They're complemented by some really nice camera tricks too, which is something I can't believe I'm writing about in a Resident Evil game. For example, when you destroy a barrel, the camera does a quick pan up to show the full scale of the explosion. It's hard to understand without seeing it in practice, but I imagine you'll see plenty of games trying to ape it in the coming years.
However, as good as it looked, I still couldn't get RE4 out of my head. Remember the first time you played it? How fresh it felt? How every facet had been retooled, re-imagined to really serve the experience? I think that is what I was hoping for from RE5's gameplay. But this is iterative, an evolutionary step forward, nothing like the leap I was hoping for.
Your partner is one of the few tweaks that really adds something new. When they're under attack a light begins flashing in the lower left corner of the UI, and knowing that they need you and you're swamped in a thicket of not-zombies adds an even greater sense of urgency to a game that was already pretty intense.
Though it wasn't available, I imagine the previously announced co-op play could be able to parlay that intensity of having to watch two backs into something that really will feel revolutionary. But it hasn't happened yet. Along those future-looking lines, I should note that this is a small section of the game we're talking about, and there could be plenty of surprises, but I have to judge what I'm given.
I have no problem dinging a game if it doesn't meet my expectations for quality, but this is something different. This is complaining about a game not changing the very landscape of the genre, something I'm not even sure is fair. But as I put down the controller, guts freshly ripped out by a zombie, it was the thought I couldn't get out of my head.