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Zombies attack , again

Justin Hoeger
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

RESIDENT EVIL 5

Publisher: Capcom

System: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3

Price: $59.99

Age rating: Mature

Two elements nearly always go hand in hand in a "Resident Evil" game: hordes of zombies and limited mobility.

The zombies have morphed from the reanimated corpses and mutants of the first several titles to the parasite-controlled thralls of "Resident Evil 4" and, now, "Resident Evil 5." The heroes of recent installments are considerably more mobile than those in the older games.

But this is no "Gears of War," with the player in charge of a comparatively nimble juggernaut. The zombies here always come in hordes, and the player usually feels too unwieldy and light on ammo to be comfortable fighting them off.

And so it is in "Resident Evil 5," which takes the battle against zombies to the fictional West African region of Kijuju. The game looks fantastic, and like the others in the series, it's gruesome and violent, so keep that in mind.

Chris Redfield, the hero of the original "Resident Evil" so many years ago, is now a member of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, a group dedicated to eliminating bio-organic weapons — the legacy of the evil Umbrella Corp.

When Redfield arrives in Kijuju, he's partnered with fellow agent Sheva Alomar, a capable fighter who's familiar with the territory. The pair is soon marked for death by the locals, who are infected with the same mind-controlling mutant parasites that influenced the Spanish villagers in "Resident Evil 4." Redfield and Alomar remain a team as they search for a traitorous contact and encounter several important characters from the series' past. It's no accident that the game features such a capable duo: Players can join each other's games online or play in split-screen fashion at home, a first for the main series.

Unlike a shooter such as "Gears of War," the player can only aim and attack while stationary — there's no running and gunning, and zombies can come from all directions, including above.

Combining that limitation with a slightly awkward inventory system, with space for only nine items per player, makes the fight against zombies and other creatures a dicey proposition — by design, to be sure.

The game doesn't come with a competitive online mode but one can be purchased as a downloadable extra. The Versus mode costs $4.99 for the PS3 version and 400 Microsoft Points for the Xbox 360 version, and has two game types.

It's decent fun, but there are better multiplayer games out there that don't charge an extra $5 for the privilege of playing.

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