Snapping closely at the heels of the cinematic masterpiece that is Lost in Nightmares, Capcom’s second helping of Resident Evil 5 digital goodness – dubbed Desperate Escape – reacquaints players with the familiar action-orientated antics of the franchise, ditching puzzles and exploration in favour of blasting copious amounts of foes to shreds with an abundance of firearms and ammunition. In essence, it’s almost like a narrative-driven dash through a quick game of The Mercenaries.
Story-wise things pick up towards the climax of Resident Evil 5, following Jill Valentine’s liberation from Wesker’s mind-control device at the hands of former partner Chris Redfield and new girl Sheva Alomar. After passing out a few minutes later, Valentine is soon found by fellow BSAA member Josh Stone, and the pair decide to hot foot it out of the facility and board a chopper to aid Redfield in his battle against Wesker.
However, whereas Lost in Nighmares was a nostalgic trip down old-school Survival Horror lane offering a totally disparate experience from the main game (and therefore, one could argue, may have felt like a somewhat incongruous effort had it been included in Resident Evil 5’s blast fest campaign as originally planned), Desperate Escape feels right at home alongside its big brother, and could have easily played out in a cohesive manner if Capcom decided to keep it in the core adventure. Nonetheless, this bite-sized action fest should satisfy the majority of fans and offers a heated, albeit woefully short blast through one of the toughest enemy strongholds in the game.
Essentially, your goal is to reach the rooftop of a communications building allowing you to contact your overtly flirtatious flyboy and escape to aid your comrades. Infected villagers come at you from every direction, seeking to subvert your efforts along the way, so you better hope you got an itchy trigger finger – cause you’ll need it. There’s little in the way of exploration; areas are traversed in a linear fashion, and it’s simply a case of blasting your way through each environment before moving on to the next. You’ll hardly need to put your thinking cap on, either, as there’s little in the way of actual puzzles, aside from rudimentary tasks such as collecting a key to open a gate or utilizing one of the cannons dotted throughout the areas to blast your way through steel gates.
It may sound simplistic, but your enemies come thick and fast, resulting in a countless number of mini-skirmishes with rowdy mobs at almost every corner. To make matters worse, you also have to contend with Infected folk using the aforementioned cannons to their advantage, as well as facing off against hulking Executioners, Chainsaw Majini and huge blokes wielding equally huge gattling guns. Ammo may be plentiful, but it’s wise to pick and choose your fights, as you can usually make it by without getting in to a scrap on every occasion. Indeed, Desperate Escape instils a state of perpetual vigilance in the player, and it’s just as well, because if you don’t keep on your toes you’ll never make it out alive (either that, or your partner won’t). Speaking of partners, the AI does a decent job at capping foes, though if they get left behind in all the commotion it’s not uncommon for them to end up on the business end of a chainsaw or gigantic axe. As such, you’ll have keep a close eye on them and make sure you are in the area to give them a quick shot of adrenaline or healing herb if they are on the verge of death – fortunately, they’ll also return the favour, with remarkable efficiency, we might add.
As with the main adventure, co-op will give you the most enjoyment out of the package, allowing you to split up and cover more ground rather than have your AI compatriot lumber behind. While Valentine and Stone only start off with a machine pistol and handgun respectively, there’s a heap of additional weaponry to be found; during our stint we found an extra machine gun and pistol, along with a sniper rifle, rocket launcher and a ton of anti-personal mines. As such, you and a mate should have no problem ensuring both of you are fully kitted out for the mission ahead.
As with its predecessor you can expect to blast through this killathon in roughly an hour, though you’ll likely want to revisit it a few times in order to bump up your score by finding extra star points dotted throughout each level (some are found after defeating some of the bigger bad guys, so you’ll have to clean house if you want to grab them all) Sadly, those of you hankering for that quintessential end of stage RE boss fight will be disappointed to learn there isn’t one, and the foes you face are merely regurgitated stock infected from earlier chapters. Aurally there’s the usual dose of innocuous banter between the main protagonists, though the pair don’t really get much time for a chinwag given their predicament. Visually things hold up as impressive as ever, and, while the locations aren’t anywhere near as aesthetically stimulating as the gorgeous Spencer Mansion from the previous batch of DLC, you won’t likely be that fussed about taking in your surrounding when you’ve got half a dozen rabid infected on your tail. Rounding things off, Desperate Escape also chucks in two extra Mercenaries Reunion characters for your consumption, with Stone and RE veteran Rebecca Chambers joining the ranks.
At the end of the day, Desperate Escape offers a bite-sized chunk of action packed goodness from start to finish, and if you are looking to get a quick fix of Resi co-op play, you can’t really go wrong. Sure, it won’t last you more than an evening’s worth of playtime, but expect more than your money’s worth in terms of raw challenge.