Resident Evil 5 Review

As the proud owner of PS3 version of Resident Evil 5, I thought I’d write up a quick review. Kevin and I played the split screen mode for quite some time on Friday and Saturday and I have a good feel for the game. I’m going to try something a little different today, rather than waste my time and yours writing pages of info you can read on countless other sites, I’m just going to touch briefly on what I feel is Good, Neutral, and Bad about the game. Here we go:

Good

– Don’t fix what’s not broken – Resident Evil 4 was easily one of the best games of the last generation, and certainly the best game in the series at that point. So when I read people complaining that RE5 is too much like it’s predecessor, I think “so what?” RE5 takes everything that was revolutionary for the series from RE4 and streamlines it. The graphics, physics, AI, pretty much everything is improved greatly – all while sticking to what we loved so much about RE4.

– COOP!!! – I don’t think I need to explain this one too much, but the long desired co-op game play is here. Not only is the game coop, but it is designed around the concept of it rather then having it tacked on as an afterthought. You can play split screen with a friend, something that is always a nice option to have as more and more games are multiplayer online only. You can also set online play so that anyone can join your game, or set it for invite only. The rule that any game is made better by coop rings true here in a big way.

– Faster pace, more action – Purists of the older games will probably not like the fact that RE has more or less made the jump to an action game, but I love it. An easy thing to say is that this game is RE4 meets Army of Two. Not only is the normal combat a bit more intense then the previous game, there are now parts –as an example- where you are riding on vehicles using gun turrets with enemies giving chase on dirt bikes and in trucks. That might sound crazy for a Resident Evil game, but it works oh so well.

Neutral

– Controls and general game mechanics – A lot of people are complaining that the controls are awkward and feel outdated compared to games like Dead Space. For RE4 veterans it is a simple matter of getting used to the new controller bindings, which does not take long. RE5’s mechanics admittedly play a great deal like the previous game. I don’t feel like that is a bad thing, but some –especially those that never played RE4- will probably not like the controls right away. Others bitch that the controls don’t allow you to run and shoot at the same time, to that I simply say have you ever tried to run and accurately hit anything with a REAL gun? I believe that aspect adds to the realism and helps to keep some of the feel of the old games.

– New inventory system – I absolutely loved RE4’s inventory system. Expandable space, the ability to move and rotate items, it was perfection for the series. RE5 does not use this system. The new system, however, is not bad. Everything takes up the same amount of space, one slot. Chris and Sheva each have nine slots. Four of the slots are binded to the directional pad meaning that you can place weapons or health items there for quick changing. Like RE4, treasures do not take up inventory space. In between chapters (and every time you continue after dying) you can buy, sell, and upgrade as well as store items in a large inventory box for later use. It’s different, but you learn to work with it fast, and it adds to the realism that a person can only carry so much.

– Worried about the length – This one is just an idle concern for now, but I’m worried about how long the game will be. Kevin and I played quite a bit over the weekend and got to, I think, chapter 4-3. I was looking through the trophies and noticed the rewards for completing chapters only went up to 6-3 or so. Now, those chapters maybe very long, or you might stop getting trophies after a certain point, but if we are more than half-way through the game that fast, it worries me. However, even if the game is short, I’m sure we’ll play it through many times.

Bad

– Split screens are needlessly shrunk – When playing in split screen mode you will immediately notice that the screens do not take up the entire television screen. They are offset to the left and right and there is black, unused space on your fancy HDTV. I’ve read that the developers claim that this is designed to keep you from getting disoriented from having both characters in a line on the screen. That sounds like a dumb excuse to me. They also said something along the line of the screens looking stretched or distorted. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but countless other games have no such problems with split screen mode. This is not a deal-breaker, and you get used to it fast, but it still an annoyance.

– Context sensitive buttons are not consistently responsive – Here’s an example, there is a part where you are running down a cave and need to mash the X button, when you get to gaps you need to press square or circle to jump across. At the end Chris needs to mash L1+R1 to pull himself up. This is something that an RE4 player will be used to, but the problem is that sometimes the game does not think you pressed the button leading to grievous injury and/or death. In the example above Kevin and I each died several times, it got to the point that we had to just mash ALL the buttons. I’m not sure if it is just the game expecting precise inputs, or a flaw… but I’m leaning towards the latter because other context sensitive parts are more forgiving as with RE4.

– Playing without a friend must suck – The inherent downside to games designed for coop (like Army of Two) is that the game will not be as fun playing by yourself. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the AI for Sheva, but I can say that I doubt I will ever play this game by myself. It’s not a big deal for me, because Kevin and I always planned to play the game together, but those without a second player with may enjoy the game substantially less.

Well that’s about it for now. Is it a perfect game? No. But it’s pretty goddamn close. 9.5 of 10.

– Dave out

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