"Resident Evil 5," the latest entry in CAPCOM's storied horror franchise, has been burning up sales charts and garnering critical acclaim since it's arrival in March. With downloadble content on the way in the form of multiplayer versus modes and the launch of the "Resident Evil" comic book from WildStorm, it's a good time to be a "Resident Evil" fan.
It's also a busy time over at CAPCOM, but CBR News was able to corral Senior Director of Communications and Community Chris Kramer for a few questions about the game. Kramer gave his thoughts on the continuing success of the series, some insight into the development of the game, and for those who haven't picked it up yet, some details about what they can expect.
CBR: It's been almost 13 years since the original "Resident Evil" made its debut on the PlayStation. Why do you think the series has remained popular over such a long time?
Chris Kramer: The short answer is that people love to be scared. It's fun to play a game that engages you and makes fear an important gameplay element. But what has kept the "Resident Evil" series so popular has been the critical combination of action, tension and gorgeous graphics that make the series so special.
Chris Redfield makes his return as the main protagonist in "Resident Evil 5." What made you bring him back as opposed to some of the other series regulars?
Resident Evil has a huge cast of interesting characters, but "Resident Evil 5" uncovers some of the dark history of the series' mythology, so having Chris as the main character makes for the ideal protagonist. Chris is grounded in the history of the series, as one of the main characters of the first "Resident Evil" game on PlayStation. Without spoiling too much of the story, the Progenitor virus is where the troubles of the series began. Having Chris as the main character helps the story come full circle.
Where does the story fit in the "Resident Evil" timeline, and how does it tie into other games in the series?
"Resident Evil 5" takes place in modern times, shortly after the events chronicled in "Resident Evil 4" and about 10 years after the first "Resident Evil" title. While the story of "Resident Evil 4" was a largely independent storyline, "Resident Evil 5" ties into the larger mythology of the series. "Resident Evil 5" concludes a larger arc of the story and ties up some loose plot threads that have been dangling over the series for more than a decade.
You've introduced a new central character in "Resident Evil 5." For those who haven't played the game yet, what should they know about Chris' new partner, Sheva Alomar?
Sheva Alomar is an agent in the BSAA's (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) African branch. Like many of the characters in the "Resident Evil" series, her past is filled with tragedy; her parents were killed in an experiment conducted by the Umbrella Corporation (the original "Resident Evil" bad guys). Having grown up in the area, Sheva has been assigned as Chris Redfield's partner in order to guide him through Kijuju . A perfect partner to Chris, Sheva possesses his same lethal combination of intelligence and strength.
Speaking of Sheva, arguably the biggest new feature of "Resident Evil 5" is the online and offline co-op. How did adding that element to the game change your design approach, and how does it change the game?
"Resident Evil 5" was designed around the co-op experience to introduce fans to a new way of playing their favorite franchise. In implementing the co-op gameplay, the development team had to re-consider the difficulty of the game, as well as the basic level design. Having two players meant that the situations had to become even more tense, and more action-packed than in previous entries, it also meant we had to expand the playing field to allow for bigger levels for two players to maneuver around. One of the nice side effects of this change has been the revamped inventory system, which allows players to seamlessly search their arsenal, and assign weapons to "shortcuts" on the D-pad. This means your teammates (and the blood-thirsty Majini) don't have to wait patiently while you rummage through your items.
How do the enemies that Chris and Sheva face in "Resident Evil 5" differ from previous "Resident Evil" games?
Compared to the lumbering zombies of "Resident Evil" games past, "Resident Evil 5's" Majini are vicious, fast and smart. They'll avoid your aim when you're lining up your shot and they'll transform into disgusting "kipipepo," a flying enemy that will burst out of the bloody neck stumps of an enemy after you score a headshot.
The demo that was released on XBox Live and PlayStation Network was downloaded over four million times. How did that number compare to your expectations?
We always have high hopes for our games, but it's incredibly humbling to know that four million fans downloaded the demo to try it out. That points to some really high interest in the game, but what I find even more impressive is that the game already surpassed four million units shipped worldwide! So that brings the total number of "Resident Evil" games worldwide to more than 40 million units since the first game was released back in 1996! People all over the world love the series, and we work hard to make the best games we can in order to earn that loyalty.
What sort of feedback did you receive on the demo? Was there anything that affected the final version of the game?
The feedback was very good. It's always a challenge to create a tiny slice of gameplay from a title that usually lasts 12-15 hours. I think some people might have gotten the impression that the game is too hard based on the tiny snippet of gameplay in the demo, but that's because the demo drops you into the middle of the action by necessity. There wasn't room in the demo for an exposition or training mode. By the time most demos are released, the gameplay is largely completed, and this was the case with "Resident Evil 5." But CAPCOM always listens to fans when we design games, and "Resident Evil" is no exception.
WildStorm recently launched a six-issue "Resident Evil" miniseries. What details can you give us about how the story ties into the game?
The new WildStorm comic book miniseries is written by Rick Sanchez with art by Kevin Sharpe. The series expands on the Resident Evil mythology, and introduces new places and new faces, with a particular focus on expanding the BSAA. We're excited to be working with some incredibly talented artists, and we think the miniseries will be a must-read for fans of Resident Evil that want to go beyond the game and understand all the dark mysteries that the series has to offer. You should check it out!
"Resident Evil 5" is available now for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. For more information on the game, head over to www.residentevil.com. Issue #1 of the "Resident Evil" series from WildStorm is also available now.