This game is probably already on your shelf. If its not, and you didnt get it around when it was originally released, Ill be honest. I feel sad for you. This game is really very good. A vast improvement over Resident Evil 4, it actually brings valid ties back to Umbrella Corp. and the original game characters. I believe its late enough to include spoilers in my review... most people have played the game by this point. Anyway, no surprise... Albert Wesker makes his official appearance back into the series, and is recognized by Chris Redfield who saw him last in Resident Evil: Code Veronica (although officially, there is going to be a game soon released detailing the flashback mission seen in RE5 that will star Chris and Jill Valentine. During this flashback mission they come across Wesker in the Spencer Mansion immediately after killing Spencer himself, the originator of the virus outbreaks in Raccoon City). In Resident Evil 5 you are joined by a new character, Sheva Alomar, a native of Africa. She is part of an organization the like of S.T.A.R.S., and a handy backup character.
Thusly, RE5 enables you to play active coop missions in RE5 either in local or online multiplayer missions. You can invite friends only to your game, or select an option to let people randomly join you in your game at any point. I love this feature. It moves flawlessly, and frequently you find your back against the wall unless you have someone along for the ride helping you out. The only downfall is that occasionally you come across someone who plays badly, is uncooperative, screams a lot, or lags out pathetically. Although this isnt frequent, it can put a damper on thie enjoyment of the gameplay. Nonetheless, whether your comrade cooperates or not, you can merely charge forward, or leave the game and change the option. The best bet to avoid this situation is to set the game to 'Invite Only' so your friends may join or choose the option to not allow any online players at all. Its probably best the first playthrough to avoid playing online anyhow, as most gamers have all the unlockables at this point and will merely complain that you dont have 'infinite ammo' activated and will leave your game anyway, causing you to restart. Pain in the ass. Try to stick to friend play until you have achieved one or two wins in the game. It wont take you long, the game is nice and challenging but not excruciatingly difficult, until you play on Pro at least. Veteran is bracingly challenging, and my preferred option to play. So even if you havent played the series, dont start on Amateur! Its not that hard. Its not short, but not overlong... which is nice. There are plenty of unlockables in this game and it takes a while to amass them all, collect lots of items and save them to sell, hold back on ammo and stockpile it when you can. Youll unlock things all the faster. Each main character has two other costume modes, and nice unlockable weapons as well.
The game has a great story, especially if you follow the rest of the series, personally I was on the edge of my seat. Bit disappointed with the ending, actually. Anticipating further developments to be announced by Capcom on this... (grumble heh heh). Nevertheless, I was very impressed with the game, from beginning to end, and not complaining. My complaint with the ending is a personal preference, and I found myself in quite a minority when I brought it up to other gamers. (-_-) The boss battles are worth every moment, considering how fantastic the game graphics are even though the cutscenes arent real-time they are close, and beautifully choreographed. The game mechanics are great, even though at times Sheva isnt the best partner in battle, at least you can sub in a real player for her (and you can even switch to playing the game as Sheva and have people sub as Chris). The game is generated to be cooperative in every sense, to taking turns with traps or door switches, distracting boss characters as a decoy, or solving puzzles together. There are plenty of hidden treasures to be had, as well. Some of these can only be reached after the first playthrough, or not even several playthroughs later, when you have gained infinite ammo weapons or at least powered your weapons to full capacity. The variety of villians is fun, from crazed zombie villagers to mad giants to monster bat-centipedes (no kidding) to crocodiles. The game system catalogues each kill you make, how much ammo you used, your firing accuracy, length of gameplay, and various other things besides. You collect files and toy trophies from the game menu to enjoy, similar to the speaking bottle-cap trophies in RE4. The game story files recap the series and the gaps in the story up to the present in the game. Throughout the game itself you find files (similar to the original games! A feature I was excited to see used again in such depth of detail) that slowly illuminate the mystery of the connection between Tricell and Umbrella Corp. and the individuals involved. Old beloved creatures make a reappearance, such as spiders and the infamous Lickers, not seen since Resident Evil 2!
There are two other game modes to choose from. Mercenaries is similar to the minigame featured in older Resident Evil titles, and allows you to play as characters from the game you dont normally get to play such as Wesker, or Jill. The point is to beat missions within a set time limit, taking down as many enemies as possible. Each character is set to have a certain weapon or weapons, and healing items. This game has a multiplayer option. As you beat levels you unlock characters, and further unlock levels.
The other game mode is one that must be bought and downloaded seperately, called Versus. This allows you to fight against other people online in death matches. A variety of characters are also included in this to choose from.
All in all, I found Resident Evil 5 to be the best game in the series since Resident Evil 3. I give the game a 9.5. To be fair, this is practically a 10. Very few games in my opinion achieve an actual 10 rating, and I would hardly pass that out haphazardly. A 10-rated game would have to roundly satisfy a wide variety of expectations. Resident Evil 5, for me, just nearly did that.
Edit: The release of extra content and most importantly the Gold Edition of the game changes things. The Gold Edition takes all the online content you can buy online and puts it in one shiny package. It comes with the missions "Lost in Nightmares" which is the awaited mission with Chris and Jill in the Spencer Mansion just before the actual events of RE5. It is also the mission I was most anxious to play... Anyway, the other mission is "Desperate Escape" and is led by Josh and Jill escaping the island as the events get closer to the end of RE5. Both are rather short, but entertaining in their way. "Lost in Nightmares" is fraught with puzzles and monsters, and "Desperate Escape" is where you'll meet your zombie horde. The extra content in the Gold Edition that was earlier made available online is a series of new costumes for Sheva and Chris, for Sheva a business attire outfit and a fairytale outfit. For Chris there is a mercenary outfit and a warrior outfit. This brings the total of costumes for each character up to 5. The pack also includes the Mercenaries mode, with new unlockable characters. The pack includes Versus mode, in which you can play against other players rather than A.I. There are also extra figurines included. So in all, plenty of new content and bundled together for a very fair price.
Of course, those lucky folks who dont have to make the decision 'hmm, get the Gold Edition even though Ive already downloaded all the content just so I can play the 'Move' version when it is released?' But then, we dont know if the Move version will even be worth it. But I do envy those people who never bought RE5 and walked in the store and said, 'Hey, Gold Edition. Extra missions, extra costumes, extra mercenaries, plus VS all in one pack? Cool!' and bought it. This is because they are getting the whole package for one cheap price, and didnt have to fuss with downloads and surcharges, and wont have to worry when the Move version comes out, (if its any good). Its just another example of Capcom squeezing every last dollar out of our wallets. Oh, no, we dont want to bother satisfying all those customers who already bought the game and all that DLC and spent all that money... they will just have to trade in their game (and plan on getting around $10 for it if you are lucky) and all that DLC will be worthless because when you spend MORE money buying the Gold Edition your DLC becomes worthless... its in the Gold Edition anyway... But why bother buying the Gold Edition? Merely for the curiosity of finding out if the Move edition is good? Perhaps. But it certainly irks me... oh, it really irks me... all that content gets released, and on top of that, they released a Limited Edition that came with merchandise (a satchel, a necklace, a figurine and a metal case) but that edition had no DLC in it, so its still more money to have spent and still have to buy the shiny new edition just to play the Move version.... Capcom... you suck.