It's a good game. Actually, it's quite a good game. Which is a shame because it's a big ol' letdown. Anyone expecting an innovative classic re-imagining of the series is going to be hugely disappointed.
Save the amazing presentation (the graphics are eye-meltingly good) there's nothing
new in this title that in any way feels a worthy original addition to the series. Its stunning set-pieces and gunplay, for all their pros, feel hollow when you remember how much you enjoyed this experience when it was fresh in 2005
The co-op play is fun but critically flawed and should never - ever - have been made into the game's USP. Replacing zombies with ganados, I can handle. Axing most of the puzzles in favour of ostentatious set-pieces? Cool. Destroying any sense of fear or suspense by surgically grafting a partner to your hip? Unforgivable.
It would have made a nice extra, but even if it had been implemented far more elegantly than it actually has been, it has no place in a numbered Res Evil. That's why we have side games. I enjoyed the Umbrella Chronicles very much, but would not have been at all pleased had RE5 been a rail shooter. RE
utbreak's cooperative play had its moments but it would just be silly to make the sequel to the universally praised RE4 into a monotonous ill-conceived co-op-athon, right?
Also, while the franchise's storyline has never been its strong point, the character motivations and revelations in this game feel like they were penned some ninety-percent into the game's development, in order to fit into the template of the (again I must admit, quite good) action game posing as my beloved Resi.
At one point our musclehead hero Chris calls the antagonist's scheme "something a comic book villain would do." In the earlier games there were always pleasing little moments of self-awareness and self-parody, but in RE5, I felt it was meant to be taken as a serious condemnation of the bad guy's (ass-pulled and baffling) plot.
Also, Capcom? The goofy lark that is Resident Evil does not require pathetically hamfisted themes of camaraderie and sacrifice. What it needs is more lickers (an enemy, which to the game's credit, makes a welcome return) and deranged midgets.
The game's finale is admittedly, a stunning visual and visceral climax, but when it was over, I felt something that I've never felt after playing a true RE title before. Relief. Not that I had survived, but that the soulless experience was over.
Resident Evil 5 (like Silent Hill 5) has lost sight of what made it great. If Resi 1 was a tense, paranoid, jittery S.T.A.R.S officer conserving ammo for fear of encountering something
in the next corridor, and Resi 4 was a corny, wise-ass secret agent triumphantly roundhousing zombie cultists while being gayer than Paris in Springtime, Resi 5 is like the suffocating Neptune that you discover in the original game after having drained the water from the Aqua Circle; a flapping, flaccid shadow of a once awesome and mighty beast.
That said, it's still a great game and you should definitely buy it.