The Resident Evil series is one that you either love or hate. There doesn’t seem to be much in between, and for obvious reasons such as strict control schemes, odd camera angels, and a clunky inventory system that make Resident Evil 5, like it’s predecessors, feel a little out-dated. My first venture into the RE series was back in 1998 with RE2 on the original PlayStation. Since then, I’ve played all of the GameCube remakes and of course, the critically acclaimed RE4. Over the years I’ve watched the series evolve and have appreciated the strides Capcom has made to try and better the experience. While RE5 isn’t as much of a revolution to the series as RE4 was, it’s an incredible ride from start to finish, and one that fans of the series will not want to miss out on. At the same time, new comers should probably be weary and rent before buying.

Resident Evil 5

Back-Peddling a Little

With the exception of Leon Kennedy being the lead character in RE4, there really wasn’t much in that game that tied it to the previous games in the series. There was a new enemy force behind a parasite outbreak, as opposed to the evil Umbrella corporation and their bio-terrorism. RE5 takes a similar path parasites being responsible for the zombie-like baddies. But makes quick work of bringing many familiar faces and story arcs back into the forefront from past games. At first, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the direction it was going, but they’ve really done a great job of tying up lose ends and basically closing the book on the Umbrella chapter of the RE story. It feels like we’ll like see an entirely new direction with RE6.

Holy, Wow!

It’s truly amazing what the current generation consoles are capable of handling, when it comes to visuals and audio. I was floored by Killzone 2 on the PS3 just a few weeks ago, and now RE5 had me drooling wide-eyed yet again! It truly is a gorgeous game, despite being filling with some of the nastiest things we’ve yet witnessed in games. I remember a moment while playing RE4 with my wife where I said, “Can you even imagine how the next RE game is going to look?” While RE5 has lost a bit of the eeriness in return for more action based gameplay, the gross factor is still through the roof. Similarly, the sound effects and music are top notch. I don’t recall ever noticing the music in an RE game before, but I certainly did while playing RE5. There seems to be much more in the way of full orchestral music that kicks it at the appropriate moments to set the mood.

Sucky Controls… Blah, Blah!

I’ve already written about the controls, so I’m not going to get too into that topic. It basically boils down to the player. If you’re able to accept them, you’ll have a good time playing the game and will likely get through it without struggling too much with them. Play the demo a few times, and if you still haven’t grasped them, move along.

Resident Evil 5

At this point, my only beef is that I wish there was more in the way of free movements and actions. There are triggered melee attacks and the ability to take cover on certain objects, jump or climb when the game says so, etc. I would have liked to have been able to melee whenever I felt it was necessary, and had the ability to dive and roll out of the way.

Bring on the Boss Battles

What would a Resident Evil game be without epic boss battles? Well, it wouldn’t. And RE5 is packed with 16 awesome fights that are more enjoyable each time you play them. What was that? Oh, right.. there’s 17 boss battles. I was excluding the final one, as it was a massive step in the wrong direction and truly put a damper on the experience. Thankfully, I found a handy little trick with upgrading weapons that allowed me to stock up on ammo when I died, which helped me get through it eventually. But I ended up dying 20 times in the last chapter, while I had died at the most 2 times in any previous one.

“Thanks Partner”

Resident Evil 5 is the first game in the series to include co-op gameplay. Even while playing solo, your partner Sheva is with you from start to finish. There are times where you’ll get separate briefly and one is usually responsible for covering the other while a task is fulfilled. But Sheva’s always got your back. While she might not be the best ally ever, she’s at least there to double your inventory spots and is always good for a quick heal when your health bar is getting low. Not to mention, she’s a pleasant sight amongst all the nastiness the game dishes out.

Resident Evil 5

Playing solo is fun, but co-op is where it’s at. It’s truly a shame that the split-screen is as awful as it is. But thankfully, I’ve recently picked up a second Xbox 360 and will be playing through again locally with my wife.

Plenty of Replay Value

I believe I played through RE4 completely 3 times, and had started a fourth. The upgrade and unlockable system gave good reason to do so, and RE5 does a good job of keeping your focus even after completing the story. Aside from extra goodies, there’s a new mode called Mercenaries which first made an appearance in RE4. It’s basically a timed survival mode where you run around a small area as hordes close in on you. There are collectible items through-out which unlock even more goodies, including additional playable characters.

Not for Everyone

In short, RE5 is a fantastic game filled with additional modes and plenty of unlockables to keep you playing long after you’ve completed the story. Veterans of the series will have no problem picking up the controls and will enjoy every second. While new comers while either take some getting used to, or will flat out hate it. Having played through the game once myself, I know that I’ll be replaying it at least once more. And will likely play several rounds of Mercenaries. It’s safe to say, RE5 has a permanent place in my collection.

4/ 5
Resident Evil 5


I was definitely expecting a little more but all in all I thought the game was good. I think Capcom kept the control schemes awkward to make it "scarier?" RE5 wasn’t scary at all. "Fear you wont forget?" hardly.

nice review 🙂

Hey Matt, longtime reader of your blog here. Great review. I’m a newcomer to the RE franchise and played the RE5 demo recently. However, the controls were a nightmare for me, so I was wondering if the game’s easiest difficulty setting would be forgiving to someone who has never played an RE game. I usually play shooters on the higher difficulty settings so I’m still undecided if I should take the plunge and get in on the RE5 goodness. Cheers!

A friend of mine plays everything on hard from the get-go, and only made it a couple chapters into RE5 before calling it quits. I would recommend normal for those who have played RE4, and easy for new-comers. It’s a tough and brutal game, and struggling with the controls will make for a very unpleasant experience.

I totally share your opinion about RE5. Well… can’t really judge, cuz I just finished level 2-2 (or is it 2-3?). But I share the enthousiasme.

I never really played the previous RE-games (except the beginning of RE4), because I always was too frightened. So I’m one of the people who love that RE5 is more like an action-movie than horror.

True, there are some very gross things – and I probably have to seen the worst/best yet. But I love the controls. I think the controls give the game more tension. If you’ve had Gears of War / Call of Duty controls, you just would rush through and that’s it. Now there is tension and more.

I had to get used to the controls, but I love them. Never got frustrated and love the gameplay and everything.

So yeah. I share your enthousiasm and even have to see how co-op or Mercenaries is.

You haven’t seen anything yet. 😉 And it gets a bit darker as the game goes on. There were a few good jumps for me, and all some just down right creepy moments. They don’t last long, though. Not like Dead Space or anything, where you’re constantly on edge.

I haven’t been tempted yet, I must have downloaded the trailor on the PS3 almost a year ago. I was initially stunned by the graphics in the trailor and thought that the game looked amazing.

My brother downloaded the Demo, and after watching him playing it, I didn’t seem that impressed.

I too played the earliest RE games, and as I was only about 12 then, I played them more for the ‘Horror Movie’ factor than anything else, I used to sit there captivated by what was going on.

I think it’s all worn off with me now though, the new graphics, music and ‘Wow Factor’ of the new game doesn’t stimulate me enough to remind me of the good old days of playing RE2.

I think i’m going to take your advice Matt, and rent it first.

It’s a far cry from the older games where puzzle solving was a key aspect of the game play. It’s far more action than anything else these days, which likely appeals more to the North American crowd. I’m honestly not sure if I miss all the back-tracking and trial-and-error that the old games brought to the table.

There’s a way to defeat Wesker at the end that is almost embarrassingly easy:

Probably left in by the devs for those who ran out of ammo like I did during that battle.

All in all I enjoyed RE5 but I really hope they work on the control scheme and get back to the horror ambiance for RE6.

That’s funny, I didn’t even think to use the knife. I ended up taking him out pretty quick with a few bullets to the back, then a rocket to the chest. I missed that great hack and slash scene, though.

I was a big fan of the RE series back in the day. I really didn’t stick with each release, but I do recall playing the Gamecube versions an awful lot. I tried co-op for RE5 with a friend last week and it wasn’t all that bad. I definitely agree that the concept and the audio/visuals were superb. However, it was not so much the ackward controls as it was the slowness of the controls that did it for me. It just always would seem that I couldn’t turn fast enough or get my gun up quick enough to stop an attack at far or close ranges. It seemed that an enemy could throw their weapon at me, faster than I could get a shot off. But I had fun with it!

I have yet to pick this game up (if i pick it up). The demo really put me off, to me Resident Evil was all about being alone and trying to survive, RE2 was awesome for that effect, really made you feel like holy shit the whole town is zombies, and you have to try and survive. RE4 which seems the same as RE5 was just too action orientated for me, but totally lacked on actually action-realism, for example in RE2 when you shoot a zombie, dependent on where you shoot them you get different effects such as exploding heads, arms falling off, legs blown off, etc. In RE4 there was none of this, no matter where you shot them you got the same reaction, and then they just boiled away, dunno just killed it for me. The environments arn’t as cool either, Raccoon City and the mansions were awesome places to explore, but the places I have seen in RE5 don’t seem all that interesting. Dunno RE5 just isn’t floating my boat, and I’ve been a die-hard fan since the series began and own them all. Other games like BioShock 2 have me much more excited.