Though I've never taken a trip to a sun-weathered and impoverished desert village, Resident Evil 5 taught me all about the experience. Outside of dealing with the scorching temperatures and blinding light, I'd be up against bloodthirsty, human mutations armed with axes, knives, and lots of other killing tools. They'd be courteous enough to leave ammunition and healing herbs laying around for me, but I'd have to find those gifts myself. Too much trouble, really. I now know why I'll never visit such a place, but at least Resident Evil 5 shows people like you and I what we're missing out on.
Resident Evil 4 took the franchise's first steps toward separating it from strict survival horror and B-movie cheesiness. RE5 ventures so much farther away that it has more in common with Gears of War than Day of the Dead. Although my run wasn't brief, I realized this quickly during my hands-on time at E3. Even though I eventually ran out of ammunition, I withstood zombie attacks with surprising resilience, and it didn't seem like Chris's health was buffed up for the show's sake; to an RE fan, it felt normal while altogether unusual.
Things turned toward the weirder when a chainsaw-wielding maniac was to kill me, and I expected that death, only to be knocked to the ground alive. No grisly decapitation? Chris didn't even suffer a scratch, and that too was disappointing; you'd expect more of a game slated for 2009. Heck, even Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe has "battle damage." And since He-Man Redfield was capable of running away from his zombie-like prey, I wasn't at all threatened by the supposedly fleet-footed foes, because in reality, they didn't move much.
The game's surroundings were truly sun-drenched and remarkable, but the whole experience was more of a mixed bag. Anyone who's looking for an action game will likely enjoy Resident Evil 5 if its entirety plays out like the E3 demo did. It does have good, RE4-style controls, but those may feel cumbersome to first-person shooter veterans. Your traveling companion has respectable AI, though her presence detracts from the purity of a "survival horror" experience even more. By no means is it an awful title - on the contrary, it's coming together nicely - but it just doesn't give off that Resident Evil vibe anymore. Didn't Lost Planet already fill this role?
Maybe this is a wise evolution for the series, maybe it isn't, and we'll all have to wait till next year to see what the world decides. In the meantime, I might take another vacation in rural Europe and see how the Ganados are passing the time.