We have the Resident Evil 5 demo!

Our impressions? Incredibly fun mixed with a swift kick in the ass. You see, both of the levels are liberal with bloodthirsty enemies. And just like the village courtyard intro to RE4, you learn the controls and co-op mechanics in a brutally quick trial-by-fire. Besides the rejiggered controls (shoot with the trigger, hold Left bumper to brandish knife), you need to learn how to help partner character Sheva.

Remember, even if you go it alone, Sheva will always be there in the single-player campaign. And she can definitely hold her own. She picks off enemies with deadly accuracy almost quicker than you can and she’ll save you when your health is low. However, you need to learn how to return the favor. In a fight-or-flight atmosphere with scarce ammo, we quickly learned how to bolt out of a deadly situation. However, Sheva wasn’t always that lucky. We’d turn around and saw her fending for herself.

Co-op is both splitscreen and on-line. We tried our hand at splitscreen and not only had more fun, but lasted longer with an additional human playing. Not only are the “holy crap” moments a lot more fun, but it’s way easier to work as a team when you can communicate with the other player. Sheva isn’t gimped in any way and you’ll find her weapon selection is a little different depending on the scenario.

A couple of times in the second section, we had to split up. And that’s where things got incredibly tough. While Player 2 was being mobbed across the street, we had to quickly find a way to provide cover fire and assist. We worry what this would be like in a single-player session if Sheva can die almost too easily if you’re not around to save her.

One last issue: it feels really strange not being able to run and gun at the same time. Since RE4’s revamped third-person control scheme, a number of games including Dark Sector and Gears of War have improved upon the formula. Planting your feet to fire off shots feels pretty archaic in 2008 (and by the time the game comes out, 2009). With that many enemies on screen, we feel it almost necessary to run and shoot simultaneously. But we suppose that’s why RE5 is still a survival-horror game. Waiting until March is going to be hell on Earth.

Dec 5, 2008