[UPDATE: Friday 17 July - Capcom has confirmed that the PC version of Resident Evil WILL run on XP machines running DirectX 9. The company has clarified that DirectX 10 will be required ONLY for use with Nvidia's 3D Vision goggles. Apologies for any confusion.]
We recently had a chance to see and try out the PC version of Resident Evil 5 at Capcom's California offices, running on both an upper-midrange rig and on a high-end rig with dual GeForce GTX 285 cards in SLI. Both machines were running Windows 7, though the game is planned to support both Windows 7 and Vista, as well as XP, at decently high resolutions, and while the lower-end machine had vsync enabled to keep the frame rate capped to work with the Nvviidia 3D Vision goggles we had handy, the higher-end box had the frame rate uncapped and ran the game at 1280x720x32 bit textures at frame rates of upward of 130-150 frames per second.
While the performance on the higher-end machine is more of a vanity accoutrement for those with space-age computers from the future, owners of decent computers will be able to experience good performance with crisp texturing and more importantly, full lighting (unlike the embarrassing PC port of Resident Evil 4, which shipped with stripped-down visual effects and no real allowances made for the PC's differing control schemes). Fortunately, that won't be the case with the PC version of RE5, which will have full support both for the USB Xbox 360 controller, as well as full-on mouse-and-keyboard free-look, just like your favorite PC-native first-person shooters. You can even switch controls on the fly--should you put down your USB controller and grab your mouse, the game will immediately recognize the change in input and also give differing contextual instructions onscreen (instead of instructing you to press your controller's blue X button to pick up that box of bullets, it'll instead prompt you to press your F key). The PC controls seem to work quite well and are very intuitive; while using a USB controller will activate the classic Resident Evil red laser gun-sight on your weapon to help you paint your targets, switching to a mouse-and-keyboard setup will turn off the laser sight and pull up a traditional targeting reticle with full, free mouse-look--without any console-style "sticky aim" or any other kind of aiming assistance. Using Chris Redfield's knife for close encounters or just to smash open barrels without wasting bullets will be a matter of pressing and holding the space bar to draw your knife, then left-clicking on your mouse (the default fire/attack input) to swing your weapon. What's most gratifying about the PC control scheme is that you don't have to use RE5's "real-time inventory" system, which would pull up your inventory in translucent windows onscreen right on top of the action and right before that raging zombie buried a knife in your face. Instead, you can swap weapons first-person-shooter style with the number keys on your keyboard. You can even reload by pressing the R key.
Aside from the better, more responsive controls, one of the more interesting new features of the PC version is support for Nvidia's 3D Vision goggles, which require you to have a monitor capable of running at at least a 120Hz refresh rate. 3D Vision in RE5 enables depth-of-field effects that appear to "layer" characters onscreen relative to where they're standing. For instance, the infamous execution scene that plays early on in the game actually looks like you're watching it from out of a window as Chris and Sheva are--nearer characters appear closer, while characters standing in the background appear to actually be standing farther away. The goggles also allow for "out-of-screen" effects (such as hurled hatchets that will actually fly toward you and appear to pop out of the screen or blood spatters that will splash up out of slain zombies and appear to momentarily fly out of your monitor). The setup we watched ran at a pretty consistent 30 frames per second with vsync enabled--the lower frame rate was a result of the 3D Vision effects, which actually render the game twice; once normally and once for 3D Vision. Obviously, in order to experience 3D Vision, you'll not only need a high-refresh-rate monitor, but you'll also need to own Nvidia's 3D Vision goggles. If you don't, but you have a fairly good computer, you'll be able to run at higher frame rates closer to 60 (or if you uncap vsync, possibly higher, in the hundreds). To get a sense of how your computer stacks up, you can use Nvidia's recently released Resident Evil 5 benchmark.
Aside from offering strong performance and good controls, Resident Evil 5 for the PC will offer the full experience of the original console versions, uncut. The PC version will also ship with exclusive content in the form of four brand new clothing outfits--two for Chris and two for his companion Sheva--as well as a new, even-harder difficulty level of the game's freeform Mercenaries mode that will triple the number of enemies in each map. It's still not exactly clear how the console's downloadable content (namely, Versus mode) will make its way to your PC--either out-of-the-box or as PC downloadable content--but we're told that the content will appear on the PC in some form, regardless.
Resident Evil 5 for the PC will be released on September 15 of this year. Though the base game will run on XP with DirectX 9.0c, playing the game with Nvidia's 3D Vision goggles will require a machine running DirectX 10 natively. So if you do have that kind of setup and the hardware to run it, you should keep an eye out for the game--it looks great, plays great, and seems to finally be a Resident Evil game built to play for the PC.