I have to admit I was concerned when I played the demo of Resident Evil 5. The demo put you right into the middle of an infected invasion and left you to fend for yourselves as you remembered, after playing so many over-the-shoulder shooters since Resi 4 came out that you can’t bloomin’ move and shoot! The controls seemed counter-intuitive even though they haven’t changed since the previous sublime title on the GameCube and PS2.
Luckily, when playing the full game, you’re eased in a bit more gently and soon get used to the way it’s supposed to be played and you know what? It’s great fun and fantastically presented.
You play as Chris Redfield who, teaming up with a young soldier called Sheva, investigates an African township where you soon realise they’re all infected by a strain of parasite that makes them go all gooey and attack you on sight. You also realise that your old partner Jill Valentine may still be alive and also go on a good hunt for her as well.
This is the first game for next-gen consoles and it looks amazing. Character models are detailed and environments atmospheric. The game also zips along at a fantastic pace during on-rails sections on boats and in jeeps. The main difference with this one is the fact that it’s played entirely with a partner by your side and anyone can jump into your game if you so wish for some co-op gameplay. You can swap weapons and ammo and occasionally have to split up to press buttons at the same time or unlock doors from the other side. Occasionally though, if playing solo, Sheva can wander off and be downed somewhere you can’t easily get to her meaning death for her and game over for you. There are also moments when a monster can get an instant kill (remember the chainsaw guy anyone?) and again, sometimes Sheva can wander into danger. She definitely shouldn’t become a tree surgeon.
Checkpoints are frequent and the good news is, if you do die, the game puts you back into the organise screen where you can buy weapons with money gained from treasure you’ve found and sort out your kit before the action starts again. This definitely helps battle the frustration of trying to kill a boss with only a pistol or a knife if you’ve run out of ammo.
It took me about ten hours to play through the game but you could rush through it quicker if you don’t explore every nook and cranny. Once completed you can play as Sheva and unlock new costumes for the gruesome twosome. You can then also play Mercenaries Mode where you must kill as many undead as possible and post your score for all to see. Unfortunately playing as Sheva gives exactly the same game unlike Resident Evil 4 where you played a slightly different story crossing paths with Leon Kennedy’s story.
If you liked 4 you’ll love 5 but do remember third-person shooters like Dead Space and Gears of War have come out since then – you may be surprised by the controls but in the end, that’s how Resident Evil plays and sometimes it adds to the horror and the panic. Resident Evil 5 gets 9 out of 10.