I have an unfortunately long history of playing game franchises and watching movie franchises out of order. I’ve seen Aliens vs. Predator 1 and 2 and Alien, but I haven’t seen Aliens. I played Devil May Cry 3 and 4 but haven’t even touched 1 and 2. With the Resident Evil series, I played 4 first, the Gamecube remake of 1 second, and now 5 third. This has, unfortunately, resulted in me being entirely incapable of understanding the backstory of 5, thus reducing any dramatic tension of the return of an important character to “Am I supposed to know this person?” Everything I know about Resident Evil can be summed up in three points:
1. There’s an Umbrella Corp. and they make viruses.
2. If something goes down somewhere in the world, there is a good chance Wesker did it.
3. ‘master of unlocking’
Fortunately though, that didn’t detract from the gameplay, which overall was quite good. Like every other Capcom game before it, there are several stupid design choices, but I’ll get to those in a minute.
RE5 looks and sounds fantastic. Wait, I should probably qualify ‘sounds fantastic’ with ‘as long as your teammate isn’t yelling for your help every 5 seconds’, because that happens quite often and is very irritating. As for graphics, I don’t know what Capcom did, but they really captured the look of a swamp or the look of a dusty African village. Shame that they felt the need to get away from detailed, original locales like that in order to go back to the staple of the shooter world: the flame-barrel-and-metal-pipes factory.
The gameplay is top-notch, though with a few minor flaws. There’s a communal inventory system that carries across difficulties and replaces the old attaché case (good idea), but then in-game you only have 9 slots per character (bad idea). This means you have to spend a lot of time you don’t really have in combat to play musical item slots, as you need to shuffle around your armor, herbs, weapons, and ammo.
Speaking of which, you’ll want to make sure you make extra-special careful to keep all the herbs and first-aid sprays. Sheva’s apparently some first-aid spray/herb junkie who keeps jonesin’ for a fix, because as soon as you hit something like 60% she puts away the pistol she will invariably have equipped no matter how big a damn arsenal you give her and makes sure to make you wish you played co-op mode instead.
Other than the partner AI and the inventory system, the gameplay is fun and smooth. My favorite parts are the moments where you have to defend yourself against waves of enemies while in a big open area with lots of treasure and ammo because those moments made you feel like you were in a horror movie.
The online modes (the ones besides co-op mode) are both decent, though I’ve only played several hours of Versus mode. Mercenaries mode has you and another person fighting off waves of Majini trying to rack up combos and hit timers. It is a lot more fast-paced and frantic than the normal Resident Evil 5 gameplay, and Bob and I had a blast trying out different character combinations and trying desperately to raise our score to A-rank. I should mention that once you hit A-rank, you unlock another Mercenaries mode character with a different weapon loadout and another stage if you hit B-rank, making multiple tries necessary in order to unlock everything.
Versus mode is alright, though there are a few slightly annoying bits. Even though the spawn time is quick and individual deaths do not matter much, it sucks in any online game to be chain-stunned over and over without any chance to counter, and if another person gets a shock grenade launcher that is precisely what will happen. Also, more maps would be appreciated, as between the game, Mercenaries mode, and Versus mode, it’s likely you’ll get sick of playing through the same village square or the same temple again.
Overall, I enjoyed Resident Evil 5 very much, even though it’s not without its flaws. As long as you play co-op though, these flaws won’t detract much from your enjoyment.