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Resident Evil 5 (PlayStation 3) artwork

Resident Evil 5 (PlayStation 3) review


"I like games that make me think. When trying to break through a barricade of machine gunners and vicious packs of dogs, I want the answer not to be ďuse a better rifleĒ but to be something more involved. For instance, sending a partner along a catwalk to draw the gun fire while I sneak closer and blow out the fox holes with a close up grenade or two. Resident Evil 5 shouldíve been littered with these kind of situations, but more often than not it opts for straight shoot outs. And they get old."



Hereís a riddle for gamers. Whatís foreign, angry, and has a thousand tentacles sprouting out of its head?

If you answered Resident Evil 4, youíd be correct. If you answered Resident Evil 5, youíd also be correct. Capcom has officially run out of steam on the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil 5 is about as original as my writing a review for it. The un-originality extends through every aspect of the game, from design to script.

I do have to give Capcom credit for having finally improved their writing skills. They no longer write like fifth graders who happened to catch an episode of Buffy. Theyíve increased their ability to at least a middle-school level of competence. Wesker still smirks and cackles and wears bad suits. Thereís still an inconsequential villain with an incredibly annoying voice who shows up entirely too often. And an obligatory chick with large amounts of cleavage. But amazingly, these characters are actually believable this time through, and not instant train rides to facepalming. The scenario hasnít changed much, though.

Imagine, if you will, running through a linear compilation of houses while angry people yell at you in another language. Imagine encountering a sneering villain who injects himself with some kind of virus before tentacles burst out of all of his major orifices. Imagine going up against said tentacle demon armed with a handy rocket launcher.

If youíre having a strong sense of deja vu, itís only because these situations can be found in just about every Resident Evil experience, with a heavy emphasis on the last game in the series. Incidentally, people liked Resident Evil 4 enough to warrant it being released three times. Yes, Resident Evil 4 was fun and popular, no-oneís denying that. Resident Evil 5 plays out like it was designed by someone who had just discovered what ďctr-vĒ does, so Iím sure it will be popular as well. But really, how much more of this do we have to take before we see some originality in the gaming world?

In a way, playing Resident Evil 5 is like going to a friendís house, one you havenít seen in over a year, only to discover they havenít changed their clothes or showered in the interim. Theyíre still your friend (maybe) but you canít think of a reason to stay for long or to come again soon.

Except maybe to oggle at their busty South African girlfriend.

Thatís right, this year Capcom has decided to continue in their long-standing tradition of having too many characters that we never get closure on by introducing Sheva Alomar, a foxy South African with an accent that hovers somewhere between accurate dialect and a palsy patient with a lisp. Together, she and Chris make the clumsiest action team of all time, not least of all because it takes them several more seconds to turn than Jabba the Hutt, but really more because of level design.

On the most basic level, the co-operative play works. As far as dropping two players in the middle of an action oriented game and telling them to fight their way through, it performs about as well as youíd expect. If the last decade of gaming has shown developers anything, itís that any game is more fun with more people. But for a game which puts so much emphasis on its co-op capabilities, I was expecting more out of Resident Evil 5 than adequacy. The whole thing feels a little lazy. As far as strategy in the game goes, it consists mainly of standing ground and shooting. Then run forward and repeat with a new set of groaning targets. Again, not particularly bad design, but not very interesting either. And having a partner doesnít add much. If youíre playing with the AI, especially on the harder difficulty settings, the extra body can actually be a hindrance, getting in your way, wasting your ammo, and occasionally finding themselves the center of a deadly gang bang (at which point youíre expected to go over and save them).

There are a few shining moments. The best sections in the game involve the use of dual-strategies, such as one player sniping from a dilapidated building in the mines while the other rushes forward to cut down the enemies surrounding the building. A fun little section in the marshlands has one player running around to open gates on a makeshift series of docks and planks while another gets on a machine gun turret and gives them cover. Even the arbitrary vehicular chase scene and subsequent boss fight stands out as a place where players can work together, one pinning down the boss while the other picks off the little guys around him. Dual strategies are fun. Of course they are, thatís the whole point of co-operative play! But most of the game plays so linearly with such straight forward strategy that little thought is involved and even less strategy is required, let alone a strategy utilizing two players. Itís just aim and pull the trigger until you lapse into a near catatonic state.

I like games that make me think. When trying to break through a barricade of machine gunners and vicious packs of dogs, I want the answer not to be ďuse a better rifleĒ but to be something more involved. For instance, sending a partner along a catwalk to draw the gun fire while I sneak closer and blow out the fox holes with a close up grenade or two. Resident Evil 5 shouldíve been littered with these kind of situations, but more often than not it opts for straight shoot outs. And they get old.

My final verdict? Resident Evil 5 is more of the same wrapped up in a desire to cash in on the current marketís multi-player leanings. Iím not entirely surprised by this course of action, though the amount of un-originality showcased here is staggering at times. Still, I donít begrudge itís existence. Itís certainly not a bad game. Why would it be? Itís essentially Resident Evil 4 with a second controller. No, itís not bad. But itís hard for me to get excited about it.

P.S. Itís not racist.

Rating: 8/10

zippdementia's avatar
Freelance review by Jonathan Stark (March 25, 2009)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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Lewis posted March 25, 2009:

I'm not a scorewhore, as you know, but I'm surprised you went as high as an 8. You sound so utterly despondant with Resi 5, utterly bored by its existence. Almost as if you begrudgingly like it because it's a Resident Evil game, even though you weren't really having that much fun.
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zippdementia posted March 25, 2009:

I talk about that a bit in my blog.

The truth is, for ME the game is probably more around a 6 or 7, but that's not REALLY an accurate scoring where the majority of gamers will be concerned.

Like I said in the review, the game isn't bad by any means. It's just utterly unexciting and unoriginal. I suppose I could've given it a 6 and gone for broke. Maybe I played it a bit safe, but I was trying to find that balance between "here's my complaints" and "just because I had these problems, doesn't mean it's a bad game."

The truth is, I think this marks the first time I've had REAL trouble with a score, and now I understand what reviewers mean when they complain about having to put a score to a game.
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Suskie posted March 26, 2009:

That's a philosophy I disagree with, though. If I read a review, I want to know whether or not I'll like it, sure -- but based on your experience with the game. What's the point of even giving your own personal analysis of a game to begin with if your final verdict has you trying to gaze into other people's minds?
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zigfried posted March 26, 2009:

Trending the score upwards at the end of a negative-ish review indicates a lack of faith in the power of your position. Usually people do that because (a) they're trying to appease advertisers, or (b) they're nitpicking and know they're nitpicking. In this case, the score's a bit jarring because the observations you make are substantial and well-supported.

Based on past posts and the authoritative tone of this review (a good thing), I know that you have faith in your own position. You should have more faith in your readers to acknowledge the same issues. Guessing at what they'd rate a game, and adjusting the score, is actually kind of an insult.

The score is hardly a calamity (an 8 indicates there's room for improvement) but it does water down the review's power.

Moving on --- here's my popular opinion prediction! Even though word on the street is positive right now, I would not be surprised if popular opinion of ResE 5 goes downhill as people replay the game and lose interest. I never played part 4, I like silliness, and I am glad this game did NOT focus on the co-op action like Gears did. Because of those things, my opinion is unlikely to change... but I suspect I'm in the minority.

//Zig
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Lewis posted March 26, 2009:

I agree with Suskie and Zig (but also yourself, Zipp, about not liking to fix a number on the end, when you know it's what people are going to get caught up in. Why do you think I do my Not A Reviews on my blog? It's basically an excuse to write about games without the necessity of a numerical response) that it's more important to achieve consistency between copy and score than it is to appease the masses. The review really does read like something between a 5 and a 7 - and remember that 6 and 7 indicate a reasonably good game. The whole piece actually reminded me of Eurogamer's Fear 2 review. They went the other way, though, and awarded it a 5, to a predictable backlash. So maybe playing safe is good for the soul. Or your face.
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Lewis posted March 26, 2009:

...All that said, it's probably my favourite Zipp review to date. So good on you.
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joseph_valencia posted March 26, 2009:

All this hoopla over a number is ridiculous. All that should matter in a review are the actual words. If people want "accurate" numbers, they can go to metacritic.
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Suskie posted March 26, 2009:

In a sense, I agree with that, and as has been said numerous times here, I wish we could just review without having to add an arbitrary number to the end. But, at the same time, a score can act as a finish line, a means by which to judge how well the reviewer sold his point. You could be reading this review and thinking, "Yeah, this doesn't sound like anything special." Then you see that he gave it an 8/10 and you think, "Wait, what? Is it better than I thought? What am I missing here?" It's disorienting.
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Lewis posted March 26, 2009:

"If people want "accurate" numbers, they can go to metacritic."

Hehe :D
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joseph_valencia posted March 26, 2009:

But, at the same time, a score can act as a finish line, a means by which to judge how well the reviewer sold his point.

I think that's more of a problem with the way a lot of game sites (not just this one) lay out reviews. A better approach would be to just have the score thrown out at the beginning in normal letters/symbols. That way, the reader can forget about it during the course of the review and simply "judge" the writer for their writing.

You could be reading this review and thinking, "Yeah, this doesn't douns like anything special." Then you see that he gave it an 8/10 and you think, "Wait, what? Is it better than I thought? What am I missing here?" It's disorienting.

I guess it depends on how you interpret numbers. To me, an 7 or 8 is "solid," and the difference between the two is highly subjective. Others might think of "solid" as a 5 or 6 and consider 7 or 8 to be "very good," or they might think there's a world of difference between a 7/10 and 8/10.

Or you can think of it this way: The review itself is a vehicle for Zipp's critiques, while the score acts as a concession to the quality of the game as a product.
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Lewis posted March 26, 2009:

"I think that's more of a problem with the way a lot of game sites (not just this one) lay out reviews. A better approach would be to just have the score thrown out at the beginning in normal letters/symbols. That way, the reader can forget about it during the course of the review and simply "judge" the writer for their writing."

I worry that would encourage the Angry Internet Men to look at the score then shout about it without reading a single word.
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joseph_valencia posted March 26, 2009:

Those people don't read the reviews regardless. They just scroll to the bottom for the big number. :-D
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Masters posted March 26, 2009:

I agree mostly with the sentiments expressed by this review, but the score actually serves to undermine the legitimacy of those sentiments. The review says, "uninteresting, derivative drivel" and the score finishes off with, "but it's GREAT!" If you think it deserves a 6, it should get a 6.
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zippdementia posted March 26, 2009:

Like I said, this was a tough one to score. Pretty much EVERYTHING everyone has said here is correct. I know that contradicts itself, but THAT'S MY POINT. IT WAS A TOUGH ONE! On one hand, I didn't want to illegitimize my statements with a high score. On the other hand, I had to acknowledge that the product was, on the whole, well put together, and most gamers won't have a problem eating it up.

I'm very well connected to the RE gaming community, so I know the way these people think. They don't care about little details. Their main concern is "when does Wesker show up?" and "do I get to pop heads? Can I do knife runs?" They're looking at the game on a whole other level than I am.

So, knowing that, my review and my score are a compromise. The compromise is "listen to me bitch about a gameplay design flaw that makes this game really nothing special" combined with "but I acknowledge that none of you RE4 fans are probably going to care about this." Hopefully the review gets that across. I know it's a bit jarring, but that's an accurate depiction of my feelings on this game.

EDIT: By the way, thanks to everyone who's taken the time to comment on this. I'm happy to have a review that sparked some discussion.
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EmP posted March 26, 2009:

That's great and all, but you don't review other people's perspectives because you're always going to come off as second best when you try. You review, wholly and uncompromisingly, on your perspective alone. Otherwise you get a review that's discredited by all audiences.
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zippdementia posted March 26, 2009:

Or in this case, loved by Lewis ^_^

I'm happy with my Lewis fan. He's much better than a smelly EMP who I have to feed at particular hours of the night.

Well, what can I say? You try things, and you learn. Overall, I'm rather happy with this one. I think everything I said is made of pure truth, and I spent four days crafting it so that it read exactly as I wanted. The score has sparked a nice little debate here that will come in handy for future endeavors.
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EmP posted March 26, 2009:

The review itself isn't the problem; it's a very good review. But you're almost irredicating every point you make by then scoring it based on what you feel someone else would get out of the game.

There's nothing wrong with being the minority voice.
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zippdementia posted March 26, 2009:

Well, not much I can do about it now.
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zippdementia posted March 26, 2009:

Well, after showing this around various RE forums, the score of 8 seems to have saved me from many severe flaming wars... though not all of them. I think of that 8 as my fan-armour. It protects me from raging idiots and allows me to get a few shots off at the same time.

The silliest complaint about my review so far: it's fan rage! You're just pissed that RE5 wasn't like RE1!

I don't even know what to say to that.

EDIT: to be fair, one reason I haven't requested a change in score from helpful staff is because I really DO think it is an 8/10 experience. I just wanted more out of it, and I see a lot of 9's and 10's floating about the net.
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honestgamer posted March 26, 2009:

Please remember also that the helpful staff wouldn't be able to be helpful in this case. When a review is posted as a staff or freelance review, the score should not be changed unless the change happens within a few seconds of the review being posted. Any longer than that and it shouldn't be changed because it will have made the rounds on various meta sites and so forth. When a review is posted on that level, it needs to be carefully considered before it is posted so that there are no regrets... since regrets typically can't be addressed.
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zippdementia posted March 26, 2009:

And I have no regrets!
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zigfried posted March 26, 2009:

The score has sparked a nice little debate here that will come in handy for future endeavors.

I like your attitude. That should be the purpose of any discussion -- and talking these points out has helped me, too.

//Zig
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zippdementia posted March 26, 2009:

Thanks, Zig! I try to always be a positive person. It's much easier to do online than in person, but practice should see me there ^_^
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zippdementia posted December 24, 2009:

Was revisiting this review tonight after finally revisiting the game. I'm glad I dropped that 8 score, ultimately. I've found someone to play this game with that makes it totally worth it. If I could, I would go back into this review now and add in a paragraph talking about why the eight score was given, DESPITE everything that I'd said. Because I still stand by the things I said, but I've also discovered just where that 8 can sneak up on you until, hey... you realize you're having a great time.

But that's just shows how much I've learned from sticking around this community and continuing to read the great work submitted here on a weekly basis.

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