Every now and then in a generation, a game really comes along and surprises you. Just when you think that you won’t play another really great title for some time, something lands in your lap and is a joy to play again and again. Resident Evil 5 has been that game for me over the last few weeks.
I have a small confession to make that I know will hurt my gaming cred amongst some of the faithful Resident Evil-a-holics here- I’ve never played Resident Evil 4. Yes, I know that it was probably the best game on the Gamecube and one of the greatest games of all time possibly, but I just never played it. Not because I didn’t want to, I just really never got around to it. Things like that happen when you get married the same year as a blockbuster video game. You tend to miss out. Though marriage still rocks.
Anyway, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the review of Resident Evil 5. In short, it’s awesome. The story picks up with RE regular Chris Redfield as he researches a viral outbreak in a make-believe region of Africa. Before slaughtering its citizens mercilessly, Chris hooks up with the uber-babe Sheva for some awesome co-op action. If you think she’s hot now, wait til you see her alternate outfit.
The game doesn’t take long to get really heated up, and before you know it you are in the thick of a zombie outbreak that you must cure with your bullets of justice. Storywise, things pick up from there and move along at a fairly brisk pace. The script won’t win any awards anytime soon, but the cutscenes are awesome, and unlike our friend MGS4, actually include a few quick time events to keep you enthralled as you watch.
If your’e familiar with Resident Evil 4 at all (which I wasn’t before doing some research), RE5 controls in largely the same manner. While there has been a lot of fuss about not being able to run and shoot at the same time, this didn’t bother me at all past the first level of the game.
We all know that shooting zombies (or rabid villagers) is a steady trope in video games these days, but Resident Evil 5 really pulls it off in flying colors. The main word to use for how the game plays is polished. In terms of game design, there’s nothing here that really breaks the mold, but the gameplay is solid, and constantly filled with things that mix up the mechanics every now and then to keep it from getting stale. Sometimes you’re behind cover, other times you’re driving a boat, or mounting a machine gun turret. There really is a lot of variety over the course of the game.
Speaking of variety, let’s get to weapons, co-op and replay value, which is where Resident Evil 5 makes its presence known, and where it shines the brightest. I’ll go ahead and say it: if you play this game, you must experience it with someone else. The co-op is unbelievably fun, and ranks among the best co-op I have participated in during this generation of video games. Taking down enemies together and co-coordinating strategies makes every encounter exponentially better, and being able to trade items between one another is just icing on the cake, especially when you’re running low on ammo.
And this brings me to the most fascinating part of RE5. The game literally changes genres as you move through it. Where at first you’re hording ammo and trying to conserve your items as much as possible, later in the game you are an arsenal-wielding maniac. Buying new guns and upgrading them into monsters of destruction has never been more fun, and adds some serious replay value as well.
The game moves from survival-horror into something else entirely by the time it’s over, and right now I’m having a blast replaying all of the levels and upgrading my weapons even further. You can even purchase add-ons like infinite ammo, triple barreled shotguns and freezing rounds for your grenade launcher. It’s an action fan’s dream, though it may put off a few people that love Resident Evil for its survival horror feel.
Overall, I’d consider Resident Evil 5 to be one of the best co-op games that I have played in years. If you’ve got a friend that you love to kill zombies with, this is the game to get, and there’s a ton of options there for you to replay it again and again. I have to be honest and say that I really can’t fault this game for anything, and it’s score is only barely hindered by a few tedious boss fights and some annoying patches of gun-toting zombies later in the game. For real- if you can, go play Resident Evil 5.
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