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Chris Carter avatar 5:46 PM on 03.14.2009  (server time)
Damnit Sheva! My Resident Evil 5 review

One of the year's most anticipated releases is finally here, and fans are wondering if it will be the best in the series. It can't be helped if Resident Evil 5 is compared to Resident Evil 4: both games are very similar in terms of gameplay, it would be impossible to ignore. So does Resident Evil 5 hold its own? Read on to find out.

If there was any problem with Resident Evil 4, it's that it was sort of a "gaiden" (side story). It kind of happened separated from the mains storyline, and Sadler (the final boss) had little to do with classic Resident Evil lore. Resident Evil 5's story gives us more of the mysterious corporation/big picture story that we know and love. While all its major plot points are fairly predictable, there are a few huge surprises that RE fans won't want to miss out on. The story also takes the time to flesh out the characters, something RE4 also didn't do, and has more recognizable characters. Chris and Sheva have multiple heartfelt chats with each other, and the subject of "partnership" is a huge central theme.

While the story is above average for an action game, faulty mechanics are the main problems with Resident Evil 5. The inventory system has its ups and downs, and the control scheme is starting to feel dated. Each character is given 9 inventory slots; that's it. There's no possible upgrade or unlock that gives you a bigger space. Because of this, it can get extremely frustrating when you need to pick up an item, but your ammo is taking up a slot, forcing you to reload first. Once you become a pro, however, you'll be curving your hand in a disfigured claw-like fashion to hit the d-pad and quick change items while running from enemies, and re-arranging your items in a lightning quick fashion.

Getting it out of the way: a walk and shoot mechanic would have been nice. In order to compensate for this, characters are given an improved melee system. You and your partner can now chain together melee attacks to conserve ammo, and stomp or stab fallen enemies. Even with this addition, however, the action can get a bit overwhelming, especially on some boss battles.

Once you get used to it, Sheva's AI is decent; but just decent.. She'll plow through any amount of enemies just to heal you, and she's a better shot than most standard players with the sniper rifle. Any of her quirks can be eliminated by taking away the pistol from her right away, and giving her a rifle or machine gun as soon as it's available. While this is an easy solution, and increases her productivity ten-fold, this doesn't mean that she still doesn't have problems. She refuses to fire a ton of different weapons, and you can't tell her to "retreat". If all hope seems lost against an adamant foe, she'll most likely get hit a few times before following you away. Also, while it's great that she heals you, she does it a bit too often instead of conserving healing items for when it counts. It's also obvious that Resident Evil fans wanted the ability to play alone. Unfortunately, that option isn't there. When you beat the game, however, you can play as Sheva, changing the experience entirely.

What's even better than dealing with an AI partner? Playing with a friend! Tit-for tat, it's the best co-op game ever made in my opinion. Boss fights were made for you and a friend to sit down and blast through, plus most of the levels are better experienced with another player. Your tactics completely change, you each get your own achievements and cash, and you can play your character in any way you like to complement each others style. The only complaint here is that the game might be too easy with a skilled friend in comparison with older titles in the series. Ultimately, co-op mode and single player mode feel like two different games.

Actual gameplay itself is a blast. With multiple vehicle sections, even one that plays like a lightgun game; each level feels fresh. As usual, Resident Evil 5 will host some of the best boss battles you've ever seen in a video game. In fact, I'd even go so far as say one of the encounters is the most fun battle ever. While a vast majority of the fights don't offer many "new" concepts, Resident Evil 5 does it better than any action game on the market.

Classic Resident Evil "as you know it" has completely changed however. Gone are actual puzzles (you can't consider the ones in 5 puzzles), and side paths. Most of the game is fairly linear, in favor of increasing the action. Also if you're wondering: the game is "creepy and disgusting" at points, but not scary at all. Part of the reason for this is because you're playing it with someone else. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say "I miss it".

Don't be worried about the game not giving you your money's worth: there are enough unlockables to last you months. Sheva mode feels like a different game, and it will take you weeks to earn the money to fully upgrade your weapons to earn the secret ones. Mercenaries mode also returns, and in a big way (it could have its own review). Also be on the look out for 30 secret emblems hidden throughout the game; it's worth another playthrough just to get them, as they unlock extra content). For clarification on the game's length; a standard solo playthrough took me 9 hours. This involved a few boss fights that took me a few tries, and mild exploration. It will take the average player a bit more time depending on how much you're willing to explore; I got lucky and figured out a few of the boss battles right away.

Survival horror may be dead, but action rose from its ashes. For all intents and purposes, this isn't the "definitive" Resident Evil game, but it comes pretty darn close. At its core, Resident Evil 5 is an amazing co-op shooter, with tons of additional content. It's not quite "survival", and it's not quite "horror", but one thing's for sure; it's fun.

9.5 Presentation
The graphics are unreal, with an insane amount of attention paid to detail. The environments and enemy sets, like RE4, are varied enough to keep the game interesting.

8.5 Gameplay
There are a few problems with the inventory system, Sheva's AI, and the control scheme is starting to show signs of aging. Capcom does a great job including QTE sequences with normal gameplay, and you'll be having too much of a blast to really care about the controls (plus you'll improve as you play it more).

9.0 Sound
Every sound effect is perfect. The music in the game ranges from standard to epic (mostly during the boss battles). The voice acting is also above average, which is welcome for a series that usually has a sub-par effort.

9.5 Replay Value
The ability to play through the entire game again as Sheva is a nice inclusion. Add in online Co-op story play, tons of unlockable weapons, and the biggest Mercenaries mode yet (also online), and you'll be playing this one for a long while.

9.3 Overall
Resident Evil 5 is not quite as good as RE4, but it includes probably the best Co-op mode ever made, and more content than its predecessor. While it's not the strongest in the series, Resident Evil 5 holds it's own against some of the best action titles.

(My review is a tad short because I'm co-reviewing it with a buddy of mine)

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