previewed on X360
More than just Resident Evil 4.5
Capcom’s upcoming Resident Evil 5 is one of the most anticipated games of 2009 - and with good reason. After all, the game’s predecessor is arguably the best action-horror game ever created. With sublime controls and fantastic (for the time) visuals, Resident Evil 4 single-handedly redefined both the third-person shooter and survival horror genres. It remains to be seen if Resident Evil 5 can manage to surpass its superb predecessor, but as it stands, it has the potential to be one of the best action games of next year.
Resident Evil 5 puts you in the shoes of original protagonist Chris Redfield and his new partner, Sheva Alomar, both members of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). The pair meet on a mission in the deserts of Africa, where Chris is investigating the origins of the Progenitor Virus from RE: Code Veronica. Just their luck - the virus has turned the locals into bloodthirsty savages and a volcanic eruption threatens to spread it across the rest of the world.
If you’ve played Resident Evil 4, you should have no problem getting into Resident Evil 5 - the controls are virtually the same. The camera constantly stays behind the player, and zooms in for an easy to aim over-the-shoulder view when you draw your gun. Combat plays out just like it did in the last game, although now you can use the right analog stick for easier aiming. This is definitely a good thing, as the African villagers are much quicker than their Spaniard counterparts, and just as smart. They still know how to move and attack in mobs, and can flank you or break into even the most secure rooms. Moreover, Chris is slower than the last protagonist Leon, and has more limited vision; meaning this game puts much more emphasis on the ‘survival horror’ part of the series than Resident Evil 4 did.
Sharing the Horror
The biggest change Resident Evil 5 offers from its predecessor is cooperative play. Sheva can be controlled either by computer AI or by a friend online. She’s not just a helpless tag-along - she’s got all of Chris’ moves and then some, so she can most definitely take care of herself. This opens up new possibilities for the level designers, and Army of Two-esque puzzles abound. You’ll have to, for example, have Sheva boost you onto a ledge or get her to push bookshelves to block windows and doors from rampaging villagers.
Sheva also has the means and the know-how to hold her own in the game’s tighter situations. She comes equipped with a high-powered rifle as well as a jumping kick, capable of disposing of most enemies the pair encounters. She knows when she’s running low on ammo, and will grab any pick-ups she needs to continue fighting. That’s not to say you don’t have to worry about her - she’s every bit as susceptible to enemy attacks as Chris is. If Sheva gets herself in a tight spot, you’d better find her and lend a hand - if either of you fall, it’s Game Over. Thankfully, the game pops up obvious ‘RESCUE!’ or ‘DYING!’ messages next to Sheva’s health bar, allowing you to easily check on how she’s doing.
Aesthetically, Resident Evil 5 has a lot going for it. The game is a visual powerhouse, boasting beautiful (and destructible!) environments and vividly detailed character and enemy models. Look closely, and you’ll see Chris’ knifes and guns bouncing on his belt as he runs and strands of his hair caught in the breeze. Resident Evil 5 is the first game in the series to take place in broad daylight, which makes for a fresh new art style. Even with this far to go in development, the game is one of the best looking console games on the market.
Note: the Chainsaw is NOT Your Friend
Resident Evil 4 was a landmark title in the action genre three years ago, and Resident Evil 5 has the potential to top it in every way. It manages to stick to what made its predecessor such a winner three years ago, while adding new features -like online coop- to help cement it into the new generation of gaming. The game has tremendous promise backed up by a superb pedigree, and we’re eager to see more of it. We’ll have more coverage as we near its release date in March 2009.