Despite a few issues, Resident Evil 5 turned out to be a great entry in the legendary survival-horror series. It had the right amount of puzzles and combat, and the co-op play was a nice addition to an already-solid game experience. Since the game's release, Capcom has released a few DLC expansions that have varied wildly in their offerings. Versus mode served as the adversarial multiplayer mode that players may or may not have wanted. Lost in Nightmares was the prologue to the game and was a puzzle-heavy chapter that showed how Jill Valentine's demise came to pass. The latest DLC, Desperate Escape, also plays out very differently, but just because the focus has changed doesn't mean that the add-on is any less fun.
The Desperate Escape DLC mission takes place in the latter part of the main game, so if you haven't played through the main game yet, consider this add-on to be a pretty big spoiler.
The mission starts off with Jill barely recovering and telling Chris and Sheva to go after Wesker to stop his plot once and for all. After the duo leaves, Jill passes out again, only to be discovered moments later by BSAA agent Josh Stone, who also happens to be tailing Sheva. Once she fully recovers, the newly formed duo make it a point to warn Chris of some of the abilities that Wesker has gained, exploit his weakness in order to win the fight, and escape the Tricell island as quickly as possible.
From the outset, you'll realize that this chapter is going to be heavily based on action. The hordes of Majini come at a constant rate, and standing still only encourages them to keep coming in from all angles. Aside from the hordes of regular Majini, you have a few of the hammer wielders, chainsaw wielders, and Gatling gun versions to deal with, not to mention the Majini posted at rocket turrets. There are no puzzles here; a few doors are locked by keys, which can easily be obtained by wiping out the special Majini that happen to be in the area.
As for co-op puzzles, only one of them is necessary for progressing through the level, and it only consists of boosting one player up to a spot and waiting for him or her to open the door from the other side. Again, the add-on is more focused on combat than anything else, making this the equivalent of Left 4 Dead in the Resident Evil universe. If you enjoyed blasting Majini more than finding keys, this DLC is tailored just for you.
As a story add-on, it doesn't add too much to the plot when you compare it to Lost in Nightmares. You could essentially skip this chapter, and it would have no impact on the story. This add-on doesn't hurt the plot, but the enhancements aren't really substantial enough that fans of the story risk missing out on something big by not downloading it.
The DLC's emphasis on combat becomes a problem when you factor in the game's combat mechanics. The idea of standing still to aim and fire at enemies worked fine when there weren't too many on-screen, and it still remains manageable when you're faced with a large number of foes, provided you have a very powerful weapon on your side or an ample amount of ammunition on hand. However, because this is Resident Evil, ammunition is always going to be scarce and firefights become much harder without any mobility on your side. Once you run out of ammo and resort to melee attacks with your knife, things become much more difficult since the process for knife combat is the same as gun combat. With enemies moving to the sides and no way to aim knife slashes, melee combat is only good for trying to clear a path to run from one end to another.
Another complaint that can be levied against the title is the lack of anything new. You've fought the different Majini types before, and you won't encounter any new enemies. The end of the level also provides no boss entity to deal with, instead relying on a scenario where the players must wait for a specified amount of time before the rescue chopper arrives. It doesn't make the scenario any less enjoyable, but it certainly reinforces the Left 4 Dead feeling alluded to earlier in the review.
Downloading this pack also gives you access to a new game mode, The Mercenaries Reunion. The only real change over the regular Mercenaries mode is the addition of Josh Stone and Rebecca Chambers from Resident Evil 0. Josh can gain access to some powerful weaponry, like a rocket launcher, while Rebecca has access to a wide-reaching combat shotgun. The mode remains fun with these new characters in play; with its own set of arenas to unlock, this mode can carry the game for a bit longer after the all of the story-based missions have been cleared.
Your enjoyment of the Desperate Escape DLC will be dependent on how much you can tolerate Resident Evil 5's combat system. If you couldn't stand it at all, this add-on will only solidify your hatred for the mechanic, as that's all you'll really focus on during the hour of gameplay. If you were fine with it, you'll be fine with this too, as it is a more adrenaline-pumping experience in comparison to the other DLC released thus far. Unless you really want to punish yourself, be sure to bring along a friend if you plan on taking on the mission at its highest difficulty.
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