Capcom's been teasing us with the promise of Resident Evil 5 for quite some time. The highly anticipated follow-up first appeared on our radar in 2005 when it was initially announced. Since then there have been a few appearances and teases for the game, but nothing too meaty outside of trailers and the odd interview. We got a nice surprise at Capcom's recent press event in the form of a new trailer as well as a short look at the game in motion on the Xbox 360, and it has us intrigued.
Producers Jun Takeuchi and Masachika Kawata gave a short presentation that led into a new trailer that they freely admitted would merely raise more questions about what's going on in the game. Takeuchi ran through most of the high-level information that's out for the game. He noted that RE5 is set in Africa and follows Chris Redfield on an adventure that will lead him to discover the origins of the progenitor virus seen in RE: Code Veronica. The trailer was a montage of images and clips that offered a tiny hint at the game's scope and some of the additional locales that you'll reach. We saw ruins, some countryside, riots in the now-familiar village, brutal imagery of locals clashing, and Chris running from a mob. Other parts of the montage included sewers, dogs, fighting on rooftops, a factory explosion, Chris using various weapons, dealing with chainsaw-wielding foes, and a mysterious new female character who welcomes him to Africa. At the end of the trailer, Takeuchi noted that the game is roughly 60% complete and should wind up being more than 20 hours or so.
Once the trailer was over, Takeuchi sprung the surprise and fired up a work-in-progress version of the game on the Xbox 360 for Kawata to play through. The demo opened with Chris Redfield in a house fending off zombies (or whatever the heck they're calling them in this game) as they came in through the front door. From the look of things, the game is sticking pretty close to the core of RE4's combat systems. We saw Chris shoot, stab, and get off a context-sensitive kick on the horde of foes coming at him. As time passed, enemies started pouring down from the ceiling, which added a whole new dynamic to the action. As if all of that wasn't challenging enough, a massive, war-hammer-wielding foe punched a hole through the wall, showing off the new destructible environments and allowing more enemies in.
With the house compromised, Chris was sent running outside through the ruined streets with a mob of foes behind him, including his hammer-wielding friend. The open space offered some new defensive opportunities because Chris was able to ignite some conveniently placed drums, which flamed up nicely and dealt with the smaller enemies. Chris also switched weapons to his shotgun, which tore through groups of foes at close range. Of course, none of this mattered to the massive, hammer-wielding brute who continued to shamble after the hapless adventurer. We then saw Chris take to the rooftops to try to avoid enemies, who simply headed on up after him. The persistent bunch weathered Chris' grenades and weapon fire to keep on coming at him. When none of that worked, Chris nabbed a machine gun and an incendiary grenade and went up to a higher level on the roof to put them to good use. During his maneuvering, he was caught by an enemy and had to shake it off by moving the analog stick and matching a button prompt.
The remainder of the demo showed Chris making use of whatever he could in his surroundings to avoid or defeat his enemies. Takeuchi noted that the town is considerably larger than the one seen in RE4. In addition, he stated that the large enemy with the hammer was basically a one-hit foe (Kawata was using an invincibility cheat for the demo) that players will know to respect fairly quickly. Outside of the demo, Takeuchi didn't offer too much more insight into the game, noting only that more would be revealed at E3.
The work-in-progress 360 version of the game sported impressive graphics and was richly detailed to convey its African town setting. RE5 will run using the most current version of the framework engine that Capcom has been using. Although elements of the visuals were unsettling, they certainly kept with the disturbing theme. Lighting and the like were looking very sharp as the settlement reflected its environment. The detail on Chris is really well done, as are all of his foes and their twisted minions. In terms of audio, the game is sounding great, with everyone's moans fitting quite well.
Based on what we saw, Resident Evil 5 should continue the rejuvenation of the series, which got an impressive jump start with RE4. If the controls remain as solid as the previous incarnation but add some cool stuff, we'll be sold. We're also hoping that there's one heck of a story to be told, one that will hopefully explain the unsettling imagery. Resident Evil 5 is slated to ship during Capcom's fiscal year, which means that it's due at the end of this year or at the start of 2009. Look for more on the game at this year's E3.