RE5 demo impressions

It’s currently quarter to six in the morning where I live and no, I haven’t gone to bed yet. I stayed up until the Resident Evil 5 demo was released on Live a little bit after 4am. Amaterasu and I messed around with the co-op for a bit before he needed to go. I, on the other hand, was off work today so I stayed up to complete both scenarios the demo has to offer. Yes, there’s two fairly short levels you can play in the demo. Both levels are enclosed and tight spaces, giving you a claustrophobic feeling but I hope that the areas are a bit more wider in the final version only because I’m not too thrilled at the idea of the whole gaming being +this+ linear.

The first level, Public Assembly, takes place at a small part of the village. (You know the trailer that features the guy giving a speech with a megaphone? Yeah, it takes place there.) Chris and Sheva barricade themselves in a small house as they try to pick off some of the mob, but of course, the barricade is eventually torn down. Soon they find themselves coming face to face with a giant, hooded man wielding a huge axe. It’s a mini-boss fight that spreads out into the streets containing a few other buildings you can run into and climb the roofs of in order to put some space between you and the axeman. Explosive barrels are littered throughout the area, allowing you to lead him to them and shoot them off. The whole idea is to survive until reinforcements show up. (I don’t believe there’s a time limit; it just ends once you kill the axeman. At least, that is the impression I was given.)

The second level, something Town…Hell if I remember it’s going on 6am…is the neighboring area. Here you can explore a bit as you meet a new enemy type: some flying bug thing. This is also were the co-op shines. When Sheva is tossed over the next building, it’s up to Chris to help cover her with the sniper rifle from the other. Once the door on the other building has been opened, the two can proceed onward only to be confronted by another mini-boss, the chainsaw guy. Again, much like the first level, you’re confined to a small area with explosive barrels. You can either use to clear out multiple weaker enemies at once or use to knock out some of the mini-boss’ health and knock him down to allow you to get some good shots into him before he goes after you again.

The gameplay is good and solid. Besides following Resident Evil 4’s over the shoulder camera, the game has also adapted Resident Evil 4’s laser pointer, melee moves via button sequences, and inventory style. However, unlike the previous Resident Evil titles (besides Outbreak), the game does not pause itself when accessing the inventory screen. When you go to use a health item or change weapons, you become vulnerable since you are unable to move forcing you to rely on your partner.

Having co-op in a Resident Evil title might seem a bit unorthodox, even with a couple previous games having two characters together, but it actually was executed very well. There are a few parts where you do feel like you can carry your own weight but there’s also a few parts where you are completely grateful to have someone by your side. When getting pinned by an enemy, the other player has an option to go and help you by knocking the enemy off of you. If you don’t have a real-life friend helping you out, don’t worry, you’re not at a complete lose. The AI in Sheva (who will be a NPC if you don’t have someone else to play her) is fairly smart. She’ll gather ammo, give some if you need it, she’ll heal you, and she can stand pretty well on her own. However, I do wish that there was some sort of “Give me” command similar to what was seen in Outbreak. I say this because at one point, I found myself mistakenly giving her all my handgun ammo and not having any way to get some of it back because she just wouldn’t give it to me. (Greedy bitch…)

The difficult of the game also seems to change depending on if you are playing with someone or playing alone. When Amaterasu and I were playing together, there seemed to be a higher density of enemies, a little less ammo since we both were going through it pretty quickly, and the enemies just felt a bit more aggressive. Yet, when I was playing alone, there seemed to be fewer enemies that, while still aggressive, didn’t overpower me like they did when playing with him. Then of course I could be greedy and horde all the ammo and health for myself if I wanted. (Naturally I didn’t though because I needed Sheva’s support and honestly, giving her some health items to hold isn’t a bad idea since she is pretty good at healing you when your health gets low. It frees up some of your inventory space and gives you one less thing to think about.)

The game is naturally good looking but like so many other current games, the areas felt a tiny bit bland since tans and browns were the dominant colors. The environments were detailed though I didn’t get a chance to see how the real time effects were since there wasn’t much in the environments to see blowing in the wind. The character movements are superb though. The animations between switching weapons on the fly or doing some bad ass looking kick were smooth. There wasn’t any choppiness between me changing from a shooting position to a kicking or punching position to knock some enemies away from my partner. The enemies movements were not jumpy either, though I will go to say that the blood and the decomposing effects look like bubbling jelly…

The controls were solid and easy to use once you get the hang of it. You might find yourself accidentally giving away an item when you meant to use it yourself or you might find yourself shooting when you meant to swing the knife or vise versa. But once you do get a hang of things and learn to balance out the items that you need and the items that your partner needs (unless you’re playing with a person who I would hope tells you what they need and can think for themselves, if not, get a better friend), you’ll do just fine. I personally felt that it was too easy but I’m hoping it is just because this is a demo probably taken from a very early part of the game. I’d like to think that the difficult will be a bit more tense in the final version or later parts of the game. It didn’t necessarily take away the fun factor of the game, but when I saw just how easy it was to actually beat each level, I just felt a bit unsatisfied because I was expecting something a bit rougher.

Basically, if you’ve played any Resident Evil game before, even if it was just Resident Evil 4, you’ll have no trouble jumping into this game. Once you get the co-op controls down, you’ll do pretty well. Newcomers might have a bit of difficulty at figuring out how to conserve ammo or find alternative ways to dealing with the situations but the game shouldn’t make you feel too overwhelmed.

I don’t have doubts the final version of the game will be a good. I just hope there’s some edgy parts in it when it’s done.

Now…I’m gonna go to bed…but before I go…

Also, I have come to the conclusion that there’s a strong possibility of these enemies being infected with a Los Plagas/T-Virus hybrid. I say this because when playing the demo, I noticed that if you shot them in the head, something similar to the Los Plagas pops out. However, unlike the Los Plagas in Resident Evil 4, these enemies did not require either a flash bang or an additional, strong force (such as a shotgun blast or machine gun fire or multiple shots with the handgun) to kill them. Instead, it was an instant kill similar to zombies with decapitation.

I don’t know if it happens to be this way in the demo so it’s simple and easy for people try the game out or if this is really how it is. If it does turn out to be like this, then perhaps the enemies adopted the Los Plagas appearance but has T-virus (aka zombie) weakness of being unable to function without the head.

(Damn it, Capcom…Stop spying on me…)