New details of Resident Evil 4 reveal that, incredibly, the game is entirely free of zombies. Instead, according to sources in Japan, you'll be facing "villagers". Rather than having to fend off dumb, shambling members of the undead, these people have smarts, so it should mean that the game's enemies will be far more interesting in their AI and behaviour. Plus, they come armed for the fight and can throw their weapons of choice, which includes sickles and axes.
As the game progresses, the enemies increase in awareness and intelligence. While, early on, you'll be able to lock on to a bad guy and simply pump lead into him, later in the game he'll keep his distance. And, if you decide to give chase, he just might scarper around the corner where six of his mates are waiting with bow guns - which is a real example from the game in action. To add insult to injury, in the latter stages the screen will be pitch black and you'll only be able to see the townsfolk by moonlight.
The game now comes fitted out with a first-person viewpoint that swings around from the familiar third-person perspective and puts the enemy directly in front with your character in the left-hand corner of the screen. Potentially, this could improve the gameplay by a significant degree. Think of the increased fun in Metal Gear Solid 2 compared to the first game after they bolted on the first-person view. Above all, it gave players the mechanics to shoot accurately. If they get the viewpoint right, we can imagine Resident Evil 4 doing something similar for the series. Being able to choose your shots more carefully not only means saving ammo but also gives you a sweet view of the resulting carnage - especially now that enemies show where they're damaged and act accordingly, such as dragging a leg you've taken a chunk out of.
Other titbits of new info are that the game has very short loading times, you can shoot down items that get thrown at you and that physical points and bullets left will be shown on-screen. As much as we've liked the stylish Resi 4 screenshots that have passed our way over the last year, we were getting a little worried that we hadn't seen one drop of spilled blood. Consider that resolved by the nasty-as-hell screenshot on the right. What we've seen recently suggests that this is as bloody, if not more so, than ever. Good.
Resident Evil 4 is scheduled for release later this year on Gamecube