Resident Evil 5 Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Resident Evil 4 was a shocking overhaul of the series’ core mechanics, scrapping almost everything that people didn’t like: the controls were less clunky and the voice acting an improvement. It also ditched some things that were never a complaint: for me, the more traditional and less intelligent zombies are missed, as is the move towards action as opposed to slower paced horror and puzzle solving. Whatever you thought of the end results it was hard to argue that the fourth instalment was anything less than a proficient reinvention of the series. Which brings me to Resident Evil 5, a game that sticks closely to its predecessors template.

The returning Chris Redfield (featured in the original game, as well as Code Veronica) is this time in Africa, in search of terrorists. It’s a relatively intriguing story with a reasonable standard of voice-acting (though, some of the baddies are very cheesy, quite possibly intentionally) but as always the characters are about as deep as an alcoholics fifth glass of tipple for the day: Chris, being your generic muscle-bound action hero, for example.

The biggest new addition to Resident Evil 5 is the introduction of Sheva Alomar, who is always a companion for Chris Redfield throughout the game. I have mixed feelings about Sheva’s A.I performance: she has a tendency to waste ammo on downed enemies and picks up things that you don’t want her to, making way for plenty of frustrating inventory management, what makes it even worse is that you have little control over her actions, conversely she can handle herself pretty well in a fight and does a great job of saving you from danger. It’s certainly playable, and careful dividing of the ammo proves Sheva to be a largely capable partner.

All issues with A.I dissipate of course, by playing it the way it was intended: cooperatively. This can be played via online, System link and split screen, something for everyone then. Playing with a living, breathing person, allows you to carry out tactics that weren’t possible with the A.I and it’s just generally more of a pleasure to play it this way.

Co-op play aside, Resident Evil 5 is very much a nicer, shinier looking resident Evil 4, to the extent that certain aspects feel a little dated. The controls, which in Resident Evil 4 were a vast improvement for the series, feel a bit more cumbersome today. You’re not able to move and shoot at the same time and the turning speed is slow, awkward and almost tank like (perhaps today it’s due to Chris’ extra muscle mass, Sheva on the other hand is less explainable) but by making liberal use of the quick turn manoeuvre the problem is significantly alleviated. You’re also able to strafe and in certain set-pieces you’re able to take cover, with a cover mechanic that is at its most simple, but certainly an effective way to protect yourself, especially in the games later moments.

The inventory system can also be awkward, particularly during the action, of which is about 95% of the time. Four items can be set to the D-pad, making them easily accessible with a single button press, but any others, you‘re forced to dip into the menu and the game doesn’t come to a pause when you do so either. The lack of inventory space can also be a needless issue and one that just shouldn’t exist today.

The action plays out almost identically to Resident Evil 4, so you’ll be facing zombies with functioning brains, allowing them to display a decent level of intelligence. Shooting them in their heads, arms or legs will often leave them open to attack, at which point you’re able to melee attack them to save yourself some ammo. The variety is impressive: zombies, the most common of your enemies, come at you with an array of weaponry, some of which calls for some tactical changes. They’ll sometimes even undergo a horrific transformation that makes them tougher to deal with. There‘s also a decent amount of other creatures to contend with, not least of which are some memorable boss encounters.

Puzzles are again a minor facet of the game and usually have you finding items to slot into doors to gain access. They’re rarely a test for the mind, but do allow for a break away from the fast paced action and not forgetting that they’re a remnant from the “old” series too.

Resident Evil 5 is a shorter game than the fourth instalment, weighing in at about twelve or so hours. Though there are things to find and the popular Mercenaries mode is back, which is sure to get a lot of attention from many and can, like the main game, even be played in co-op.

I don’t necessarily agree wholly with the direction of the series, like Resident Evil 4, some aspects of Resident Evil 5 are better and some should have been left untouched, whilst the addition of co-op play is successful, it moves the series even further away from its roots. In spite of my slight grievances, Resident Evil 5 is still a well crafted action game that in some regards feels dated, but thankfully never to the extent that it’s a true detriment to the overall experience.