You might remember back when the demo for Resident Evil 5 was released, I was less than kind to it. The demo definitely did not do the game any favors. There wasn’t good pace to it, throwing you into situations you were not quite prepared for. There was also no story setup, so the situation had no reference.
Having played the real game, the demo complaints are mostly still valid. Some, such as setup and story, are corrected in the actual game, creating context for the action. The controls are still overly obtuse, and often seem to make the gameplay unneccessarily complex. But despite these complaints, Resident Evil 5 succeeds in the single most important area: it is fun.
The game is fantastically fun. It is fun single player; it is fun split-screen; it is fun online co-op. I have beaten the game twice, once online co-op and once offline single player. I am in the middle of two more co-op playthroughs, one online and one offline. I have unlocked every weapon and found every treasure. I have nearly gotten all of the achievements. And yet I am still going back for more.
This desire to keep playing is very much tied up in the persistent nature of your progress. Everything you upgrade, unlock, and collect be persistent across every game you play. You take your equipment from co-op to single player and back to co-op without any problems. Unlocked unlimited ammo for your shotgun? You can use it in any game you play, even with those who have not unlocked such features. The game even lets you keep items you find when you quit a level early. You lose any unsaved progress, but your stuff? It’s yours to take with you. Every level can be revisited and replayed, allowing you to hunt for treasures, weapons, and other hidden items as you would like, without having to replay the entire game as a whole.
All this encourages you to keep coming back. Even if you only have 15 minutes to play, you can make progress toward improving your character. This ever increasing power level ties into the difficulty as well. The items you collect and unlock make you stronger over time, allowing you to face great and greater challenges. The first time we encountered the chainsaw welding majini, it was an epic boss fight. By the ended of the game, we could face two back-to-back and survive. By the second playthrough, they were barely a speedbump. This creates a feeling of true accomplishment.
In my original Resident Evil post, I talked a great deal of the poor design decisions in my post about the demo. And while those complaints are not all gone in the retail game, the enjoyment overcomes those problems. It is a fantastic game and well worth playing, especially with a friend. I look forward to what Resident Evil 6 has in store for us. Maybe by then I will be sick of 5. Maybe.