A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this zombie killing game is most definitely not for kids because it's very violent and gory, and unlike past games in the series, more realistic-looking thanks to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3's graphical horsepower. It's possible to hack and slash or shoot down oncoming enemies using guns and melee weapons, such as a sword or chainsaw, all of which results in copious amounts of blood, as well as some dismembering of body parts and decapitation. Limbs can grow back on these mutated people. Some players might find the location of the game in a rural African village to be objectionable because it feeds into damaging stereotypes, where the white hero (accompanied by a light-skinned African American) has to kill predominately black victims infected by the zombie-causing virus. This game has garnered some press attention on this issue.
What's it about?
As with past Resident Evil games -- one of the most successful video game franchises in history and one that has spawned many popular Hollywood movies -- the story involves a deadly virus that can infect humans and turn them into a kind of undead zombie out for blood. Ridiculous? Sure. Over the top? You bet. In RESIDENT EVIL 5, players take on the role of Chris Redfield, a hero charged with tracing the virus to a fictional poor nation of Kijuju, in Africa, where the majority of the infected are people who live in these villages. This biological agent is turning these once peaceful people into blood-thirsty savages and it is up to Chris to eliminate all those infected.
Players roam around a detailed world with terrifying enemies and must use brains and brawn to get out of situations alive, while unraveling more of the story. Players are joined by a female agent, Sheva Alomar, to help ward off the creatures and stop the virus at its core. Players start the game as Chris but will eventually control Alomar, as well.
Is it any good?
Previous games in this series were campy in a Night of the Living Dead kind of way, but the setting of this game has made some people uncomfortable because Chris is white and most of the African zombies are black. While the setting is consistent with the story, the images of Chris killing the zombies can be disturbing because some of the zombies still look human. For those that can get past the setting, Resident Evil 5 provides a very good and polished adventure -- for mature players who love these kinds of "survival horror" games. It fuses immersive third-person gun-play and melee weapon action with some exploration and puzzle-solving. And it builds on it predecessors' fame with much better graphics, multiple control schemes, an improved inventory system, and the piece de resistance, optional co-op mode for two players to tackle the adventure together (even online).
As with previous Resident Evil titles, this sequel includes an all-new unlockable The Mercenaries mini-game, where players can tackle modified levels from the story mode, with a never-ending stream of fiercer enemies and timed challenges. The African setting controversy notwithstanding, Resident Evil 5 is an well-crafted game, but be sure to take heed to the "Mature" rating.
Online interaction: Coop online play is available, but because of the ability to chat, the language you will hear is unpredictable.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about if the controversy surrounding this game is justified. If Capcom had picked another country for the backdrop to this game, would the reaction have been the same? What if the game makers had set the game in America, Asia, or Europe? Is the setting and race of these people all in context or is there a deeper, disturbing societal message, here?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.