Head over heels for gadgets!
I've been a huge fan of Resident Evil ever since my friends Dad was playing Resident Evil 1 on his Playstation. I remember going over there and watching him as he walked into that first room where you find a mysterious creature that eerily turns it's head only to find out it's a zombie eating one of your squad members. That scene has stuck quite well in my mind for the past ten years.
And in those past ten years, Capcom has managed to crank out many more Resident Evil titles, all of which I've thoroughly enjoyed! On Friday (March 13, 2009) they released the 5th title in the series (although there are others, like Outbreak, Dead Aim, etc...) and although I didn't make the midnight launch, I was there promptly on Friday after work let out. I also snagged the guide, mostly for the artwork and for some tips on where to find the emblems throughout the game.
I didn't actually start playing until a bit later in the evening since I had to get some chores done and my friend who I planned to co-op through the game with was at some evening meetings. Finally around 10pm or so, we got together on Xbox LIVE and started it up!
During the last month or so we've been able to get our hands on the demo and I've heard lots of good things and bad things about the game. The biggest thing that came up was people didn't like the controls at all. I personally had some issues getting used to the controls especially after playing the previous versions of the series. Normally when you go into your inventory the game will pause and you can combine, equip items and not have to worry about being attacked. In Resident Evil 5, this does not hold true, they seem to opt for a "hot key" inventory where you can switch between 1 of 4 items in your inventory. This caused me to get chopped in half a couple times when I was trying to either switch to a gun that had ammunition or pull out and use a medical item. After the first 30 minutes or so, I did get used to the control scheme. I advise people turn up the Aiming speed to either Fast or Fastest as it'll greatly help. A few other control issues we had were when both teammates were required to complete an objective, mainly opening doors.
The game itself is rather well done, I would give it a 9.5/10. That said, I really felt like this was just another action game. It truly only felt like I was playing a Resident Evil game one out of the 10 or so hours I played it. The control style, the camera, the game environment/level design, the zombies all felt like something from an entirely different game.
The level designs are absolutely beautiful, vibrant and bright, which is exactly what Resident Evil is NOT! When I think of Resident Evil, I think of dark, gothic, and gloomy mansion where zombies are slowly crawling around. Resident Evil 5 has done almost the complete opposite. The zombies in this game seem a lot smarter and they sure are a lot faster then previous games. It feels like they're really not zombies at all, but deranged and pissed off people.
They're not as slow and dumb as zombies in previous Resident Evils which attributes to making it feels like it really is an entirely different game. I felt like Capcom shouldn't have strayed this far from what they had built up in previous games. The game no longer feels like it's apart of the survival horror genre which is Capcom's bread and butter. It really just feels like another action game. For example, at one point in the game you encounter about 20-25 Lickers, and I felt like that really took away from how cool the Licker was. It was one badass, mutant animal, and was only rarely encountered and surely never in more then two or three at a time.
One of the few points throughout the game where you actually feel like you're playing a Resident Evil game is when you're on the boat. The level design is far darker then any of the other stages throughout the game and feels much more like you're in 'Resident Evil' (if there is such a thing). Don't get me wrong though, I really liked most of not all of the levels and their designs. You can tell a lot of thought was put into each and every area.
Character design (including Chris, Jill, Sheva, Wesker, Excella, bosses, Majini/zombies) was also very well done and impressed me. I believe in a video that came out around the time the demo did, the designers and producers were talking about how many revisions of Sheva they went through and finally after many of them, they all agreed on something. I also paged through the artwork in the player's guide and in there they included some of the revisions of her. One of the designers mentioned getting so fed up that he threw a lot of the other revisions away! The boss designs were unique and very well done. The final version of Wesker was quite crazy! The attention to detail in the characters is something that really stood out too me, especially Chris and Sheva.
I really enjoyed the documents left around the level as they bring back some GREAT memories, and add to the plot. There were even a few tidbits in there that I either didn't remember or were totally new too me. I managed to collect 10/12 'Files' in the game, I think I remember the player's guide mentioning something about the last 2 being pretty well hidden away, although I cannot remember what it says one must do in order to get them.
Another aspect of the game that is new to me (and possibly to the series) is the ability to upgrade your guns throughout the game. In previous Resident Evil games you just pick up a weapon and that's it. In Resident Evil 5 when you pickup a gun, it's added to the Store and you can also upgrade various aspects of the weapon. I stuck with the default pistol and the H&K MP5 as my main weapons, but I did manage to snag an AK-47, RPG, and the Jail Breaker (a shotgun). Aspects you can upgrade include ammunition capacity, piercing strength, reload speeds, and more! Each upgrade costs money which brings me to my next point.
In Resident Evil 5, you can collect gold throughout the levels. This gold is in turn used to purchase weapons and items from the store, or to upgrade your weapon. I believe this is the first Resident Evil game to use this method, and I actually like it. Also throughout the levels are "treasures" which can be sold for gold. The ability to upgrade your weapons, adds a bit of the RPG genre and I for one welcome it.
You can also use points you get by completing chapters to purchase figurines. What purpose the figurines provide is beyond me, I guess just collecting them is the cool thing to do. I have yet to purchase any, but when I do, I'll let y'all know! :)
One thing my friend and I both commented on was how well done the soundtrack to this game is, and we're both planning on getting (when and if it comes out). That said, this pretty much wraps up my thoughts about the game. I am very impressed with it, although I do think a few things could have been done differently. Here's to hoping Capcom reverts back to their older style and takes Resident Evil 6 back into a true survival horror game.