reviewed on PS3
A little background
Survival horror games and I have had an awkward relationship. I am a fan of the genre but almost purely from a spectator standpoint. I enjoy watching a scary game being played by someone else, kind of like a fan at a sporting event. However, since the release of Resident Evil 4, I don’t consider the series as part of the survival horror genre anymore. Like so many survival games Resident Evil has evolved, shifting its focus towards action, allowing me to get far more enjoyment out of it when playing myself.
Resident Evil 5 has a lot to live up to. Its predecessor was ground breaking, series defining and raised the bar for other games in the genre. Games that have this kind of impact come along only once or twice per console life cycle and Resident Evil 4 was fortunate to be one of them. The timing for the changes in series couldn’t have been better as it had gotten a little stagnant in recent times. Capcom devoted much time and effort to changing the gameplay package, with great success. The new adventure in Resident Evil 5 continues improving the formula and it really is a shame that such a well made game may never escape from behind its brother’s accomplishments.
From the same family
Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 are in some ways very similar. They are from the same generation of the same family. This does not necessarily mean that they are completely alike. My brother and I were both raised with the same values and ideals and are alike in many ways. Yet we are very different people with different behavior. That is how I would compare the two games: they are brothers, cut from the same cloth but still very different. With the release of Resident Evil 5, mentioning one without the other is now near impossible.
True, there are recycled enemies and bosses and the older sibling offers more memorable moments with Leon than the younger one does with Chris and Sheva. Ultimately however, that is not enough to dock points from a very well made game.
Fans will be quick to notice that the controls are similar but that there are also subtle changes. Controlling Chris and Sheva, the two playable characters, is without doubt the best improvement in this iteration of the franchise. I especially liked the sidestep functionality which vastly improves the fluidity of movement. After playing the Wii version of Resident Evil 4, I never thought I would be able to go back to a controller. I now stand corrected. While I did like the aiming mechanism for the Wii, the sidestep turned out to be a much more important feature to add. How were we ever able to play the game without it? When I think about it now, having to walk forward and then turn is just so archaic and dated.
It is no longer necessary to pause the game when switching weapons. A welcome change. When things heat up, the last thing you want to do is to step out of the action and see the menu screen. The real-time item and weapon management works especially well during cooperative and online play.
I heard beforehand that there were some slowdown problems with the Playstation 3 version. As it turns out, there were none bad enough that would cause me to regret my purchase. One of the reasons why I opted for PS3 version was to test the convenience and reliability of the Playstation Network. I had my prejudices from playing on Xbox Live for the last few years so I thought this would be a good time to put them to the test. Our first two attempts to play online were littered with problems. Both times it took us over an hour to finally get an online game started. After switching off Media Sharing, everything ran smooth like butter.
Great! But there’s always a "but"
My only gripe with Resident Evil 5 is that the partnership between Sheva and Chris was not fleshed out enough. There were no rough edges or prejudices to overcome and no romance to be achieved or lamented over. They accepted each other and the only argument they got into was Chris explaining to Sheva that she didn’t need to keep helping him after her mission was already over. Instead of really knocking the ball out of the park, the story just floundered on as kind of a buddy cop film.
After spending a lot of time with the game, I am somewhat hesitant to recommend playing the game online with someone that you don’t know. The co-op experience is top-notch but best experienced with a human player that you know, rather than a stranger that you meet online. I can really see how someone’s online experience with the game could be ruined by playing with the wrong person. Besides these two issues, Resident Evil 5 is a great game that builds upon the strengths of its older sibling. Picking it up, I can guarantee you that you will be playing it again, and again, and… well, again.
No Pros and Cons at this time