I acknowledge that RE5 is not a survival-horror game. It’s a buttery-smooth 3rd-person shooter set in sun-baked Africa. When you’re in Spain, you kill zombie Spaniards. When you’re in Africa, you kill zombie Africans. Fuck you, Adam Sessler.
To get it out of the way, the story is pretty by-the-numbers, but tends to play like a buddy cop film that’s in on the joke, using hokey meta-dialogue to its utmost advantage. Unfortunately, some important details are relegated to text files.
Ultimately, RE5 succeeds entirely because of the gameplay, which improves greatly upon the engine debuted in 4. Weapons and items can now be mapped to the d-pad, and the menu has been shrunk drastically. Pausing is for sissies. Infinite ammo is available for all weapons, even if you initially have to dig through menus to turn the option on in TWO SEPARATE PLACES. You can personalize your arsenal quickly through regular playthroughs or grind in levels designed for amassing money and the points necessary to unlock each weapon’s infinite ammo, additional costumes, visual filters, and collectible figurines. Your arsenal carries across into the Veteran and Professional modes and you’ll need it. You’re dead in 1-2 hits on Professional.
The biggest addition, of course, is the co-op. My online experiences with friends were the best I’ve had to date. Playing with strangers comes with all the usual pitfalls and it should be noted that if you’re thinking of using cheats, a person with a cleared save file will have to host any online sessions. In terms of playing alone, I found the AI to be incredibly helpful on my first playthrough. After that, Sheva became incompetant in equal measure to my mastery. Her biggest flaw is her propensity to use healing items the second she gets her hands on them.
In addition to co-op, the kill-streak-for-points fan favorite Mercenaries mode returns with both co-op and a competitive iteration in the form of Versus. Characters can be unlocked via earned points on each map or purchased with bonus points. The Gold variant of the game comes with all dlc released up to that point, including two new scenarios giving over control of notable NPCs and providing an immense amount of fanwank for fans of the first Resident Evil.
If you want a big, knowingly dumb, but superbly executed action-shooter with Resident Evil trappings, don’t pass this by.
Buyer’s Guide: Available on the PS3 and Xbox 360. There is some graphical white-out in a few of the later levels due to flash grenades on the PS3. Alternatively, the entirety of the extra content of Gold is provided via dlc codes for Xbox as it could not fit on the 360’s discs. If you want to permanently have the additional content available to you, go with the PS3 version. The original iteration of the game appears to have been on PC, as well.
3½ ‘Ikuze, aibou’s out of 5