Resident Evil 5 Demo Out for Xbox 360 Gold Members Only

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Zombie buffs rejoice, Capcom's Resident Evil 5 demo is available now for Xbox 360 "Gold" members in the U.S. Presumably similar to the surprisingly mediocre Japanese demo – reviewed here – it looks like the U.S. version may in fact sport an extra level and a few new weapons.

Here's the salient bit from Capcom's press note:

As part of the demo launched today, fans will be able to get hands-on with new "Resident Evil 5" features including three new levels of single- and two player co-op play (limited to Gold members), characters, weapons and environments. In this latest installment of the renowned survivor-horror franchise, returning "Resident Evil" hero Chris Redfield is joined by new partner Sheva Alomar to take on the frightening effects of the latest bioterrorist attack in the depths of Africa.

There's a catch: If you want the Resident Evil 5 demo today, you'll have to pay for it. Really. How much? What Microsoft charges for an Xbox Live "Gold" membership -- $50 a year – if you don't already have one. Freebie "Silver" members have to stand at the window looking in until Thursday, January 29th. And PlayStation 3 owners are out of luck until sometime next week.

Which raises the question: Should demos be timed exclusives? It's one way to distance yourself from the competition, sure, all other things being equal in a multiplatform scenario. And it's certainly Capcom's prerogative.

But I'd personally rather see Microsoft and Sony hammer out post-release exclusivity deals, like downloadable content (DLC) only available on one or the other. There's nothing special about the Resident Evil 5 demo, save for its early availability. While time is a commodity, I'm disappointed when it's the only one a company can come up with to tilt the playing field.

I've also made no secret of my disdain for Microsoft's annual Xbox Live membership fee for online multiplayer and matchmaking. It's too bad Microsoft's attempting to distinguish its pay-for "Gold" service from the Xbox 360's default "Silver" by turning a demo (not really "premium" content by itself) and co-op play into a membership drive.

To clarify: I have no beef with annual membership fees, when they're justified. But early demo access and online multiplayer capabilities don't make the grade.

Matt Peckham is bored with formula zombie games. You can follows his aloof missives at .

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