E3 2008: Resident Evil 5 Hands-On Preview

"Resident Evil…Five."

I don’t know if Capcom’s next entry into the long-running survival horror series opens with those words, but I do know that after playing the game in Capcom’s suite on the second floor of the LA Convention Center last week, it’s definitely one of my most anticipated phrases of the current console generation.

Those of you who have been following the game, watching the videos, and looking at screen shots can probably tell that Resident Evil 5 has a lot in common with its predecessor, Resident Evil 4. The game uses the same over-the-shoulder perspective that has become standard in more than half of the third-person action titles released since RE4, and focuses more on fast-paced, high-intensity combat than the methodical exploration and conflict avoidance of older Resident Evil games.

Also like Resident Evil 4, RE5 puts a member of the S.T.A.R.S. team (this time Chris Redfield) into a foreign environment flooded with enemies far more dangerous than lumbering zombies. This time the player is dumped into the heart of Africa–the birthplace of the Progenitor virus.


Resident Evil 5


The demo at E3 proved that even in bright, outdoor environments, Resident Evil 5 still manages to keep players as jumpy as chipmunk on a caffeine high. Only moments after I began, the building my partner and I were hiding in was overrun by crazed, non-zombie locals who wanted nothing more than to see me lying in a pool of my own blood. These particular enemies didn’t display any notably impressive tactical intelligence, but were fast, focused, armed, and…many. It seems that the enemy AI hasn’t been perfected just yet, though, because the larger and more threatening executioner enemy became randomly stunned a number of times during the demo, making him an easy target for the lead I was ejecting into his face.

The game’s controls are an updated version of Resident Evil 4’s scheme, where the right trigger and left control stick aim (left trigger for the knife) and the A button fires. Context sensitive actions such as jumping through windows, climbing up ladders, and delivering stiff right crosses or size 13 boot stomps to the jaws of stunned or downed opponents are back for another go-around, while the pause screen-only equipment management is thankfully not. Now, players can switch weapons and use items without leaving the action via a pop-up item overlay. One of the biggest complaints about RE4 was the way players swapped weapons, so this is a welcome addition, but the necessity to press a button to select from the on-screen selection boxes may benefit from a slight re-tooling. It’d be far more intuitive to simply hold down the inventory button and release it while the desired item was highlighted. Capcom toldus that the control scheme has not been finalized at this point, though, so there may be alterations and adjustments by the time we get the game home.


Resident Evil 5


The game still plays very nicely, even eight months out from its March 15th release date. The gunplay is finely tuned and if the demo levels are any indicator, the environments will be incredibly detailed and interactive spaces. Enemies respond to specific wounds, falling to the ground when shot in the legs or holding their faces and wildly thrashing about when they take one in the mouth. When Chris is badly wounded, he will respond unfavorably, as well. Players’ actions will be limited as he nears death, and the screen will darken and become slightly distorted until a first aid spray or green herb is used. I didn’t have the opportunity to try out multiplayer during my time with Resident Evil 5, but this will likely be a very important part of the tag-team experience. Capcom promises local and online two-player cooperative play where one player controls Chris and the other controls Sheva, the femme fatale pictured above, in a jump in/jump out system that spans RE5’s full story.

I’m very excited to play more Resident Evil 5, and expect nothing but good things to come of it. The visuals are stunning, the animations are already silky smooth, the audio sounds like it will be immersive and appropriate for the subject matter, and the gameplay is right where it needs to be. In the time it takes for the full game to hit store shelves, Resident Evil 5 should be polished to an incredible shine.


  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Myspace
  • Google Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Stumnleupon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Technorati
Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

Leave A Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.