Review: Resident Evil 5 (Xbox One/PlayStation4)
Ah, Resident Evil 5. What many fans the world over criticize for its overblown action and generally mark as the “beginning of the end” for Resident Evil. It’s back, with all of it’s post-launch DLC and a new, current-gen polish. After the mild disappointment of the newly re-released Resident Evil 6 on Xbox One and PS4, I’ve been looking forward to replaying RE5– mostly because I honestly like it.
This isn’t a remaster in the same vein as last year’s remaster of REmake, but simply a port of the original Resident Evil 5 running at maximum specs. This doesn’t mean that the game looks all that great- it hasn’t aged remarkably well in the seven or so years since it released. It’s pretty hard to justify shelling out for this port when it really doesn’t look remarkably different from the original PS3/360 version from 2009. That said, the game is running at 60fps, which is very welcome (even the animations in the menus are running at 60fps!), and there are certain parts that look pretty (character models especially, Chris’ biceps have never looked so beautiful). It’s just a shame that there wasn’t more work put into making this game stand shoulder to shoulder with other releases on modern platforms- some of the texture work in the environment is just flat out ugly and jarring.
Nothing else has changed, really. The Mercenaries and Mercenaries Reunion have now been combined into one mode called The Mercenaries United, which is neat- although none of the Reunion characters are available in the Versus mode still. It is nice that the online mode is alive again on these new platforms since it was all but dead in the original game. Resident Evil 5 really is at it’s best when it’s played online, and it’s nice to have access to it again.
If you were hoping for some new achievements/trophies, I’m afraid it’s identical to the game’s original achievement/trophy list, just like it was for RE6HD (although the number requirement for the VS mode achievements/trophies has been dropped from 30 wins to 15 – much more doable). I’m not too bothered by this, especially since it will give me the chance to re-earn some of the ones that were glitched on 360 (all of Desperate Escape‘s achievements were glitched when the DLC first came out). Sadly, the level of effort put into the achievement images on Xbox One has dropped considerably since RE6HD‘s, which all featured cool images of the RE6 heroes fighting J’avo or just posing and looking cool. RE5HD‘s achievements are made up of old promotional art for the game, or are simply images of the game’s menus. A pretty large chunk of the achievements are just the same image of the figurine menu in-game. You know, this. Absolutely something you’d want to set as a background image, right (sarcasm detected, deploy confetti)? Speaking of achievements/trophies, there’s one that has a pretty jarring typo in it (Stop, Drop, & Roll now reads Stop, Drop, & Roll).
As for the rest of the game, 11 years have passed since the disaster in Raccoon City. Umbrella Corporation was dissolved in the wake of the viral outbreak and following nuclear strike that claimed the lives of over 100,000 people. But that hasn’t marked the end for its legacy, as the concept of bio-weapons have become the bread and butter of destabilized regions across the globe. Where a terrorist insurgency could try to organize a militia and try to wage war with a territory it wanted control of, the easier option would be to drop one of Umbrella’s left over horrors into the middle of the city and watch the region tear itself apart. Even worse, the proliferation of Las Plagas, the parasitic organism that completely took over the small village of Los Pueblos and made Leon Kennedy’s life hell just five years previously, has resurfaced in a new and terrifying form.
This is where we find Chris Redfield. Survivor of the Mansion Incident all those years ago and veteran monster hunter, working for a newly formed international group called the B.S.A.A., or Bio-Terrorism Security Assessment Alliance, as he reaches his newest checkpoint in Kijuju, Africa. A big deal is rumored to go down here, a sale of some new B.O.W.; and Chris and his new partner, Sheva Alomar, are to take it down in a sting operation, with backup from B.S.A.A. team Charlie. But things go south in a hurry, as it turns out that the locals have already become infested with this new form of Las Plagas, and a much more sinister plot codenamed “Uroboros” is being set into effect here, in Africa.
The gameplay is less reinvention the way Resident Evil 4 was, and more evolution of what that game had already set in place. The controls are fresh and updated (although there’s an option that makes them almost identical to RE4s), with new additions made to compensate for faster combat and the (at the time) all-new co-op feature. Resident Evil had dabbled in multiplayer before, with the two Outbreak games on PS2 and Resident Evil: Deadly Silence‘s excellent Battle Mode multiplayer on Nintendo DS, but this was a wholly different take on the multiplayer concept. Borrowing from Gears of War‘s cooperative experience and building on it, RE5 created what may be one of the best, if not just the best cooperative shooter experience to date.
It wasn’t just running around aimlessly gunning at anything that moved and being able to do that with a buddy, but actually forcing you to cooperate and work with your partner. Ammo and health items had to be shared between the two of you, and combining attacks and weapons made for much more effective strategies. Your partner’s death didn’t result in having to wait around for them to respawn, but would actually net a game over for the both of you, and send you back to your latest checkpoint. It could have been way more punishing if the game still used typewriters, but for co-op that might have been a bit too much. Shame tho, it could have been great for a harder difficulty setting.
Unfortunately, this amazing co-op really falls apart when trying to play the game solo, as it did for me and many other old-school RE fans did when we first got the game. Wanting to go through it for the story first, and then try it with another player, the co-op features end up becoming a major hindrance with the game’s frankly suicidal and idiotic AI buddy. Regardless of whether you’re playing as Chris or Sheva (who is unlocked for play after completing the game at least once), your AI partner just doesn’t know what to do. It shirks high-powered weapons for whatever it has the most ammo for, typically the pistol, and pecks away at bosses and runs around in circles most of the time, shouting non-compliance to your requests and getting itself hurt or killed while you stand by helplessly, watching your eventual score ticking down with each game over. It’s one of the biggest problems with an otherwise very well crafted game.
This release also includes all of the DLC, including Lost in Nightmares, Desperate Escape, and all of the other add-on costumes and so on. LiN is an interesting experiment, trying to create a quieter, more REmake inspired atmosphere with Resident Evil 5‘s combat and design over-top of it. It has a few puzzles, and even some genuinely creepy elements, especially the Guardians of Insanity monsters (which are apparently also called Blobs, which is a notably less fun name) that serve as the DLC’s main enemies. The most notable thing about this DLC however is how it set up the Revelations series, with very similar gameplay and concepts to the first game, and even has a question that went unanswered until Revelations 2 came out. There’s also quite a few fun callbacks to the very first Resident Evil as well, from the way you open doors and the return of Moonlight Sonata, to an easter egg that actually switches the camera to the original static camera style of the old-school games (it only lasts for the mansion segment, tho). On the other end of the DLC spectrum, Desperate Escape, is almost not worth talking about at all. Essentially just The Mercenaries without a timer, it has very little story and ramps the action all the way back up. The only thing it really does is explain how two of the characters made their way to your rescue at the end of the game, but I don’t think that was a question that was really burning in anyone’s minds.
With the passage of time, I’ve found new love for Resident Evil 5, especially for its hammering down an actual ending to a plot point that had been at the center of the RE universe since the very first game, and it is a blast to play with friends. Its massive sales did lead Resident Evil down a very confused (Resident Evil 6), genre-clashing (Resident Evil Revelations), and just out and out terrible (Umbrella Corps) path for the better part of the next five years, but now that RE is shifting back into the territory that made us love it from the beginning with Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, I’m able to enjoy Resident Evil 5 as the great action game that it was.
Overall, if you no longer have your original 360/PS3 copy of RE5, this is easily the best (and cheapest) version of the game to get. Sure, the visuals have aged like cheese, but it’s still an excellent game, horror or not. The next closest version would be the Steam version, which (with all DLC included), is actually $10 more than this release’s asking price of $20. If you already have the game, then there really isn’t any reason to pick this up – but if you want to relive the best selling Resident Evil ever, with a new coat of polish and a newly reinvigorated online component, go for it.
(8 / 10)