Desperate Escape was released on March 3, 2010 as a separate download on Xbox Live. It will also be released on PSN on March 9 and as part of Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition for PS3 and Xbox 360. This reviews focuses on the 360 version, though there is no difference between the console versions.
Storywise, this game takes place right after Jill Valentine has regained her senses, thanks to Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar’s efforts to remove Albert Wesker’s mind control device from her chest. After Chris continues on his way and she faints, Captain Josh Stone of BSAA West African Branch finds her. Realizing she has vital information involving Wesker, she and Josh work to escape from the Tricell facility and find a way to help Chris.
Graphics in this game are identical to Resident Evil 5, save some new environments full of flames and wreckage. It works well for the return to the style of RE 5’s gameplay, full of action and enemies everywhere. Some newer animation highlights are Captain Stone’s melee attacks, which suggest that he was a professional wrestler at one time!
Music is the same as Resident Evil 5: disappointing. I hoped and tried to listen for a great action piece in the vein of past RE’s like Nemesis, but didn’t get anything close to the Opening Theme of that game. I would have thought that the non-stop action of this sidestory would give license to compose a balls-to-the-wall actionfest of musical insanity, but what we get is too similar to the “action” pieces from RE5. Hell, they might even be reused; that score was so ineffectual, I probably couldn’t tell the difference…
Gameplay is the same as Resident Evil 5, right down to the partner system and the action-based gameplay. There are no puzzles to be found in this 2-hour excursion, and players will be thankful for it, given the urgency of the mission. There are some sections that involve using turrets to destroy obstacles and fending off enemy gauntlets for a set amount of time, but RE5 veterans should have no problem acclimating. That’s not to say that these moments won’t be intense, because at its best, Desperate Escape is right up there among the best action moments in Resident Evil history! And yes, old-school Resident Evil fans, RE had plenty of action even before RE 4…
I was disappointed by the lack of weapons in this sidestory as well as the inability to purchase new ones, due to the lack of money. This made sense in Lost in Nightmares, due to the gameplay being similar to the original Resident Evil. Desperate Escape is pure action, and would have benefited from having whatever weapon you want from the main game, unlocked as a bonus upon completion of course. Weapons, ammo, and enemies are randomized each game and that is a nice touch, but given how different weapons are ideal for certain enemies (Reapers!!) you’ll be wishing you have a permanent selectable inventory. Unlimited ammo would have been overkill due to the abundance present. There are being plenty of stage hazards to dissuade infinite ammo and it actually makes certain battles against the tougher enemies more strategic. Be prepared to have to corral the enemies into advantageous positions.
There are also a few new characters added to Mercenaries Reunion upon purchase of Desperate Escape. Captain Stone is playable with all his wrestling goodness and Rebecca Chambers, the oddly skillful 18-year medic from S.T.A.R.S Bravo Team (she has a nice ass too!) We haven’t seen Rebecca since Resident Evil Zero, so she is a great addition! Her character and voice (which Capcom seems intent on making Asian now…) are a bit grating, but her melee moves are great, especially her pepper spray and flamethrower if your partner is Excella Gione. For the lowdown on other changes to Mercenaries, check out my review of the previous download – Lost in Nightmares.
Challenge is naturally dependent on the difficulty you choose. Veteran is ideal for those familiar with RE5. The unlockable Professional difficulty… um, you best play that with friends only, as it can be pretty frustrating. Even on lower difficulties, the variety of enemies and their constant pressure can be daunting, so expect to have trouble in certain areas.
Replay value is pretty standard, with additional difficulties, achievements, and the ability to play as Josh upon completing the game. As noted above, there are missed opportunities that would have really pushed replay through the roof. Being able to always use a Handcannon or Hydra Triple Barreled Shotgun on the final gauntlet would have been epic! There is certainly no shortage of ammo to support this!
Desperate Escape is a great download, full of intense moments that works great as an action setup, full of memorable encounters despite its brevity. It is also great for fans of Jill Valentine, who hasn’t had a playable role since Resident Evil Rebirth on the Gamecube in 2002. Umbrella Chronicles on the Wii doesn’t count, seeing as you need a second player and the game is a first person rail shooter. Resident Evil 5 fans, check this out immediately!
- Ugly Bob