When Capcom announced that they would develop a series of downloadable missions that complete the Resident Evil 5 story line, I was understandably excited. It had been a year since I had played through the main storyline and who knows when the next sequel will show up on store shelves. But last month I discovered, much to my horror, that Capcom's promised DLC wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. Lost in Nightmares
came and went, barely leaving a lasting memory before I moved on to my next game. Thankfully, the same is not true with Capcom's second (and final) downloadable level for their survival horror game. Resident Evil 5: Desperate Escape is everything you want in a downloadable level. It's full of tense moments, great action and enough "zombies" to make you completely forget about the disappointing Lost in Nightmares.
Desperate Escape takes place close to the end of Resident Evil 5, so anybody who hasn't made it to the end should probably skip past this brief look at the story. You play Jill Valentine, the ex-STARS team member who, along with the help of Chris Redfield, discovered (and destroyed) the original zombie outbreak in Raccoon City. The last time we saw Jill she was falling to her death while trying to kill Albert Wesker once and for all. But they survived. Towards the end of Resident Evil 5 we learn that Jill is not only alive, but she's under Wesker's maniacal control. Some days it just doesn't pay to get up in the morning.
The good news is that Chris (along with his Resident Evil 5 sidekick, Sheva) breaks Wesker's spell and gives Jill a fighting chance. But there's no time to celebrate just yet, because Wesker has escaped and the Resident Evil 5 power-duo need to rush off and save the day. Desperate Escape picks up right before Chris and Sheva fight Wesker. This is the story of Jill's heroic escape from the "zombie" filled Tricell facility.
Like Lost in Nightmares and Resident Evil 5, Desperate Escape teams you up with a second player. This time around it's Josh Stone (not to be confused with the English singer, Joss Stone), a BSAA agent searching for his friend and fellow agent. The two of them have no idea what they're in for, because just outside is an unlimited amount of "zombies" looking to chew on your brains and gnaw off your legs. Thankfully Josh brought ammo to this war.
One of my biggest complaints about Lost in Nightmares was its slow pace early on. Half of the game has you doing nothing but solving elementary puzzles and exploring a creepy mansion. By the time the time enemies show up I was thoroughly bored and a little grumpy that Capcom missed such a huge opportunity to have us do something (anything) cool in this scary mansion. Talk about wasted potential. Desperate Escape may not have a cool location to explore, but it definitely gives you something to do.
Right from the get-go you know that this isn't going to be an easy escape. As you run around looking for the keys to open doors you are constantly having to fight all of the biggest and baddest characters from Resident Evil 5. You know that huge "zombie" with the massive machine gun strapped to his back? Well, he's here. So is the chainsaw guy and the not-zombies. This is a game where you're constantly having to shoot at bad guys; even when you've cleared the board of enemies, there will still be more baddies bursting through cracks. This is an action-packed escape, which perfectly fits the tone of Resident Evil 5.
The truth is, Desperate Escape isn't really doing anything new or original here. You're fighting "zombies" and collecting keys. You pickup weapons and trade with your brand new partner. Late in the game you have to hold off a zombie attack for nearly seven minutes while the helicopter pilot finds you. These are all things you did in Resident Evil 5, which may disappoint some gamers hoping for an entirely new experience. But I didn't mind. It has been so long since I played through Resident Evil 5 that I appreciated a second taste of the frantic action and non-stop "zombie" gore.Like Lost in Nightmares, Desperate Escape is extremely short. While the game said it took me around an hour to beat, it was probably closer to 90 minutes (thanks to the wicked difficulty of the final battle). While I definitely noticed the short running time when I played through Lost in Nightmares, I didn't seem to have that problem with this downloadable level. In fact, by the time I had escaped the facility and completely run out of ammo, I felt completely satisfied. You may only play it for an hour or so, but the whole time the game's excitement level is through the roof. There is no downtime here; you simply don't have the time (or ammo) to explore your surroundings.
You could probably make a cogent argument that this story didn't actually need to be told. In the original Resident Evil 5 it was implied that Jill escapes and leaves Chris to take the fight to Wesker. But who cares? This is just another excuse for Capcom to give us more "zombies" to fight, both online and off. Best of all, if you're like me and haven't played through Resident Evil 5 in a year, then this just may be enough to make you want to give it another play through. I know that it's made me want to revisit the gruesome details of Capcom's 2009 survival action game.
Beyond the simple story mode, gamers will be able to take a couple of new characters into the Mercenaries Reunion mode. This remixed version of the standard Mercenaries mode gives you even more to do. And best of all, you can take all of your characters (including those from Lost in Nightmares) online for the ultimate reunion.
Resident Evil 5: Desperate Escape isn't going to change your mind about the direction Capcom has taken this franchise. If you didn't like the jarring switch to all-out action, then you probably aren't going to care for this entry. I'm sure there are people who would have preferred another entry like Lost in Nightmares. And while I sympathize, I feel that the slow-paced, traditional Resident Evil survival horror is best left for the next installment. If you are the type of person that loved the action, then you're going to get a kick out of this downloadable pack. It's never boring and certainly doesn't miss a beat. This is an exciting chapter of Resident Evil that is not only worth the full five dollar asking price, but will also go a long way to whet your appetite for whatever is next in this franchise. Now all they need to do is bring on another scary Resident Evil game.