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I'm going to stand strong and proudly proclaim that Resident Evil 5 is the next evolution in the Resident Evil franchise. After playing through the latest game, I have finally seen the light, and this is it.
Normally, reviewers aren't supposed to directly address their crowd, but I'm throwing away the old ways (much like RE5, actually). I'm going to assume two things of my readers right now; the first is that you've read at least one other review of Resident Evil 5, and the second is that you have heard/read the conversation concerning issues of race in Resident Evil 5. I am not qualified enough to speak on the race in this title, so I'm leaving that conversation up to every other video game website. Now, back to your regularly scheduled review.
The biggest change to ever happen to series is the masterpiece known as Resident Evil 4. This isn't just my opinion that 4 was a great game; it won countless GotY awards from publications around the world. Obviously, there was something great about Resident Evil 4. A big part was the new control scheme. With RE4, the series switched from the old fixed camera style to an over-the-shoulder style that followed the character as they traveled. The game kept some of the series mainstays (puzzles, for example), but switched the enemies from T/G-virus enemies to people who had been infected by what was basically a bug, Las Plagas. It is this important change that will differentiate the style of the games. The only thing is that they kept some of the mainstays that shouldn't have been kept.
The normal zombies, the T-virus infected, are your standard run of the mill Romero-type shambling zombies represent the older games. They're mindless creatures who think only about feeding. The Las Plagas infected people are a different breed than the other ones; they still retain a sense of self, and while they still want to kill you, they're more "alive", more intelligent. Of course, changing the enemies you're fighting is a great way to introduce a new way of fighting them, and hence, the controls were changed.
Fast forward to 2009. Now we have had five years to sit and think about Resident Evil 4, and everybody still agrees that it's a fantastic game. So Capcom did what they should have done, and that was make a game with the good parts of 4, while taking out the parts that don't make sense with the new style. Puzzles and backtracking, one of the main points with the older titles, have now been, for all intents and purposes, removed from Resident Evil 5. The entire game is streamlined to focus on the important and fun parts of 4, specifically the shooting and the environments. Of course, this newfound focus on shooting has taken away a large amount of the inital scare-factor of the old RE, but I think it's a better game for it.
Most of the complaints I hear about Resident Evil 5 are complaints targeted at the series as a whole, but the biggest complaint by far is "you can't move and shoot, and also, the controls suck." The official comment on this is along the lines of "not being able to move and shoot as well as having to think about your controls adds tension to the game." Maybe I'm naive, but I'm 100% behind the developers on this. The controls aren't crappy, they're just different; after two generations of 3D third person adventuring, having controls that are slightly different from the norm sure as hell make you think about them. Personally, I didn't have an issue with the controls. After ten minutes (my standard control learning curve), I was playing like a pro.
Resident Evil 5 is a perfectly competent and extremely fun action shooter. What it isn't is an old-school style Resident Evil title or a survival horror game. It's a refinement of what made the best RE game great, and it looks incredible while doing it. Some would call it Resident Evil 4.5, and that's selling it short. This isn't Gears of War, but it's still damn good. In short, yes, it's just as good as Resident Evil 4, if not better.
Platform(s):Xbox 360, Playstation 3
ESRB:M for Mature
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