Armed with the collectable scoped rifle or rocket launcher, you frantically work together to take advantage of the small window of opportunity to aim at them before they get a chance to wreak havoc with your health bar. It's a wonderfully balanced cat-and-mouse affair as you gingerly hop through the relentless explosive mayhem, and challenging even on Normal difficulty. Veteran and Professional players can fully expect to receive the bloody nose they probably deserve.
The climactic third portion of this stressful episode essentially plays out like an arena battle, with enemies pouring over the walls from all sides as a countdown ticks down to your eventual rescue. But nothing is ever quite as straightforward as it initially appears, and you wind up facing no end of setbacks before you can relax once more.
As usual, this kind of combat-focused brand of Resident Evil works far better in tandem with a competent real-life player than the perennially hapless AI, and with co-op possible via split-screen, system link and online, all bases are covered. Strangely, the process of failure actually works in the context of this bite-sized portion, and while you might find yourself screaming blue murder at the game for defeating you yet again, it merely toughens your resolve for next time.
You might feel a slight initial pang of disappointment that Capcom has merely reverted to type after the bold about-face we were treated to with Lost In Nightmares, but if you're one of the many that actually preferred the more action-oriented Resident Evil, then you'll definitely give this hour-plus chapter the thumbs-up.
Even if, like me, you prefer the more brooding old-school puzzle-exploration style, then there's still a very good chance you'll appreciate the sheer challenge thrown at you by Desperate Escape. In terms of all-out action, there are few co-op experiences quite like it. On that note, though, I would be wary of recommending ever playing Resident Evil 5 on your own. Simply put, it was designed from the ground up to be played with a friend, and, sadly, the AI does the game no favours whatsoever.
It is a shame, though, that there's nothing new about Desperate Escape. While Lost In Nightmares provided a refreshing gameplay twist, as well as a new monster to fight, this merely recycles old enemies and old gameplay in a new setting. The fact that it does so in pleasingly overwhelming style is great consolation, but you can't help but reflect that things could have been freshened up in other ways without making it any less action-packed. New enemies certainly wouldn't have hurt, for a start, not to mention a bona-fide boss fight.
As a footnote, those who enjoyed the remixed Mercenaries Reunion mode can now play the game with even more characters, including, of course, Josh Stone. It won't make much difference, but the real obsessives have a few more leaderboards to compete on.
Despite Desperate Escape being little more than a rehash of any number of Resident Evil 5's levels, this is still a hugely enjoyable example of why DLC has become a vital part of the gaming landscape. For the meagre sum of 400 Microsoft Points, or ú3.99 over PSN, you're getting another quality episode, and anyone who enjoyed the game's campaign won't be disappointed with more of the same.
8 / 10