they could have developed their story more.‚  Not only is that formulaic but by the end, Chris hasn’t changed at all.

The approach to the story is boring and I had to wake up a friend of mine who dozed off listening to Chris make his way through the game twice.‚  The only character worth anything is Wesker, the villain.‚  The actor playing his voice put a little effort into it.‚  The dialogue I can’t fault him for, considering it’s just a rehash of every other game about fighting super powerful bad guys who mutate into monsters.‚  When is the archetypal villain who is out for global domination going to lose its appeal?

While the primary story involves a friend in search of a friend (yay!), the setting is created by the development of a new virus.‚  This virus infects people and mutates them.‚  Instead of zombies, because that’s apparently not scary enough, Chris and Sheva have to fight aggressive Africans whose faces mutate when they try and eat you but otherwise are mostly black and have weapons like flaming crossbows.‚  Some of the scenes were over-the-top, like the motorcycle battle.‚  Yeah, that’s cool.‚  But, I’ve played Gears of War before; I’ve fought that battle before.‚  I want some horror, some survival.

The boss fights range from aim and shoot to an endurance contest.‚  Turret battles with various monsters are too easy.‚  And, the fact that they are extremely mutated does two things.‚  Firstly, it makes the battle more epic.‚  The size and the grotesqueness of the creatures attempt to intimidate the player. ‚ Secondly, it changes the genre of the game.‚  If you wanted survival horror you’re looking in the wrong place.

Previous Resident Evil games used zombies and the psychological connection that the characters themselves could turn if bitten as an important part of the game.‚  Not only did numerous protagonists throughout the franchise have to pump bullets into zombies, but those zombies could be and/or are their friends.‚  Instead, by the absurd amount of tentacles and blood and teeth, RE5 has the opposite affect.‚  The gamer is detached from the idea that they are to be afraid of the monsters and instead are reimbursed with confidence (weapons and ammo and combat).‚  You can look at this as the shift from Survival Horror to Action Adventure.

Aside from that, the Mercenaries mini game is still fresh.‚  With the ability to play it with a friend and a larger selection of characters I had more fun playing it than anything else.‚  The online aspect is good, and I’m hopeful that they allow downloadable characters (Barry Burton please), as well as stages.‚  But, if you’re a fan of Resident Evil, especially Resident Evil 4, you won’t find much of it in this package; just the game play and the universe.

About The Author

Roger Gude is a Blast Magazine correspondent

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