Resident Evil 5 Review 27/08/2009

It’s a really good zombie slaughtering quest, but could/should have been better.

I have not ever played a Resident Evil game. Before I get verbally stoned to death by fan boys, I must point out that although I have never actually picked up a controller for this franchise, I am very aware of what it’s about and how popular it is. I have several friends who are huge fans, and have frequently walked me through previous titles. So I know Resident Evil well enough to know this is a bit of a departure from what people are used to, albeit that it does have lots of “old school”/traditional aspects. Most notably there is a lot of action to be had in this game as it is basically like playing a big budget Hollywood action flick, with many kills, zombies, guns, explosions and big big monsters. Further still, unlike the “Metal Gear: Solid” franchise, you really don’t need to know too much about previous Resident Evil story lines to understand what’s going on here. So what is going on here? You play (initially) the ludicrously muscular Chris Redfield, who, in the ten years since the events of the first game, and since the collapse of the infamous Umbrella Corporation, has become a member of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). The BSAA try and keep a handle on all bio-weapon dealings to terrorists round the world. The BSAA send Chris to Kijuju, Africa, to arrest a guy called Ricardo Irving, who the BSAA have been tracking as they believe he wants to sell a bio-organic weapon, called the Uroboros Virus, on the black market out there. You meet up with a fellow BSAA member, Sheva Alomar, who will be your guide and partner for the whole game. Things quickly go wrong though as Chris and Sheva witness a native being fed a parasite which instantly takes control of him and makes him into a Majini (which means “evil spirit” but should mean “psychopathic zombie killing machine”). They then realise that almost all life in this part of Africa has been “zombified” as an experiment by whoever created it the virus. As a result the entire BSAA squad is wiped out, leaving just Chris and Sheva and they need to get to Irving’s deal location to find out who created the virus and stop it before it gets worse. As expected everything goes wrong and it becomes an intense struggle for survival for you and your partner where you will almost certainly have to shoot your way out of all situations. It’s not a particularly complex storyline, and the ending is a bit cheesy and unspectacular, but it’s entertaining enough, especially as it’s full of massive amounts of zombie and monster massacring action.

What’s good?

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The action packed game play is the best thing here. If you want to kill zombies, freaky bug things and enormous beasts with big guns then this is for you. It’s clever with its deliverance of action/zombie slaughtering though, as its not non-stop fighting and explosions as the action moments are in small portions, between which the tension is almost unbearable. You will basically run to each action set piece, constantly killing everything that moves, only occasionally stopping for a cut scene, an action sequence that requires input (designated by on-screen prompts) or a puzzle to solve. There are some awesome action set pieces that are memorable, such as an intense motor bike chase through the desert, a trip through some pitch black abandoned diamond mines, an air boat ride through some tribal villages and swamps and every single boss battle, particularly the one on the freighter boat at the end, where you have to fight a giant squirmy beast of epic proportions. The puzzles are a bit lame but you will never feel like its running on empty, even when the pace has slowed, as you feel very exposed and unsafe, contemplating what horrible massive thing awaits you round the next corner. It’s still very much a Resident Evil game however and is nothing like a shooter style action game. Its much more subtle and eerie than, say, Call of Duty. It’s more fast paced than previous Resident evil games, which makes it slightly less eerie and atmospheric as a result, but this manages to be intelligent with its violence, through excellent timing of the action, whilst having lots of it. The campaign will take a very long time to do, without ever getting dull, and there is much incentive to play again and again.

The enemies here are big, scary, intimidating and hugely variable. I was very impressed with the monsters you have to kill in this game, mainly due to the sheer amount of variety. There are so many variations and all are very big and imposing. There are the bog standard zombies of course, normal people with red eyes and usually axes and knifes. These guys swarm at you and it can be very panic inducing at first. But then there’s normal zombies that upon blowing off a head or killing them will sprout huge freaky insect things out of their heads, that thrash around frantically. Then there is squelchy winged things that burst out of corpses and flap around trying to decapitate you. There is also really disturbing zombies with chain saws who come at you so quickly whirling like the most manic of dervishes and screaming, and these guys will kill you in one hack of a chain saw so its even more intimidating. You will also have to fight zombies with guns, machine guns, mini guns, rocket launchers, proving you have to be more tactical than simply blasting away, and zombies on vehicles. That’s before you get to the horrible looking infected dogs that burst apart showing rank squiggly things with teeth on their insides, and the little insect like spider things that come at you in their hundreds. Plus there’s also the return of foes from previous iterations of the game such as the “lickers”. There are so many all involving different tactics of various degrees, all of which will challenge you, and such variety in cannon fodder results in the game begging to be played again and again.

The boss battles are epic in size and intensity. This game is on a par with “Resistance: Fall of Man 2” with its massive boss battles, except they are far less of a walk over in Resident Evil 5 and there are more of them. Fairly regularly in the game you will have a boss battle but not one of these will be small on scale or a let down, and all will challenge your skills and more than likely kill you many times, if not set on the easiest difficulty. You have to fight some pretty big beasts in this that will range from being the size of houses to the size of sky scrapers, no joke. They all generally have a tactical way of killing them that’s not too difficult to do but they will absorb a lot of fire power and some will take you a good 10 to 15 minutes to vanquish. The big bad guy, “Wesker”, is possibly the coolest bad guy in any game I have seen recently and every encounter with him will be pretty tough. This just makes vanquishing him all the more satisfying, however. All boss fights are intense and nerve racking and are easily a highlight of the game.

It’s an incredibly good looking game. There is a hell of a lot of achingly pretty games out right now, as consoles and processors become more powerful, but even still this manages to stand out from the competition. The environments are utterly flawless for a start, no matter where you are in the game not one single detail will be missed, not one shadow, lick of flame or piece of grass will look dodgy. The character animations are particularly impressive with fully functioning facial features, expressions and general movement. It’s very life like. You may laugh and claim that’s to be expected but you watch nearly all games these days, even with consoles as powerful as the PS3, and tell me that the character animations are life like. They will often be good enough, but only Killzone 2 comes close to this game in its character detail. It’s stunning. The cut scenes are all also of an excellent quality as well, and often contain very entertaining action packed fight scenes, that wouldn’t look out of place in a big budget Hollywood movie. They never feel like a link or brief summary to the next level but integral parts of the story. You can skip them but you will rarely want too I assure you.

There is a lot of variety and customising for your fire power. There’s nothing here any action or shooter game fan will have not used before, but there is a lot of them and most are packing seriously powerful ammunition. You will use magnums, assault rifles, mini-guns, powerful shot guns, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, grenades and explosives in general. All, with the exception of a couple, will give you a huge satisfaction when unloaded into a zombies face, mostly through the distance in which your foe is thrown and the amount of blood such a kill produces. Furthermore, there are several examples of each weapon, that can be bought or found as you progress, and all can be upgraded with money in order to make them more powerful, hold more ammo reload faster etc, so it’s a must for all fans of fire power. You can combine your fire power with melee attacks as well, as you can shoot a zombie with a pistol, and whilst he recoils, punch his head clean off, literally. Or you can stomp in his face, kick him in the back and generally physically clobber them. And “yes”, punching a zombies head off is just as entertaining as shooting it off.

You get to keep everything once you have completed the game. All upgrades weapons and money are carried over each time you play through, so there is no let down like in “Bioshock”, once completed. All efforts are therefore rewarded and its all the more reason to play again and again. Plus when certain weapons are upgraded to the maximum you are rewarded with unlockable secret weapons, such as mini-guns and RPG’s. You can even switch on an unlimited ammo option which is ludicrous, but always good if you just fancy a laugh. May I recommend a fully upgraded “lightning Hawk Magnum” with unlimited ammo for a quick play through and killing spree?

Your mate can jump in whenever you want. The good thing about doing the whole game with a partner is your pal can pick up a controller, jump straight into the game and play Sheva/Chris whenever you want. I know this is not exactly ground breaking or new technology but when was the last time you played a game that was a simple old school 2 player (excluding online buddies)? I can’t think of one. With increasing focus on the always hugely over rated online modes, it’s nice to see Capcom not forget about the much loved classic ways in which to enjoy gaming. But you can play with an online buddy as well though, if you are into that sort of thing.

What’s bad?

The control scheme is rubbish. I know it’s what every review of this game has said, but it’s true. It is terrible. I have read several reviewers claim that it demands you be more tactical with movement, which I’m sure is true, but movement and firing shouldn’t feel like a set back or disadvantage. It does here. If you have not heard this game sticks to its roots, as with all Resident Evil games, and uses a very old school control scheme, which means you can’t fire or reload and move at the same time. You either run or shoot, you can’t do both, just like real life ayy (sarcasm, obviously). You also have to stop and press a button every time you want to pick something up or crack a box open for an item, which of course makes you incapable of doing anything else at the time as well, leaving you very much exposed, considering the enemy can move and attack you at the same time really frustrates. It’s so irritating and clumsy and you constantly have to run back and forth to line up your enemy for a shot. It’s ludicrous in places as, when stuck in a narrow corridor, you run past an enemy to stop turn round and shoot him, then run straight past him again to do the same. It just looks stupid. The enemy compensates for this by being forgiving in its attacks and very slow but it’s just doesn’t flow smoothly at all and doesn’t look right either. It’s more jagged, pointy and uncomfortable than a cactus, wrapped in barb wire, with nails and razor blades stuck in it, and then rammed up your arse. You’re constantly stopping then starting, moving then shooting, picking something up then having to turn round etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Resident Evil games it’s going to drive you mad initially, especially in pressure filled moments (which I will get on to) where the enemy swarm you. I know why they have stuck with this control scheme, as it will please the fan boys, but why try and please a select group of nerds, with one aspect, and then use the majority of the game to break away from traditional game play, which this so clearly does? Why could they not simply join the modern gaming era and make this game so much better than it is? Do we use horse and carts? No. Do we use steam trains? No. Do we live in caves? No. Should we be subjected to such old school game play? No! There’s a reason why such technology is abandoned: Its crap. If you’re a Resident Evil fan you will at least know how to best use such controls, maybe even prefer them this way (to which I think you’re mad). But if you’re new, like me, it will feel like taking a step back from other games you may have played recently and wind you right up. I have learnt to tolerate and use them to the best effect the more I have played it, but that’s as far I will ever go in terms of acceptance of them.

Your AI partner is a real pain in the arse. You have to play as Chris initially but are rewarded after the first play through by being able to play as Sheva. Either way you will always have to take one or the other with you as an AI partner through the whole game, if you’re playing on your own. You don’t get a say in the matter. Your AI pal in this can be helpful, but they really only help about half the time. The rest of the time they will generally annoy, frustrate, get in the way, use all your resources and make you wish they were not there. Would you buy a car that worked half the time? Of course not, so I don’t know why the AI is so crap here. I’ve seen AI much better than this on other titles (Killzone 2 springs to mind) so I can’t see that there’s much excuse. If you give your AI pal a gun and ammo (other than a pistol or slow firing weapon), they will extinguish the whole lot in a split second on the crappest of zombies so you have to constantly concern yourself with their inventory. The only gun the AI is useful with is the pistol, which is the least powerful gun, and they still persist on shooting the larger enemies even though they say so themselves that your fire power is useless, simply wasting ammo. Surely the AI should know not to shoot at a foe that cannot be harmed by normal weapons, which is the case at several points? They will heal you every time you scrape your knee, if you give them any healing herbs, wasting the whole lot on something trivial. They will simply bugger off somewhere, with no explanation, when you need them to get into a lift or something, or, if you command them to attack (which you can do) you might as well shoot them through the head as they will advance on the enemy regardless of how outnumbered they are and inevitably be killed. All this wouldn’t be so bad if you could ignore your partner, but you are forced to be totally and utterly reliant on them. Firstly you need their inventory badly as you will not have enough space to carry everything you need by yourself. But you will be too scared to give them anything because they just use it up straight away, which means you can’t give them anything better than a pistol which makes them not particularly effective in combat. Secondly, if your partner dies the game is over! So if they go sprinting off in the direction of a huge hoard of zombies, which they sometimes do regardless of whether you told them too or not, and get their head ripped off you have to save them or be punished for it. It’s infuriating. They will also stick to you glue sometimes and stand in front of you like a lemon when your trying to go somewhere. To make it even more ridiculous, you can turn on an ability that makes them able to be harmed by your weapons, but, seriously, leave this off as they will constantly, and I mean all the time without fail, get in your way when your doing anything that involves fighting and get killed by it. They can help you out to be fair, from time to time, but they are way more of hindrance than a help.

The bigger harder enemies take far too much fire power to kill. As you go through the game there are a lot of enemies to kill, of course, but occasionally there will be some big tough guys. These consist of a huge Majini with an even huger axe at the beginning, really big fat Majini, scary big tall tribesmen, the chainsaw wielding dudes and big fat soldier Majini with mini-guns. They absorb an unbelievable amount of bullets before being vanquished. I kid you not, they will soak up an entire 100 round machine gun magazine, at point blank range, in the face and it won’t faze them at all. Even on the easiest difficulty, I have unloaded shot gun blast after shot gun blast, grenade after grenade, at these guys and they simply don’t go down. Of course they will eventually fall but the huge gaping chasm in the amount of fire power taken to kill them, between them and normal enemies, is unbelievable, and physically they are not that different. The huge bosses are far worse bullet sponges but that’s to be expected, as they are often bigger than whole towns. These guys are not as they are just either tall, fat or have a weapon. When your guns get upgraded as you play through several times it gets easier, and they leave handsome rewards when dead, but your first play through is going to be the hardest by a long way whenever you encounter these guys. The only gun that will fell them efficiently is a fully upgraded magnum, but you won’t get one until later on in the game, let alone have the time and money at that point to fully upgrade it and further still to unlock the unlimited ammo option, as magnum ammo is seriously scarce. It’s not really an option basically, until you have played it through at least three times. I know it’s important to have enemies that are a little harder to slaughter than others but the difference between them is far too big, and Capcom have definitely overdone it here.

You are very much thrown in the deep end. Don’t think for a second that this game will ease you in, by having you kill a few zombies at first and slowly building it up. It won’t. Your first proper fight in this for example, is barley the second scene from the beginning and you have to simply survive for a certain amount of time in a market square. But the enemy will swarm at you in their never ending droves, the whole time a giant Majini with the mother of all axes is trying to slice you into butcher meat. One hit from this massive indestructible bastard will almost certainly kill you, on the harder difficulties (he’s not actually indestructible but he will be to your puny weapons on the first play through, so don’t bother trying to kill him, just run). Considering if you are, like I was, not used to the stupid controls and unsure what to do or where to go, as it’s not explained anywhere, it becomes very difficult indeed. Not too long after that, you will encounter a crazy chain saw wielding Majini, in a similar situation, and then a giant bug thing which you have to be far more devious when attacking. It won’t be merciful in the slightest and newcomers or beginners will have a tough time getting through this one first time round.

It’s just not gory and bloody enough. Don’t get me wrong this is a blood filled game, but it is supposed to be an 18 years of age rated survival horror title, but its too clean cut for my liking. You get small bursts of blood from the enemy when shooting and you can blow heads off, which are surprisingly blood free and clean, but that’s it. Even when a chainsaw wielding Majini gets you, it’s surprisingly subdued and un-bloody. Considering you have games like “Dead Space” out there, where the idea is to decapitate limbs with mining equipment, you would expect some more gore and violence. My issue is the enemies are completely unresponsive to where you have shot them, with the exception of head shots, and they do not show damage at all. It’s just simply shooting a required amount of fire power at them in general and they keel over. But I want to blow arms and legs off. I want big holes in my enemies. I want to splatter them all over the scenery when I launch a grenade in their face. It exists in other games (Dead Space, Fallout 3, Call of Duty: World at War) so why not here? I know it’s slightly disturbed, but I wanted more blood and gore.

Finally, a minor gripe, is that your knife/machete is total rubbish. Chris and Sheva carry round these massive knifes with them which you would assume is a weapon? Well its not. They are only supposed to be used for slicing apart barrels and boxes to gather items, and if you ever try and use them on the enemy you will learn the hard way that these are definitely not what they are for. It annoyed me because if I have a huge machete on my back I want to be able to use it to have some good old fashioned decapitating fun, say if you run out of ammo, or are in close quarters combat or part of a melee attack. You can use it but it will take a ludicrous amount of time to do the slightest harm to the weakest enemies. You can use melee attacks, like punching and kicking, so why not use a huge knife at your disposal as well? Like I said, I know why its there, but I’m just bitter because I wanted to use it as a weapon, and why not god-dammit?


I must firstly point out that this is generally a really good title and totally worth your cash if you have not yet played it. The action is very well paced and intense, the enemies are scary and entertaining to slaughter, the boss fights are utterly amazing, there’s loads of guns, loads of upgrades, loads of incentive to play over and over and the visuals are proper stunning. I really enjoyed it. But why could Capcom not just sort out the old school game play? It’s so hard to get to grips with, really slows the game down, and results in several stupid scenarios in combat like running back and forth past an enemy. It’s like cooking the tenderest most succulent steak and dropping it on the floor, which is what Capcom has done here. If you’re a Resident Evil fan, you won’t read reviews of it and will already have bought it, but anyway, you will love it. If you’re a newcomer you will like it but it will feel like a step back in terms of modern game play, and although there is much to enjoy, it will take some adjusting before you’re used to it. It’s direct competition, as far as I’m concerned, is EA’s fantastic “Dead Space”, which is a slightly superior game. Dead space is very similar, except it’s scarier, the enemy is just as unique and plentiful, the game play is smoother, it’s more bloody and gory (more like a horror), there’s no stupid AI partner, the story is more engaging and it’s just as good looking. There’s not a huge amount in it to be fair, but I would say play Dead Space first if you have a neutral perspective, and then give this a bash, if survival horror/action games are your gamming preference. Like I said, Resident Evil 5 is a really good game that’s worth playing but could have easily been better than it was, which, for me anyway, stops it from being a great game. CA.


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 8.0

All menus and accessibility are easy to navigate. Controls will feel very strange initially and it will show you no mercy however, so be prepared to die.

Is the story any good? – 8.0

The story is action packed and engaging, if a little cheesy. You don’t have to be a fan boy to appreciate it or know what’s going on.

How does it look? – 10.0

Excellent, really outstanding even in tough competition. Character animation, bosses and cut scenes really shine.

How does it sound? – 9.5

Very high standard and fits well with the game play. Weapon effects are good as are all voices. Music fades in and out when enemies are near, and boss music really adds to the intensity.

Is it good to play? – 7.5

I just don’t like the old school controls and your partners stupid AI. Hard to get to grips with, clumsy and slow. It really brings down an otherwise excellent action packed “gun ho” zombie killing fest.

When will I get bored? – 9.0

Takes ages to go through initially, whilst always avoiding monotony, with lots of reasons to play again and again, especially upgrading your guns and testing them out. You can tackle it with a mate whenever you want as well.


Review created by C. Armstrong.