Resident Evil 5 – Xbox 360
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: March 5th, 2009
Nerd Rating: 6 if you’re not particularly a Resident Evil fan, 7.5 if you are. OUT OF 10
Reviewed By: Babe Sauce
Before I jump into anything, allow me to note something that will affect how you interpret both this review and this game. Resident Evil has always been its own special brand of video-game dramatism and zombie apocalypticism. Are there moments of utter “how the hell did that even happen?” Absolutely. However, the series does have a dedicated fan-base who find its unique brand of gameplay rather addicting. In this case, “unique” refers to the third-person action-movie-star game perspective, the elaborate ass-kicking tendencies of every single character that is even relatively close to a pro/antagonist, and the overly flawless, fight-instigating, consistently unnecessary yet extremely necessary bad-ass dialogue. If this does not sound like your cup of tea, I do urge you to still take a look at this particular game in the series as it does have several aspects that can lure in and hook those gamers who aren’t even fans. If you’re already a fan, I hope you have your massively thick Chris Redfield machete ready because this is going to be one hell of a welcome party, with a few hints of the unique language stylistics of the Resident Evil universe with occasional insertions of unnecessary dialogue from the game, just to make sure I set the mood.
Let’s start with something a little tangent from the main game. The image above is our beloved Chris Redfield in an unlockable costume–this one being “safari” themed. For all you eye-candy seekers out there, you can unlock a “tribal” version of Sheva, the female protagonist and new partner of Chris Redfield. She is covered with just enough lion skin and elephant hides so that you can’t see her lady parts when she jumps across buildings to score some extra sacks of gold. Along with being able to obtain costumes, there are a bunch of other collectibles and features that you can unlock by purchasing them with points that you earn for completing a level. The higher “rank” you get at the end of the level, the more points you get, but we will touch on that later. Back to the collectibles: the costumes are the most amusing yet most useless of these purchasable goodies. Among the other goodies are little “figurines,” which in retrospect, are also quite useless in-game play-wise in comparison to the costumes. However, they do serve as good trophies for those achievement-hunters and thorough gamers as each figurine requires that a certain objective be completed before having the ability to purchase it. For example, you must complete Chapter 2 as well as collect 10 BSAA emblems in order to unlock and purchase the Popokarimu figurine. After you collect all of the figurines, you even get a little bloop pop up on your screen worth thirty gamerscore. High rolling.
The reason there was a whole paragraph about seemingly useless things is to transition into what I see as the strongpoints of this game: playability. When I say playability, I’m referring to how thorough the game is in offering different reasons and ways for you to play it over and over again not just because you like the storyline. Firstly, it offers the addicting option of beating your own best record. As I mentioned before, there is a ranking system with S being the highest you can attain, followed by A, B, and C. After each sub-chapter you complete, you get a ranking that is based on how well you did for that area–for this game these components include the time it took you to finish, your accuracy, your kills, and your deaths. Aside from unlocking achievements for attaining the “S” rank, the simple drive to want to improve upon your own performance is a basic, inevitable human instinct. Fate is inevitable. You were right, Wesker.
Another contributor to the playability is how you can tackle the campaign. Aside from the ranking system and replaying chapters for better scores and higher points, the campaign itself is rather long whether or not you include the dramatic cut scenes. The adventure aspect of the game makes sure that aside from popping off some heads, there is an entire chapter reminiscent of the earlier investigative feel of the Resident Evil series, dedicated to going through a sequence of Aztec puzzles and caves underground that include “ancient” lasers and giant Indiana Jones-style boulders–both of which will instantaneously kill you on Veteran and seriously injure you to literally near-death health any difficulty below that.
This is where playing co-op comes in handy. Whether on the same system or playing on Xbox live, it seems that this game was made for co-op play. You literally cannot play the campaign just as Chris or just as Sheva–your hopefully human, not AI/CPU partner will always need to be there to hopefully revive you when your health has hit critical and you slowly bleed out in some dilapidated, health-inspection-failing butchery in the middle of Africa, or if you need a boost up a broken ladder to get to the roof of some health-inspection-failing butchery in the middle of Africa. Quick tip of advice: I encourage you to play with a friend–or even an anonymous fellow Resident Evil fan over Xbox Live–because no matter what difficulty you play on, the teamwork involved in spraying magical herbs or stabbing needles into one another during the bleed-out period is crucial to the game, and your AI Sheva will majoritively fail to aid you when you are in the middle of an African village bleeding out and grasping your glorious Redfield pecs in dying misery. While on the topic, this is a good time to point out that this is one of the weaknesses of the game: the massive dependence on co-op and the skill failure of your partner when he/she is a CPU and not an actual human. Many a time have I had campaign cravings but no human friend to pop heads off with. When I first had these cravings, I was still in the process of going through all the collections of the game and trying to unlock everything I could. That being said, I was only on the difficulty right below the hardest and even THEN, I could only die a few times before getting frustrated that the consistent reason for my death was that Chris just stood there in the middle of the African savannah firing his little tiny D-eagle at one round per minute with three herbs in his inventory as I jammed my control stick to push Sheva against him in some attempt to get him to notice the painfully dramatically slow death of his only partner. That being said, please let me emphasize that you need to stock your AI partner’s inventory with either heavily damaging weaponry or seemingly unnecessary amounts of herbs and medical sprays.
Continuing on playability, there is another aspect to the game called “Mercenaries” which is rather addicting. First off, a brief overview of Mercenaries. You can unlock different areas, all with their own sense of difficulty in terms of space and environmental weapons. All areas have a relatively equal amount of time-extending opportunities and most of them have good environmental weapons such as a torch you can knock over to set some enemies ablaze. Picking your character also has its variations because each character has a different set of weapons and inventory; for example, one character may have only a little caliber pistol and a can of health while another one has only dual SMG’s and grenades.
The mode itself is a timed session where you go around and annihilate zombies in your preferred style of choice. For me and my partner, we would usually Chuck Norris it and just combo our beat-downs until one of us had to toss a grenade, and look for more time to extend the round. Mercenaries is a mode that is actually somewhat common–you pick a map, pick a character, and kill a bunch of enemies in an allotted time slot. What makes Resident Evil’s Mercenaries so addicting though are a few things: beating your own records, getting into the zombie-slaying groove, and either finally breaking away from partner dependence or taking advantage of your bad-ass friend, who isn’t quite as good as you, but can hold his own and heal you at command. Revisiting the psychological approach–we as human beings want to be on top and always succeed the previous achievement. With Mercenaries, there is always a score to beat, always more enemies to kill, and always more combos to attain a higher bonus. Additionally, with enemies always coming after you, you’re likely to get in this slaying mood where you’re destroying them left and right–your insides tingle, and your roommates overhearing your aggressive growls of victory hope that they’re not next. In terms of partner dependence: like I mentioned earlier, I love playing Mercenaries with a friend. We combo it up and there’s a rush I feel from these continuous cranial explosions that keep my heart racing. Plus, there’s always the added bonus of gloating when you have twice as many kills as your partner. What’s great about Mercenaries is that even without your buddy there to play with you, you’re not paired with an AI like in the campaign. You can go solo and take all the glory for yourself, slaughtering mass amounts of people like the true Wesker you are.
Personally, I love the dramatism and playability of this game, but like I said earlier, Resident Evil is often times an acquired taste. Resident Evil 5, however, is a great place to start if you’re new or not particularly a fan of the entire series. It has a good flow and pace that is common among satisfying shooters, but it also has that adventure aspect that identifies it as part of Umbrella Corporation’s wrath on the world. As long as you can adjust to the third-person perspective, I guarantee you’ll smile at least twice per gaming session, whether that be from the violent explosion of an infected civilian or from a simple line uttered from the mouth of an overly enthused BSAA agent.
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