Resident Evil 5 – hands-on

Resident Evil 5 played us like a flute at October%26rsquo;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 %26lsquo;evidenced%26rsquo; by a briefly glimpsed tombstone? Here%26rsquo;s a hint: in a series known for bringing the impaled, dismembered and infected back for %26lsquo;surprise%26rsquo; 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%26rsquo;re at it.

Capcom%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s become fairly obvious that the Amazonian Sheva Alomar shares top billing with Chris Redfield %26ndash; this is a co-op game, after all %26ndash; so the limelight at TGS turned as much to the game%26rsquo;s supporting cast, led by a fan-favorite bad guy returning in typicallyover-the-top style.

Okay, so Wesker kicked asses from pillar to post in RE4%26rsquo;s Mercenaries mode. But the rogue agent and consummate %26lsquo;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%26rsquo;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. %26ldquo;Like those Ganados detailed in the Kennedy report,%26rdquo; 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%26rsquo;s obvious why Capcom chose the parched, hostile setting.There%26rsquo;s always been that Black Hawk Down vibe to the thing %26ndash; the escape from the hornet%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;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.