With half the world's population seemingly playing Borderlands 2, now might be a good time to draw attention to the Resident Evil 6 demo available today.

The demo seems to cover a decent amount of content, giving you one playable chapter for each of the protagonists - Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and Jake Muller. Each demo chapter had a different tone, and although the HUD and inventory for all three characters are basically the same (with aesthetic changes,) each character has their own feel and play style.

The game doesn't feel fundamentally different from RE5; you always play as a pair or characters, but instead of Chris and Sheva throughout RE5, you now have three pairs of characters. Items, ammo, and weapons can be picked up as you play, added to your inventory, or combined (hello again, my dear friend green herb.) LT still aims and RT still shoots, but being able to move and dodge while firing your weapon gives you more mobility than the last title. Little changes like being able to swap your camera view from left to right shoulder by clicking the right stick, or using LB to bring up a waypoint marker guiding you in the right direction, make the game that much smoother to play.

One major change to the series is the lack of a pause menu. Pressing Back makes your character duck and brings up a sleek, cell-phone like menu in real time displayed over whatever is still happening around you. It makes sense in multiplayer but there really isn't a good reason for offline or solo players to be able to pause the game, as opposed to finding what they hope is a safe spot if they need to step away.

My cat likes to explode hairballs at the worst possible times. If you ever play with me, I'll be doing this a lot. Sorry in advance.

Leon's chapter partners him with Helena, who appears to be a major player in the overall storyline and may have ties to other major characters as well. The setting is a campus near a biohazard outbreak, and the two must make their way through the abandoned grounds at night. Ammo is somewhat limited, and the atmosphere is rather tense - there's very little lighting, so rushing towards the waypoint is a good way to find yourself face to face with a zombie - or in the middle of a crowd of them. You may find yourself vastly outnumbered in several parts, so either hone your headshot skills or learn to run - firing recklessly into walking corpses is a good way to find yourself defenseless at the worst possible moment.

It's darker than a Tim Burtnon movie in here!

Chris' chapter pairs him with another newcomer, Piers, and puts him in the middle of a military hotspot in Edonia. Unlike Leon's tense, dark setting, Chris' romp through Edonia takes place during the day, and focuses on action. Lots of action. The enemies you encounter are viral soldiers, insurgent types firing on you with AKs until they take damage, when it's possible for them to mutate - for instance, some may grow a shield on their arms to deflect your fire. While Leon and Helena have handguns, Chris seems to take less damage thanks to his body armor, and carries an automatic rifle with a high ammo capacity. Piers is equipped with a rifle, and it looks like their play styles will be more diverse than Leon and Helena's. The street to street fighting with military personnel and equipment brings to mind the news footage from Kosovo years back, and a wild boss battle definitely makes it stand apart from Leon's gameplay.

I'm pretty sure Chris Redfield has a death wish.

Jake's chapter finds him on the run with Sherry Berkin, escaping through what appears to be a sort of Chinatown setting. This chapter is also darkly lit, taking place at night, and ammo seems to be even more scarce than Leon's chapter - or maybe the lizard creatures you come across take that much more firepower to stop, that it just feels like you have less ammo to work with. Teamwork is essential here, with Jake being able to boost Sherry to higher ledges, or survive falls from greater heights to access locations she can't - like a door that has to be opened from the other side. While all characters have weapons and melee attacks, it seems like a good idea to keep Sherry out of harms way, especially given Jake's hand-to-hand abilities.


It looks like "Oh holy s*** run run run RUN" is going to be a theme in this game.

The game plays well overall, but there are some minor problems. A lot of the game takes place indoors or in cramped spaces, and the camera sometimes has a hard time adjusting. This is most noticeable on Chris' level, where you have several friendly and enemy characters in close proximity at times, and it's hard to see which one you should be shooting at. You can hold LT near cover to press up against a wall, but half-height cover doesn't give you the option to crouch and take cover. The X button felt unresponsive to me, and at times I had to mash X wildly to reload - especially if I was around items that could be picked up. Aiming your melee attack can be cumbersome, which is unfortunate since they're usually slow and leave you vulnerable if you miss. The game is also MUCH darker than "adjust brightness" options menu lets on, and I'd suggest turning up your brightness even if you can see the emblem just fine in the menu.

Despite a few frustrations, it's thoroughly enjoyable; the AI partner is competent and will revive you if needed (the other soldiers on Chris' level are another story,) and the melee attacks are satisfying to land - especially the flashier finishing moves. Chris' ungodly backhand, Jake's spinning DDT, and  and Leon's flying bulldog are immensely fun to pull off on weakened enemies, as are the environmental moves, like slamming a zombie's head into the edge of a desk. You collect skill points from enemies, which seem to have replaced cash, and will probably unlock abilities or perks between levels. A running slide dodge can put you behind enemies to shoot them from the ground, Max Payne style.

With the promise of online co-op, at least one other multiplayer mode, weekly challenges for bonus xp and other perks, and stat tracking between your friends, this is shaping up to be a very solid release next month, and one that should have players coming back for more for a long, long time.