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Microsoft Xbox 360 @ Sega / Shin Force
Biohazard 5 / Resident Evil 5 Preview
Geoffrey Duke
1x DVD
Import / Domestic
Dec.31, 2005 (Japan)
TBA, 2006 (USA)
3rd Person
     > I've been a fan of the Resident Evil series since the first game hit the Saturn in the late '90s. Yes, the 3D models looked rougher around the edges than the more than a year older Playstation game without the same shading effects put into place, and yes we were forced to say goodbye to the lovely transparency effects of the PS game and say hello to net curtain substitutes. However, we must bear in mind that Capcom found the Saturn hardware extremely perplexing; I sometimes wonder if any improvements could have been made if that wasn't the case. So fast forward several years, skipping past Capcom wishing that the Playstation brand hadn't spearheaded its way so far into the public consciousness to the point where Code Veronica was put on the Dreamcast initially to give the console a fighting chance against the over-hyped and under-delivering Playstation 2, and bringing Resident Evil 4 to the GameCube with the same goal in mind... to almost no avail, Resident Evil 5 has come upon us all, promising 60 frames per second state-of-the-art realistic graphics and non-linear (I assume that means free-roaming?) gameplay. 

     > The official trailer shows an unidentified man who somewhat resembles Chris Redfield from the first Resident Evil and Code Veronica investigating a seemingly abandoned town armed with a hand-cannon. Human-like shadows are cast before the camera as the sounds of people dragging their feet quickly turn into the dashing of madmen. Soon these shadowy stalkers deliberately obscured from our view swarm this lonesome individual who turns around at the sound of this swarm of people rushing towards him and aims his gun. For the sake of keeping us all in suspense, the rest has been left up to our imaginations for now.

     > Capcom is taking the multi-platform route with the latest game in its popular Survival/Horror franchise (Resident Evil 5 has been announced for both the PS3 and Xbox 360), which bodes well for the future for anyone whom can't afford more than one console. Anyone who doubts the power of the next generation consoles only needs to take one look at the screenshots of this game to put their doubts to rest... assuming they are real-time graphics, which wouldn't surprise me (once upon a time, people thought the real-time cinematics in RE4 for the GameCube were all pre-rendered). The level of detail on the main character's face (from hair to stubble) is simply unprecedented. I remember how impressed I was by how detailed the real-time 3D character models in Code Veronica for the Dreamcast were in their day (they almost looked better than their pre-rendered models, illustrating the huge leap in graphics from 32 bit consoles), and with Capcom always striving to set new standards of graphics, I'm grateful that Resident Evil 5 isn't being held back by the PS2. Can there possibly be a crueller fate than that? As games veer ever closer and closer towards true photo-realism, we can only begin to imagine what the future has in store for game fans. Of course, while hardcore gamers are drooling at the mere sight of next generation graphics, casual players might be wondering why they have to foot the bill for a new console when the all-powerful PS2 already gives them everything they need... Lol.

First Impression
     > Much to my dismay, Capcom took most of the puzzle solving out of this series when they decided to revamp it by taking Resident Evil 4 in an entirely new action-orientated direction (unlike Code Veronica which didn't stray from its old-school roots by having the occasional brain-teasing stumbling block and where ammo conservation meant the difference between life or death but took the graphics of the first three games to the next level). I can't shake the feeling that this was done to make the game more accessible to casual players. Fewer and fewer "gamers" seem to have the patience for juggling items and breaking an old-fashioned code, which might explain why the adventure genre is now stuck in an inexorable period of decline. Of course hurdles might be frustrating if you're eager to find out what happens next, but if you want an easy ride through a suspenseful story that keeps you guessing, then you might find a good movie more to your liking (and better value for money). Resident Evil 4 was said to be an Action/Adventure game with an emphasis on action, so as long as RE5 gives gamers a similarly bumpy action-packed ride with plenty of scares to throw them off-guard along the way, I don't think it risks disappointing anyone. Expect more gore, more dark confining spaces, towering bosses and perhaps even more flesh-eating zombies in overwhelming numbers. Capcom has made it clear that RE5 ties up some of the loose ends of the previous games by continuing the stories they started. If the game is played from the same over-the-shoulder perspective as RE4 for full immersion as the trailer strongly suggests, fans should feel right at home.
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