Resident Evil 5 was one of the most explosive releases of its time, re-introducing us to gameplay mechanics that were a long-forgotten trope and showing a side to the Resident Evil formula that was always thought to be way out of its scope. Move over Gears of War, a new force in the action-horror genre had arrived.
Over the last few months, a friend and I have been on a mission to play as many couch co-op games as we can and it’s been quite an adventure indeed. We started out having wild shootouts in Borderlands, then chilled things out with a run of A Way Out, and now, we’ve turned up the heat with a run of the late 2000’s gem, resident Evil 5.
This was one of my favorite games back in the day and I couldn’t wait to dive into the streets of Kijuju again to start slaying some zombies. Especially since I would be joined by another player that I can communicate with effectively this time around this time and not relying on the occasionally unreliable A.I. as I did before.
So, after more than 10 years on the shelf, is this classic of the action-horror genre still the powerhouse it used to be? Is the story of Resident Evil’s first African adventure still worth re-telling? Well, there’s only one way to find out. So, without further ado, let’s see if Resident Evil 5 is still good in 2021.
RESIDENT EVIL 5 REVIEW
So, What’s It All About?
Resident Evil 5 tells the story of Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar, two agents from the newly formed Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), who meet in the fictional town of Kijuju, Africa to take down a suspected terrorist threat and arms dealer, Irving. But, when they arrive in the area, they find the locals have been exposed to the very Bio Weapon they came to investigate.
Chris and Sheva have to track down Irving and put a stop to the viral threat that could soon take over the entire world while also discovering the truth about Chris’ missing partner, Jill Valentine. It’s all the crazy action and over-the-top storytelling that the series has steadily become known for and more.
Following in the footsteps of Resident Evil 4, this game ditches the old tank controls and fixed camera angles of before and instead puts players right in the driver’s seat with an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective but still limits your movement by forcing your character to stand still while aiming down sights.
A true staple of the series, the traditional healing powers of the great Red and Green herb are here as well to be looted and collected along with incredibly limited sources of ammunition and, with 2 players on screen at the same time, items and inventory space can be shared to maximize the workload.
Enemies come in a large variety from common infected to Gatling-gun wielding behemoths, to some nasty bug-like creatures ready to send you to an instant game over. But, with enough strategy and forethought, they can all be taken down efficiently and provide a decent challenge in the game.
Then, What’s Good About It?
While Sheva’s A.I. has been known to be a bit troublesome in the past, Having her controlled by another player completely changed the experience for me and made me wish that there were more co-op survival horror games to get stuck into. Resource management is one thing when you’re solo but having a teammate to strategize and communicate with was too good.
As linear as the game may be, I never felt like I was in the same environment twice. Each new chapter brought amazing new scenery that kept things unpredictable. From humble villages to ancient tombs and even some grand scientific facilities, it felt as if I could never predict how the next location would look.
Gunplay is hit and miss at times but when it’s good, it’s really good and kept me experimenting as much as I could whenever I was able to find a new weapon within the map. Due to the limited amount of resources between two players, buying brand new weapons was rarely an option.
And, What’s Bad About It?
Despite the fact that this wasn’t exclusively a horror game, I kind of missed the terror I used to feel from previous titles and even the newer games. Having a co-op partner was great but it drastically reduced any tension and suspense that I felt the first time I played the game on Xbox 360.
A lot of the boss battles seemed very simplified and often required one simple trick to defeat with a weak spot that inconsistently appears in the direst situations. I personally just felt more annoyed by these bosses than I felt threatened or even challenged, and there aren’t any memorable moments, to say the least.
I think the stiff controls that make this gameplay what it is don’t lend well to the pseudo-fast-paced action sequences that the game throws you into. I would’ve preferred to be a lot more mobile in a lot of situations and felt kinda ridiculous when zombies would stare at me patiently waiting to take a bullet to the head.
Should I Play It?
If you’ve got a friend ready to pour hours into an action-packed zombie experience then you should definitely take the time out to play this game. Most of what I remember about it are the incredible moments of teamwork and comradery along the way. But if you’re going at it solo, you might not get the same experience.
With questionable A.I. that can hamper your experience at any turn, it’s the worst way to go, to say the least. Still, I wouldn’t say no to a playthrough on my own since I wouldn’t have to share the scarce amount of money and resources as equally as I did now.
Have you played Resident Evil 5 co-op or solo? What do you think of the differences between those two experiences? Let me know in the comments section below.