After the sheer brilliance that was Resident Evil 4, what on earth could Capcom do to top one of gaming’s true classics? Well, if Resident Evil 5 is anything to go by, simply churn out a whole new batch of the same old action.
This time the setting heads out into the brightness of Africa. Long gone is that dark and dingy zombie infested mansion, and even the more varied environments in the fourth game are nothing in comparison to the deviation shown in Resident Evil 5.
That being said, it does bring us to our first bone of contention with Resident Evil 5. With the series continuously being a staunch member of the survival horror genre, this time the “horror” part seems to be nothing more than an afterthought. Gone is the claustrophobic atmosphere witnessed in previous games in the series, replaced by a much brighter outdoor experience that simply lacks scares.
Fans of the over the shoulder viewpoint, and stop to aim methods that served the previous game so well can rejoice as they remain fully intact. The viewpoint does its damn level best to show as much of the action going on in front of you as possible. Though it does have to be said that your chosen character seems to occupy a larger portion of the screen than in the last in the series.
Nobody could have escaped the fact that this time you don’t take on the onrushing hordes all on your own. This time you have a fully fledged compatriot to blast alongside of. Sheva, partnering your own Chris Redfield, has obviously been lavished with time and affection as she acts in your best interests for a large part of the time.
But not always. A few times during our play through she’d happily get herself blocked in a corner, particularly when faced with one of the game’s more powerful boss type enemies, and slowly but surely find her life slipping away. Equally, whilst you may wish to conserve ammunition in order to make sure you’re never left pressing an empty trigger, she’ll happily blast away to her heart’s content.
On the plus side, she will gladly rush to your aid if you do find yourself struggling as the enemies pile up. She definitely packs a steady aim and she’ll pick off monstrous enemies like there’s no tomorrow. Plus, if your life is really at its last, if she has a little something to boost your health in her armoury, she’ll help you back on to your feet.
Speaking of which, the inventory system is universally terrible. While the idea of sharing items between the two characters is a nice addition for gamers with a strategic mind, the pitiful number of slots you both hold (a tiny 9) is woefully small. You can fortunately swap and change at the end of each chapter, and sell or buy thing you do or do not want. But the tiny number of available slots is a real annoyance.
That all being said it still packs the same old gameplay of Resident Evil 4. It has its flaws as mentioned above, but the gunplay is still up there with the very best. The lack of ability to move as you shoot may frustrate some, but it still remains to offer some truly enthralling in-game thrills.
What has slightly changed is the game’s focus. While previous titles included a wide variety of puzzles in need of solving in order to progress, Resident Evil 5 is certainly much more geared towards action.
While all is fun, although slightly dampened by the numerous flaws constantly scratching at your gaming mind, the real action is in co-op mode. Taking control of Chris and Sheva with a fellow gamer is truly fantastic. Co-operative gaming hasn’t been this exciting for quite a while. Gone are the few irritating AI flaws, replaced only by the talent constraints of you and your fellow gamer. And it’s always more fun to have a human to scream obscenities at than a few lines of gaming code. Mercenaries mode also comes fully intact as an unlockable extra, and not only offers some truly exciting gameplay, but is also fully co-op enabled.
And all is incredibly good looking. The game world has been lavished with a mass of detail, and the sheer number of comprehensive enemies on screen doesn’t bring any kind of halt to proceedings.
Resident Evil 5 is a truly great game. It looks good, it offers an exciting ride, and the co-op mode is honestly fantastic.
It’s just a shame that the flaws do show a series that is on the downturn, and unless things are changed, the next game could be one to miss. But for now, social gamers in particular are going to truly enjoy the latest trek into the Resident Evil world.