To say that I’m a fan of Resident Evil 5 would be an understatement. When the game came out, I played it like crazy. I blew through The Mercenaries until I had unlocked every level and character, then ran through the missions over and over until I had cut my time down dramatically. I spent hours earning enough points to outfit nearly all of the weapons with infinite ammo, then more hours buying all of the figures and other such novelties available to me. J. Rose and I spent a fairly large amount of time playing the game online trying to shoot all the emblems and blow through the game in Professional difficulty – i.e. “the difficulty where one hit equals death”. Basically, Resident Evil 5 was my Game of the Year last year. The announcement of expanded content for the game made me pretty giddy, as I still hadn’t had enough of the game despite its flaws, and the fact that it was going to be available as both DLC and in a stand-alone release with the full game was great, since I still have my copy and all. The first two of these expansions, Lost in Nightmares and a pair of costumes for Chris and Sheva, have just been released on the XBL service, and I was all about ready to jump in and test them out. Lost in Nightmares was supposed to be an expansion focused Chris and Jill’s mission to bring down Umbrella founder Ozwell E. Spencer, which is only alluded to throughout the main game. Further, each expansion is supposed to include two characters for a rearranged version of The Mercenaries, dubbed “The Mercenaries Reunion”, which features new characters, new weapon layouts, and some general changes to the enemy distribution. As of this point, Lost in Nightmares is 400 points, or about $5, while the costume pack retails for about 160 points, or about $2, so neither is a particularly costly investment, but even so, let’s take a look and see if this new content is worth the asking price.
Note: as this is a review of expansion content, you will need to own a copy of Resident Evil 5 to play it. Further, as you will need to own a copy of the main game to play this, this review will not discuss information relative to the core game, as this is handled in the original review. Changes made to the game mechanics will be discussed, however.
The Lost in Nightmares expansion pack fleshes out the events leading up to Resident Evil 5, specifically the events surrounding the fall of Umbrella. Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, apparently under the employ of the BSAA, are dispatched to an Umbrella-owned mansion where Umbrella founder Ozwell E. Spencer is believed to be residing. Upon arriving, they realize the mansion is essentially wrong, for various reasons, and it falls to them to find Spencer, figure out what’s going on, and get out. Fans of the original game know exactly how this ends, of course, but the fun is in the adventure, not the destination, as it were, and Lost in Nightmares manages to do enough with this concept to make the expansion work. There’s little story to this expansion, with only a few dialogue bits popping up here and there as Chris and Jill banter back and forth about different things, which are fine, if not particularly exciting. The pacing of this expansion is adequate, as the introductory section is mostly about solving puzzles before you’re forced into combat against heavy-duty enemies, followed by a few more puzzle sequences and a big boss fight against Wesker to finish things off. All in all, while there’s not much story to deal with here, what’s here fills in the gaps well enough, so we’ll say it’s overall pretty acceptable and move on.
This being an expansion pack, most of the good and bad elements of the original game carry over from the game to the add-on. The visuals are functionally similar, though the new environments are fantastic and really bring the expansion to life. The audio is mostly carried over from the main game, though the voice work is all new, and the voice actors from Resident Evil 5 reprise their roles here for those who hate random replacements of voice actors. The core gameplay from Resident Evil 5 remains functionally unchanged for this expansion, though the scoring and such of the mission is handled differently. Since this mission is completely independent from the main game, you don’t have access to any of your funds or gear you might have earned. The game will instead provide you with different items and gear depending on the part of the mission you’re on at that moment, so inventory management is kept to a minimum. Further, while the mission will score you based on the normal metrics (time, accuracy, etc.), it also offers various score stars to collect. Breaking these stars adds to your overall mission score, so those who want to get the best scores possible will want to hunt high and low for those. The mission also offers multiple difficulty modes, as does the main game, though in an interesting twist, it affects more than simple enemy damage. In the main Resident Evil 5 campaign, changing the difficulty settings makes the enemies harder to defeat and reduces the amount of damage you can take, but in Lost in Nightmares there’s only a limited amount of combat to engage in, so changing the difficulty also changes around some of the ways objectives are accomplished and increases the enemy volume, for example, which gives the pack a bit more replay value than would first be obvious. The campaign itself can be completed in under an hour, but with multiple difficulty levels to go through and the ability to play it on or offline with friends there’s a decent amount to do with it overall.
Lost in Nightmares also introduces The Mercenaries Reunion, which is essentially a remixed version of The Mercenaries mode from Resident Evil 5. Each of the four DLC packages you’ll be able to download comes with two characters for this mode, meaning that to unlock all eight characters you’ll have to download all four DLC packs. Lost in Nightmares comes with Excella Gionne and Barry Burton, while the costume pack unlocks Chris in his Warrior gear and Sheva in her Fairytale gear. The upcoming expansions will offer an additional Chris and Sheva, as well as Josh Stone and Rebecca Chambers, for a total of eight characters. The character loadouts are notably distinct from each other, as well as from their regular Mercenaries counterparts, with each character having their own positives and negatives depending on the stage. The stages are identical to those in the original Mercenaries mode, but the layouts of items and the enemy structures are sometimes drastically different. Timers are often (though not always) relocated, new enemies spawn in stages while old enemies are removed, and the Experimental Facility has become a nightmare, as it’s full of Lickers from the get go, making survival a good bit more challenging and changing up the tactics one would use to survive a good bit.
As an expansion, the expectations for Lost in Nightmares are somewhat lower than they would be for a full game, but even with that, there are some minor issues that you might want to consider. For one, Lost in Nightmares itself is really only about thirty minutes to an hour long, depending on how much exploring you do, so unless you intend to go through it on multiple difficulties, there’s really not a lot to the pack. Further, it doesn’t allow you to play around with your upgraded gear at all, so you’re stuck with whatever guns the mission gives you at their default capabilities. This makes sense from a storyline standpoint, but from a gameplay standpoint, allowing the player to go back with their tricked-out gear after completing it once would have made more sense. Further, The Mercenaries Reunion isn’t so drastically different from the original Mercenaries mode as to be a new and exciting thing, as it’s little than a remixed version of the original mode. This is fine for players who enjoyed The Mercenaries, certainly, but it would have been more interesting had Capcom integrated the remixed stages and new characters into the original Mercenaries mode, thus allowing you to pick from a much larger character roster. It also doesn’t help that the stages themselves are identical to the stages in The Mercenaries, even if the enemy patterns and placement of some items is different. Including, say, some revamped stages from Resident Evil 4 or some completely new stages based on older games in the series would have helped this remixed mode tremendously instead of simply reusing in-game assets and changing them around a bit. The fact that you’ll probably have to drop about $14 to unlock all eight characters in this mode seems a little much given that it’s essentially a remixed version of the same mode you played a year ago.
Lost in Nightmares, though enjoyable, isn’t enough on its own to be worth picking up Resident Evil 5 if you don’t own it or traded it away already, especially not with Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition just around the corner, but it’s a worthwhile download if you still have the original game. The core positives of the original game are intact and the new mission provided is fun and interesting in each of its difficulty levels. The Mercenaries Reunion components provided by downloading this expansion as well as the additional available expansions opens up a whole new point-earning cooperative on and offline challenge, thanks to the new characters and new layouts of old stages, meaning that anyone who enjoyed blasting through the original should have fun with this. Lost in Nightmares itself is somewhat short, however, and while it changes up the enemy patterns and puzzles somewhat depending on the difficulty, there isn’t enough to the mission to make it worthwhile if you don’t still have Resident Evil 5. Further, while The Mercenaries Reunion is still as fun as the original, offering some new stages or other additional content would have gone a long way toward making the expansions worth owning for this alone instead of making it a remixed version of a mode you’ve played already. If you still have Resident Evil 5 it’s worth downloading Lost in Nightmares and the costumes just because they add more good content to a great game, but if you don’t have the game already, you might as well wait for Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition to come out instead of picking the game back up and downloading the content.
FINAL SCORE: VERY GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary:
Lost in Nightmares is a solid expansion pack for fans of Resident Evil 5 that adds some worthwhile content to play through, but it’s not enough on its own to convince anyone who no longer has the game to run out and buy it again. Lost in Nightmares itself is ambient and well structured, offers a solid challenge and some decent replay value, and fills in some of the backstory of the original game, and it should please fans without a problem. The game and the recently released costume pack also open up The Mercenaries Reunion, which is a remixed version of the original mode that contains new characters and layouts, so anyone who had fun with The Mercenaries should have fun with this remixed version of it. However, Lost in Nightmares is fairly short on its own and doesn’t offer enough new challenges or content to be worth picking up if you don’t have Resident Evil 5 anymore, and it’s entirely a stand-alone game that doesn’t interact with the main game. Further, The Mercenaries Reunion, while fun, isn’t as sound as it could have been. Adding in some new maps or allowing the new characters and old characters to be playable at the same time would have done wonders to make this mode more interesting than it is, and while it’s still fun, in a lot of respects, it’s more of the same. Lost in Nightmares easily justifies its cost if you have the original Resident Evil 5 on hand, but otherwise you’re better off waiting for Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition instead of picking up the original game and the DLC.