How A Franchise-Record Team May Reinvent Resident Evil…Again

That snarling mug above? That’s “Javo.” Developers behind Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 – announced Friday with a trailer revealed during an event celebrating the original Resident Evil‘s 15th anniversary and launching the new Resident Evil: Revelations off-shoot title for the Nintendo 3DS – have deemed it to have “an even greater impact than the zombies,” according to gaming blog Andriasang.com.

That’s not to say this latest installment won’t be overrun with zombies, as well. From the trailer that made its mark Friday following the cryptic viral (no pun intended) NoHopeLeft.com campaign, the long-awaited, rumored and at last confirmed Nov. 20 release to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (with a later PC edition to come) will still be infested with the saga’s original undead apex predator.

That being said, Resident Evil 6 director Eiichiro Sasaki, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi and executive producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi assured gathered attendees that Capcom and brought out some big guns that would make this the Resident Evil saga’s finest hours – starting what Hirabayashi claimed as a franchise-record team that totals over 600 people when factoring in overseas staff and other contributors.

If Capcom’s more than 600-strong Resident army has done its job, fans Nov. 20 will be met with what Andriasang reports Kobayashi dubbed the “ultimate horror entertainment.” The blog further reports that Resident Evil 6 will be built on a foundation of threat potential around every corner and a massive, sprawling, towering scope that immerses the player in the nigh-apocalyptic universe and a story bigger even than the shadow cast by the two iconic Resident Evil personas anchoring the story.

To quote the announcement’s accompanying press release, as reprinted Friday by GamerXChange.net:

Blending action and survival horror, this latest instalment in the multi-million selling franchise is the most ambitious, immersive and feature rich title of the series to date and promises to be the dramatic horror experience of the year.

It has been ten years since the Raccoon City incident and the President of the United States has decided to reveal the truth behind what took place in the belief that it will curb the current resurgence in bioterrorist activity. Due to be by the President’s side is his personal friend and Raccoon City survivor, Leon S. Kennedy, but when the venue suffers a bioterrorist attack, Leon is forced to face a President transformed beyond recognition and make his hardest ever decision. At the same time, Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance member Chris Redfield arrives in China, itself under threat of a bioterrorist attack.  With no country safe from these attacks and the ensuing outbreaks, the entire world’s population is united by a common fear that there is no hope left.

In a first for the franchise, Resident Evil 6 sees series favorites Leon and Chris come together to face this unprecedented threat. They will be joined by new characters, each with their own unique perspective and involvement, in this relentless dramatic horror experience enacted on a global scale.

The live-event announcement included specifying that players will be able to play alternately as either Kennedy or Redfield, and that each will be joined by a unique second. Kennedy will be accompanied by security worker Helena Harper, while Redfield’s companion has not been identified. Both men will be joined also by a mysterious third individual thus far identified only as “the man who’s told to save the world.”

Perhaps it’s reading too much, but one can’t ignore that Kobayashi’s “ultimate horror entertainment” moniker omits completely a word so near to Resident Evil‘s very heart: “survival.” The Resident Evil renaissance that began with 2005’s franchise reviving Resident Evil 4 on the Nintendo Gamecube is a curious case. Though critically praised after years of lackluster franchise offshoots and revered by most fans, its shift from pure survival horror to a combat-heavy, over-the-shoulder, zombie-free shooter – it was, after all, that title that properly introduced las plagas in place of the shambling undead – was received somewhat awkwardly by others. Where was the catch-as-catch-can survival thrill if ammunition is plentiful, weapons can be purchased from plentiful scattered merchants and even save points are no longer limited by finite-capacity typewriter ribbons?

Still . . . despite the aggressive combat emphasis, many moments maintained challenges and insurmountable odds that sent adrenaline coursing. The rural European setting provided its own unsettling atmosphere apart from the familiar spooky mansion and urban jungle maps, yet it was a welcome tonal shift out of the universe’s expected element. The story was typically outstanding, and maintained its ties to the core Resident Evil mythology. And otherwise, well . . . it was just plain fun, smooth playing with intuitive controls and a drastically improved consistent camera.

Yet, the trailer gives off the impression so far that the Capcom team has eschewed silent tension still more – despite the aggressive play, Resident Evil 4 still had ample moments when sudden, distant sounds punctuated overcast silence – in favor of a faster, leave-you-breathless pace that’s more akin to the terror of a perpetual onslaught at which one dare not blink. Has one of the preeminent survival-horror legacies, if you’ll pardon the pun, given up the ghost?

Cinematic trailers aren’t always fair indicators. Hopefully, Capcom representatives will arrive at E3 2012 bearing the gift of a playable demo…

 

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