Today, the Resident Evil 5 demo is available to all Xbox Live members, whether they be Gold or Silver. Playstation 3 owners will still have to wait until next week to experience the demo, but there’s nothing holding them back from reading about our hands-on impressions of the demo before they get their own mitts on it.
The demo is broken up into two levels, Public Assembly and Shanty Town. No context is given as to why you are in either location, or how the events that unfold came together, which is good for those who were hoping to avoid spoilers. Yes, there are a few cutscenes that show off the graphical prowess of this slick looking title, but without the proper context they are all flash and little story.
Capcom didn’t screw around either, letting you get used to the controls or the way that your enemies react to you, instead throwing you into the middle of two areas full of baddies who are armed and want to harm you. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the controls since the demo released, but it’s tough to sympathize too much; there are four different control types, and you can adjust the speed at which you aim. The demo defaults to normal, so moving it to fast or fastest like I did may be best for those who are used to making split-second headshot movements.
Yes, you still feel like a tank since you can’t move while shooting, but the enemies are designed to attack you in a way that will keep you from noticing this for very long. They may run at you quickly, but will slow down in order to melee attack you with a bottle or shovel, or whatever it is they have armed themselves with. That’s your time to set your shot and take out their head in one satisfying press of the right trigger button.
The controls do take some getting used to though, just like every other Resident Evil title that isn’t on the Wii. In control style Type D, the default for the demo, reloading is performed by holding down the left bumper and hitting A, which feels awkward at first. By the time I finished the demo though, it was a fluid motion that you got used to.
Taking out the knife does make things a bit awkward for a time though, as you press the left trigger to wield that before pressing the right trigger to swing it; it’s just a matter of remembering what button combinations perform a specific task, nothing repetition can’t fix. The preference would of course be for controls that feel intuitive right off of the bat, but they are not setup in a way that anyone interested in playing Resident Evil cannot quickly adapt to.
There’s the worry that Capcom has replaced the survival horror element entirely with a more action-oriented approach, but that’s another area where the complaints need to tone down a bit, just based off of the demo anyways. The areas you were in were brightly lit, but you were sorely outnumbered, low on ammunition and health, and fighting mini boss enemies in tight corridors and enclosed spaces; that’s a different kind of dread that Capcom is trying to make you feel. Whether it’s as effective as the old style is something that needs to be figured out over the course of the full game, not the short demo.
One thing that does work is the co-op mode. Sheva, when controlled by the AI, is intelligent. She doesn’t just sit around and let you take out the enemies, and she is there to heal you, free you from the clutches of an enemy, or give you ammunition when you are low on it. You need to keep her alive as well, so be a good teammate and return the favors. If you don’t want to deal with the AI, you have the option to play co-op both offline or online as well.
It looks like this game is shaping up to be another great entry in the series, but time will tell if it’s as good as its predecessor. Those are some big shoes to fill, which is why Capcom has changed some parts of the game so drastically (the setting, adding co-op, etc.). This is definitely a demo you are going to want to check out though; just remember to play with the controls a bit, because they take some getting used to.