Archive for June 23, 2010

Resident Evil 5: Downloadable Content Review

It’s been over a year since Capcom’s co-op adventure finally saw the light of day and the developers haven’t been resting on the laurels. Instead, they’ve crafted several downloadable add-on packs to enhance what was already a great game and the result is this thrilling ensemble.

First up, ‘Lost in Nightmares’, a new story chapter and probably the weakest of all the expansions. The short (45 minutes or so) mission sees Chris and Jill infiltrating Spencer’s mansion from the flashback scenes in the main game. The scenario has players skulking around the usual, if delightfully familiar, gloomy mansion, solving rubbish puzzles and dodging the only enemy: the anchor-wielding, Executioner-cum-Lisa Trevor-alike ‘Guardian of Insanity’.

While it is a nice retro throwback to classic Resi, it is a very slow-moving, almost empty game. The problem is that it’s a horror game made by action developers, so there’s not much going on. You don’t have many guns and the guardians only crop up for only a few times before moving a side for a disappointingly easy fight with Wesker.

Saying that, there is one excellent centrepiece moment where Chris and Jill are disarmed and forced to take on a group of Guardians with a variety of sneaky traps. It’s a brilliant, intense and highly enjoyable section. It’s just a shame that the rest of the scenario isn’t as good as this section.

The other story chapter is ‘Desperate Escape’, where Jill and BSAA member Josh Stone race to flee an onslaught of Majini to get to a helicopter. It’s fun, fast, frantic and action-packed, easily rivalling parts of the main game for explosive thrills.

Essentially, all you’re doing is running down a really linear set route, but it’s the pace and the intensity that really drag you into it. At the beginning, only a few Majini are after to you. Towards the end, you’ve gotten the attention of dozens of them, all of whom attack you at once. To make the action even more exciting, the chapter ends with an incredible ten minute siege against waves of unrelenting enemies of all kinds and random appearances from the biggest nasties – Executioners, Gatling Gun Majinis, you name it. ‘Desperate Escape’ is easily the most enjoyable of the two story expansions.

The story add-ons come with two halves of an additional expansion – ‘The Mercenaries Reunion’, an update to the much-loved point-scoring killathon. The levels are the same as they were before, but this time a few of the time extensions and score bonuses have been moved around. While this might not seem like a lot, it does alter the game significantly for those who knew the maps like the backs of their hands.

What’s most exciting about the maps are the new playable characters. Chris and Sheva come in their two new costumes, both of which can be worn in the main game as well. Chris gets two slightly weird costumes – the hyper-camp, Mad Max-alike Warrior and OTT Heavy Metal – while Sheva has to make do with the token ‘sexy slut’ Red Riding Hood-inspired Fairy Tale outfit and sexy secretary Business gear. The other characters are a lot more exciting; letting you play as ‘Desperate Escape’ support character Josh Stone, the main game’s underused sub-villain Excella Gione and two classic Resi fan favourites – Barry Burton and Rebecca Chambers.

Naturally, each character has a different set of weapons that bring a different challenge to the table. Arguably the most difficult is Barry, who lacks a shotgun for crowd control, while Heavy Metal Chris carries only a Stud Rod and an infinite ammo gatling gun. There are also ten new unlockable figurines to earn of all the new characters in action poses, al of which are included in the download. ‘The Mercenaries Reunion’ is easily as great as the last time around, and the added bonus of familiar faces is highly welcome, marking this out as one of the many reasons to invest in the cost of the download.

The final add-on for Resident Evil 5 is probably the most exciting of all of them: Versus mode. Essentially, Versus is a slightly modified version of Mercenaries, where players still get swarmed with Majini, but this time you can target each other.

Versus has two game modes – Slayers and Survivors, both of which can either be played by four individual people or in teams of two. Slayers simply sees players battling for the high score with the added bonus of being able to kill other players for extra score, or dying to lose major points. It’s fast, fun and frantic, although it would really have benefited from having a separate rule system for not killing other players. Those who want a non-violent score challenge are forced to ask the other players nicely and hope everybody is listening, which can be infuriating.

Survivors is an entirely different kettle of fish. In this mode, the characters are all stripped of their secondary weapons, forcing them to rely only on pistols. Majini still attack constantly, but no points are awarded for killing them. The only way to get points is by killing other players, while bonus weapons are found only by killing the boss monsters – Executioner, Giant Majini, etc. It’s a tough game mode, but a very satisfying, highly enjoyable one. On top of all these additional gameplay add-ons are twenty new achievements – some simple (complete ‘Lost in Nightmares’), some insanely difficult (defeat a hundred players with melee attacks), but all of them add an extra layer of challenge to what was already a classic game. The only real downside is that you can’t use the new characters from Reunion in Versus.

There are two ways to purchase the new modes – if you have Xbox Live, you can download the whole lot for around 3,000 MS points (about £25). If you don’t have Live, you can buy the newly released Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition, which contains all the new content except for Versus mode. Gold Edition will set you back at least £30 – it’s far easier just to download.

Should you buy the expansions for Resident Evil 5? Essentially, yes. If you liked the main game and want more of the same, you couldn’t ask for a better series of add-ons. Even if you didn’t like the main game, it’s well worth playing Versus for sheer fun. As an investment, it’s one of the best expansions available for any game and well worth the money.