|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
February 6, 2009 - By now you've probably played at least a small portion of the upcoming Resident Evil through the release of the demo on PS3 and Xbox 360. The fifth installment in the illustrious series brings amazing graphics and stellar co-op play to the party that look to give both the franchise and the survival horror genre a fresh start. Capcom sent us a copy of the preview version of RE5, which we literally played the hell out of, though we're only allowed to speak to you about the first three, glorious chapters.
It's safe to say that RE5 will be every bit as revolutionary and engaging as RE4 was when it hit the GameCube in January of 2005. As we fired up the game, we were instantly struck by just how beautiful the title is. This is truly next-gen stuff; where the lines between cutscene cinematics and in-engine action are completely blurred. This game looks like a highly polished action movie with its gorgeous explosions, phenomenal sense of setting, and horrific (in a good way) enemy design. I have never seen a better-looking game, and I think it, along with help from titles like Gears 2 and Killzone 2, marks the maturation point of next-gen consoles. It's time for the current-gen moniker for consoles to pick up steam.
Even though the graphics are so kick-ass, the most amazing aspect of RE5 has to be the co-op-centric gameplay. Whether playing alone, with a friend via split-screen, or over your online matching service of choice, you will be wading through the zombie hordes in RE5 with a partner. Both the beefy Chris Redfield and lithe Sheva Alomar know how to take out the walking, often running, dead. This co-op play, though limited to two players, surely rivals any other game out there.
Playing as a single-player, Sheva Alomar will constantly and efficiently help you. Although, she does tend to crowd doorways and doesn't know when to use her bowie knife. That said, outside of her over-dependence upon the handgun, she does a nice job of conserving the scarce ammo reserves while using other weapons.
As good as the game is whilst playing solo, playing with a friend is where the game really shines. Whether through split-screen, online, or via LAN, the game absolutely purrs. I did find split-screen to be a little cramped (when is it not?), but I loved just how well levels were divided to allow both players the ability to shine. Working with a buddy to cover multiple entrances, having someone there to kick a fiend off your throat, and tossing weapons and ammo between each other truly provides for a ton of strategy and an interactive cinematic experience that's second to none!As far as gameplay goes, it looks as though the devs have done an excellent job of modernizing the title while still maintaining the feel of Resident Evil. That said, RE5 won't be for run-and-gun players with little patience, as the game's heroes are slow and vulnerable (a series hallmark). Also, enemies are absolutely relentless and insanely resilient. Meanwhile, I can't decide if the unique control layouts are interesting or just plain whacky! Regardless, I had an absolute blast playing the preview version and am anxious to get my hands on the full, retail version. Moreover, the boss battles I played through truly tested my skill and patience - the feeling of satisfaction that results is worth all the hard work and dents in my wall!
Speaking of enemies, they repeat a lot over the course of a chapter (another series hallmark that's always annoyed me!). However, the devs do a very good job this time of varying your foes and their attack styles as you progress through the game. I also really enjoyed how every zombie type seems to play a calculated role during encounters; it seems as though Capcom has taken a page out of Valve's book in that regard. This makes chokepoints challenging, strategic affairs rather than simple shooting-fests against uni-dimensional foes.
There were a lot of goodies, both story and mechanics-based, that were revealed along our three chapter romp. Unfortunately, we're unable to reveal any of them to you at this time. Needless to say, Resident Evil fans will have a lot to look forward to. On that note, we'll keep the mystery alive (and our relationship with Capcom in good stead) by ending the hands-on commentary here. If you downloaded the demo and found RE5 to be a bit on the wonky side, please give this title another look when it releases March 13. There are a ton of surprises in store, and working your way through the challenging bosses and their underlings starts to feel very natural after awhile. I expect Resident Evil 5 to be everything gamers had hoped for and more!
CCC Editor / News Director