Recently I've tried the Resident Evil 5 (RE 5) demo. I'm a fan of the previous episodes. Not a HUGE fan, but I know the subject: I played to RE 1, 2, Code Veronica, Rebirth, 0, and RE 4. And I have to say that this 5th episode doesn't quite convince me...

What I like in the games prior to the 4th episode are the atmosphere, the strong feeling of vulnerability and the puzzles. Your avatar only had 4 health points and ammunitions were rare so you really had to avoid fighting, your inventory was quite small so you had to choose carefully what stuff you'd take with you (more health kits or more ammo?), your sense of orientation was challenged, that kind of stuff. Those ingredients created a new genre that can legitimely be called survival / horror. This all disappeared in RE 4 which flushed the frustrating camera and inventory away, but with it, many of the things that made the Resident Evil series what it was: out the evil company Umbrella, out the puzzles, out the zombies (the enemies are infected by a horrible parasite) and so on. To me, RE 4 was an excellent action game, but a terrible Resident Evil. Capcom certainly hoped to capitalize on the brand, but the idea is a bit weird: the gap with the first games is so important that old fans were disappointed and I guess that old haters were still repeled by the only sound of the name.


RE 5 is the direct descendant of RE 4: fast pace, hordes of infected, ammo and money popping out of dead bodies, camera located above the shoulder of the avatar. The new thing is that the hero is now followed in his mission by a sexy partner. And I think that there was many other places for improvement, but the devs blew it. The controls are horrible: while the game is loading, the key mapping is displayed on screen, but before you've read everything (or anything) the game starts. And it fails to tell you that you can use the cross to quickly switch weapons. Suddenly, your gun runs out of ammo, and you swear, trying to switch to your shotgun using the menu while the infected kiss you in the neck. You reload the level, this time you manage to keep the enemy at distance but eventually some big guy breaks in the house you were hinding in and smash your partner with a giant axe. Game over. AAArr!


Every time you restart, you come to a new sad realization: this big-manly-sweating character you control is obviously motor impaired because he can't fire a gun or reload or use his arm-long knife without his two feet stongly anchored in the ground. The two partners can't exchange a couple clips of ammo, instead they have to pass the whole stock, leaving the other one defenseless. The big guy with the big axe seems invincible and the mission ends only if you survive long enough, meaning you can run around the level and still win. In fact that the best way to stay alive. Doors can be kicked, but you can't close them (they automatically close after some time), you can't jump off a roof or even run (RUN!) without pressing a button... At this point, you're so frustrated that the coop mode is not able to save the experience. I remember thinking "this makes me wanna play Left 4 Dead right now".


To conclude, it took me at least 7 times to finish the first level of the demo. The true spirit of Resident Evil died with RE4, and now RE 5 is probably gonna kill a decent action gameplay with silly usability issues. The game is not out yet, but I'm not hopeful.