I was recently able to get my hands on the Resident Evil 5 Japanese demo on the Xbox 360. The American version is set to hit the Live Marketplace on January the 26th. The only seemingly different aspect of the American version is that it adds an extra level, or so it is reported. Other than that, the audio and text of the Japanese demo are in English, and the gameplay remains the same. Hit the jump for some impressions.
As soon as you boot it up, Capcom immediately lets you know that they are committed to the same great authenticity found in previous Resident Evil titles. The “Resident…Evillll” announcer is still in tact, and the menus are easy to navigate. The demo has three modes: offline-single player, offline-split screen, and online play, with the online option being disabled on the Japanese demo for the time being. Once the American demo hits, you should be able to play online with a friend for its entirety.
Player one controls Chris Redfield, and player two controls Sheva Alomar, Chris’ partner. There is really no difference between them, besides the fact that on each of the levels the two characters start with different weapons. If the player chooses single player, Sheva is controlled by a remarkably smart AI. The multiplayer aspect allows player two to become Sheva. In addition to certain co-op actions in the demo, you may also trade items between each other.
The game consists of two levels: A village, and a city. The village is essentially a survival level akin to Horde mode in Gears of War 2. In a short intro movie, you are caught spying on the locals, and have about five minutes until the rescue chopper comes. If anyone is worried that Resident Evil 5 won’t have enough zombies, worry no more. Scores of zombies were assaulting me the entire time, and I felt that there were even more than previous iterations of the series. Like Resident Evil 4, enemies will climb fences, break down doors, smash through windows, and come through the ceiling. Essentially, no location is safe. In addition to the “new” zombies Capcom introduced in RE4, there is a giant executioner foe. This enemy seemingly cannot be killed, no matter how much you shoot him. He’ll follow you around the entire level, and his giant axe reaches unbelievable lengths.
The survival area is quite large, and there are a handful of ladders and high-risers to climb, but enemies will quickly find a way up there. Within five minutes time I was already feeling the intensity of the game. It was absolutely insane running from the infected, and I even yelled out loud once. I was also extremely impressed with the co-op. It’s very rewarding to finally be able to play a Resident Evil with a friend, and plan out strategies while on the run. The addition of the executioner was also terrifying; my co-op buddy and I were inches away from being crushed numerous times when we thought we were safe.
The City is a more linear level. It has small buildings, and a large complex with three stories. In pure Resident Evil fashion, there are many hidden ammo and health stashes. Team oriented gameplay is more predominant here, as there are two times in the level where you and your partner will be split up. In one section, Sheva is on top of a building picking off targets while Chris is up close and personal. In another area, Chris launches Sheva over a gap onto the roof of another building. Enemies immediately attack Sheva, and it’s up to Chris to snipe the enemies across the gap while she fights for her life. At the end of the level, a chainsaw fanatic from Resident Evil 4 attacks. Unlike the Executioner, he is actually killable.
Resident Evil 5 hasn’t introduced anything startling to the franchise, but the addition of co-op play makes up for it. The graphics are absolutely beautiful, and the sound is pristine. The controls are still quasi-classic Resident Evil, however, and that may bother some people. While the many improvements to the controls made in RE4 are still apparent, stationary shooting is still found in RE5. If people can get past this fact, Resident Evil 5 may surpass 4 as the greatest in the series.
Note: The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are identical