Resident Evil 4 is Hideo Kojima's favourite game at this year's E3, while random Americans walking past the game's pods at the event can be heard to proclaim "this looks awesome". And you know what? They're right.
The reinvention of the Resi series - proper 3D gameplay, the loss of those pre-rendered backgrounds and no more slowly opening doors - works an absolute treat. Even the lack of proper zombies is a good thing: those inbred, sack-wearing villagers are far more scary than the hokey George Romero rip-offs of yore.
The level we played saw us skulking around a farm, which was populated by numerous maniacal villagers wielding a selection of brutally effective weapons (pitchfork, axe, chainsaw - you get the idea), a smattering of chickens and a cow. The poor creature didn't appear to pose much of a threat but, just to be on the safe side, we shot it anyway.
To begin with, we were equipped with a pistol, replete with laser targeting attachment. This proves to be vital for pulling off head shots (which are massively gory), the instant kills with which they result being crucial at this stage as you only have limited ammo. Luckily, if you head inside one of the farm's outhouses, you'll find a slew of pick-ups, including a shotgun, which is capable of taking out at least three of those braindead hicks at once. Oh, and shooting them in the, erm, *cojones* also appears to result in one-shot deaths. Little tip for you there.
In fact, the game is so gory (and, compared to its predecessors, realistic looking) that it's actually surprising that it exists for a Nintendo console. Shoot a villager in the head and the cousin-loving weirdo's skull will explode in particularly violent fashion, while the inevitable moment during which you get your head chainsawed off is, to be fair, really rather unsettling. Many of the basic gameplay characteristics are the same as before though, such as the inventory system, which will look immediately familiar if you've played any of the older Residents. We'll have exclusive footage of it in action in the very near future.
Resident Evil 4 is due to be released for Gamecube in early 2005