Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360) - Mania.com



Resident Evil 5 Review

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Info:

  • Game: Resident Evil 5
  • ESRB Rating: M (Mature)
  • Reviewed Platform: Xbox 360 (Also available on the Playstation 3)
  • Developer: Capcom
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Gameplay: B-
  • Graphics: A
  • Sound: B
  • Replay Value: B-
  • Series:

Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360)

The franchise that created the survival horror genre makes its next-gen debut.

By Josh Gordon     March 12, 2009


Mania reviews Resident Evil 5 for the Xbox 360(2009).
© Mania.Com/Josh Gordon

 The Return of the Living Dead

Taking place in the fictional African city of Kijuju, Resident Evil brings us the harrowing adventures of one of the original Resident Evil protagonists Chris Redfield (Now with the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance or B.S.A.A). Picking up the lead from games it inspired and influenced such as Gears of War, the current incarnation brings in a wonderfully implemented co-op system in the form of the lovely Sheva Alomar, a native African and also a B.S.A.A. agent). The all evil Umbrella Corporation (the company that started this zombie mess to begin with) had maintained research facilities in Kijuju but has shut down operations since declaring bankruptcy. In its place is Tricell’s pharmaceutical division. Experiments on the people of Kijuju have gone horribly wrong which brings us to our current bleak situation. It’s now up to Chris and Sheva to contain this “problem” and make sure that humanity is kept safe.

Resident Evil 5 almost a great game. Featuring fantastic graphics, cut-scenes, bosses, co-op with online play; it can be an engrossing and, at times truly frightening depiction of zombie horror / sci-fi. But two primary elements hold this back from being great, movement and controls but I’ll get to those in a minute.

 
Essentially, Resident Evil 5 is the exact opposite of the Valve’s recent high flying zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead. While L4D boasted old school graphics, sublimely simple control, typically mindless zombies and no story whatsoever (all of the aforementioned are pluses; L4D is perhaps the greatest zombie game ever made) RE5 rolls out a complex history, superior state of the art graphics, eerily intelligent, weapon wielding zombies and a control system that makes Street Fighter: IV seem like Duck Hunt.
 
Co-op-ulation
 
For the single player game your friend indeed is Sheva, a stunningly hot partner who’s not only easy on the eyes but a great help as well. Her voice acting also rises above the rest of the mostly mediocre performances in the game. Where Sheva really shines though is in her A.I. She’s always working with you, never against you. And Hooray, she never got in the way of zombie dispatching. In fact, she saved my ass more times than I’d like to admit.
 
The offline 2 player co-op is particularly well done. All someone has to do to join is hit a second controller’s start button and viola! They’re in! A really welcome innovation is that split screen is presented horizontally and the screens are staggered which is much more of a help than you’d think. It really works to keep your focus on your screen without distraction from you’re partners. As is true for co-op games, team work is an absolute requirement to staying alive as zombies come at you from all angles. My friend and I had many moments of laughter and high-anxiety trying to work out the best tactics for overcoming zombie hordes and area bosses (which are staggeringly cool but I’ll get to that later). Boss battles are immensely enhanced by the teamwork that’s afforded by having a real player sitting along side you.
 
Flesh Eating Controls
 
While many long time fans of the game might be thrilled that not much has changed with the current combat system, I for one, am not. I was really hoping to see the series first foray onto next gen consoles become a more streamlined experience. Rest assured the purists will be happy.
 
Utilizing an over the shoulder 3rd person perspective, the general character movement feels a little too slow; almost like walking with weighted boots on.
 
Two buttons must be pressed in order to load a weapon or fire a weapon or do other simple tasks. Health packs must be accessed through the inventory screen. Though you can assign a health pack to a position on your D-Pad you’ll have to reassign it again once you’ve used the initial health pack. I’ve been recently playing F.E.A.R. 2 where health packs get automatically stored when walked over and you need only hit “down” on the directional pad in order to use them. This is infinitely better than having to open an inventory screen, select the health pack then select “use” from a drop down menu (all while the battle is continuing!). This chosen method is absolutely arcane. I think Dungeon Master in 1989 for the Amiga had a more elegant inventory system.
 
My biggest gripe, though it stays true to the series, has to be not being able to use a weapon and move at the same time. I found myself extremely frustrated by this glaring omission, particularly when using the machete which at times became more of a hindrance than a help and often felt unnatural. It takes away from the immersive experience if I can’t do something as simple as step forward while striking with my weapon.
 
I did get used to the control system but I never really felt I was controlling the game more than it was controlling me. The feeling was akin to being told what I could or couldn’t do as opposed to doing what felt natural. I was always aware of the controller in my hand.
  
The Boss of Me
 
Resident Evil 5 boasts some of the most jaw dropping bosses I’ve ever seen in a video game. These denizens of death are detailed, imaginative and quite the stuff of nightmares. There are also several set pieces that raise the next-gen bar for sheer “wow” factor. Without giving too much away, one of them involves shooting weapons from the back of a moving vehicle while speeding through the African outback. It’s been done well in other games like Call of Duty 4 but its implementation here is simply phenomenal. 
 
A Worthwhile Experience
 
While there are some strong flaws, RE5 is still a worthwhile experience. Its online play and offline co-op add extra depth and the single player co-op A.I. sets new standards. The graphics are as good as Call of Duty’s last two entries and never cease to impress. The locations are gorgeous; you’ll swear you can feel the heat and dust on your skin. Special mention must be given to this new style of zombie. Not only do these bad boys wield weapons, they pull off some pretty spectacular stunts (I don’t want to spoil the surprises) and possess an intelligence and ability that has only been hinted at in movies like George Romero’s Land of the Dead.
 
 

It’s frustrating when a game is so close to hitting the bulls-eye but misses because of a couple of major missteps. Long time fans of the franchise might fiercely disagree with me but I think it’s time to rethink the combat system. All in all, while the combat, and control system might really turn off those more familiar with modern shooters, you owe yourself a look at what, often times, is a very strong achievement.

Is RE5 Racist? My Mini-Editorial

I agree that it probably isn’t appropriate to bring this up in a game review but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.
 
Much brew-ha-ha was made on the internet last year when NGai Croal, Newsweek’s gaming / tech guru said that the imagery in the first RE5 trailer “dovetailed with classic racist imagery”. (read an enlightening interview with Croal about this here. I agree with him. Like Croal, I believe there was no racist intent on the part of Capcom or the development team but I agree that “This imagery has a history.” I’ll just ask you to look at it this way – imagine a German protagonist killing Jews in a zombie infested Israel. Does it really matter if the game was created with racist intentions or not?
 
Intolerance is the one thing I can’t tolerate (go wrap your mind around that) and I believe that we, as a world, have a duty to stand up to the horrifically ignorant people of the planet who practice and believe in prejudice. Personally I really enjoyed the setting of the game as it’s a nice change of pace from the typical zombie locale (shopping malls, big city streets, etc); it adds a nice grittiness to the scenario. Again, I firmly believe that Capcom and all involved had no racist intentions whatsoever when creating RE5 but it pisses me off to no end knowing that there are going to be some low life fuck-brick racists getting off on the scenario of this game!  That just pisses me off! So while I think Capcom’s intentions are ultimately good, I’m ultimately unsure about how some people will perceive the imagery and situations. I’d love to know what any of you out there think.

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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Sanity 3/12/2009 7:12:42 PM

I loved RE4 and can't wait to play RE5.  I will say that I was hoping for the ability to move - at least walk - and shoot at the same time.  It does lend to the feeling of suspense to have to stand still though.  I'd be willing to bet that that was the sole reason for not changing that aspect of the control scheme. 

ultrazilla2000 3/12/2009 7:16:47 PM

Maybe I'm just weird, but I NEVER had a feeling of racism from the early trailers of the game UNTIL someone pointed it out to me.  I just saw it as "oh man, where did the series take Chris this time?!?"  All I thought was it's taking place in another country, that's it!  I feel sometimes that people may be a little TOO sensitive towards certain subjects, and tend to look for hidden meaning where there is none.  I didn't hear a public outcry against the gunning down of the spanish speaking populous from RE4, yet can't the same be said about that?   We can find flaws in ANYTHING if we look deep enough, and some people take way too much pleasure in looking.

JoshGordon 3/12/2009 8:39:21 PM

Actually I don't think racists should just die, per say, I think they should be put in glass rooms and studied in order to hopefully prevent future outbreaks of idiocy. And yes, you can take that to mean that I think racists are idiots.

I'll never stop being a fuck-brick against racism and intolerance. EVER. But unlike racists, who feel that all the targets of their hate should be exterminated by any means necessary , I DON'T think everyone I disagree with or don't like should be put to death.

To answer your question Ultrazilla, which I think is a very fair one, i was speaking towards the history and connotations of the imagery. If RE5 was taking place in Canada and the protagonists of the story were killing our friends up north, well, there's no history there to think about. There IS a great deal of history to the images the scenario in RE5.  I point to my "Germans in Isreal killing Jews" example in the review to re-enforce my thoughts on this.

In my review l let you how I think about racists but I don't disparage the game or Capcom. I 'm just bringing up questions that have already been raised and that, in fact, a large number of people are talking about. I think this as an interesting situation and , personally, I enjoy it when a pop culture event or item raises larger questions and provides the opportunity for discourse.

 

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 3/12/2009 9:54:32 PM

It's a stupid argument.  The character is not going around killing innocent people for that matter; he's killing freaking bad guys and monsters.  They're fucking monsters, people.  Wake the fuck up.  Now, if it was a guy dressed in a white hood and robe going around Africa for no reason at all - Yeah, that'd be fucked up.  But that's not what's happening.  Look at the fucking context.  Jesus Christ.

JoshGordon 3/12/2009 10:33:51 PM

Can anyone here read? What could I possibly have said to engender so much anger? Unless some of the commenters are racist themselves, in which case I could understand why they'd take offense.

hanso 3/13/2009 4:09:19 AM

You got the slave master shooting the slaves, what's so hard to understand about that? I don't think Capcom was going for that but I understand if someone would take offense.  To be fair they got Sheva shooting people also and she ain't white.

As far as the game goes, I'm still on the fence even though I've played and owned all previous RE titles(the main ones I mean 1-4).  I don't like the controls although RE4 control scheme makes it better to play in my opinion.  The hook is the online play, that's what has me thinking I should get it.

 

joeybaloney 3/13/2009 5:31:52 AM

Get it hanso. I'll let you be Redfield.

hanso 3/13/2009 5:38:16 AM

Redfield?  I wanna be the chic!!

hanso 3/13/2009 5:45:20 AM

I do have 7 games in my car right now waiting to get trade in, so I just might end up getting B.  I checked the achievemtent list they don't seem that hard either. 

Josh, how long is this game?

joeybaloney 3/13/2009 5:45:23 AM

No way man. I call dibs!

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