Resident Evil 5 played us like a flute at October’s Tokyo Game Show, packing into two new trailers enough nudging references to keep fans bickering for months. Could Jill Valentine really be dead, as ‘evidenced’ by a briefly glimpsed tombstone? Here’s a hint: in a series known for bringing the impaled, dismembered and infected back for ‘surprise’ roles in its sequels, the chances of a full-blown kick of the bucket are pretty much nil. Add to that the high heels of its mysterious new character, cloaked and covered by a bird mask, and you have a twist as telegraphed as any in MGS4. Or do you? Dammit, now we’re at it.
Capcom’s storytelling may pale next to the average episode of Hollyoaks, but the new trailer ups the ante from RE4, throwing the covers off a game that is visually beyond even Dead Rising and Lost Planet, full of the sexy survival horror that Capcom long ago made its own. It’s become fairly obvious that the Amazonian Sheva Alomar shares top billing with Chris Redfield – this is a co-op game, after all – so the limelight at TGS turned as much to the game’s supporting cast, led by a fan-favorite bad guy returning in typically over-the-top style.
Okay, so Wesker kicked asses from pillar to post in RE4’s Mercenaries mode. But the rogue agent and consummate ‘80s throwback is now firmly back in the driving seat, with a god-complex matched by some superhuman combat powers. Ostensibly another take on the last game’s crowd control, RE5 is an origin story at heart, tracing the T-virus back to its African roots, right back to the plantations and labs buried long ago by the Umbrella Corporation. A new entity, TriCell, seems set upon digging those secrets up, even if it means turning local villagers into parochial mobs. “Like those Ganados detailed in the Kennedy report,” notes Redfield, they chase down and execute traitors and outsiders. That means you, buddy boy.
Seeing the trailer before sitting down with a new build, it’s obvious why Capcom chose the parched, hostile setting. There’s always been that Black Hawk Down vibe to the thing – the escape from the hornet’s nest. And the awkward racial connotations involved are still there, though mitigated somewhat by an increased number of white faces in the angry crowd. The game’s prejudice, though, is reserved exclusively for the developed world: the companies like Umbrella and characters such as Wesker, whose thirst for power would happily make the entire planet their victims.