E3 2008

E3 2008: Resident Evil 5 Hands-On

| 16 Jul 2008 19:00

In the latest installment of Capcom's long-running survival horror franchise, you're outnumbered and fighting for your life, but at least you're not alone.

Resident Evil 5 looks and feels very much like Resident Evil 4, both visually and thematically. The graphics have gotten a next-gen polish, but you're once again fighting infected victims, not full-blown zombies. What makes RE5 a new experience is the addition of Sheva, the operative who's watching your back. She's more than just a pretty face, however; she provides covering fire, can give you a quick health boost when you're perilously close to death, and even share her ammo when you're running low.

I got to play part of a level on the PS3 version of the game, in which Sheva and I were trying to fend off what seemed to be an entire village of infected - including a hulking terror with an enormous axe - until a chopper could fly in and rescue us. The controls and camera are largely unchanged from Resident Evil 4, which makes it easy to jump right in. The infected are smart and ferocious, so to keep them at bay you'll have to cleverly manage your environment. You can hole up in a building, push a bookcase in front of a window and force a choke point at the door that will let you mow down the infected with ease. You can also shoot barrels to create fire barriers that will not only do damage, but also give you the breathing room you need to reload, use a health spray, or even just plain run.

The AI for Sheva was impressive, and she did a fine job of pulling her own weight. She will occasionally get into a jam, however, and it's up to you to come to her rescue by hitting the circle button and disposing of whatever creep is trying to do her harm.

During Microsoft's press conference, Capcom announced that Resident Evil 5 will be co-op, though it still doesn't quite know if said co-op will be online only. While I'm normally a huge advocate of couch co-op, I don't think a split screen approach would work well in this case. I feel like it would really limit your ability to adequately see your environment and use it to your advantage, which is a vital part of fighting the infected. We'll see which way Capcom decides to go when Resident Evil 5 comes out next March.

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