Resident Evil 5

Game Desciption: This next-generation follow-up to the terrifying series introduces the theme of escape as its core survival instinct. As Chris Redfield, your life is in danger as you strive to complete your most dangerous mission yet in a sweltering desert colony where a new breed of evil has been unleashed. Swarms of marauding evil beings will charge at you when your pulse is racing at a heart-shattering pace. Environments will play a bigger factor than ever here, using the power of next-gen systems to create a world where terror might lurk in any alcove or shadow. Powerful lighting effects overwhelm the player with mirage movement and blinding brilliance, and even in the light of day, there is no safe haven in this Resident Evil.

Resident Evil 5 Review

An Outdated Roller Coaster That's Still a Good Ride

Click here for Resident Evil 5 Art Gallery

HIGH Co-op is a great addition to the Resident Evil formula.

LOW The controls are way out of touch with current standards.

WTF A half-naked tribesman drops grenade rounds? Where were they hidden, exactly?

I hate to say it, but I am of two minds when it comes to Resident Evil 5.

From a critical perspective, it's hard not to be disappointed in the fact that Capcom didn't fulfill the next-gen promise of running through a densely-populated hostile land seen in early trailers for the game. With powerful new technology and so many innovative ideas in the industry, the potential for a new paradigm was there. In actuality, besides a change of scenery and more action, there's very little in Resident Evil 5 that we haven't seen before. On the other hand, I've certainly enjoyed following along with the exploits of the S.T.A.R.S. team over the years. It's been nearly 13 since this landmark series debuted and I've spent time with every title, so that's a lot of shared history to have.

A third-person game filled with zombie-like enemies and gruesome monsters to be dispatched with high-caliber firearms... we're all familiar with the typical Resident Evil formula, yes? I thought so. Skipping the redundant recap, let's start with the good.

Finally, after so many entries and so many players screaming for it, Capcom has finally included a true co-op feature. After seeing them toy with the concept in Resident Evil: Outbreak and Resident Evil Zero, I never thought the day would arrive when they'd finally commit to it, but they did, and I'm glad. Investigating experimental biological terrorism with a living, breathing partner added a new dimension that Resident Evil's never had, and it's about time. Although it doesn't add anything that other co-op titles haven't already done, there is a certain joy in calling headshots on infected attackers and having someone around for backup when the Lickers get thick. This is iconic stuff.

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

Also in the plus column are the graphics and scenario design. No one can deny that Capcom is at the height of its powers with the opulent visuals on display here, and the shift to more action-oriented adventure felt like a very natural progression of the series. Although some may express dissatisfaction that heroes Chris Redfield and newcomer Sheva Alomar aren't exploring a creepy mansion full of gothic puzzles, Capcom has covered that ground several times over. I found it quite satisfying to finally take action in the field rather than reading about it in a dossier found in someone's desk, or hearing about it as the topic of discussion between characters in a cutscene. It may not be survival horror in the strictest sense of the genre's definition, but it feels like the right place for the series to go, at least for now.

Ceding these points as things to praise, the fact is that my analytical, more critical side finds more than a few places where Capcom goes astray. The largest of the issues I need to address won't come as a surprise to anyone: the controls.

Although Capcom's developers have been quoted several times in saying that Resident Evil 5's tank-like controls keep with the series' history as a means of creating tension for the player, I'm not buying it for a second. Even if I did believe it, I'd still say that the attempt was a complete failure. It's simply too cumbersome and clunky for its own good, and comes off as embarrassingly backward when compared to current titles. For example, there were many times when I'd try to slash an enemy with my knife, only to find that I was a little short. Instead of simply walking forward with blade at the ready and slashing again, the game makes players sheathe the knife, walk a few steps, and then re-draw the knife while standing cemented in place before another attack can be made. The same goes for guns, and don't even get me started on the ludicrously slow turning speed. At no point during play did I ever feel as though I was completely immersed in the adventure—there's always a layer of frustration and artifice to push through.

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

Other parts of the game feel just as backward. Capcom gives players the opportunity to buy weapons between each section of play and also immediately after restarting if a player dies. There is no explanation as to where these guns and gear come from, and that's fair enough. However, what sense does it make to prevent players from buying any ammunition (except for the grenade launcher?) only to force them into combing each level for implausibly-placed barrels and boxes to smash in the pursuit of same? Even worse, exactly where are the African tribesmen in loincloths hiding the cartons of shotgun shells that drop when they're defeated? Such idiosyncrasies weren't entirely objectionable ten years ago, but now it feels as though Capcom is afraid of leaving these outdated conventions behind, making players jump through archaic hoops for no good reason.

Smaller things irritate as well, like not having a dodge maneuver, not being able to give a teammate only some ammunition instead of all, or the way something instantly vanishes if it needs to be put down for a moment when trying to manage the claustrophobic and restricting inventory system. The fact that you can't pass a weapon from one person to another is just insulting. Furthermore, late-game attempts at implementing a rudimentary cover system seemed completely out of place, and only highlight the fact that Resident Evil 5 is in need of a genuinely honest overhaul in most areas besides graphics. To be brutally frank, Capcom feels as though it's out of its depth trying to catch up with more modern design philosophies that the rest of the industry has been implementing for a while.

Its numerous contrivances and annoyances aside, it's hard to ignore the "summer blockbuster" appeal that a huge franchise like Resident Evil delivers. Giant mutants, epic setpieces, and villains you can't wait to bring to justice... It's not just a big game, it's an event game on par with Halo or a new Final Fantasy. Am I disappointed that the developers didn't make better choices and advance the series's real estate past shinier-sequel-plus-co-op status? Absolutely.  As far as I'm concerned, Capcom has officially hit the wall with Resident Evil 5, and any future installments will have to go well beyond the incremental exploration on display. However, I can't honestly say that there isn't a solid weekend of low-impact thrills to be had here, because there is.

Players curious about the recent activities of Albert Wesker and the legacy of the Umbrella Corporation can dive right in and enjoy without fear; those new to the series might be surprised at how dated it feels once the high-polygon glamour wears off. Still, it's hard to deny that even an antique roller coaster can be good for a thrill when the mood strikes. Rating: 7.0 out of 10.

Disclosures: This game was obtained via rental and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately eight hours of play were devoted to the co-op story mode, and the game was completed one time. Two hours of play were spent in non-story multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, and Strong Language. It should come as no surprise that this game is completely inappropriate for younger players. There are numerous scenes of dead bodies, mutilations, bloody tentacles, and all kinds of graphic violence. Guns and knives are central to the gameplay, and there are definitely no nonviolent options on the menu. The salty language is minimal and there is no sexual content (unless you count the semi-revealing clothing of some of the female characters) but you should keep this title out of your children's hands based on the violence, if nothing else.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing: You will be at a disadvantage since the game often telegraphs the presence of unseen enemies through audio cues such as moans or growls. Additionally, as long as the ominous background music is playing, you can be assured that foes are nearby. Without this audio information, the game is definitely more difficult. Dialogue in the game is presented with subtitles as an option, so at least the story is fully accessible.

Resident Evil 5 Art Gallery

Picking apart the Resident Evil 5 demo

Resident Evil 5

With Resident Evil 4 being one of my favorite games of all time, it probably goes without saying that I've been eagerly anticipating Resident Evil 5 ever since the first teaser images appeared in the summer of 2005. Now that I've had the chance to spend some time with the new RE5 demo, I thought I'd share some of my impressions, both positive and negative.

To start with the positive, RE5 looks and sounds fantastic. The sun-baked African setting is wonderfully polished and detailed, and the music does a great job of heightening the tension, creating a sense of frantic excitement while the player is being surrounded by infected enemies (zombies?). And I feel compelled to give a special shout out to the exploding barrels, which pack more visual oomph than any other exploding barrel in pretty much any other game I've played (and there are a lot of them).

While the game feels very similar to RE4, a lot of small improvements have been made on the gameplay side. It's now possible to assign items and guns to the d-pad for quick access, so there's no more going into the inventory screen to switch between the handgun and the shotgun. Items can also be picked up in real time, without a screen popping up like in RE4. These changes don't really break any new ground so much as bring RE5 in line with current standards.

The co-op is an excellent feature, and despite my initial reservations upon hearing about it, I'm pretty convinced that Capcom has made the right decision to build the game around a two-player experience. Interestingly, the top and bottom halves of the split-screen are staggered so that the top half has a black bar to the right and the bottom half has a black bar to the left. I like the way that it preserves a more natural screen ratio for each player while also making each half feel more separated and therefore easier to independently focus on. My wife and I played several rounds of co-op, and we both really enjoyed the sense of teamwork involved (e.g., grabbing enemies off the other player, sharing ammo, and reviving the other player with health spray). Now my wife is looking forward to it just so she can play it with me.

There are, however, some negatives. While I appreciate that it's now possible to strafe while walking around, I'm annoyed that it's still not possible to move while shooting. They're taking a step in the right direction here, but it's still just a baby step. Capcom needs to bite the bullet and bring RE5's gameplay in line with current standards. This issue doesn't destroy the game, but it definitely hurts it. Another problem is that the framerate can take a big hit during split-screen co-op mode, particularly when crowds of enemies are on both halves of the screen. This is just a demo, so hopefully they can iron this out before the game ships.

A final complaint I have is that the demo didn't include any interesting light-related visual or gameplay mechanics. The developers have been talking for years about how sunlight is supposed to play this special role in the game. For example, they've said that there will be times when the player's eyes have to adjust when moving from bright sunlight to dark indoors, resulting in times where the player enters a room and only gradually realizes that there are enemies inside. It was a bit disappointing to not see any evidence of that in the demo. Maybe they're just saving that stuff for the full game, but it would have been nice to see some firsthand proof.

Criticisms notwithstanding, it's a good demo and certainly does nothing to decrease my anticipation for the game. Here's hoping that Capcom addresses some of the problems that are evident in the demo before the final release.

What do you think of Resident Evil 5 demo?

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The Horror Geek presents: Chiaki Kuriyama is promoting Resident Evil 5

Whenever I see hot American girls playing or promoting video games on the 'net, I invariably assume it’s some sort of scam. Hot American girls just don’t play video games. Sure, they might know what a video game is (in the same way they know that lesser female creatures actually have to pay for their own drinks), but it’s not from any actual experience. If through some miracle they manage to actually appear holding a controller correctly or answer a "favorite game" question with something other than Pac-Man or a Mario game, you can rest assured it’s because their handlers were on the ball.

Chiaki Kuriyama

Japan, though, that’s a whole different ballgame. When a girl like Battle Royale/Kill Bill’s Chiaki Kuriyama turns up promoting a game, I totally believe she plays games. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I don't think so. I like to think it’s just one more example in the ever-expanding list of reasons why Japanese women are so much cooler than their American counterparts. I mean, aside from Megan Fox, can you think of one other hot American woman who’d spend a night gaming? I could think of dozens of famous Japanese women who would.

Anyway, this whole thing is getting a little creepy. The real point of the post (aside from bashing American women for not being gamers…) was to pass along a recent news story stating that Kuriyama will be promoting Resident Evil 5 for the Xbox 360 in a television commercial airing in Japan. Asked about her experience with the RE franchise, Kuriyama stated:

"I've played Resident Evil before and I can't wait for the upcoming entry in the series. I played it a little before we started filming the commercial, and because the graphics are so good, I'd forget it was a game!"

If she'd mentioned that she loved the gore explosions whenever she landed a headshot or made the argument that changing the control scheme to a more run-and-gun style would make RE inseparable from about a bazillion other shooters, she’d have probably had to get a restraining order. Do they have those in Japan? If not, I may need to move…

Read more at The Horror Geek blog.

The Horror Geek presents: Resident Evil 5 goes multiplayer... more multiplayer

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

Update: Capcom has now stated that the PSN price for the DLC will be $4.99 and not the earlier stated $3.99

Christ, this looks like a video game site today. Capcom not only announced their Wii games this morning, but also dropped another bomb with the news that Resident Evil 5 will feature competitive multiplayer.

The new mode (called Versus) allows for four players to match up in two different game modes. In Slayer's Rule, players compete to earn points killing Majinis. In Survivors Rule, they hunt each other. I can kind tell which mode is going to be more popular…

The PVP content will be available on Xbox Live (400 MS points) and the PlayStation Network ($3.99) a few weeks after the game's release (which is tomorrow if you're not keeping track…).

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

"Tired of working together with other players in Resident Evil™ 5? Ready to show your co-op partner exactly what you think of their gaming abilities? Capcom is pleased to announce that a new multiplayer mode for the soon-to-be blockbuster, Resident Evil 5, will be released post-launch as paid digital content via Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network. The new mode, called 'Versus,' adds a deadly twist to Resident Evil 5's multiplayer, pitting players against each other in a contest of survival, a marked departure from the central co-operative nature of the game.

Versus allows up to four players to match wits in online battles across two very different game types. Slayer's Rule is a point-based game that challenges players to kill Majinis. In Survivor's Rule, players hunt the most dangerous game, each other! Players can begin the hunt as Chris, Sheva or other secret characters, and choose from either one-on-one or two-versus-two team matches for either of the two gameplay styles.

Versus will be available on Xbox LIVE and the PlayStation Network a few weeks after Resident Evil 5 is available. Versus will be available for 400 Microsoft Points on Xbox LIVE or $3.99 on the PlayStation Network. Versus mode requires the Resident Evil game software in order to be played. A broadband internet connection is required."

Find more on The Horror Geek blog.

Resident Evil 5 and the recipe for a successful marriage

Resident Evil 5 Screenshot

There aren't many video games that do a good job of bringing in significant others, at least not of the kinds of games that I like to play. Sure, there are the standbys like Guitar Hero and its ilk. Super Mario Galaxy did sort of okay in this respect, albeit in a limited fashion. Of course, there are many Wii games that appeal to spouses, such as Wii Sports, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and countless other lesser titles. But those aren't the kinds of games I usually want to play. So what's a gaming-oriented guy to do? Enter Resident Evil 5.

I should preface this by saying that I was recently able to get my mostly non-game-playing wife to play through Resident Evil 4 on the Wii, which she loved. If not for that, she may not have been ready to graduate to the more complex dual-analog controls of RE5. Husbands considering introducing their wives to RE5 without any prior learning curve should consider themselves fairly warned. But I digress.

We started playing RE5 about a week ago and are now roughly half-way through the game. The verdict thus far? RE5 just might be one of the best two-player games out there for husbands and wives to play together. It promotes cooperation, teamwork, patience, sharing of resources, and a shared sense of accomplishment. If my wife needs shotgun ammo, I help her out. If my machine gun is getting light, she'll toss me a mag. When she's attacked by vicious mutant spiders, I'm there to slash them away. When a crazed villager grabs me from behind, my wife is there to deliver a spinning roundhouse kick. That's what a good marriage is all about.

So far, my wife and I have been having a blast with it. Personally, I think it's one of the best co-op experiences out there. The frequency and variety of situations requiring one player to help the other goes way beyond the teammate-reviving bits in, say, Gears of War. The cooperative elements in RE5 are so good in fact that, assuming at least a basic familiarity with video games, I could imagine this being an excellent relationship-building tool for married couples. If a husband is having trouble trusting his wife, or the other way around, then successfully downing a giant sea-monster while cooperatively operating opposing machine-gun turrets might be just the thing.

Of course, I could also see RE5 tearing some couples apart, destroying their relationships, and prompting them to divorce. But hey, if that happens then it probably wasn't meant to be.