When Capcom launched Resident Evil 4 in the early part of 2005, they took a drastic step away from the classic Resident Evil formula that fans had grown accustomed to. While some naysayers still grumble about this departure, lamenting that the survival-horror aspects were being left by the wayside, Resident Evil 4 is nonetheless regarded as a masterpiece, garnering multiple GoTY awards and topping many publications' best of all time lists. A sequel in a similar vein was absolutely inevitable. However, Capcom continued where it had left off, straying even further from the franchise's roots and crafting a decisively more action-oriented experience than anything the series had yet seen, while simultaneously adding a variety of new elements.
Chief among these is the addition of cooperative play, another first for the franchise. While the differences between this title and the series' more venerable occupants are even more noticeable ( to the point where many question whether or not the words "Resident Evil" even belong in the title any longer), it is nevertheless a well-crafted and entertaining adventure.
The game begins in a remote African village, where Chris Redfield (who has apparently been taking the same muscle enhancement supplements as Sylvester Stallone in recent years), a former member of STARS , arrives with orders to track down wanted terrorist Ricardo Irving before he manages to make his bio-organic weapon available on the black market. Here, Chris meets Sheva Alomar, an African native, to assist him in this endeavor. Of course, as this is a Resident Evil title, it doesn't take long for the initially sullen African villagers to turn hostile under the influence of a parasitic infestation that quickly transforms them into oozing, tentacled monsters. The plotline unfolds from here, with plenty of familiar faces from franchise history making appearances. The story is merely satisfactory, although it is told well and should manage to maintain the player's interest throughout the adventure. Gamers who have played previous entries in the series are more likely to be intrigued by the evolution of the overarching Resident Evil saga than the story at hand, but this isn't necessarily a negative.
Resident Evil 5 assumes a similar manner of gameplay as its predecessor, maintaining the over-the-shoulder viewpoint first instituted in Resident Evil 4. The mouse and keyboard controls are substantially more accessible than their unintuitive and unwieldy console counterparts; targeting individual limbs and aiming for headshots is made simple and smooth thanks to the mouse, and the fully customizable button layout allows players to tailor commands to their preferences. The keyboard also allows for weapons and items to be hot-keyed to the number buttons to streamline the process even further. Unfortunately, for a game as focused on cooperative play as this, there are some cumbersome issues that mar the otherwise efficient flow. Item management, for instance, has taken a substantial step backwards from the system found in Resident Evil 4. Only 9 items can be carried at a time, so despite the plethora of weapons to choose from, players are restricted in what they can bring along on missions. When one considers the ammo, first aid sprays, and grenades that must also occupy precious inventory slots, it quickly becomes apparent how little space there is to work with. This limitation becomes especially problematic when a player wishes to combine an herb they've found with one in their inventory; unlike in Resident Evil 4 where this can easily be accomplished, trying to combine herbs with a full inventory is needlessly frustrating. It may seem like a nitpick, but the frequency with which this issue occurs greatly impacts the flow of the gameplay.
Combat is visceral and satisfying, shaking things up with a variety of different types of enemies that employ new tactics against you as the game progresses. As mentioned previously, there are a substantial amount of weapons to choose from, including a wide selection of handguns, shotguns, rifles, machine guns, explosive devices and more. Additionally, melee attacks can be performed with the knife each character carries, or by context sensitive button presses that trigger a variety of close-quarters strikes. New weapons are found during missions, and are also purchasable via a shop accessible in between missions. Also available here is the ability to upgrade weapons with cash you've found, in order to increase firepower, clip size, reload speed, and other characteristics.
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