Two Players, One Evil, Lots of Intensity

Isiah Reyes

Grab a shotgun, lock the doors and turn off the lights, because with the release of “Resident Evil 5,” it’s time to remember what fear really feels like.

But is “Resident Evil 5” scary at all?
The “Resident Evil” series, best known as the grandfather of the survival horror genre in the videogame world, has generated tons of zombie-loving fans since its introduction in 1996 and with each addition to the series.

After the success of “Resident Evil 4” (awarded Game of the Year by IGN in 2005), high standards were expected for the release of the fifth installment.

As with any Resident Evil game, the story is just as crucial as the scare-factor to determine how well it is received by
its fans.

After appearing in the first “Resident Evil” game and “Resident Evil: Code Veronica,” Chris Redfield makes his triumphant return in Africa as a North American Division member of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (B.S.A.A., created to combat bio-hazard threats worldwide).

He meets up with Sheva Alomar, a West African Division member of the B.S.A.A., and together they attempt to track down Ricardo Irving, who serves as a black market seller of bio-organic weapons for the TriCell Pharmaceutical Company.

But before they can get deep into their investigation, the local people of the Kijuju Autonomous Zone (a region in West Africa) begin attacking the duo.

To make matters worse, aside from the Majini (human beings infected with the Type 2 Plagas), Chris and Sheva have to face-off against “The Executioner,” a man wielding a very powerful, giant axe who is able to tear down walls with a simple swing.

Later in the game, after finding a specific data file, the mission adds the sub-plot of Chris’ determined search for his supposedly dead partner Jill Valentine, who was a playable character in the original “Resident Evil” and “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.”
The story continues on and answers a few more questions related to the “Resident Evil” timeline.

As for the approach of the game, the style of “Resident Evil 5” is very similar to the style of the fourth game, in that it is much more of an action-oriented game as opposed to the earlier games in the series.

The difference in the first three games is that they were famous for having extremely limited ammunition, over-complicating puzzles and they actually created a true sense of terror.

In “Resident Evil 5,” expect to shoot swarms of enemies “Rambo-style” while picking up boxes upon boxes of ammunition. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but the term “survival horror” should no longer be associated to the series.

Another thing that “Resident Evil 5” takes from the fourth game is the use of the camera angle. The point of view for the player is positioned over the shoulder instead of with the use of fixed-camera positions.

However, unlike “Resident Evil 4,” the new use of item management can either be a plus or minus depending on how you like to play the game. In the new game, only nine items can be carried at a time regardless of their size. This eliminates the use of the status screen popping up every time a new item is picked up.

The plus side of the new item arrangement is that it is easier to choose what weapon to equip on the fly (just assign it either left, right, up or down). Also, the game doesn’t pause when you access your inventory, which is a new component. You don’t want to be looking through it in the middle of a fight.

The down side is that you can only carry nine items (in “Resident Evil 4,” you could carry as many as 50 items because smaller items took up less space in the player’s inventory). Although to make things easier, you can switch items with
your partner, Sheva, throughout the game.

Speaking of partners, the entire game can be played with two people through online co-op or offline co-op. This is the first time that a “Resident Evil” game can be played with more than one person (not counting the “Outbreak” spin-off series). Finding someone to play with online is fast and easy, assuming a good internet connection is available.

Having two characters exploring and blasting things at the same time is not new, as it was in “Resident Evil Zero,” but that was a single player game.

In “Resident Evil 5,” having someone else to play along with adds for much more intense moments, such as the common scenario where someone says, “Hey, cover my back while I pick up that green herb,” and someone else responding, “I would. if that crazy chainsaw man wasn’t trying to kill me!”

The AI partner in single player has its flaws though. For example, Sheva usually drains handgun ammo like there’s no tomorrow and there aren’t that many commands available for her (besides telling her to follow or wait). But despite these minor discrepancies, the inclusion of a second playable character is highly welcomed.

In terms of weaponry, there is the return of the handgun, shotgun, magnum, assault-rifles, sub-machine guns and grenade launcher. A few new weapons have been added, such as proximity bombs, a stun rod and electric rounds for the grenade launcher.

With all these weapons, the game should be a breeze, right? Well, depending on what difficulty setting you set the game to, you can either beat the game in a few short hours or constantly see the infamous ‘You are dead’ screen permeating your TV.

The environment in any game is important to how the game is played. Since this game takes place entirely in Africa, the environment of the game is very Savannah-like and most of the game takes place in daylight, so the dark eerie atmosphere from previous games is almost nonexistent.

So in response to the question, “Is ‘Resident Evil 5’ scary at all?” That answer is no, not nearly as much as the previous games.

Moving onto the controls, again, this can either be a positive or a negative depending on whether or not you’re a “Resident Evil” veteran. The positive aspect of the controls is that they are similar to the original “Resident Evil,” so long-time fans of the series can quickly get accustomed to them. The negative aspect is that the original “Resident Evil” was released in 1996, so it can be very archaic and outdated.

For example, in the original “Resident Evil,” the player was not allowed to shoot and walk at the same time. The player also could not reload and walk at the same time. So in essence, the controls were very “tank-like” in that the player was restricted in movement. But at the time it was not a big deal, because the only enemies that continuously appeared were slow-moving zombies who rarely appeared in groups.

Now in “Resident Evil 5,” the player still can’t walk and shoot at the same time. The player still can’t walk and reload at the same time. That would be fine, but now the player is pitted against hordes of fast moving Majini enemies who have crossbows and use gun turrets.

The old tank controls are not necessarily a problem, but they may scare away any newcomers to the “Resident Evil” series who are used to the first-person shooter games where the player can shoot, strafe, jump, and do more all in one motion.

In terms of the visual aspect of the game, it seems that the series has made a clear transition into HD. Facial expressions on characters are realistic, guns blazing everywhere look sharp and the background makes it fell like you really are in an outdoor safari setting.

Also, the cut-scenes are a real winner when it comes to the graphical output this game can deliver. For example, seeing Albert Wesker dodge bullets was questionable, but seeing him do it was awe-inspiring. In addition, there are no major differences between the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 version of this game when it comes to graphics.

The sound in this game is good, but nothing special. The voice acting is slightly annoying at times and the soundtrack is forgettable. Although no one can mistake the familiar “Vrooom V-V-VROOOM!” sound of a chainsaw. That’ll send shivers up anyone’s spine.

In the end, “Resident Evil 5” is definitely a game to pick up if an action-horror game suits your fancy, but long-time veterans of the series may miss the good old days of ammo conservation and puzzle solving that have long passed its prime.

One more thing to mention, this game doesn’t really do much to advance the series in terms of storyline and it didn’t feel like surpassed it’s predecessor of “Resident Evil 4.” That being said, it’s still tons of fun and worth playing. And isn’t that the reason why we all picked up this time-consuming habit anyway, because it was fun?

“Resident Evil 5” is rated M for mature and is available for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 for $59.99.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.