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Resident Evil 5: Untold Stories (Xbox 360) artwork

Resident Evil 5: Untold Stories (Xbox 360) review

"Untold Stories, as a whole, is a fantastic package that allows you to experience both sides of Resident Evil 5‘s extremes in their very best light."

Those of you who play far enough into Resident Evil 5’s campaign to see the huge pile of bodies stacked up in the middle of Wesker’s cargo boat might wonder where they came from. The corpses were probably lifted from the first wave of infected villagers to assault Jill and Josh in Desperate Escape.

Splintering away from the main plotline, Desperate Escape follows directly after Jill’s rescue by Chris and Sheva, and how she arrives to assist the pair endgame. It contains an approximate headcount of seven billion infected Africans and several open prayers to anyone who’s listening that more ammo will be found soon, and a bigger gun even sooner. Joined early on by BSAA captain, Josh, the pair start to make their way though a semi-constructed HQ. The construction site is open plan, huge, and is littered with sniper spots, searchlights and fixed machinegun emplacements. Within seconds, you’re surrounded by angry infected locals who want to bludgeon you with shovels, pickaxes and evil looking machetes. Within minutes, you’ll find struck-down Manji mutating messily into monstrosities of twisted flesh that act like a carapace. They effortlessly shrug off bullets and threaten to eat you whole. Survive this, and the next wave comes with powered-up Manji lifted from Resident Evil 4. They obscure their faces, and wield chainsaws.

You’ll get at least three of them mixed in with the almost endless supply of the normal enemies, who are still more than capable of caving your head in with a bit of telegraph pole or farming equipment. These long-running battles are intense: you could be fighting back-to-back with your partner for a few minutes only to have to splinter away when a half-naked madman charges at you, chainsaw swinging at your throat. They won’t go down easy. Later, one of you might have to make slow progress through the never-ending throngs while the other takes to the high ground with a sniper rifle and clears machine gun nests in between trying to keep their friend alive. Let up for a second, and the nests can be re-manned, and you could be dealing with a lot of incoming lead. Take your eye off your partner for too long, and they might find themselves flooded by sheer number or assaulted by hidden ogres with mammoth axes.

The two hour plus mission ends with a desperate fire-fight on an isolated platform, giving you sparse cover, whatever ammunition you were able to save after the slog through a small army, and a frantic battle against everything the game can possibly throw at you. Dynamite and Molotov cocktails rain from above, along with flaming crossbow bolts. In between wave after wave of Manji come beret-clad monsters waving mini-guns and wearing metallic backpacks full of ammo They clamber over the barricades you use for cover, kick open the doors you try and shelter behind and give you not a second of rest. When you beat the onslaught -- if you beat the onslaught -- it’s as much a relief as it is a victory. It’s a fantastic numbers game, and those numbers are immeasurably stacked against you, ensuring your trigger finger is always itchy, and your resources worryingly monitored.

The other half of the download, Lost in Nightmares could not be more different.

Lost in Nightmares might as well be a neon middle finger issued to everyone complaining about how far Resident Evil has strayed from its survival horror roots. Set in an isolated mansion belonging to an ex-Umbrella kingpin, the layout will be instantly recognisable to long-time series fans. The front door is eerily similar to the one that Wesker warned you not to open back in 1999, and a dining room very much like the one on display once housed a puddle of gore Barry Burton once openly worried about being “Chris’ blood”. That room under the stairs is still there, minus a storage chest, and that piano still needs playing to advance. There are cranks that need finding (and one-liners about how sick Redfield is of hunting down cranks), crest pieces needed to open things and comments from Valentine about how rusty her unlocking skills have become. Behind it all is a very smug Capcom.

Because by surrounding you with such a familiar setting, they know you think you know what to expect. Long stretches of corridor display lines of windows, illuminated by flashes of lightning. They play on your expectations. They draw this out, keeping you forever on edge because you think you know what’s coming. Any second now, the windows will burst and the zombie dogs will go for your throat. Any second now, the giant snake, Yawn, will slither out of that fireplace. Any second now, the slimy green hunters will clamber across the ceiling and swipe at your scalp. I’m certainly not going to ruin the suspense with any definite answers.

But it will come. And it will take you by complete surprise. No amount of pre-warning will save you from that.

Lost in Nightmares insists on teamwork with your AI or meat partner, and an uncooperative player is a dead player. It’s mercilessly stingy on ammo, downright mean with hardier firearms and it forces you to make every bullet, every grenade, every action, count. One second, you’re battling off death with your meagre resources and then next you’re playing bait. Trapped in a dank sewer, devoid of equipment and luring twisted evil into what you hope will be their demise. Locked in an expansive library with an angry Albert Wesker that seems to know what you’re about to do before you even do it.

Untold Stories, as a whole, is a fantastic package that allows you to experience both sides of Resident Evil 5‘s extremes in their very best light. Whether it be a genuinely effective slice of creeping terror or constant, desperate war against uncountable odds, it delivers. If you care about alternative unlockables, like outfits for Chris and Sheva as well as more playable characters for the extra mode (like the heart-warming inclusion of one Barry Burton) then your current lack of purchase is all the more vexing. Why do you vex me so?


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (June 27, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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zippdementia posted June 27, 2010:

Great review and very much an accurate one. I've played both expansions now and I think you nailed it with this "extremes" approach. The mansion game is very much what RE would look like if it took the Horror route again while Desperate Escape is the "Survival" aspect. Both are really fun, but unfortunately I've lost my friend who used to play them with me :(
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EmP posted June 28, 2010:

Just get online and play with a random stranger. It's better in some ways --- like unspoken blame. Unspoken blame rocks when the focus of your hatred is a squillion miles away.

Thanks for the feedback!
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zippdementia posted June 28, 2010:

Sort've like blind sex.
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- posted July 12, 2010:

The font door

Should be "front".
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EmP posted July 12, 2010:

You're all over the place right now Ben. I appeciate that, and, by extension, this latest catch in my shoddy proofing.
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zippdementia posted July 12, 2010:

I believe this is all coming in preparation for an amazing ROTW from Ben in which he soundly rips every review submitted that week a new asshole. Ben is a master colonoscopist.
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wolfqueen001 posted July 15, 2010:

I dunno. Ben's feedback seemed pretty nice to me. =D

Not too much wrong with this as far as nitpicks go, though I will say that it does tend to run with itself in places and so can get confusing sometimes. Still a fun read, though, and much of that confusion can probably be fixed with breaking stuff down anyway. It's clearly written to appeal to people who've played the original RE5, as it probably should be, so that's good (although it probably also contributed to my confusion in places.)

...actually, now that I think about it, a lot of my initial confusion came from not knowing until later that Umbrella Stories was broken down into two separate games in one download, since you kind of just started talking about the first expansion.

Anyway, reading this is really starting to affirm my belief that RE5 is just a rehash of RE4 in Africa, which is kind of disheartening, though maybe there's more to it. I just know that a lot of the enemies here sounded like stuff you fight in RE4 only termed differently to fit their African origin. (Like, I imagine Manji are the African form of the Spanish Ganados in the other game). Further, the whole mission you describe with the gun emplacements and hordes of enemies sounds almost exactly like that part in 4 where you have to fight this huge area on the island except this time you don't have the handy helicopter to blow everyone up for you.

The second game you talk about sounds more interesting from my perspective since it sounds like they actually tried doing something "unique" with something very old. Though I'll readily admit that my genuine survival horror skills still need work. =P
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- posted July 15, 2010:

While this thread's been bumped, I might as well contribute to it.

I agree with WQ that you need to state Untold Stories is a package of two separate DLCs at the start. I already knew that before reading, so it didn't bother me specifically, but I can see how it could confuse people who aren't in the know. It's true that the information is given in the sidebar, but not everyone pays attention to it (including me). I did intend to point this out earlier. Kinda slipped my mind, though.

Oh, and I think it's "stingy", not "stingey". I double-checked with an online dictionary. WQ's other nitpicks are fine, though. The "crest pieces" bit does read a little awkward, though I didn't pick up on it the other couple of times I read the review.
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EmP posted July 15, 2010:

I've made the odd change, but I've also let things be. The biggest of these is making a big deal about pointing out that Untold Stories is two seperate chapters in crayon. I made a choice when I began to write this to be aware just how niche an audience I'm going to be reaching for here, and not to baby them. People who have no interest in Resident Evil 5 will, simailarly, have no interest in Untold Stories and anyone wanting to read up on Untold Stoires will already know what it is, and I'd rather not waste time and space laying that all out. I don't think there is anything to gain doing so, and would prefere to get right into the information that's (hopefully!) more relevant.

I appreciate the feedback, as always, as much as I appreciate that some of you would read this just because it's on the site rather than because you have an invested intrest in the title, but the review's already over 1,000 words!

WQ: Res 5 is Res4 4 buzzing off energy drinks. Res 4 proabbly doesn't have the amount of enemies Desperate Escape showcases in the entire game. I know the section you're thinking of, but that section was best snuck around, sniping and hoping not to attrack much attention. Even when you did, you got maybe five attackers. Only having five attackers in DE is what we call a breathing pocket.
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- posted July 15, 2010:

Actually, on another readthrough of that paragraph, the "crank pieces" sentence isn't that awkward; it's a list of three items. Maybe it was the lack of comma after "open things" that made it seem odd. Nothing noteworthy.

Alright, I declare myself done with this review!
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zigfried posted July 15, 2010:

Stingey isn't a word!

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wolfqueen001 posted July 16, 2010:

OK, fine. I was wrong about that one. For some stupid reason, I'd used the word processor to see if stingey was a word instead of the dictionary. I was also thrown off by the pronunciation aspect of the word, which is why I legitimately thought there were two separate words. /rambling

As for the other nitpicks, (minus any stylistic/content suggestions that have already been discussed at length), I feel confident that they're right. Which reminds me: I see no changes, not even the odd ones. =x Hahaha.

Anyway, maybe I was wrong about the game as a whole, too, then. I mean, I had the impression from the review that the first expansion thing was an intense fight for survival, but it still reminded me of things that had come before, albeit a much more extreme version of them. But now it sounds even more ridiculous than that. Not that that's a bad thing. It's good that extra content can actually be decent (more so even) for a change.
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EmP posted July 16, 2010:

RE5 is more action tinted than RE4. You can tell: in 4, leon is followed around by a useless girl who you need babysit while, in 5, Chris is followed around by a girl with a shotgun. I think RE4 is the better game but, dare I admit, I have a lot more fun and sink a lot more hours into 5.
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zigfried posted July 16, 2010:

I think RE4 is the better game but, dare I admit, I have a lot more fun and sink a lot more hours into 5.

Someday I'll actually get around to writing an article about the concept of "XXX is better, but I enjoyed YYY more". I keep seeing people say that.

If you're spending more hours on RE5 and having more fun while spending those hours, it's kind of hard to justify RE4 being a better game, isn't it? More finely polished perhaps, but better game? This kind of comment might just be a self-admission of whacked-out priorities, but such comments assume an objective scale of "goodness" that disregards whatever it is about RE5 that appeals to you.

So I guess I'm saying that you should stand tall and proud and tear down the sacred temple of RE4!

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EmP posted July 16, 2010:

I'll put it another way. I recognise that RE4 is a better designed game and I recognise all the strides and accomplishments and bladda bladda bladda. But I'd rather just play Res 5 with a friend and blow the hell out of creepy black dudes who want to infect me with slimey oil snakes.

It's the same as saying that I appreciate the work that went into [insert award-winning movie here], but I'd rather watch Evil Dead 2 again.
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zigfried posted July 16, 2010:

The Thin Red Line sucked.

Your review is cool.


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