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Resident Evil 5 Member Review for the Xbox360

Tyrranis By:
GENRE Action 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

What do these ratings mean?

Do you trust your partner?

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm one of the few 360 owners that doesn't use Xbox Live. As such, I am not allowed access to a lot of the DLC, Avatar options and online gaming opportunities that most 360 owners enjoy (albeit during the brief periods when they're not getting cussed at by pre-pubescent whiny kiddies playing games that they legally shouldn't).

As such, when it comes to multiplayer, for me it's split screen or nuthin'. Which is fortunate, since Resident Evil 5 has split-screen, and what is probably the best damn 2-player co-op action of all freaking time.

You star as Veteran Evil'er Chris Redfield and his spunky new anti-racism sidekick Sheva Alamar as they go into Africa to stop some bio-terrorism thingy or something. The pretense isn't exactly explained as well as it probably should, but it doesn't really matter anyway as essentially the first person they meet after getting their gear throws their mission into total disarray anyway.

Gameplay's essentially the same as in Resident Evil 4, except that it's more team focused. Whereas in RE4 you were a one-man army sent in because you were the only dude bad enough to save the President's daughter (that wasn't working for the kidnappers, that is. *cough*Krauser*cough*), in RE5 you're only built like a one-man army. You and Sheva (or you and Chris, you can play as Sheva in co-op as player 2, or in single if you've finished the game once already) are a team. Well, you're partners, as the game is all so willing to remind you every alternate cutscene. As such, you work together to get the hell out of Dodge Pueblo Nameless-African-Town, using only each other, your fists and all the guns you can carry.

So, 9 then. The Inventory system for RE5 has been dumbed down significantly since Leon's RE4 quest. Each player/character has 9 inventory slots, which can take any item. If you have no space, you can instruct your partner to take the item by hitting B or slapping them across the head, pointing at the screen and saying "Pick that up!" like a sexist husband from the 50s. If they have room, they'll nab it. Then, you can swap the item for one of yours (but you cannot swap weapons in 2-player), or let them keep it and trust that they won't use it irresponsibly. Mind you, the AI is more prone to accidental use than a person, however that person will be a lot less determined to use the healing item you told them to pick up 5 rooms and a chapter back save your sorry ass should you take one too many axes to the face. Honestly, if they want to heal you, you will be healed.

And heal they will, for the enemies in RE5 are a lot more determined than the zombies of old (or so I've heard). Mind you, they're not any different than the ones from RE4 aside from some new types (inc. soldiers who actually have guns this time.) and some new epic boss battles. There's quite a lot of gibbing in this, so if you faint at the sight of body parts exploding, then perhaps avoiding this series would be best, let alone this game.

The difficulty's pretty well-set, with 4 settings that really differ and allow you to really get the game going how you want it. The lowest setting makes it a cakewalk, the highest (which is locked, which is a good thing as you'll need the resources gathered after a run-through to stand a chance) makes it a struggle worthy of any blockbuster film.

Which, actually isn't that bad. Resident Evils of old were survival horror games, going for the scares more than the action, however since Leon's adventure in Resident Evil 4, the series has been moving away from it's horror roots and going towards frantic action, which is hard to do with the control scheme that it has where you can't move and kill at the same time. Nevertheless, Resident Evil 5 seems to have totally abandoned it's horror roots and fully embraced the balls-to-the-walls hardcore shooting action. Granted, there's quite a bit of shock value in the bosses and cutscenes, but nothing scary.

Which is, in my opinion at least, a great move.

You see, the main problem with horror games is that it's hard to scare everyone everytime. Sure, the first playthrough will quite often scare the living bejeezus out of some players, but subsequent playthroughs generally lessen the scare value significantly, leaving behind mediocre gameplay and horrid voice acting. Not to mention if you don't actually scare the player the first time, you've got no chance in hell to scare them the second time. But, when you have an action game, no matter how many times the player has played a particular section, it's still going to get the adrenaline pumping. And with a short game like RE5, multiple runthroughs are pretty much standard fare.

And then there's Mercenaries mode. Much like Horde mode from Gears of War 2, like Invasion from Unreal Tournament 2004, like Nazi Zombies from Call of Duty: World at War and like Terrorist Hunt from Rainbow 6: Vegas 2, Mercenaries mode puts you and your split-screen partner (or several people over XBL, not that I know what that's like) in an arena from the main game (mostly), with enemies from the main game (mostly). Survive until the time runs out, and score as high as you can before it does. A B rank unlocks the next arena, an A one gets a new character. A simple premise, yes, but the entertainment is massive, and the strategy immense. Do you risk attacking them to get the score up, or wait for the timer to end so you can lock in the score you have? Do you need the extra time destroying that pedestal will accomplish? Will you get a higher score with this character rather than that one? No two matches are ever the same in Mercenaries.

When you finish a round in Mercenaries, or complete a chapter in the story, you get points. These points are then used to purchase bonus features. Some of these features have no impact on the game at all, and add to the Library. Others are costumes for Chris and Sheva to wear in the story (and in cutscenes, which is an improvement over the PS2 version of RE4), and then there are the ones whereby upgrading a gun in the story to it's maximum, you unlock the ability to purchase Infinite Ammo for it. Needless to say, when you don't have to worry about ammo in a game like this, the action gets a lot more... intense.

The game's soundtrack is pretty damn awesome too. You'll recognise the voice of the Humvee driver almost instantly, and the music score overall is exceptional. This is not a game where you need to provide your own soundtrack.

Not that the game's without flaw, though. For one, the game's pretty short. Even without Infinite Ammo guns, you'll get through it in a day or so. For another, there's only 2 alternate costumes for Chris and Sheva, and from what I've seen of them I only like Chris's S.T.A.R.S. one, which is unlocked quite a bit into the game. However, most of these criticisms that I can come up with can be easily solved with a little DLC.

Pity I don't have Xbox Live. Damn.

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