It came from the pre-owned: Resident Evil 5

Bought for: £10 (As part of Two for £20 section) – Blockbuster UK

Format: Xbox 360 (version played), PS3

Released to almost universal critical acclaim, Resident Evil 5 (RE5) divided gamers. With it’s focus firmly on Hollywood action as opposed to atmospheric horror, the game alienated some fans of the series’ original formula while winning completely new fans.

For whatever reason I never played RE5 upon its release. I played the demo and it just didn’t float my boat in the way RE4 did on the Gamecube years before. Paying £40 can be a big gamble, but for a tenner, and a willingness to reconsider my first impressions, I decided to give it another go.

First impressions second time around?: Action, action, action. From the first moments in the shanty towns to the final sections of the game, everything explodes, bites, shoots, sprints, jumps, screams and lunges at you. It’s a new type of fear, it’s a panic. Fearful of being overwhelmed, isolated from your partner or running out of ammo for the gun you really need to use. It’s not the same as the dog smashing through the window back on PS1, but it’s damn exciting.

The introduction of Chris’ new partner Sheva adds a completely new dynamic to proceedings. Having to look out for someone else, be it AI controlled or another human, means a lot of forward-thinking. Managing ammo, weapons and health items between both characters is essential, a weak partner is a difficult burden to carry.

Speaking of burdens, the AI of Sheva when playing alone can infuriating. Though it doesn’t occur too regularly, the moments when she can get stuck in a corner or stands directly in front of you as you try to use a grenade launcher can induce the kind of rage that destroys control pads. It isn’t game-breaking, but it’s not very fun either.

Weaponry in RE5 is a gun-nut’s dream. The extensive upgrading options from RE4 are back, with further improvements available and nice selection of new weaponry too. Deciding whether to put all your cash into upgrading a single gun to ridiculous levels or evenly upgrading each weapon is an enjoyable freedom.  Those that love to chase Achievements can bump their Gamerscore by fully upgrading each weapon.

Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Capcom took this advice to heart with the locales in RE5. Shanty towns, industrial complexes, labs and swamps are just a selection of the different areas Chris and Sheva will fight through on the way to the game’s climax. On-rails sections where your character takes a fixed gun emplacement reinforce that action movie theme that permeates the game.  Many scenes are so fun that I found myself playing through them multiple times.

Finishing the game’s story mode is merely scratching the surface of what RE5 has to offer.  After the first run through the game two new modes are unlocked, New Game+ and Mercenaries Mode. The first allows you to play through the game with the same collection of weapons gained from your first playthrough, allowing some ridiculously powerful weapons once they’re upgraded. Mercenaries is an absolute gem of a game mode and where I found myself plowing most of my time.

Taking sections from the main game, Mercenaries mode drops the player into an enclosed area with swathes of enemies, a strict time limit and the instruction to get as many points as possible.  Racking up multiple kills enables a combo that racks up the points quickly, and extensions to the main timer can be found around the levels as large hourglasses.

Completing each level gains a grade from A to D and trying to better your score is ridiculously addictive. It turns Resident Evil into an arcade game, basically doing what Sega’s “The Club” tried to do, but doing it a hundred times better. As levels are completed further characters with different weapon load-outs are unlocked. The fact a 3DS game based purely around this mode is imminent sums up how much of a success it has been with players. Mercenaries Mode alone was worth the £10.

RE5 also has a wealth of downloadable content, and since it has been out for so long, this content is now sold at a reduced price. For 960 MS Points (about £8) I purchased a pack with the two downloadable episodes “Lost in Nightmares” and “Desperate Escape”.

The extra content takes players through the details that lead up to RE5 and are referenced in the main game through flashbacks. With more focus on puzzle solving than action-movie combat, older fans of the series will lap it up.

As a full-priced title, Resident Evil 5 is an awesome package of content  that will keep me going back and replaying it for months to come. To pick it up pre-owned for a tenner is ridiculously good value for money. Add in the extra content that can be purchased and multiplayer options and it’s clear that Capcom have produced a wonderful addition to the Resident Evil series that is one of the best games available on current systems.

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