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One of the year’s most anticipated releases is finally here, and fans are wondering if it will be the best in the series. It can’t be helped if Resident Evil 5 is compared to Resident Evil 4: both games are very similar in terms of gameplay, it would be impossible to ignore. So does Resident Evil 5 hold its own? Read on to find out what Tim and I have to say.

Chris Carter:

The amount of graphical detail is astounding. Every enemy has distinctive cuts and bruises, and every rusty old building looks just like it would in real life. Chain saw revving and insect gurgling will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, and the enemies’ screams will chill you. It all feels so authentic and immersive, which makes the experience that much more fun.

If there was any problem with Resident Evil 4, it’s that it felt like a “gaiden” (side story). Even though some elements became meshed into the normal storyline, the actual game felt like It kind of happened separated from the main storyline, and Sadler (the final boss) had little to do with classic Resident Evil lore. Resident Evil 5′s story gives us more of the mysterious corporation/big picture that we know and love. While all its major plot points are fairly predictable, there are a few huge surprises that RE fans won’t want to miss out on. Every loading screen has “history of Resident Evil” facts, and there are unlockable 32 page files on every major character on the game, adding to the immersive story. The story also takes the time to flesh out the characters, something RE4 also didn’t do, and has more recognizable characters. Chris and Sheva have multiple heartfelt chats with each other, and the subject of “partnership” is a huge central theme.

While the story is above average for an action game, faulty mechanics are the main problems with Resident Evil 5. The inventory system has its ups and downs, and the control scheme is starting to feel dated. Each character is given 9 inventory slots; that’s it. There’s no possible upgrade or unlock that gives you a bigger space. Because of this, it can get extremely frustrating when you need to pick up an item, but your ammo is taking up a slot, forcing you to reload first. Once you become a pro, however, you’ll be curving your hand in a disfigured claw-like fashion to hit the d-pad and quick change items while running from enemies, and re-arranging your items in a lightning quick fashion.

Getting it out of the way: a walk and shoot mechanic would have been nice. In order to compensate for this, characters are given an improved melee system. You and your partner can now chain together melee attacks to conserve ammo, and stomp or stab fallen enemies. Even with this addition, however, the action can get a bit overwhelming, especially on some boss battles.

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Once you get used to it, Sheva’s AI is decent; but just decent. She’ll plow through any amount of enemies just to heal you, and she’s a better shot than most standard players with the sniper rifle. Most of her quirks can be eliminated by taking away the pistol from her right away, and giving her a rifle or machine gun as soon as it’s available. While this is an easy solution, and increases her productivity ten-fold, this doesn’t mean that she still doesn’t have problems.

She refuses to fire a ton of different weapons, and you can’t tell her to “retreat”. If all hope seems lost against an adamant foe, she’ll most likely get hit a few times before following you away. Also, while it’s great that she heals you, she does it a bit too often instead of conserving healing items for when it counts. Overall, I’d rate her as unsatisfactory. It’s also obvious that Resident Evil fans wanted the ability to play alone. Unfortunately, that option isn’t there. When you beat the game, however, you can play as Sheva, changing the experience entirely.

What’s even better than dealing with an AI partner? Playing with a friend! Tit-for tat, it’s the best co-op game ever made in my opinion. Luckily, both split-screen and online co-op are available. Boss fights were made for you and a friend to sit down and blast through, plus most of the levels are better experienced with another player. Your tactics completely change, you each get your own achievements and cash, and you can play your character in any way you like to complement each other’s style. The only complaint here is that the game might be too easy with a skilled friend in comparison with older titles in the series. Ultimately, co-op mode and single player mode feel like two different games.

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Actual gameplay itself is a blast. With multiple vehicle sections, even one that plays like a lightgun game; each level feels fresh. As usual, Resident Evil 5 will host some of the best boss battles you’ve ever seen in a video game. In fact, I’d even go so far as say one of the encounters is the most fun battle ever. While a vast majority of the fights don’t offer many “new” concepts, Resident Evil 5 does it better than any action game on the market.

Classic Resident Evil “as you know it” has completely changed however. Gone are actual puzzles (you can’t consider the ones in 5 puzzles), and side paths. Most of the game is fairly linear, in favor of increasing the action. Also if you’re wondering: the game is “creepy and disgusting” at points, but not scary at all. Part of the reason for this is because you’re playing it with someone else. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say “I miss it”.

Don’t be worried about the game not giving you your money’s worth: there are enough unlockables to last you months. Sheva mode feels like a different game, and it will take you weeks to earn the money to fully upgrade your weapons to earn the secret ones. Mercenaries mode also returns, and in a big way (it could have its own review). Also be on the look out for 30 secret emblems hidden throughout the game; it’s worth another playthrough just to get them, as they unlock extra content. For clarification on the game’s length; a standard solo playthrough took me 9 hours. This involved a few boss fights that took me a few tries, and mild exploration. It will take the average player a bit more time depending on how much you’re willing to explore; I got lucky and figured out a few of the boss battles right away.

Survival horror may be dead, but action rose from its ashes. For all intents and purposes, this isn’t the “definitive” Resident Evil game, but it comes pretty darn close. At its core, Resident Evil 5 is an amazing co-op shooter, with tons of additional content. It’s not quite “survival”, and it’s not quite “horror”, but one thing’s for sure; it’s fun.

Rating Category
9.5 Presentation
The graphics are unreal, with an insane amount of attention paid to detail. The environments and enemy sets, like RE4, are varied enough to keep the game interesting.
8.5 Gameplay
There are a few problems with the inventory system, Sheva’s AI, and the control scheme is starting to show signs of aging. Capcom does a great job including QTE sequences with normal gameplay, and you’ll be having too much of a blast to really care about the controls (plus you’ll improve as you play it more).
9.0 Sound
Every sound effect is perfect. The music in the game ranges from standard to epic (mostly during the boss battles). The voice acting is also above average, which is welcome for a series that usually has a sub-par effort.
9.5 Lastability
The ability to play through the entire game again as Sheva is a nice inclusion. Add in online Co-op story play, tons of unlockable weapons, and the biggest Mercenaries mode yet (also online), and you’ll be playing this one for a long while.
9.3 Overall
Resident Evil 5 is not quite as good as RE4, but it includes probably the best 2 Player Co-op mode ever made, and more content than its predecessor. While it’s not the strongest in the series, Resident Evil 5 holds it’s own against some of the best action titles.

Tim Turi:

The foundation of the Resident Evil series consists of desperate isolation, underpowered weaponry, and white knuckle horror.  Resident Evil 5 is the first entry in the series that abandons all of these cornerstones, but does the lack of foundation leave it a pile of rubble, or has it broken new ground?

The first and most obvious change to the Resident Evil formula is the addition of a second player.  Whether you’re playing solo or cooperatively with a pal, newcomer to the series Sheva Alomar will be along for the ride alongside bio-warfare veteran Chris Redfield.  Resident Evil 5 ultimately feels like two different games.  The co-op is a smooth and polished teamwork experience, but on the other hand the single player game will have you cursing at the horrendous A.I.  Whether blocking your sniper rifle shot, healing you at the same time you heal her, or wasting ammo on enemies instead of running, Sheva is an idiot.  Playing Resident Evil 5′s single player mode is a test in patience, and it is inexcusable that the single player experience cannot stand on its own.  Always play with a friend.

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The weaponry in the game has also changed dramatically.  You’ll come across new and more powerful guns consistently throughout the game, so you’ll never feel underpowered as long as you have ammo.  Unfortunately, the weapons in Resident Evil 5 lack the personality of other weapons in the series.  When browsing through the weapons in your arbitrarily limited inventory, it feels more like a generic arsenal from Call of Duty. Chris and Sheva aren’t the only ones touting firearms this time around, either, as you’ll encounter enemy “Majinis” with machine guns later in the game; the whole experience feels more like a shooter.  If you’re a long time Resident Evil fan who felt like Resident Evil 4 was too harsh a departure from the series’ roots, then you’ll feel alienated as you use a cover system to engage in firefights with zombies.  However, despite all this it’s still incredibly fun.

Resident Evil 5 trades the creepy atmosphere and jump scares of the series for epic set piece battles and fast paced quick time button press events.  Though this game has left its survival horror roots, it has now become a superbly paced, always entertaining action game.  Conflicting with the “something new every ten minutes” schematic of Resident Evil 5, enemy types rarely vary beyond different versions of Majinis (save for the return of one classic enemy from the series).   Redeeming the recycled enemies are the large scale boss fights that’ll keep you guessing how to vanquish them.  If you’ve been lamenting over the lack of quality boss fights in videogames these days, then this game will restore your faith ten fold.  Though you’ll find yourself battling around memorable setpieces like an oil refinery and a battleship, the locales begin to look a bit generic and like rehashes of areas from Resident Evil 4 after you’ve left the scorching African sun in the village area.

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This fifth entry in the Resident Evil series boasts tremendous replay value, offering four difficulty modes, the ability to play as either Chris or Sheva, and the infamous Mercenaries mode.  Unlockables are earned when you find and destroy medallions scattered through the game, reminiscent of the medallions in Resident Evil 4. Playing as Sheva offers a unique (and left-handed) perspective of the game.  Mercenaries mode allows you to play rack up kill combos in arena versions of memorable areas from the main game, and also grants you points to unlock secrets.  Playing this mode is an addicting experience, as you strive for high scores to unlock new levels and characters, and becomes even more enthralling when playing with a friend.

The transformation of Chris Redfield between Resident Evil 1 and Resident Evil 5 from an averagely built S.T.A.R.S. member to a hulking B.S.A.A. meathead perfectly mirrors the evolution of the series.  Resident Evil began meagerly with a lone man narrowly avoiding death and fending for his life with a combat knife, and has now become a powerhouse pumped with as many steroids as its neck-breaking, door busting main character.  Sure, this isn’t the same Resident Evil we know and love, but it’s still fun as hell.

Reviewer’s note(s): The Xbox 360 version was tested for both reviews

Rating Category
9.0 Presentation
The graphics and animation are incredible, but the environments feel a little stock after the first chapter.
How does our scoring system work?
7.0 Gameplay
The mechanics themselves work perfectly, despite time sensitive melee attacks and “pick up item” being assigned to the same button and resulting in cheap hits. The really detractor here is that the A.I. in single player is a complete blunder and the inventory is needlessly limited.
8.0 Sound
Fully orchestrated music makes its debut in the series but sounds slightly out of place, and some of the later stuff sounds like its straight out of Metal Gear Solid. The voice acting is terrific this time around.
9.0 Longevity
Additional difficulties, unlockable weapons, and co-op Mercenaries mode make this a game chock full of replay value.
8.5 Overall
Resident Evil 5 succeeds in every way as a cooperative game, and fails miserably at a single player experience. There’s enough polish and fun to be had, however, that you’ll want to share the experience with a friend.

  1. I loved Resident Evil 5, beat it yesterday and played about 80% of it co-op with a friend. I think you’ve exaggerated the stupidity of Sheva a bit too much Tim. She’s not THAT bad.

  2. I found my experience with Sheva to be much more successful than others I’ve talked to with minor tweaks. But others have had bad experiences, so I can see where they’re coming from.

  3. I didn’t like the last two chapters. Nice location but I didn’t like the enemies those chapters had, aside from the bosses and the first enemies you encounter in chapter 5. Sheva did annoy me at times especially in that chapter. Co-op made those chapters enjoyable for me though. Overall, it’s a good game. Great review guys.

  4. Nice reviews, I have yet to play this game, but as soon as I get some extra cash I’m definitely checking it out.

  5. @Cloud

    I’m happy you had a better experience single player than I did. :D

  6. @Tim
    Well i only played chapters 4 and 5 single player, and they seemed to be okay. :)

  7. @ Cloud

    Playing through all 6 chapters with that dolt is a taxing experience, haha. You’re a lucky man :D

  8. @Tim
    I just wanted Mercenaries, it’s great :)
    I’m lucky to have a friend who doesn’t suck at games, have you tried playing online with someone random? They’re worse than the AI.

  9. avatar Quraishi

    I thought the presentation was at least a 9.5, but thats just my opinion.

    Both are excellent reviews, but I am going to have to favor with Chris, but that is probably because I have not has as bad luck as other people with the AI. We also cannot forget about the Versus DLC which will be coming later on…

  10. Forgot to add, I did like the limited inventory system. Felt a little old school and having the inventory open up in real time made the game more intense.

  11. @Naoto G.

    I really liked it. As someone else in another review said “It adds realism to it; you don’t pause to stop the action”. It goes hand in hand in my opinion with stopping and shooting. It adds a lot of tension, and when you master it, you’ll be combining, switching, and managing no problem. The key is to minimizing what you start with (restrict to 2 guns, upgrade their capacity a lot to prevent some slots holding ammo).

  12. I love RE5 (I’ve beaten it 3 times already), it’s a freakin gorgeous game and the co-op experience is one of a kind. The ending was disappointing to me though.

  13. avatar Chreezy

    Coming from a long time fan of the series i would say this is a great game. Besides the little annoying stuff like Sheva’s AI and the fact that Jill was obviously the bird lady from the beginning. Its good as a series game and on its own. You definitely have to play with a friend to get the full experience. It awesome that Chris is back and buffer then ever, but sucks that Wesker is finally out of the story. It would have been nice to see another “tyrant” but you cant get everything. Those Emblems were a bitch to find, but gave you something to do. I liked Re 4′s mercenaries a little more. Overall this is a very beautiful game and is worth the money. i wish the Usa collectors edition came with the same stuff as the japan one, i would recommend it to others.

  14. I never got RE5 but now I kinda want to, if I had enough cash. It seems like a really enjoyable and fun action horror game.

  15. I really like playing the game despite the lack of AI intelligence or common sense, Definitely worth having a friend around to play it with though.

  16. No Split screen co-op! Gutted.
    What about those of us who have real friends?

  17. @Gideon
    What? It has split-screen coop

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