Posts Tagged ‘Resident Evil 5’

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.



Resident Evil 5 Review

Posted: April 2, 2009 in Musings
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Resident Evil 5 Review

After four long years of waiting, four years of teasing screenshots, videos that showed the same footage repeatedly, four years of tiny snippets of information released at a snail’s pace from Capcom, we finally have an answer to the sixty- four thousand dollar question: can Resident Evil 5 possibly be better than its predecessor?

The short is, no, it’s not better. In fact, it’s not even close to being like Resident Evil 4 and, if anything, the game is all the better for it. With the departure of Resident Evil’s Shinji Mikami, and with the last game ending on such a pumped-up action movie-style finale, Capcom and new producer Jun Takeuchi have decided to make the most daring decision since the series changed camera perspectives: to drop survival horror altogether.

This is ultimately the first clue as to whether or not you are going to agree with Takeuchi’s new vision for the franchise. If you are prepared to accept the new cover system, AI partner and enemies with machine guns, you’re in for one the greatest third-person action shooters on the market. For everyone else, it’s so far removed from that charmingly scary B-movie that entertained and frightened in equal measure twelve years ago that is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

The game is split across six chapters, each with two or three sub-chapters, with the game radically changing halfway through. The first half of the game is utterly phenomenal. The intense village encounter manages to outdo the opening of Resi 4 by giving you a psychologically lengthy build-up to the event and then refusing to give you enough ammo to deal with the attack sufficiently. From then on, Resi 5 never seems to slow down, adhering perfectly to 4’s outstanding pacing and constant refreshment of location, scenario and enemies. The entire Marshlands chapter is one of the most incredible areas in the game and possibly the best arena since – whisper it – Raccoon City itself.

Newcomer to the story Sheva Alomar stars alongside series veteran Chris Redfield. Playing the role of either computer AI partner, or real-life friend in co-op mode, she becomes an amazing ally who you will rely on and, eventually, trust. She becomes instrumental in helping you survive the game’s many incredibly tough sections, leading you to keep her around as your RPG-esque healing buddy. Yes, she does urinate ammo away. Yes, she can serve as a hindrance when you’re overloaded with enemies. But she always makes up for this by saving your arse every time you need it. Sheva also serves the important role of being the ‘hook’ for the uninitiated. You see, Capcom have understood that many gamers will be playing this as their first Resi game, so Sheva acts as the character they can identify with, and Chris to explain things to. In addition, there is an easily accessible 44-page ‘History’ file that explains the entire twelve-year backstory, as well as bite-size versions that crop up on all the loading screens.

The second half of the game is where the problems crop up and the Resident Evil we all knew and loved disappears for good. Chapter 4 contains the obligatory ‘caves’ sequence, known and hated as the most boring level since videogaming began. The major problem with it is that it completely shatters the incredible build-up that the first chapters worked so hard to establish. Here the pacing is utterly broken – it’s not a puzzle section, neither an action setpiece and even the textures look recycled from the last game. The final chapters make up for this significantly, offering a huge range of locations and enough action to make Resi 4’s Island chapter look tame by comparison.

And this is where Jun Takeuchi plays his trump card. Boy, can he do action. Coming off the back of similar third-person action-fest Lost Planet, it seems that he knows a few tricks about huge setpieces and satisfying explosions, even if he can’t manage the horror side of it. The closest thing you’ll get to the feeling of terror in this game is the fear placed upon you by the limited control scheme, one that now seems horribly outdated by the smooth walk-and-shoot controls of Dead Space.

There is one last card that Jun Takeuchi can play better than Shinji Mikami ever could – he has the balls to end a twelve year-long storyline. This game is the final act in the long running storylines for Umbrella, Umbrella’s founders and Albert Wesker himself. Without giving anything away, it’s well worth the wait.

Some things that aren’t worth the wait, however, are the boss battles this time around. A bare handful stand out as being truly memorable, while most consist of circular arenas where the objective is to run around and fire when you’re made the distance. Biggest crime is the return of El Gigante (renamed Ndesu in Africa), where the fight takes place in a stationary vehicle. In the wake of the many varied and stylised bosses from Resi 4, this is a huge disappointment.

Other disappointments are the game’s running time. The first run clocked in at a little over eight hours, which was slashed down to less than five on the second go. Attempting the game on harder difficulties takes a little while longer – the damnably difficult Professional mode adds hours onto the play time.

But while the game might be shortened considerably, the replayability has reached a new plateau. The sheer amount of things to do, see, find, shoot and collect means that you can come back to the game long after you’ve seen the final results screen. And with the new, much more accessible Chapter Select menu, you can dip in and out of any part of the game at will, making this the first ever ‘casual’ Resi title.

So where next for the franchise? It’s gone as far away from that gloomy zombie-infested mansion in the woods as it can go. Capcom would be wise to consider shaking up the franchise again – third person shooters flood the market these days and they are becoming more and more repetitive by the day. Perhaps a quiet return to the horror roots are in order.

Overall, it’s a great action game and a thrilling end to the series. A worthy purchase for both veterans and new fans alike.