Hands-On Preview: A zombie with a chainsaw who looks like Jason that has to be taken down with grenades. Hell... Yes... Capcom has done it again.
Playing the Resident Evil 5 demo has caused me to learn two facts. The first is that Resident Evil 5
feels a lot like its award-winning predecessor, Resident Evil 4
. The second is that I really suck at Resident Evil 5. I was killed in a variety of blood drenched ways, some spectacular, some mundane, but all gruesome.
After getting a headshot on one Majini villager, a swarm of tentacles exploded out of the gaping hole in his neck and sucked out my remaining health. I was also killed by a villager slashing at me with a simple kitchen knife. I was killed when an executioner with a very sharp axe swung his very sharp axe into my sternum. Most spectacularly, I was killed when a chainsaw-wielding villager lovingly took his time to remove my head from my body. Capcom has said that Resident Evil 5 won't be a typical horror game and will instead be more action-oriented, however, I was plenty scared even though all this death and dismemberment was going on during the day.
While the game's location may have changed from Spain to Africa, Resident Evil 5 feels very similar to its predecessor. The revamped RE4 control scheme and over the shoulder camera return in a slightly more refined way. It works just as well as ever and fans of RE4 will feel right at home in RE5. However, being unable to move while using the machete is an archaic control choice. I know that's how it worked in Resident Evil 4 and I can understand that standing firm allows for better aiming of firearms, but running and slashing with a sword is really the only logical way to survive when your opponent has more in common with John Carpenter's The Thing than Zorro.
However, one part of the control scheme did receive a major overhaul: bringing up your inventory no longer pauses the game. Having to switch weapons or reload while a horde of infected villagers is bearing down on you also provides plenty of scares.
The demo is split up into two levels, Assembly Place and Shanty Town. Each gives a decent overview of what players can expect from the game, though Shanty Town feels more "open" in its level design. And while RE5 may bring back fond memories of RE4, the new cooperative play style of the game is a true revolution. The AI controlling Sheva is smart, but not indestructible, and the two characters work well together.
For example, once your health drops down too far, the screen begins to flash and the word "DYING" appears in place of the health bar. If your partner is quick enough, they can restore a minute bit of health by keeping your character from collapsing. Weapons, ammo and other items can also be traded at will. Such teamwork is required for some of the demo's more advanced challenges.
One of these challenges is a section of the Shanty Town level that requires Chris to help Sheva jump from one building to another so she can work her way down to the ground floor to break the lock on the other side of the door. But Chris has to do more than just wait for her at the door. He has to match her pace down the stairs and cover her with rifle fire to keep the villagers from overwhelming her.
The level then introduces one of the demo's two bosses: the Chainsaw Majini. The Chainsaw Majini is tough (and resembles Jason Vorhees more than a little bit) and requires precise teamwork to kill because his chainsaw is a one-hit kill machine. Playing cat and mouse, laying down cover fire and utilizing the complementary weapon loadouts that Chris and Sheva have are required for victory.
The demo also gives players the chance to take on the Majini in the online co-op mode and it is even better than pairing with an AI partner. The game plays smooth as silk with another person online and the possibilities for teamwork and strategy seem endless when the world of Resident Evil 5 is stretched before you online.