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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

RE5 Review

Elder-Geek already has a review of Resident Evil 5, but I wrote one to apply for a staff position there... so I'll just post it here! Here ya go:

By Kristie Barber

What started as a video game for the PlayStation way back in 1996 has grown into a hugely successful franchise in the entertainment world. Resident Evil games have been released over the last 13 years on 14 game systems with a total of 18 titles with 2 more on the way. The franchise has had success in several other entertainment avenues as well. It boasts 3 films, 2 animated movies, 7 novels, 4 comic books or comic book series, and 4 graphic novel collections. Throughout it's long reign, the Resident Evil games have had 7 games in its main series, the latest of which is Resident Evil 5.

Released in early 2009 for the Xbox360 and PlayStation 3, Resident Evil 5 is set to be released for PC in September 2009. The game is set in present day Africa when Chris Redfield is assigned to work with Sheva Alomar, a resident of Kijuju, by the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). Their assignment is to apprehend Ricardo Irving who is suspected of trying to sell bio-organic weapons on the black market. Since the game takes place more than 10 years after all six preceding games, quite a bit of the story deals with what's been happening to Chris since leaving S.T.A.R.S. and his earlier game appearances. Don't worry though. Since this is still a Resident Evil game, the story is still cheesy and you're sure to get a few laughs from it's characters.

The game has the same over the shoulder perspective as in Resident Evil 4 and very similar controls. This third person shooter style is by far the best set up that the series has seen, so it was a wise choice from the developers to keep it for Resident Evil 5. They also kept the chapter save points instead of reverting back to the horrible ink ribbons seen in the early games.

The thing that is completely new to to Resident Evil 5 and, in my opinion, makes the game more awesome than those before it, is the co-op. The player can play as a rogue, choosing to play with a CPU as the second character or play co-op, either on- or off-line. In single player, the game play is similar to previous games except that they must manage items for both characters. The CPU can become somewhat of a burden in several areas and get rather annoying when it's hindering your advancement in the game. For example, if you equip the CPU with a great weapon and a less great weapon as back up, the CPU will use the less great weapon first. I did not have the opportunity to play co-op online (poor college students can't afford Xbox Live accounts), but from what friends have told me it's an full screen co-op experience, where each player only sees their character's perspective. Players can leave or join a game at any point, as long as the host has the online co-op option turned on, and communicate via the headset. I played the offline version of co-op, which uses a split screen. This allows players to quickly explore areas and see what their team mate is seeing. It also helps players determine a game plan for the chapter. It also helps a great deal in areas with numerous enemies or during boss battles since you have someone watching your back.

An area that was drastically improved was the combat system. Not only are more weapons available, but the player can upgrade and buy supplies before starting each chapter, as apposed to tracking down an in game character as in RE4. Also, the melee combat system was improved as well. There is now the option for a melee attack when an enemy is stunned, as well as a kill move when they're knocked down. This provides a type of combo option, especially with two players in the co-op mode, and also allows the player to conserve ammo for desperate times. All of these improvements come in handy when dealing with the new and improved zombies. Not only are they faster, they're more aggressive than their predecessors, a fact noted by Chris Redfield himself. There are also a variety of enemies, as in RE4. Each new area provides a new type of zombie with new weaknesses and attacks, giving the player a greater challenge and keeping the game interesting.

Just as in RE4, this sequel has “Mercenary Mode.” It's an additional game mode that's unlocked after beating the game in which players try to kill as many enemies with the longest combos possible within a given amount of time. The player can choose to play one or two player to get high scores to unlock new characters, as well as new areas. This mode is super fun, totally addicting, but also very challenging. It adds many more hours of game play to Resident Evil 5. It's so extensive that most of the game's replay value comes from this feature. Players can easily revisit Resident Evil 5 just to beat “Mercenary Mode.”

Overall, Resident Evil 5 is a great addition to the series. It's kept the strengths of past games, while making improvements in areas that needed to be enhanced. I would recommend buying this game if you're a fan of the Resident Evil series. Otherwise, renting this game will sufficiently satisfy your zombie killing appetite. And I also recommend grabbing a friend for some two-player action! The co-op makes the game more fun, creating an experience that's new to the Resident Evil games.