29 January 2010

Resident Evil 5 - Xbox 360, PS3

Summing up the experience of playing “Resident Evil 5” is just that simple. It is awesome in nearly every way. Sadly, that word is so overused that most people have forgotten it should be reserved for things that truly inspire awe – an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration and even fear.
It is the rare game that has you sitting back a bit on your couch so there is enough room for it to exist in your living room. You feel a need to be respectful of its place in the world. All the hallmarks of a first class game are here: Solid story, jaw-dropping graphics, excellent pacing, etc. It’s games like this that remind us why we play games in the first place. “Resident Evil 5” is among the handful of stellar games from this generation that will be remembered forever, such as “Bioshock” and “Fallout 3.”
Considering that the same could be said of its predecessor, “Resident Evil 4,” I think someone at Capcom knows what they’re doing.
You probably already know the major talking points about the game.
There is co-op play (it’s excellent).
The graphics are as good as we’ve ever seen in a game (they are).
It takes place in Africa (and, in my humble opinion, the game is not racist - but it's a good debate.)
The gameplay is similar to that of “Resident Evil 4” (getting a little long in the tooth, but works perfectly).
What else do you need to know? Well, as you once again take control of beefy commando Chris Redfield you are joined by a partner named Sheva Alomar in a mission to take on a bioterrorism threat infecting a fictional African country. I never realized how alone I felt in RE4 until I played through this one with Sheva. It’s nice having someone else around when it’s raining zombies; even if that someone is under AI control.
The game boasts impressive online components, an improved inventory system that is enhanced by the co-op sharing options, and enough thrills to keep you busy playing until the very end. Some say it’s not as scary as other installments. They’re right, but the intensity is so high that you may not notice.
Two minor but frustrating things to mention:
1. Despite the attention to detail and the stunning environments, for some reason a line of clothes hanging in a village will stop you in your tracks. Seriously. The first time I tried to walk through a few towels hanging on a line and was rebuffed as if it were a brick wall I was a little disappointed. I know it’s a small detail, but it immediately took my head out of the game.
2. Sheva, despite being a fine warrior and companion, is a mannequin the rest of the time. At one point I shot a gas canister and the explosion was amazing. Sheva, however, remained stonefaced as if nothing had happened.
Are these small points? Absolutely. In fact, if this game wasn’t so amazing I wouldn’t even bring them up. But it is the intense attention to detail and quality that is evident throughout the game that makes these little bits of silliness stand out.
And this title truly is a stand out title.
I'm not even a survival horror fan. I'm not a big country music fan either, but I love Johnny Cash. That's because the best demands respect.
And this game is one of the best ever.
By Victor Paul Alvarez

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