8.5

"Resident Evil 5" brings nothing new to the franchise, aside from a thrilling online co-op mode.

When "Resident Evil 4" appeared in 2004, first on the Gamecube and then on the PlayStation 2, it was a miracle of reinvention for a series badly in need of one. The over-the-shoulder view replaced the isometric backdrop of the previous games, but the new format retained enough of the old flavour -and not to mention control scheme- to make it feel like a classic Resi game. "Resident Evil 5" is simply an expertly-made, online-enabled and often lushly-presented continuation of this trend. Although this really comes as no surprise, the series is starting to show its age, and Resi 5 should be seen as an action game for Resi fans rather than the new, younger breed of game fans raised on titles such as "Gears Of War" 1 and 2, and first-person shooters.

Resi 5 is what you would expect from a top-tier game made by Capcom: good graphical presentation, wonderful character animation in cut scenes, wooden characters, a story and dialogue that appears to have been written on a napkin in a lunch break, predictable set-pieces and huge, ridiculous boss fights. In short, a general air of competent, don't-wreck-a-selling-formaula malaise hangs over the whole production.

The much-vaunted graphical rehash is pretty impressive, although the backgrounds still retain the pre-rendered vibe of classic Resident Evil games. The detail, right from dust, detail on brickwork, lens flare and little bugs scurrying around the environments, to partner Sheva Alomar's bronzed skin and Chris Redfield's rippling biceps is impressive. However, the very contrasty colour palette remains a constant issue: dark colours constantly bleed into lighter colours, presumable in an effort to replicate the blinding, enervating sunlight of Africa. There is also a nagging air of inconsistency and laziness in some of the presentation, compared to other stunning games I have played recently, such as "Killzone 2".

One of the main selling points of the game is the presence of a partner. While this wrecks any real sense of terror, it provides ample opportunity for an on- and offline co-op mode. Co-op is tremendous fun, although the inability to trade weapons and ammo with online partners in real time is irritating. Of course, this mode depends on the ability of the person you are playing with, but sometimes you will uncover a new approach to tackling a certain section or even using weapons in the game by watching your partner.

However, the main issue with the game is simply the control scheme. While Resi 4 could get away with continuing the ponderous and static turn-and-shoot model of the older games, Resi 5 is a next-gen game. The generally good presentation only goes to highlight the absurdity of a supposedly tough, muscle-bound character being forced to fire weapons while standing still, then turn, run away to reload, and then repeat the process. The absence of any reliable dodge technique being mapped permanently to a controller button and the still rather ponderous reactions of the controllable characters only add to the irritation.

Perhaps the crux of the new game problem is this: as the game is no longer a survival horror game, with a fully-armed and very capable sidekick at your side virtually the whole time taking much of the horror out of the survival, the vulnerability that comes with this control scheme has disappeared. The controls now seem slow rather than heightening any tension.

"Resident Evil 5" is a very good addition to the Resident Evil canon. It doesn't break any barriers down to those who have always hated Resi games, or to those raised on the run-and-gun masterworks of the last few years, such as the Gears Of War games. And it certainly doesn't add more than expected to its illustrious predecessor. Capcom doesn't care, because they have sold millions of units of the game already. But perhaps this should mark the end of the tank-like control scheme so famous in Resi games. Running and shooting? Perhaps Chris, Sheva, et al. need to learn a little multitasking.

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