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Review: Resident Evil 5

Susan Arendt | 12 Mar 2009 19:00
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Fortunately, you have Sheva backing you up. RE5 is most fun when played co-operatively with a friend, but if you have to go it alone, Sheva's still a valuable ally. Her AI is excellent; she doesn't get stuck, lost, or in the way. She's quick with the healing items, but not so quick that she's dosing you with health spray every time you break a nail. She also provides genuine backup and support in a fight, instead of just hanging back and letting you do all the work. Sure, you have to keep her supplied with ammo, but it's a small price to pay for having her gun at the ready. At times, the interaction with her feels a bit forced, as in sections where both characters are required to push an obstacle or kick open a door, but those scenarios are fairly infrequent.

As much as you'll appreciate having Sheva's trigger finger at your disposal, you'll be even more thankful for her pockets. Your available inventory is terribly small, but Sheva is happy to perform packhorse duties for you, effectively doubling the amount of items you can carry with you. The limited carrying ability means you'll have to be a bit more strategic about what you bring with you, but you can store your extra gear in a larger inventory space that's accessible between chapters. The same menu screen lets you sell any treasure you may have collected, buy weapons, upgrade your current arsenal, and generally organize your crap. It doesn't have the peculiar charm of RE4's merchant, but it gets the job done.

If I have one lament about RE5, it's that it continues RE4's trend away towards the "horror" part of survival horror. The game has monsters aplenty, and the idea of anyone using innocent villagers as lab rats is certainly horrible, but RE5 just isn't all that scary. Tension comes from the scarcity of ammo and your opponents' ability to laugh off hails of bullets, not from any kind of fright. The Resident Evil series has traditionally been more about the "Boo!" than a growing feeling of dread, but RE5 doesn't even try for that, and personally I miss it.

Resident Evil 5 throws a few new ideas at you, but for the most part, it's more of what we got from Resident Evil 4, which is all it really has to be. The control scheme can be very aggravating, especially in the thick of a fight, but having a partner backing you up keeps things from ever feeling truly insurmountable. Though the game's pacing is at times uneven - it takes forever to get started and some areas are choked with loading screens - once it gets going, it's a damn fun time.

Bottom Line: No one is going to accuse Resident Evil 5 of being particularly deep, but who cares? It's more shooter than survival horror, but you'll thoroughly enjoy mowing down infected and slaughtering the over-the-top boss monsters even without the scares.

Recommendation: Grab a friend and get to Africa. There are zombies that need killing.

This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

Susan Arendt thinks the greatest moment in Resident Evil's history is the zombie shark. Come on -it's a zombie and a shark. How awesome is that?

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