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37 Reviews

Resident Evil 5

One of the best games ever gets co-op. What could go wrong?

Expectations have been incredibly high for the latest instalment in Capcom's long-running survival horror series, not at all a surprise when you consider just how revolutionary its predecessor was.

For those of you ultra-hardcore Xbox fans who may have missed the game in its Gamecube, PS2, PC and Wii forms, Resident Evil 4 effectively wiped the slate clean for the previously stagnating zombie series, only to completely submerge said slate deep in more gore than ever before.

The plodding pace and pointless puzzles of the previous games were out; RE4 placed the emphasis on twitchy gunplay against fast-moving enemies, with a new manual, over-the-shoulder viewpoint and the introduction of a laser sight to vastly improve aiming accuracy.

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Instead of a handful of dopey brain-munchers to calmly pick off in each area, RE4 featured hordes of fast-moving Spanish natives inflicted with the Las Plagas virus, who would relentlessly and intelligently scramble after you up ladders, force their way through blocked doors and crash through battened-down windows.

If ever there was a game designed to halt your breathing and get the blood rushing to your head, it was Capcom's last-gen masterpiece.

Now, four years on, we finally have Resident Evil 5. But is it epic enough to rewrite the rules once again for the survival horror series? Sadly the answer is, 'not really'. And it stings us to say it - like a chainsaw to the clavicle.

RE5 has you playing once again as Chris Redfield, ex-STARS agent who debuted in the original PSone game and was last seen in RE: Code Veronica.

In the ten years or so since the events of the original Resi, Chris has left STARS and joined the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA), an organisation that dispatches him to Africa to investigate a fresh outbreak of the Las Plagas virus. Here he unites with Sheva Alomar, a fellow BSAA operative who was orphaned at a young age after her parents fell victim to the experiments of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation.

Sheva remains by your side for the game's entirety (a second player can take control of her at any time as part of the game's drop-in/drop-out co-op play), and initially we thought her to be a welcome addition.

She's particularly beneficial if you place all your First Aid sprays and green herbs in her inventory, as she'll automatically apply them to you whenever you're close to death - it's like kicking ass with your own personal paramedic at your side.

For the most part, Sheva will operate fairly intelligently and autonomously. She'll melee crates and pick up items, hand you ammo if you run dry, and save you if you find yourself tangled up in a Licker's tongue or grappling with one of the Granados. Yep, at first we thought that Sheva was a bit of alright

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Then we noticed something curious. A couple of hours into the game, as the enemies were getting stronger and growing in numbers, Sheva seemed happy to rely on the underpowered handgun in order to defend herself. Even after we'd loaded her up with a shotgun and machine gun, she was stubbornly content to plug away with the pistol.

Here's where the frustration set in. You see, while you can determine which items Sheva will keep in her own separate inventory, you can't manually decide for her which weapon to equip. And given the choice, she'll always choose the handgun.

The only way to force her to use something else is to take every other weapon away from her except the one you want her to use. Which is a pretty ridiculous workaround, as when she inevitably runs out of ammo for that weapon and needs a replacement, you'll then have to faff about with the new inventory screen in order to give her back her precious bloody handgun - not so good during a boss fight.

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