March 11, 2010

Review – Resident Evil 5 DLC
Lost in Nightmares & Desperate Escape

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 10:03 pm

Resident Evil 5 DLC
Resident Evil 5 left mixed reactions with me last year. If only to sound loosely scientific, the game has a 40/60 split between a meaningful co-operative experience and repetitive tricks that induce stress and leave mental scars that have yet to heal. And yet I’ve still considered replaying it several times, because my best girl is also my favorite player 2, and with so much focus on competitive multiplayer, worthy co-op titles that truly emphasis working as a team are few and far between.

Capcom’s offer to revisit the title via two smaller DLC extensions offers space for optimism, because when Resident Evil 5 finds the co-op groove, there isn’t another game that leaves us feeling like the survivors coming out the other side of a horror flick.

Taking root in the small spaces provided by Resident Evil 5’s narrative, Lost in Nightmares follows Jill and Chris’ investigation of the Spencer Estate, while Desperate Escape fills in the details on how Jill hooked up with Josh to escape the Tricell Facility before meeting up with Sheva and Chris directly following their ten rounds with Muhammad Ali Wesker.

Now that we’re up to speed on the basics, let’s do this thing.

Resident Evil 5 DLC
Stretched between these two DLC installments is the entire repertoire of the Resident Evil franchise to date, covering elements of where the series began and the legacy saving tricks more familiar to players today. Side-stepping the narrative, which isn’t a big issue here, the incentive is the way these smaller efforts allow two different approaches to play out and plant some seeds of potential for the series to develop further in the future.

On the one hand we have Lost in Nightmares, which recaptures the atmospheric dread of the original releases, and in contrast is Desperate Escape, which is composed entirely of the run-and-gun-and-don’t stop-at-go adrenaline packets that saved the series from obscurity. Having these two approaches separated so clearly here has left me surprised at just how much I favor the newer experience over my old companion.

Resident Evil 5 DLC
There isn’t anything particularly wrong with Lost in Nightmares. My girl found it interesting to get a sense of the Resident Evil games I often mention in passing. And the atmosphere still has a way of slowing my pace while exploring, expecting to be attacked at every corner. Yet it’s hard to ignore the idea that the Spencer Estate simply doesn’t offer enough space for that exploration, though I do think this atmosphere can suit a shorter game but simply comes up unavoidable short on space here.

Dashing my hopes even more was the disinterest this episode showed in offering up worthy co-op moments, leaving the bulk of the episode to float by on nostalgia and atmospheric gases until suddenly dropping the player into a dungeon situation that excelled at killing any desire I had in finishing the game, sticking in the co-op idea via a means that just rubs me the wrong way.

Dear Capcom – No one wants to solve crank puzzles while running and dodging, so stop it!

I’m not overreacting here either, the ending is so out of sync with the rest of the game that Lost in Nightmares leaves me feeling as confused as it reveals itself to be, caught between two styles that don’t coexist well in any sense.

It really feels like an experience being dragged out, which does make it feel short, an odd conclusion given that I know I spent less time playing Desperate Escape, yet walked away from it’s adrenaline rush approach feeling far more fulfilled.

Part of the problem is that Lost in Nightmares has a very clear idea of how it wants me to proceed, tying a noose around my neck as I get further toward the game’s carefully planned conclusion. Certainly Desperate Escape has a specific end in mind as well, but leaves the details of how that is accomplished up to the player.

Resident Evil 5 DLC
Desperate Escape is simply a fast paced slap to the senses that keeps the player too busy to get overly existential about the experience until it ends, and it works exceedingly well at this length, nearing a perfect execution in the way the game isn’t long enough to wear out the welcome. It’s that straight and ludicrous rush that had us both shouting wildly while dodging enemies, trying not to abandon one another while saving our own skin, and crying for help while trying to escape a never-ending horde – and most importantly, never feeling so exhausted as to need a break before it ended.

There’s no real puzzle solving at work here, just clearing obstacles while avoiding waves of infected. As a result, the effort is tightly focused and all the cheapness I’ve complained about in the full game is a non-issue here. It’s not that the game won’t throw enormous obstacles at you, but it’s doing it in a way where escaping and surviving them is the only objective with plenty of space for options, and it works pretty damn well.

The idea of Desperate Escape is to simply escape, together. The freedom of how long you want to stand your ground, or how fast you want to clear obstacles and move closer to the end is left up to you. After running through it once it’s clear that it can be done very quickly, but is probably the most replayable bit of Resident Evil 5 as a result.

Maybe because we’re so familiar with that setting now, it was nothing to stand ground against chainsaw freaks, but by the end we felt like we had survived just about everything the game could throw at us in a tougher sense for the shorter burst, like a hyper-marathon of bullets and splattering brains. And the endless waves of enemies had forced us to cover each other more, particularly while one worked a turret or gathered ammo and the other stood guard.

Resident Evil 5 DLC
What you get is an interesting split between a mission that very much has one way to go about it, and another that is willing to allot the player much more freedom in how they handle everything going on around them.

Desperate Escape’s approach to perpetual motion, leaving players to decide largely how long they want to linger, versus the very narrow path of Lost in Nightmares really bridges where the series has been and where it’s attempted to move, and I keep restating this because somewhere in the mix is the formula the series needs moving forward – potentially weaved through a series of shorter gaming experiences tied up with a nice packaged bow if need be. Even left a bit disappointed by one of these approaches here, I’m not ready to disregard it, feeling instead that it needs to take the freedom of being its own contained episode and roll around in the atmosphere to see it through to an end that is lacking here.

As I’ve said before and will say again, bite-sized Resident Evil seems like the sensible way to develop the series. Resident Evil 5 is a game filled with great and rewarding co-operative moments, dragged down by the need to fill out the rest of the disc. While these two smaller episodes are attached to that larger narrative, it’s clear that the format change affords a great deal of advantage in maintaining a razor focus that should be devoted to enhancing the co-op advantage, the most important element in keeping me interested in the series going forward.

Resident Evil 5 – Lost in Nightmares
System – XBOX 360 / PlayStation 3 (PS3 Reviewed)
Release Date – February 17 / 18, 2010

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

Resident Evil 5 – Desperate Escape
System – XBOX 360 / PlayStation 3 (PS3 Reviewed)
Release Date – March 3 / 4, 2010

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. I think I’ll just rent a copy of RE5: Gold to play the extra DLC since it isn’t too long and spending $3 for a rental versus $10+ for all the DLC seems like the wrong way of doing things.

    Now if I were to get a copy of RE5: Gold that someone who wrote this post has already finished… well, that would be a good surprise hehehe.

    Comment by EdEN — March 12, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  2. if only I had gold edition! I’m not nearly that important yet ;)

    Comment by Jamie Love — March 12, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

  3. You’ll get there. So, all in all, is it worth it to get both DLC levels? It IS $10 for about 2-3 hours of gameplay, right?

    Comment by EdEN — March 12, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

  4. Eh, unless your big time into fan service, you could miss Lost in Nightmares. Desperate Escape is short as well, but it was so much of the frantic Resident Evil 5 mojo that I gotta recommend it to anyone who has a good co-op partner – it’s nothing new, it’s just more of a well stitched together quilt that I think we’ll replay over here more often because it is short.

    Comment by Jamie Love — March 12, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  5. I meant to add a bit more to my comment, opps. Our first run through of Desperate Escape was about 59mins I think. But I have trouble holding time to a dollar value, I mean I payed $90 for Turtles in Time back in the day, and I can run through that game in under 30mins. The best thing I can say is that it never felt rushed, Desperate Escape that is, it’s a great packet RE5 experience and a solid excuse to turn the game on again.

    Lost in Nightmares isn’t terrible, it just dips into an old atmosphere without the time to revel in it, or without the time for all the things I’d expect, which makes it feel shorter, or at least draws my attention to how short and shallow it is.

    Comment by Jamie Love — March 12, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

  6. Hahaha, want to go old school? I paid $50 for each NES Megaman (1-5) and hearing how nowadays people complain about MM9 and MM10 being $10 is just weird. Or how Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger were $89.99 and now they say $59.99 is too much for FF XIII…

    Comment by EdEN — March 13, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  7. Eww… you bought Mega Man 3-5? :P

    Comment by Ujn Hunter — March 13, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

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