previewed on X360
When Shinji Mikami’s Clover Studios unveiled their new take on the Resident Evil series in Resident Evil 4, many fans were worried. The old Resi had been all about fear: do you have enough ammo? Is that zombie actually dead? Are any dogs about to jump through these windows…? That was all well and good, but for Mikami it wasn’t good enough. He changed the focus from fleeing to fighting, and it paid off. One of, if not the, greatest survival horrors of all time was born. Resident Evil 4 was a critical and commercial success, spawning a PS2 and PC port and gaining the series new legions of fans. Capcom realised that they had a winning formula on their hands, and decided to use it again. But has Resident Evil 4 been resurrected, or is it just plain dead?
First impressions would point to… a little bit of both. The first thing that will jump out of the screen and tear at your neck (metaphorically, of course) are the visuals. Frankly, they are mind-blowing. The game looks astonishingly good, and certainly stands up to the Gears of War’s and Killzone 2’s of the world, probably surpassing them in sheer polygon count. No matter what you are doing or where you are doing it, Resident Evil 5 gives you plenty of eye candy to make your journey more bearable. The second major change from Resident Evil 4 is the character you control; Leon Kennedy is out, and fan favourite Chris Redfield is back in the next gen driving seat. However, this is only an aesthetic difference; Chris retains all of the moves Leon had in Resident Evil 4, and the ‘tank’ controls remain, but with one difference.
Many complained about Resident Evil 4’s controls, claiming that being able to shoot and run would have elevated the experience even further. On the surface this appears to be a fair point, but the game was built around the tension of being rooted to the spot as you tried to decapitate your stumbling foes. Capcom understand that their audience (on the 360 at least) will largely be comprised of shooter fiends honed on the likes of Gears of War 2 and Halo 3, and so they have included a more action friendly control scheme to go alongside Resident Evil 4’s more tense one. It is a decision that pleases everybody, as long as the superb controls from its prequel remain as tight as they were back when you were traversing Spanish villages.
Another element that may have been ‘borrowed’ from other modern shooters is the ability to play the game cooperatively. Chris now has a lady friend, Sheva, who helps him throughout the game. But you don’t just have to battle on with the AI; Sheva can be controlled by a human partner, leading to a more tactical approach to the game’s many fire fights. The co op certainly looks intriguing, and some examples of detail we have seen so far include a rooftop battle where one of you backs the other up actually showing the laser sight of your partner swinging around, momentarily landing on a zombie’s face before it explodes.