Resident Evil 5 PlayStation 3
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom
Arguably it could be claimed that the finest GameCube game was Resident Evil 4. The game represented a significant overhaul for the series and for many it made the series more accessible than any of the previous Resident Evil titles. Such was the success and popularity of Resident Evil 4, the expectations for Resident Evil 5 have probably been unrealistic. No one could have seriously thought that the game was going to have the same impact that RE4 had could they? Resident Evil 5 does take the series forward in some respects but whilst it's a very good game, it's a game whose strength lies in its multiplayer aspects rather than an improvement of the single-player experience.
In Resident Evil 5 you'll once again step into the shoes of Chris Redfield who was a founding member of and still works for the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). With the Umbrella Corporation now out of the picture, the bio-organic weapons are being illegally traded and have managed to fall into the hands of those who are willing to pay the highest price. In Resident Evil 5 Chris finds himself in the Africa nation of Kijuju. Once he's arrived at his destination, Chris discovers that he has a new assistant, Sheva Alomar, who works for the BSAA Western African Division. People are literally being transformed into zombie-type monsters intent on brutally killing all in their way. Without revealing anything else about the storyline, it suffices to say that there are some surprises in store for fans of the series but it's fair to say that you don't need to have played any of the previous titles in order to enjoy the game.
The game certainly can't be faulted for its replay value. It will take you around twelve hours or so to play through the game. There are a variety of difficulty settings so you can choose to play through the game on a higher setting if you wish. You can also go back and play any of the game's chapters and try to do better than you did the first time. The Mercenaries mode, which gives you a series of time related challenges, also makes a return and there are plenty of unlockable items in the game such as outfits and character figurines.
There are some key differences between RE4 and RE5 and these differences will both please and disappoint longstanding fans of the series. The most pleasing aspect of RE5 has to be the online co-op multiplayer experience (split-screen local multiplayer is supported too). When starting a new game you can either choose to set your co-op settings to Rogue (single-player only), Invite Only or No limits (which allows anyone to join you). With each player in charge of a character the experience is much more enjoyable as you're bypassing the main problem with RE5, the companion AI. Yes the single-player experience just isn't as good because you're saddled with an AI partner who just seems to make a mess of things rather too frequently. It's certainly no fun when Sheva goes and gets herself killed and you've failed because of your poor companion AI rather than your own mistakes. At times she does prove quite useful however and if you're in need of assistance she usually comes to your aid very quickly. You can also use Sheva's inventory as an extension to your own should the need arise which is very useful as you're only allowed to carry a small amount of items at one time.
It's not just the irritating companion AI that helps to mar the experience for the single-player. RE5 is definitely more of an action focused game than previous titles in the main Resident Evil series. I really enjoyed the puzzles you needed to solve in the earlier games and it's a real shame the decision has been taken to modify the series' formula. I daresay this is probably to make the game appeal to those who just want to focus on the action and can't be bothered with thinking too much and it's a decision that makes a lot of sense in that respect. Those who are after a game with more flowing action will probably be slightly disappointed with the game's control system which really hasn't moved on from RE4 and by today's standards it really feels outdated and cumbersome. Having to press two buttons to perform a variety of actions is just plain clumsy and a more intuitive control system is definitely needed. In an effort to add some tension to the game you'll also notice that the game doesn't pause when you open your inventory. Whilst it definitely adds tension to the game, it's also annoying, as during tense moments you'll try and avoid looking at your inventory. Thankfully you can assign items to your directional buttons which provides much needed quick access to essential items.
It goes without saying that this is the finest looking Resident Evil title to date and for the most part it's a pretty impressive looking game. The character animations in the game, particularly the facial ones, are excellent. The boss enemies you'll have to fight look truly hideous, in a horrifying sense that is. The game has some great looking environments that really add to the game's horrifying ambience. The numerous enemies in the game look as disturbing as ever and from a visual standpoint it's certainly not a game that should be played by those who suffer from nightmares after seeing video game characters that can only be described as disturbing. If there's one complaint in regard to how the game looks, it has to be said that some of the textures in the game look rather basic and this is out of sync with the otherwise impressive visuals in the game. The frame rate holds up pretty well during the course of the game, although there are moments when it definitely dips but thankfully this doesn't cause any problems.
Resident Evil 5 is subtitled and you'll be able to follow the game's storyline as a result. It's far from being a great experience for deaf gamers however. Whilst it's great that the game is subtitled it's a shame there are no character names or portraits to accompany the subtitles to show you who is speaking. Most of the time it's pretty obvious although there are times where it's definitely unclear such as when Chris is receiving a communication. When you instruct Sheva to help you or to pick up an object the comments made by Chris and Sheva are not subtitled. Likewise, there are times when Sheva will call out to Chris or suggest taking a certain route and these comments are not subtitled. There are no captions and whilst hearing gamers will be aware of enemies they can't see, deaf gamers will not. Tutorial messages are shown in text. You're notified when the game has been saved and when a checkpoint has been reached. The HUD does its job and has been kept as minimal as possible. You can call up a map (using the R2 button) to show you where you should be heading. You're also aware of when your partner needs help.
As a co-operative experience Resident Evil 5 is one of the best multiplayer experiences on this generation of consoles and for the co-op experience alone the game is certainly worth a purchase. The single-player experience is still enjoyable but it isn't as good and it's certainly not as impressive as Resident Evil 4 as a single-player experience. If you're the kind of person who's not very forgiving when it comes to an AI companion who doesn't always behave as you would want them to, it's fair to say that there will be times you feel frustrated when the AI controlled Sheva doesn't behave as you'd like her to. It would have been good to have had the option to play through the game with just one character but it's clear the game has been designed from the ground up to be played as a co-operative experience. With the more action focused game-play it's a shame that we still don't have an intuitive control scheme but fans of the series will be used to the control scheme on offer even if newcomers find it quite awkward to begin with. Problems aside, Resident Evil 5 is an impressive game and those looking for an action packed two-player co-op experience will really enjoy what the game has to offer.