An Action packed Coop Game
Now working for the BSAA, Resident Evil’s recurring protagonist, Chris Redfield and his new partner, Sheva Alomar, are tasked to stop an arms dealer by the name of Ricardo Irving from selling bio-organic weapons (B.O.W.) in the sub-Saharan black market. Upon their arrival in Kijuju, they not only discover that the locals had already been infected with the dreaded Las Plagas parasite, but that other BSAA servicemen have been wiped out by it as well. The two heroes then set out on an electrifying chase to catch Irving and contain the threat.
Resident Evil 5 (2009) originally came out when the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were both in their prime and Capcom, the game’s developer and publisher, meant to showcase new capabilities through it. Africa was then chosen as a setting to prove that scary elements could still be presented menacingly in bright environments. And although the result is a departure from the survival/horror genre, players are welcomed by a fast-paced action game with graphics and designs that still hold up in 2016.
What you need to know
Improving the technical aspects from Resident Evil 4, this game also features the over-the-shoulder camera, real-time rendered environments, and combo system, but it now also lets players walk sideways (which wasn’t possible in previous titles) and introduces the option to play the campaign with others, something that would reappear in Resident Evil 6 (2012) and Resident Evil Revelations 2 (2012). However, while the console ports come with the always comfortable couch coop, PC players have to rely on online multiplayer to play with their friends or family. Either way, RE 5 makes sure that experiencing this adventure with someone else will be among the best video game experiences out there. There’s never a dull moment and lots to do or tons to unlock, but since this is the series’ first two-player title, it is by far not as scary as some of its predecessors, even though it retains the franchise’s high tension atmosphere.
If a coop buddy is not available, players can choose to either join random matchups – at which point they will be connected with others, either when they start a new game or when single players reach a checkpoint – or opt to go through stages by themselves. When playing alone, the partner will be controlled by an AI, which has up- and downsides to it. While in multiplayer, you can choose whether you want to play as Chris or Sheva, but in single player, the first playthrough has to be done with Chris Redfield; his partner can only be selected if the game has been beaten at least once. Nevertheless, the AI is fairly competent and will autonomously collect or combine items and share their inventory with you.
Due to the coop focus, this game is also more action packed and less puzzle heavy than previous entries in the series, and with someone watching your back, it is often difficult to feel too terrified. With that said, there are several segments wherein the game will separate the two protagonists and the situation will thusly get exceedingly intense. During these reclusive episodes, players will always be on the edge and constantly worry about their health, ammunition, and if they can make it back to their partner. The AI tends to be very competent in these situations and only rarely will get into trouble.
The downside to the artificial companion is that, like the player, it requires bullets to use its firearms. Several players complained that they have to race against their partner to reach ammunition first and another common criticism is that the computer controlled comrade is too eager to heal the player. It may be because of my more conservative play style, but I never encountered either of these problems on Amateur, Normal, or Veteran difficulty and was always glad for the partner’s rather steady shot. In fact, the only time I had a problem with the AI was during the final boss fight, which can be finicky when going solo. Even so, throughout the remainder of the game, I always purposely gave Sheva most of my herbs and first aid sprays so that I would get healed in time without having to worry about going through my not so useful inventory.
Begrudingly I have to say that, even though Resident Evil 5 is loads of fun, it has one fundamental problem: the way items are stored. Though the way the inventory works is supposed to create tension, it frequently causes mere frustration. The game lets players carry up to nine items, which can be weapons, herbs, first aid sprays, ammo, eggs, or protective gear. (Needless to say, players need to be mindful of what they bring with them and how many bullets they still have.) You can then select these items by either entering the inventory or by using the quick select feature.
On an Xbox 360 gamepad, the quick select works by assigning four of the nine items to a cardinal direction on the d-pad and when pressing a button, the character will switch to the corresponding item. That means, in order to reach the other five items, players will first have to rummage their inventory to find what they’re looking for and manually equip it. When playing with a keyboard and mouse, these items are, by default, placed on the number keys 1 through 9 above the letter keys. Theoretically, they are more easily accessible than with the controller and I have no problem reaching the first five without looking, but the later ones are difficult to reach. As bringing up the item menu doesn’t pause the game, quickly switching between objects becomes very adventurous, especially when looking for an herb or a loaded gun during intense situations. During the Mercenaries mode, the game will also start off by having item locations pre-selected for players, which in my case means, rearranging items after a new round starts.
Throughout the game, Quick Time Events (QTEs) will occasionally pop up here and there and are honestly not that disturbing. Usually, failing them will not punish players too harshly and in most cases the AI partner will be there to rescue players in case things go south. Yet there is this one boss fight that sticks out. The entire chapter 2–3 is a rail shooter and the showdown with Ndesu, the boss, is frequently interrupted by QTEs. Failing these comes with harsh punishments and keyboard players might easily get stuck there for quite a while. When using an Xbox 360 controller, the button prompts are all color-coded, which makes things a whole lot easier, yet keyboard players will be greeted with ever-changing grey button prompts that can be difficult to decipher in the blink of an eye. Other than that, the keyboard might probably be the preferred mode of experiencing this game, especially as aiming with a mouse is just that much faster than aiming with an analog stick and players can assign a key for turning around quickly.
PC Port, Games for Windows Live, and Steam Works
Even though the PC port doesn’t have local coop, it shines in the graphics department due to various resolutions, vertical sync, anti-aliasing, selectable refresh rate, and framerate options. Even a toaster like my 32-bit Windows Vista desktop PC with an Intel Dual core processor and an Nvidia GeForce 9500 GT could play the game comfortably at medium resolution. Players can even choose to use Nvidia’s 3D Vision to play the game, provided their graphics card supports this service.
The PC port of Resident Evil 5 originally used Games for Windows Live (GfWL) and I’ve previously contacted Capcom asking them whether or not they will transfer this game over to Steam Works or bring its DLC over to PC. Although Capcom initially stated that they had no intention of doing so, they finally moved it in 2015 together with the Resident Evil 5 – Untold Stories Bundle DLC, which used to be console exclusive. Even the GfWL achievements can be brought over. Originally, the PC players also did not have the option to play RE 5’s versus mode and instead got Mercenaries No Mercy. But it seems that the new DLC finally includes this feature. Sadly, by the time of writing this review, I was not yet able to play the story DLC and apologize for that. Nevertheless, the company gets a big plus for listening to player feedback.
Resident Evil 5 is a fun game that clocks in at around 12 to 14 hours during the first playthrough. It has a couple of flaws that don’t dampen the fun too much and were addressed in later RE iterations. And despite two player being the best way to experience this title, it’s still a whole lot of fun when you’re playing by yourself. Lastly, Capcom should also be commended for listening to their fan’s sentiments and criticism and transferring the game to Steam Works.
This game is a 9 precious Magnum bullets out of 10
Where to Get
Resident Evil 5 is available for $19.99 USD or your local equivalent for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or as digital download on Origin, Steam, the PlayStation Store, and Xbox Marketplace.
What are your thoughts? Did you like Resident Evil 5? Which is your favourite RE game and who is your favorite RE hero? The comment section is open and anyone is welcome to leave a comment, no login or registration required.
All screenshots taken and edited by me.
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