RETRO REVIEW – RESIDENT EVIL 5: GOLD EDITION

This review was initially posted back in 2010 on my old gaming blog, Kungaloosh. Since I’ve decided to close it down, I wanted to go back and pull off what few reviews I had up and re-post them here at Cheap Boss Attack so they weren’t lost forever in the abyss of the internet.

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Played on: Xbox 360 and PS3
Played for: 5 hours going solo on the 360 version & 8 hours to finish campaign via split-screen co-op on PS3. Played a few hours of the various multiplayer modes.

Released 11 months after Resident Evil 5 hit the Xbox 360 & PS3, Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition includes the original game and all available DLC. For the PS3 version, all content is included on the disc itself, but 360 players must redeem a code found inside of the box to download the DLC off of Xbox Live (which is terrible news if you are buying a used copy). If you already own the vanilla version of RE5 but want to play the DLC, you could probably save yourself a bit of money just buying the Gold Edition since it usually sells for about $20. Additional features include a four player, online-only mode called Versus, two additional campaign chapters “Lost in Nightmares” and “Desperate Escape”, various costumes that were previously exclusive to the PC version, and a remixed Mercenaries mode called Mercenaries Reunion, featuring 8 new playable characters.

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Resident Evil 5 takes place 11 years after the events of the original Resident Evil and 5 years after Resident Evil 4. Familiar face Chris Redfield is now a part of a Bioterrorism Security faction called BSAA and is shipped off to Kijuju, Africa, to stop the sale of a bio-organic weapon on the black market. When he arrives in the fictional desert town, he rendezvous with newcomer Sheva Alomar before noticing that things aren’t what they seem. Townsfolk have been mutated by parasites and serve as the basic enemy type known as Majini, or “evil spirit” in Swahili (thank you Wikipedia), who gladly soak up bullets and refill your ammo pouch. All clues tend to point to frequent antagonist Albert Wesker and a new super-strain of the virus called Uroboros, as well as Tricell, the company behind the BSAA, but the end result can be a bit confusing. Players have the option to go through the campaign solo, split-screen couch co-op or online drop-in/drop-out through the console of your choice.

Resident Evil 5 was created with multiplayer co-op in mind, and it definitely shows through the poor AI if you decide to go solo (especially on higher difficulties). With the same control scheme as Resident Evil 4, RE5 can already play sluggishly at times, but having to rely on Sheva to have your back can be quite nerve racking. It may not be a game breaker for everyone, but it was annoying enough to avoid completing the campaign myself with the 360 version until I went through it again with a friend on PS3. Unlike Resident Evil Zero, you have to rely on your partner to do a lot more than solve puzzles, so it’s a shame when Sheva plays like she’s being controlled by your 6-year old, blind cousin. If you have the option of playing RE5 online, I would also advise doing that over playing split-screen, but if local co-op is your only option it’s still better than playing alone. Local split-screen is oddly presented and takes up a lot of real estate on your screen for no apparent reason, positioning smaller versions of the original screen in opposing corners. Why they would leave two giant corners of your television screen empty rather than filling it with HUD info is beyond me, but even on my decently-sized flat screen I found myself squinting at times.

The best and most ridiculous costume ever. I felt like Axe from Demolition back in the 80's.
The best and most ridiculous costume ever. I felt like Axe from Demolition back in the 80’s.

As far as story goes, RE5 is as ridiculous as it gets. Familiar faces return in roles you wouldn’t expect and before it’s all over you’ll see a man transform in to a massive octopus, slay a giant moth and scratch your head trying to make sense out of anything. What was once the simple tale of a zombie outbreak as the result of bio-weapons is now starting to overstay its welcome, and just like RE4, this tale contains no zombies at all. RE4 was a major turning point in the series where it started to shed its survival horror skin in favor of a more action/shooter approach, and Resident Evil 5 expands upon that even further. Maybe it’s just me, but zombies are much more terrifying than Majini, Los Ganados or Las Plagas, and I just prefer the darker atmospheres over shooting infected moths in broad daylight.

Now that Chris Redfield has 11 years of zombie slaying experience and an apparent addiction to the roids, he can mow down enemies with an array of automatic weapons, shotguns, sniper rifles and an electric riot baton. RE5 also offers a weapon upgrade system by spending the money you find in-game between missions. I had trouble finding a weapon that I didn’t like, but had the most fun swinging the electric riot baton around in the Heavy Metal Chris costume or picking off Majini from afar with the sniper rifle. Automatic weapons were fun to spray around, but I had the most luck surviving by combining a long and short range weapon of choice. An interesting and welcome addition to RE5 is the Dead Space-esque real time menu system, forcing you to go through weapons, herbs and first aid spray while Majini lob dynamite at your face on the regular. This, in my opinion, was the only thing that made Resident Evil 5 terrifying, aside from the awful split-screen display.

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Graphically, RE5 is gorgeous and is, in my opinion, the best looking game of 2009. RE5: Gold Edition doesn’t expand any further, but the additional content does contain new chapters that showcase environments not seen in the vanilla release. The variation in Majini models, the various enemy types, character models and boss monsters look ridiculously good, but the voice acting is still as campy as ever. While the series has improved in this aspect since the legendary dialogue in Resident Evil (You were almost a.. Jill sandwich!), it still rides in the same bus as most JRPGs. It’s tolerable, that’s for sure, and plot isn’t exactly the strong point here, but if Capcom is going to develop a nonsensical plot and expect us to follow it, at least deliver the lines with confidence.

The Verdict – C+

Overall, RE5 was already a fun co-op experience and the addition of the DLC is an added bonus, but playing the game solo was agonizing. Both new chapters are quite short, clocking in around an hour or two, so if you’re looking for offline content you might be disappointed. The quality of both chapters is quite good though, just a tad on the short side. Versus, however, is a lot of fun and broken up in to two modes that either focus on killing Majini for points or turning the focus to each other in a deathmatch style of play. If you were a big fan of the Mercs mode in RE5, Gold Edition not only offers 8 new characters, but remixes item drops and their spawn points, so it’s a “master quest” of sorts for the Mercs vets. I’ve started to lose interest in the franchise with this new “action shooter” approach, as I love me some zombie horror, but RE5: Gold is still worth playing if you’ve been following the series. If you already own RE5 but haven’t picked up any of the DLC, you can buy RE5: Gold Edition for around $20 here in the States which is a bit lower than buying all of the DLC. If you’re only interested in one or two pieces, you may be better off just paying for them individually.

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