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Evil in Residence
The Resident Evil series has been one of the great success stories in recent years. From humble beginnings on the PlayStation this blend of zombies, evil corporations and horrible mutant creatures intent on sucking out your bone marrow has gone multi-platform and spawned a series of games and films. Resident Evil 5 is the latest iteration and it arrived on the PC in September. Happily for PC gamers the wait was definitely worth it, consoles may have gotten it first but this PC port is well handled. It looks absolutely terrific and there is an exclusive Mercenaries mode thrown in as an added temptation.
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The story picks up with Chris Redfield, one of the survivors from the first game. He has left STARS behind to join a new organisation, the BSAA (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance). The writers certainly love their acronyms. In this chapter he has been sent to Africa to investigate a nasty outbreak and he is partnered with local Sheva Alomar. The story weaves the usual blend of familiar faces with new characters as yet another twisted bunch of evil doers have released yet another hideous strain of infection on an unsuspecting populace.
This is a third-person shooter and since it was designed for consoles they have had to completely rework the control system. It is easy to master with mouse and keyboard using the WASD standard. They’ve also thrown in aim with right mouse and fire with left as well as an instant spin button to run away and a knife slash. You can also hit the numbers to quick equip inventory items and this system is infinitely superior to the console method.
Most of the time you are exploring run down shanty town areas or swamps or caves which appear to be deserted but actually contain hordes of infected. The infected in this game are far from straightforward zombies. They are fast, rabid and they use weapons. They also have a horrible habit of splitting open to reveal monsters within, an effect which conjures up memories of the film The Thing.
The game is completely linear and narrow corridor levels give way to rail vehicle sections. They have ditched the quick time events for this version and the Versus Mode is also gone but you won’t miss them. There is Mercenaries Mode where you can slaughter as many enemies as possible with a friend. There is also No Mercy Mode which is a solo suicide mission which really lives up to the name.
Resident Evil 5 plays well on the PC and, rather than slapping the console version out with minimal tweaks, they really have thought about it. The flaws in character control and the occasionally irritating camera are problems that the Resident Evil series has never really managed to solve but fans will be used to that by now. There is nothing that really detracts from the epic action and this is a stunning horror game.
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The game looks fantastic. The Majini are detailed and menacing, the glistening twisted monsters you’ll encounter are terrifying and the environments have real atmosphere. The characters and animations are expertly handled and for the most part the camera direction is excellent. Ideally you want a dual or quad core machine with 4 GB of RAM and a good video card. The game is actually optimized for Corei7’s and it will run on Windows 7 but it looks great on a lesser system too. The game also supports 3D for those of you with nVidia 3D Vision glasses. There are some frame rate drops when things get really busy but that’s forgivable. Resident Evil 5 provides a real spectacle with scares aplenty, as you would expect. It is a real visual treat on the PC and the clarity and depth of detail easily beats the console version.
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As with good horror films the sound plays a very important role in terms of scaring the audience. The soundtrack is perfectly cued here to suck you in and make you feel as though you are part of a survival horror experience. The weaponry and ambient audio add a touch of reality and the moans and roars of the various nasties are spine tingling. As usual the weak point is the voiceovers, but hey this is Resident Evil, it’s traditional. To be honest the voiceover work is pretty decent for the most part.
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This is where Resident Evil 5 really comes into its own. The co-operative play is just great fun and the game really shines when you play through with a friend. You can hook up online via Games for Windows Live. If your friend can’t hack the horror and drops out they will be replaced by an AI character. You can also play with mates in the excellent Mercenaries Mode. It has clearly been designed for co-op play and by sharing out the weaponry and covering each other you can get out of sticky situations that you would never survive alone. The multiplayer aspect adds a great deal of replay value and is worth coming back for long after you’ve completed the game.
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Resident Evil 5 is another installment in the most successful horror franchise in gaming and in many ways it just hits you with more of the same. The real stand out reason to buy this is the co-operative gameplay. It is also one of the best console to PC ports in recent years and if you never played it on the console and you have a decent PC then this version has the edge. Fans will have already bought this, but for people who’ve lost touch with the series this is a good place to pick it up, just make sure you bring a friend along for the ride.