Re-visit the mansion. Again.
The Resident Evil series sure took its turns. It started out as a B-movie-styled horror game, chock full of corny dialogue and even live action cutscenes, unfolding a convoluted story that involved a lot of weird monsters and a mega company called Umbrella.
Resident Evil 5 continues this tradition by keeping what made RE4 a great action game and expanding it to fit more of the traditional characters and story, while introducing an awesome (but controversial) new setting in Africa. About a year later, we get the first of two downloadable content packs that aim to explore nooks in RE5's story, which were only shown in cutscenes during the main game.
[image1]In Lost in Nightmares, we find dynamic duo Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine exploring a spooky mansion where Umbrella's chairman, the Mr. Burns-wannabe Ozwell E. Spencer, is supposedly located. What they find, however, is a familiar set of puzzles and environments that ultimately conclude with a scene that anyone who has played Resident Evil 5 might recall (or might need to be reminded of, due to how lackluster the main game's story is). Eerily enough, the mansion is a replica of that in the first Resident Evil, and in an attempt to smack the nostalgia bone, several nods to the original have been thrown into the dialogue between Chris and Jill.
Re-exploring the old mansion isn't entirely new to series' veterans, though, as there was a small chunk of it in Resident Evil: Code Veronica, the full Gamecube remake of Resident Evil, and even a throwback in design to Resident Evil Zero's levels.
The pacing is also reminiscent of earlier Resident Evil games, focusing more on exploration and puzzle-solving for the first section and frantic chases for the latter. There's even a point when you must find the right crank to activate machinery in a maze area, all while you're being chased by a hideous creature. This new enemy dubbed the Executioner carries an oversized axe and has the traditional Resident Evil school of design where its eyeball in a weird place is of course its weak spot. Though cliché, this new threat is very fun to fight against. Some of the partnering mechanics are over-used in the game, but here, it's well-done.
[image2]Speaking of story, Lost in Nightmares just might be the stronger of the recent Resident Evil games. Bear with me, this isn't much of a statement, I know. We've seen a countless number of new excuses for why people turn into zombies, and even "zombies" is getting thrown out the window for "Majini" and the like, but this content pack manages to feel much more contained story-wise. All this is thanks to various documents found throughout the mansion that chronicle the life of the Spencer Family butler as his master slowly turned insane with his research. We also get a lot of backstory that bridges the gap between Resident Evil chapters in the canon, like my personal favorite Code Veronica, to the current continuum.
Yes, it's easy to write off RE's story as nothing but forgetful, but I'll be damned, Lost in Nightmare tries and succeeds for what it's worth. Don't expect to stick around for long, though, in this DLC in this renewed Spencer mansion. Once you figure out the puzzles, where to go for what, and experience what this pack has to offer, there's very little to come back to. On the other hand, the first time going through this content is a lot of fun, since it feels really different in comparison to the full-blown action sequences of the main Resident Evil 5 section.
The chases are tense and the weapons are scarce this time around, sometimes even non-existent. The tense atmosphere is pushed even further by the fact that you cannot save your game: it's a one way trip. This will make some casual players cringe, and it doesn't really benefit the game if you have start it over numerous times without actually finishing it, but it will certainly satisfy those who think games have become too easy.
[image3]Even a year later, it's hard to call Resident Evil 5 an ugly game. The environmental effects are gorgeous, the characters are well-modeled and well-detailed, and the sound effects just fit in with the mood. The mansion is truly spooky the first time around - the floors creek as you and your partner shuffle around and of course there's a lightning storm outside.
Online leaderboards keep track of your scores, and you can go for better grades in higher difficulty settings. Like the original game, you can also tackle this downloadable content on co-op, online or offline, which is crucial in tougher difficulty settings. Exploration is somewhat rewarded in form of score medals hidden throughout the mansion, which in turn, unlock an Achievement/Trophy.
If you were a fan of Mercenaries mode, you'll get two new characters to choose from: Barry Burton makes a comeback to the series, along with Excella Gionne, the evil corporate figure in a nightgown from Resident Evil 5. Achieving higher scores in this mode will also unlock other series veterans and a couple of variant skins for Chris and Sheva. Coming along as a separate download, but free nonetheless, are extra character action figures for your capsule toy collection, which are worth downloading because, well, they're free.
It's hard not to recommend this downloadable content for fans of Resident Evil 5 or even fans who were turned off by the direction the series took in later versions. The couple of hours you'll spend playing through this the first time are definitely worth the $5 price of admission. The presentation is really what makes Lost in Nightmares enjoyable and lends a reason to long for a full-blown old-school Resident Evil to come back. Alas, one can only dream.