We were invited up to Capcom's hotel suite to get some hands on time with their games and we were extremely excited about playing Resident Evil 5, which releases in March 2009.
The survival horror franchise that started it all is coming back and will be making its next-gen debut with simultaneous releases on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Click through to read our full report.
We tested the "October Build" of the game, which was running on the Xbox 360 hardware. The PS3 version was also playable, but we just happened to sit down when it was setup on the Xbox 360.
There are two control schemes available with one mirroring the controls from Resident Evil 4 and one that plays more closely to a Western shooter like Gears of War. Like good Americans, we opted for the latter. The controls themselves are crisp and skilled players will be hitting headshots with ease.
The first major improvement we noticed was the inventory system, which also has major gameplay consequences. By hitting the Y button, the inventory is called up, but the game no longer pauses. Instead, a semi-translucent grid is brought up, which allows the player to quickly manage their inventory... even while an insane enemy wielding a chainsaw rushes toward you.
This new system includes item management for Sheva as well, which lets the player trade items between her and Chris. We opted to keep the sniper rifle and let her keep the automatic weapon. She is effective as backup and will actually put enemies down on her own.
We did notice several times, however, where she will blindly following Chris during a fight instead of actively take part in the battle. If you turn to retreat, she will too, even if she isn't immediately in danger. This also means that running away and doing a quick 180 degree turn often results in having Sheva directly in your line of fire. We'd love to see some better partner AI by release, but it doesn't detract from the game drastically.
Sheva gets her own life bar and if she takes too much damage, she'll drop to the ground and bleed out... another similarity to Gears of War. Chris can revive her, but if he doesn't make it in time, it's game over.
The other thing we noticed about this next-gen Resident Evil is that a great number of things in the game world can be interacted with. Explodable barrels litter the streets and doors can be shot through. Some larger enemies can even destroy the walls of weak buildings to get at you. The strategy of making enemies tunnel through a single doorway will not always work in this game.
The game still plays out with set areas that enemies attack from and great set pieces that require teamwork and quick thinking. Bigger enemies shrug off non-headshots and attack without mercy. We also noticed some enemies take a step away from explosive barrels, but it could have just been a normal animation to get out of the player's line of fire.
All in all, the game looks great and plays exceptionally well. We can't wait to get our hands on the full version when it releases on March 13, 2009.