|By Charlie Goodrich||Tuesday, 14 Apr 2009|
The Resident Evil series has experienced a metamorphosis. This change has been gradual over the past thirteen years and has culminated with the Resident Evil franchise becoming an action series. Resident Evil 5 is the final nail in the survival horror coffin. Gone is the creepy atmosphere, moments of suspense, worries concerning ammo and ink ribbons, and the non-linear game play (there was only a little of this to begin with but at least it was there). Instead you have a gaming series that focuses on intense action and gunning down as many baddies as possible. Like Resident Evil 4, this is an incredibly fun game to play, but the changes Capcom has introduced and the direction of the storyline make for a slightly above average game. The plot of Resident Evil 5 is nothing special or interesting. Chris Redfield returns as the main protagonist. Chris is part of the B.S.A.A. (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) which has assigned him to Africa. Chris is to follow up on a lead that could unearth more information regarding any viruses or biological weapons. Mr. Redfield won’t be flying solo for this mission though. He partners up with another B.S.A.A. agent, Sheva Alomar. Together they must track down an informant and discover as many clues as they can. The mission quickly goes sour, however, when the inhabitants of the small town they are investigating start to attack them. They soon learn that there is more to their assignment then they first realized, and that Chris’ arch nemesis, Albert Wesker, is up to his old tricks. The story is better than that of Resident Evil 4 (which could have passed for a cheesy 80′s flick), but it is still considerably weaker when compared to Resident Evil 1 or 2. They do manage to tie up some previously unanswered questions
but new questions are brought to the forefront at the end of the game. There is a plot twist about halfway through the game but it is obvious and anti-climatic. The biggest addition to this series is the introduction of multiplayer. Either through split screen or online, a second player can control Sheva. This makes for a great gaming experience. Having a friend help kill enemies and explore with really adds to the replay value of this game as well as the level of fun you’ll have playing. The AI that naturally controls Sheva can be frustrating to deal with, and there are certain parts of the game that benefit from having a second human player. The AI can be set to either attack or cover mode. Attack mode will cause Sheva to equip a powerful weapon and shoot at whatever she can. Cover mode enables her to stay back and let you do most of the dirty work. For the most part I had little problems with the AI. There were instances where she wouldn’t kill something right in front of us or she would run off and get killed. She also doesn’t corner too well. She will stop and pivot to turn. Luckily, most of the time she acted how I wanted her to and her accuracy is exceptional. Either way this is a fun game, but another human player is definitely the way to go if you have the option.
The graphics in Resident Evil 5 are great and provide an added way to emerge the player within the gaming world. The lighting effects in Resident Evil 5 are the most notable change from Resident Evil 4. Shadows, sunlight, and lighting adjustments (going from outside into a cave) all look spectacular. The characters and their animations are also impressive. Facial expressions and details to clothing and equipment is beyond what I expected. Each environment is well constructed and varied. Players explore towns, swamps, caves, ancient ruins, laboratories, ships, and even a volcano. I felt each environment made the game less monotonous and encouraged exploration. The soundtrack was a bit of a let down. No music stood out until the end parts of the game. Most of the game only has music when you are being attacked or during a cut scene which is standard for this series. However, there are some places that would have benefited from background music. The sound effects in Resident Evil 5 are spot on. Perhaps too spot on in some instances. Everywhere you walk produces loud footsteps. It’s as if they placed a microphone at your feet to amplify the sound. There were times when I was distracted by the noise of walking or pivoting. Other than that, the sound effects were very well done. The voice acting is better than in part 4 but still seems average by voice acting standards. The weapons, vehicles, monsters, and environment sounds are accurate (or seem accurate seeing how I’ve never been to Africa). A major gripe people have always had about the Resident Evil series was the controls. People think that Resident Evil should adopt a control scheme similar to Gears of War or another third person shooter. I’ve never had an issue with the controls and feel they are perfectly suited for this game. Once you are familiar with the controls you should have no problems maneuvering through this game. They did spruce up the controls a little by adding a strafe feature and the ability to duck behind walls. Capcom also added a hot key system for easy item access. Your inventory can hold nine items in a 3×3 grid. The items in the top, bottom, left, and right centers can be access by pressing that direction on the d-pad. This is helpful for quick healing or weapon switching because opening the inventory no longer pauses the game. Summing up Resident Evil 5 is similar to part 4. Both games are fun and addicting but not exceptional games. The stories are too weak, the characters lack depth, and the writing is too poor for either game to receive super high marks. Being able to play with another person is a great way to improve your experience with Resident Evil 5. After completing the single player campaign, you open up many unlockables which increase the replay value and will have you playing Resident Evil 5 more than once. I miss the suspense I felt playing Resident Evil 1 and 2 as well as the survival horror elements that made those games so great. For an action game Resident Evil 5 is solid but don’t expect anything revolutionary.