I would describe Resident Evil 5 as the good, the bad and the ugly. It contains many of the ingredients that could have made this game a stand out on the PC had it not fallen down in one very important area, but we'll get to that.
First, this game looks like an action adventure in the lines of an Indiana Jones or Jewel of the Nile movie. The main character Chris has all the right stuff being attractive, tough (but not too tough), loyal and an all around good guy. His AI partner, Sheva is also attractive and looks like a real person with all the right proportions and the option of more appropriate dress for her role. It has a fairly good story as well. Chris Redfield is an agent of a paramilitary anti-bio-organic weapon organization known as the B.S.A.A. Terrorists who have sprung up due to bungling by the Pharmaceutical company Umbrella are engaged in some kind of strange activity in Africa. Chris heads there and teams up with a fellow agent, Sheva Alomar, to investigate the situation. Finding that a strange virus has infected the people and turned them all into zombie monsters, Chris and Sheva set about to track down the source of the doomsday project known as Uroboros.
The graphics are fairly good, although not as impressive as some I've seen, but certainly pass muster. The cut scenes are just about the right length, not long enough to allow disengagement from the game, but enough to deepen your attachment to the characters. I found The AI Sheva to be relatively intelligent and helpful most of the time, although there are people who would disagree with that assessment. The game is replete with weapons, secrets, treasure, upgrades and unlockables that may warrant a second play through. There's lots of action and enough variety to keep you from getting bored and the story keeps you engaged and moving forward. All good.
And now for the ugly. Resident Evil 5 is the fifth main game of the series. All games were made first for the console and controls definitely favor the use of a controller, but even still, RE5 was criticised for issues with the control scheme. Apparently, the system is a carry-over from previous games. Although I understand this was intentional with the idea of achieving suspense and realism, moving from the survival horror theme on console to more of an action adventure on PC and then accompanying this with awkward keyboard and mouse controls doesn't feel like a good match. Your character is totally rooted to the spot while aiming and shooting, requires two buttons for most functions and momentarily hitches to a stop every time you want to change weapons or reload. In order to change Sheva's weapons, you must first deprive her of her current weapon or all ammo for that weapon, otherwise she will automatically use the game's predetermined priority of weapons in her inventory. Because of this, in single-player, strategic use of her is not possible without a lot of fussing and some actions cannot be accessed ingame.
During gameplay, you can access the nine active slots in your inventory and with limitations the nine slots in Sheva's inventory, but you cannot access your backup inventory. The only way to do this is to get killed. When you bring up the inventories instead of being able to quickly choose something by one mouse click, you must first choose it and then deal with a drop down menu of actions and this often in the middle of a fight. In order to work with your partner's inventory, she must be near you. Fortunately, most of the enemies are slow as molasses or this set-up would be entirely impossible.
During the game, there are also cut scenes in which you have to perform quick keyboard commands in order to escape. You may have to jump or dodge, but this requires rooting your eyes to look for the command instead of experiencing what is actually happening around you. If this weren't bad enough, you sometimes need 3 hands to have both you and your partner survive whilst in the middle of a boss fight. You need two controls to run, two controls to shoot and often two controls to dodge and sometimes the key for dodging changes.
There's lots of debate among users about the keyboard and mouse controls. Those that are familiar with the previous console games and love this series are quick to jump to its defense. The main thinking is that it builds realism and suspense, but as my first experience with this series, I found it quite frustrating. You eventually grow somewhat better with these controls, but I never really became comfortable with them.
To be fair, I understand this game plays better on co-op and multiplayer which makes sense given Sheva's total involvement in the story. I'm sure the game play would be much improved and the inventory system more user friendly with someone else controlling her. However, in single-player mode, this game would have rated higher on my list had the controls been easier to cope with. After beating the game, you can play as Sheva.
Not wanting to end on a negative note, I would still buy this game for its many fine cinematic features.UPDATE on Review Nov 2015: I'm on a Resident Evil kick and so I decided to do a replay as the game has now been ported to Steamworks. The first time I played this I was on my old hardware and it was also my first experience with the series and with tank controls. This time around, it did not seem quite as frustrating and the graphics were very much better on my newer rig. The inventory system is still a pain and the controls are still not the best, on the keyboard at least, but after just coming off Resident Evil 4, I was more used to them. I still hate the QTEs and I'm quite sure that the developers think we have 3 hands, 15 fingers and instant reflexes, however, I quite enjoyed it anyway. For all its faults, the Resident Evil series has some kind of compelling quality and I can see why people are drawn to it. I suspect it's the character immersion and that's a sign of good story-telling.