Anyone who calls themselves a RE fan has surely known of the upcoming Capcom release, Resident Evil 6, for a few months now. Slated for purchase by the masses on Oct. 2nd, this installment of the mega-franchise curbs away from the experimental direction developers have gone with for the past 3 games. And to the unequivocal delight of all, dives right back into original zombie melee territory.
This one isn't another flashback chapter either. In keeping with where we left off story-wise, Umbrella is kaput and the threat of bio-terrorism in the deepest recesses of the world is a very real possibility. 6 sees us facing three interconnected scenarios in the year 2013, bringing back old characters to mishmash on their way to survival.
1. Leon S. Kennedy is back by the President's side, same as was his job before
having to leave to rescue former President Graham's daughter. Only now our
new Commander-in-Chief is Pres. Adam Benford, who is going before the press
to disclose everything about the 1998 Raccoon City incident. Suddenly, the
entire venue is infected, with the President himself becoming mutated. Leon
and his new partner Helena Harper must make some tough decisions...
2. It seems as though Wesker left behind a legacy. His son, introduced as
mercenary Jake Muller, is on the run from authorities in the European land of
Edonia. A bio-terrorism emergency has broken out there as well, and who should
he bump into to help him along his way but Sherry Birkin - now a government
3. Still a BSAA Captain, Chris Redfield is back in action with his team,
although in place of Sheva, there's Piers Nivans on his side. This time around
they're off to investigate the (fictional) Chinese city of Lianshiang, where
one of the largest and most dangerous outbreaks occurs to date.
I remember a time, before the release of RE 5, where creators claimed the installments of old were to be no more. However, it seems a lot of people feel the same way I did regarding the notion that brief strays into shooter territory and new parasites are entertaining, but completely plummet in terms of scare factor and mystery.
First off, the original T-virus is back! No plagas, unexpected mutations, or other such aspects here. Says Capcom's RE team themselves: "We brought zombies back because they're popular [in these games]," producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi explains. "Based on feedback from RE 4 and 5, there weren't classic zombies in those games and people really wanted them." *
Everyone remembers the old time-saving methods of weaving and dodging in zombie-infested areas, as well as choosing which ones to pacify, all for the sake of gaining a higher rank and securing bragging rights. But although a return to old school strategies tickles us pink, another producer, Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, tells fans speed-runs won't be so cut and dry this time around.
"The zombies when you first see them, will shamble around slowly. But if they spot you or get closer? They break into a sudden dash to grab you... we gave them a little extra oomph." *
It also appears as if Capcom's got some new tricks up their sleeve regarding RE's signature baddies. In a move a la Land of the Dead, RE 6 introduces J'avo -zombies that are now capable of picking up weapons and various items, inadvertently using them against you.
"We wanted to get across the feeling they used to be alive and have this instinctual ability to pick up these things and use them," Hirabayashi continues. "It's not that they are purposely using weapons; it's in the back of their mind." *
Might I add that Hirabayashi hints that there will be another way the player can interact with zombies that directly impacts your game? Unfortunately, he claims Capcom's keeping that a secret for now... although I'll bet $100 this minute it parallels what I considered a rip-off from RE 4.
Not that 4 was in any way at all a bad game, but the moment I first laid eyes on the Ganados it was obvious they were, in a major way, stolen right from Siren's Shibito.
And keeping with the knowledge that zombies retaining scant memories of actions from their living years isn't exactly an original premise, from what I've read here from producers? My bet's on the idea some of these "various items" will involve door keys, ammunition, and puzzle pieces necessary for the player to keep track of in order to proceed (which is again, gameplay strategy used in titles like Siren).
All in all, though it's clear (if you're a survival horror game fanatic) Capcom's increasingly borrowing from other franchises and media to up the ante on their RE gameplay twists, the fact remains Resident Evil was a first regarding undead horror in the gaming world. Nothing could ever compare to the trepidation, chill, mystery, and adventure in mastering their installments of old.
So even with a scare here or a sequence there that may or may not turn out a complete rip-off from another title, it's a small price to pay. I'm ready to freak from excitement at the very idea of producers going forward with gusto on the always original RE storyline, let alone in a manner that gives us old-school mega-fans the type of challenge and creepiness that made the series pedestal-worthy to begin with.
* from Escapist interviews.