Resident Evil 4 ECTS Hands-on Preview

First off here, I have to say I’m not a big fan of the Resident Evil games, so if it sounds if I’m being a bit hard on the game, that’s because I am.

I also have to apologize for the quality of some of the screenshots, I was always told not to use a flash when taking screenshots, but I did one with flash by accident and that was the one that came out the best.

The demo I played was just a small area where you had to get from one point to another along a path through a forest along the way there are a couple of buildings, but nothing major until you reach the village at the end.

Leon crosses a bridge.

As far as I could see there was none of the usual illogical RE puzzles in this demo, just get from point A to point B without dying, there were a few objects to pick up along the way, but they were mainly handgun ammo and green herbs (although I did see someone playing later using a shotgun). You are armed with a pistol and hunting knife to start with and given one med spray (which you’ll soon end up using) and a pair of binoculars.

As Leon approaches the village he scopes it out with some handy binoculars.

Along the way you bump into some small groups of villagers, from just the odd one up to 3 of them. And despite capcoms insistence that they are not Zombies they sure act like them, they are quite slow moving and just head straight for you with no signs of any real intelligence, they are also harder to kill than your average human being, a head shot with a pistol at point blank range should’ve killed one outright, but it doesn’t. The villagers are armed with various farming implements, such as rakes and axes and if you let them get in close then you are in big trouble.

Leons binoculars can zoom in for a closer look at the village.

Shortly before you get to the village you come across a wolf (or a wolfish looking dog maybe) which has it’s leg stuck in some sort of bear-trap. You could ignore it I suppose, but I freed it from the trap and it promptly wandered off and jumped over a fence and ran into the forest. I suspect it may return at some point later in the game to help you out. After that you get to the village, and now there’s large bands of villagers to worry about, and not just your normal ones with the rakes and axes. Here, after fighting off about half a dozen standard villagers, I ran into a guy with a leather face mask wielding a chainsaw, I pumped about 6 shots into his head and chest area, which slowed him down but didn’t stop him, unfortunately I then needed to reload which gave him the time he needed to come along and put his chainshaw through Leons shoulder which killed him.

As Leon enters the village, he opens fire on the first group of villagers.

Although I did die at this point I watched other people play and although no-one managed to get through the village to the end I did get to see some more of the village, there was a tower which you could climb up into for some sniping action, unfortunately the guy I watched climb up there was being closely pursued by around half a dozen villagers, which he couldn’t shoot from the top as they were in too close, and when he tried going down he just got swamped by them, when he stayed up the top, out of their reach they then started throwing what looked like petrol bombs up at him, needless to say he didn’t last long. I also mentioned earlier that I saw someone using a shotgun, they were in the village too, and the shotgun could just blow the villagers heads clean off, which caused them to act in a decidedly Zombie-like manner by carrying on walking around for 5-10 seconds with no head.
Anyway, that’s as far as I saw anyone get, I suspect it may be the first level/area of the finished game, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

The villagers close in on Leon, not long now, he’ll soon be dead.

Now, the graphics, everybody has seen the screenshots and the videos that are out there and I can confirm that the game really does look that good with the gameplay graphics matching the quality of the cut scenes. This is the best looking console game ever, without exception, and puts a fair few PC games to shame too. The full 3D works beautifully and if you’re a graphics whore this is a must have, even if you hate Resident Evil.

Now to the bad part, whilst the graphics are exceptional and the gameplay is involving and absorbing there is one major problem from previous RE games that they hven’t bothered fixing, the controls. It’s still the same rotate left/right, walk forwards/backwards to move, and for the aiming they have inverted the y axis (up/down) which left me shooting villagers in the legs more often than the headshot I was attempting.
This really is the only thing that lets the game down, but some people will be fine with the standard RE controls, and there are even people out there who love them (bloody nutters) so this won’t be a big problem for everyone, but I must say that it’s a pretty big turn off for me and may stop me from buying the game.
But for all the RE fans out ther it’ll be like heaven for them.

Whilst I was there I also managed to get a little video clip of the game in action, the quality is low, and the clip is short (I only had my digital camera to take it with). You can check it out here.

I must stress though that throughout the gameplay it constantly had ‘a work in progress’ at the top of the screen so it is possible that the few faults there were could be fixed. Maybe not the controls (can’t see them changing them now after all these years), but hopefully they’ll sort out that aiming thing (or at least make it a changable option).