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March 27, 2009
Resident Evil 5 - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Visuals in Resident Evil 5 impress.
Resident Evil (or Biohazard if you live in Japan) should need no introduction. With dozens of games released (including spin-offs) selling over 35 million units, and four successful movies including the recent CG movie Resident Evil Degeneration there are millions of fans the world over. To say that Resident Evil 5, which was announced way back in 2005, is eagerly anticipated would be an understatement. This is the first time the series has been seen on PS3 and Xbox 360, and with visuals to die for and classic gameplay it was a near certainty that this game would be a hit. But have Capcom provided something fresh, or just more of the same? Read on...

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Giving Sheva a boost.
The biohazard threat has not ended: Just when it seemed that the menace of Resident Evil had been destroyed, along comes a new terror. Chris Redfield has followed the path of the evil around the globe. After joining a new organization, Chris heads to Africa where the latest bioterrorism threat is transforming the people and animals of the city into mindless, maddened creatures. He is joined by a new partner, Sheva Alomar, who lends her strength, intelligence and sharp-shooting skills to the mission. In order to survive, Chris and Sheva must work together to take on the challenges of discovering the truth behind this evil plot.

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Chris and Sheva in Resident Evil 5.
Before we get into the gameplay I must say that I was impressed with the storyline in this game. As was detailed in Resident Evil Degeneration the focus has shifted away from Umbrella to a terrorist organisation. The story is told through dozens of cut-scenes which are brilliantly scripted and edited with great delivery of dialogue. Overall we have to credit Capcom for creating a story that progresses the franchise and offers some new spins on the Resident Evil mythology. Chris is a great hero, and Sheva is also equal to the task.

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Now that's one big-assed weapon.
If you've ever played a Resident Evil title in the past, and in particular Resident Evil 4, you should be able to pick up and play this game almost immediately. The game is played from an over-the-shoulder perspective so you have an idea of what is ahead, as well as slightly to the side of you. You can carry several items and weapons, but are limited in quantity making management of your inventory important (more on that later).

Weapons in Resident Evil 5 are varied and include pistols, shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifles and more. Each of these weapons can be upgraded with increased firepower, quicker reloading, larger bullet capacity and so on. To do this you will have to pay for the upgrade with money you collect lying around the levels, selling unwanted weapons, or selling treasures discovered in your travels.

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Shooting at the enemies from a vehicle.
The most contentious issue about this game is bound to be Capcom's theory that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. The franchise has never allowed you to 'run and gun' or, in other words, move around while shooting. At first this seems damn annoying. Why like so many 'modern games' can't you run around and shoot? Well this annoyance soon disappears as you realise that it does, to some extent, build some tension. Do you stop for a few moments to get of a couple of shots, but risk being overrun? While we may have preferred the 'run and gun' option, this series has always been like this, and I don't think that it's detrimental to the gameplay at all.

So what other aspect can you expect in this game? Well there are some Quick Time Events (QTE's) where you have to hit the button prompted on screen in a rather short space of time - these occur during cut-scenes so be aware. There is also a big need to help your partner should they get attacked by zombies - take too long and they will die forcing you to go back to your last save point.

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Spot the red exploding barrel!
Where this game does vary from previous Resident Evil titles is the focus on co-op gameplay. Be it online or offline the game allows you to control Chris, who appeared in the original Resident Evil and/or Sheva, an African special agent tasked with investigating the epidemic, throughout the game, and their reliance on each other is critical to the games storyline and completion. If one of the characters gets attacked by an enemy, their partners can jump in and help rescue them by shooting the enemies, or entering hand-to-hand combat.

This isn't just a co-op offline game though as Capcom have included full support for online co-op. Not only is it easy to jump into a co-op game but the way in which two human players work together is often much better then the AI controlled Sheva (not that she is too bad anyway). If you have your PS3 online we strongly suggest you play this game online.

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Chris has a pistol, Sheva a shotgun.
Before we get onto some of the real issues of this game I want to take a moment to discuss the issue of 'racial' overtones in this game. To me it was a complete non-issue. The game is based in Africa and, yes, there are a lot of dark skinned people there both in real life and in the game. Much like a game set in America has a lot of white people, and a game based in Japan has a lot of Asian people. At no time did I feel the game was racist, nor was there any indication of racism from any characters. A white woman gets dragged off by a couple of dark skinned people and it's on screen for a couple of seconds at most. This is all hype over nothing.

There are a couple of 'issues' in this game. We've already discussed the fact that your character gets glued to the ground when aiming and firing your weapon. That's a design choice we can live with. The inventory system is one which we are going to be less forgiving with though. While you can have four items mapped to the D-Pad, the way in which you have to move items between Sheva and yourself, and on a regular basis is unforgiving. If, for instance, you have a shotgun which is out of bullets, but all your item slots are filled, you can't grab the ammo from Sheva and reloading it without removing one of your items first. Also, you can't combine, say, Red and Green herbs in Sheva's inventory. You must take it to your own first then combine them, and then give resultant mix back to her. It's a lot of mucking around.

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What the hell is that?!
Now we come to one bone of contention - the downloadable content. Capcom have announced that they will be releasing a Versus pack for $US4.99 (around $8.95 here in Australia we're guessing). Now don't get me wrong, I think downloadable content can be a great thing - the map packs for COD4 for example, but gamers could still experience that game online without the bonus packs. This smacks of being ripped off - and certainly for those of us living in Australia where we pay $120 for the game to start with (or $US79). To compound matters the download will be cheaper in Japan... Anyway this downloadable content should be made available this April.

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Chris uses some hand-to-hand combat.
Visually Resident Evil 5 can't fail to impress. In fact, right now, we would put this game up there with the best on the PS3 to date including Killzone 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4. The characters all look superb, especially the enemies, with quite a variety on offer, and some great animation. Bosses too, often taking up multiple screens, are stunning. Chris and Sheva also look superb, but it's the variety of locations from African villages, to swamps to a large cargo ship that really manages to impress. The locations not only look realistic, but items have a purpose for being where they are, the African town for example has shops and items around the street, the cargo ship has, well, containers.

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Now that's an explosion!?
Not to be outdone the audio in this game is also top notch. We've already mentioned the brilliant voice acting, both in terms of scripting and delivery, and it's fair to say that the game isn't losing marks there. Neither will it lose marks for the sound effects. Each of the weapons has a different and realistic sound, while the "zombies" - if you can really call them that - have menacing cries and howls. To top it all off the game has some wonderful music composed by Kota Suzuki and performed by the 103-piece Hollywood Studio Symphony which changes pace in tempo with the on-screen action.

While there are some very minor issues with this game it remains a masterful creation and a highlight of current generation gaming. Stunning graphics, and brilliant locations and battles makes this another superb game in the Resident Evil franchise. Forget any negativity you may read about online, and just buy this brilliant game. Resident Evil 5 is another stunning title.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSCharacters and locations all look wonderful. This is a visually impressive game.
SOUNDGreat music and effects, but its the speech that stands out.
GAMEPLAYFreezing to the spot to shoot isn't as bad as it sounds. A very fun title.
VALUEThe Versus mode should be included in the price, a game you will replay though.
OVERALLResident Evil 5 is a fantastic title with great visuals and gameplay. One for fans of the franchise to purchase now!

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