I wonder how many of us recall the year 1996, when the japanese producer Capcom launched the ambitious project called Resident Evil for PlayStation? The game was intended to be a combination of a 3D action-adventure and survival horror. And it had a resounding success, which encouraged the release of a bunch of sequels – Resident Evil 2, Nemesis, Code: Veronica, Resident Evil Zero and 4 – on various platforms, such as Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo GameCube, Playstation 2 and the Wii, while RE4 was also launched on the PC.
From my point of view, there are three series worth mentioning when talking about the survival horror genre: Alone in the Dark, Silent Hill and Resident Evil. The last Alone in the Dark was a total fiasco, Silent Hill: Homecoming disappointed its fans because it missed some important elements, so it was up to Resident Evil 5 to revive the genre and also bring the passionate gamers in front of the TV’s.
The story begins when the main character, Chris Redfield, an agent for the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance), arrives in an African village in order to solve some problems with the locals, transformed into some ugly creatures called majini. There he is welcomed by a local agent, Sheva Alomar, with whom he will make a team and then start a war against the sinister Umbrella corporation, whose mission is to spread a killer virus all over the world.
At the beginning, the two of them don’t have much information about this biological weapon, knowing only that they should start looking for a character named Irving. From here, a whole series of events unfolds, within the classic "good against evil" formula. And although there are unpredictable changes of situation, the story seemed mediocre and also extremely predictable.
A trusted partner
It’s worth mentioning from the start the fact that Resident Evil 5 was designed to be played in co-op. The game includes many enemies, little ammunition, a small inventory, and most of the levers and buttons require two people to operate. Yes, although Chris has a muscular body, many doors can’t be opened by him alone. Odd, but true.
In the single-player mode, the female character is controlled by the AI and her behavior is often more than decent. Sheva targets the enemies well, she also dodges the bullets and defends or heals Chris when needed. With the help of two buttons, Sheva can receive orders, such as "Attack" or "Cover", which she then carries out succesfully. The bad news is that if you need her to distract enemies, she’s not very useful. So a good idea would be to specialize the two in a particular type of weapon and divide the ammunition evenly.
Despite the fact that generally it does a good job, Sheva’s AI is not constant and therefore playing the single-player alongside a human partner is way more interesting. Sometimes I gave Sheva a gun and some bullets and she used it with remarkable dexterity, while on other occasions she ran out of ammo in just a few seconds without killing a single majini.
Therefore I guess that many will choose a "luggage man" strategy, in which Chris will be be holding the weapons, while Sheva the ammunition and the healing herbs. I recommend this tactic on a higher difficulty levels, where every bullet will make the difference between life and death. And as a side note, the female partner adds a dramatic note to the story, but I cannot say that this saves the lack of originality and creativity of the producers regarding this issue.
Although those familiar with the previous titles won’t have any problems controlling the characters, gamers less used with the gameplay will have another opinion. And the the 3rd person shooters afficionados who played Uncharted or Gears of War will be a little unhappy when they discover that you can aim and shoot only when standing still. But from my point of view this isn’t a bad thing, especially because the Resident Evil feeling is still here, and also the atmosphere becomes more tense.
Thanks to this aiming method, players must be careful to the shooting stance and also to the surrounding objects that can be used to their benefit: some doors to can be closed right in the majini’s faces, ladders can be pushed off to prevent access to the buildings, or cabinets can be turned into cover-spots. It’s true that sometimes I felt the need to run and shoot at the same time, but I settled with the thought that we have a pure Resident Evil game, in which the system works as before.