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Resident Evil offers fans of the series an exhilarating, refreshing change to the 'usual' zombie infested franchise, whilst sticking to its gameplay roots. Some areas cause frustration, but can be overlooked.
Even though I'm not particularly interested in horror films or video games, I've always had a strange attraction to the Resident Evil franchise. Maybe it's the thought of the zombies being humans exposed to a deadly virus rather than being demon possessed. Or maybe it's the tense gameplay in a dark mansion with nail biting cut-scenes and an exciting storyline. Whatever the reason, when I received Resident Evil 5 through the post, I didn't really feel that excitement.
I had played the demo on the PSNetwork, and was suitably unimpressed with the whole thing. There was no atmosphere, mainly because the game was set during the daytime. (therefore no dark corners for the zombies to hide in) With the entire city being infected, it felt more like a shoot-em-up than a tactical, horror adventure with zombies attached.
Playing the full game increased my disappointment, at least to begin with. Just like the demo showcased, the game was set during the day. The zombies just kept on coming, and the game itself felt a bit linear. "Where's the tension?" I thought. The more I played the game, however, the more I started to spot some similarities between the new game and those I used to love playing when I was younger.
I started to spot some similarities between the new game and those I used to love playing when I was younger.
There were numerous times when the game eluded back to the originals, with cut-scenes reminding us of our old partner Jill's death. The fact that I couldn't move and shoot at the same time offered both moments of joy and frustration. On the one hand, I started to feel like I was playing the original versions again. On the other hand however, it sometimes felt a bit clumpy when I had to run, turn on the spot and then point my gun - especially with modern next-gen games offering move and shoot mechanics so readily. That being said, it did add a level of tension when I was being chased by a chainsaw wielding maniac and I was trying to turn quickly!
Although the game is based during the day, there are moments of genius within the game that allowed for dark corners and created 'pants pooing' moments. One specific area that sticks out was when I had to go into the mines. There were no lights in the mines at all, other than a hand-held lantern that either myself or my partner had to carry. Whoever carried the light couldn't carry a gun - so that means that one of us was simply a spare part, doing nothing more than illuminating the faces of the sick looking zombies. I left the light carrying antics to my partner as I popped the heads off a few bad guys with my shotgun. There were moments of panic when the light flashed away and I was left staring at a dark corner.
Capcom seemed to have tried another method of building tension also: low ammo. The entire game felt as though I was fighting to find a single bullet for any of my weapons. Although there is gold to be found throughout the game, which can then be used to purchase or upgrade weapons, there was no option to purchase ammo. That meant I was relying totally on my scavenging skills to find anything that would fit in my gun. There were parts within the game where I had to resort to using a knife, which by the way was totally useless, simply because I had no ammo! Sadly the only thing this caused was frustration... and continuous restarts.
The game itself does resemble the old-gen series quite well, with some aspects that caused both frustration and nostalgia.
After bashing the singleplayer out for a while, a friend of mine came around and we had a crack at the co-op mode. Firstly, the split screen was awful. Rather than using the entire screen vertically or horizontally, the game offered two small screens that sort of overlapped each other. Whilst it looked slightly more cinematic, it was really hard to see what the hell I was doing. Coupled with that, the game itself was quite tough. We played the same story that is available in the single-player, but for some reason we couldn't get past the first main battle! I blamed it on my mates poor shooting, but in reality, it did seem like there were a lot more zombies to contend with.
The game itself does resemble the old-gen series quite well, with some aspects that caused both frustration and nostalgia. The new daylight idea works in some areas, and does offer a refreshing change to the dreary mansions the previous games were based in, but it also decreases the level of tension. If you loved the old games, you'll probably like this one after a couple of days play as you start to see similarities.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
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