You've yet to experience horror until you've seen Resident Evil 6 on PS3. Capcom takes PlayStation.com through this fantastically frightening game.
The creators of Resident Evil 6 want to scare you. Don't be fooled - while the smiling development team of Eiichiro Sasaki (director), Hiroyuki Kobayashi (executive producer) and Yoshiaki Hirabayashi (producer) are friendly... they want to frighten you witless. The classic survival horror series is shuffling back to PlayStation 3 once more, and its development team are making sure it's an experience that is the stuff of nightmares.
A new type of evil
Change and evolution have been big factors of the Resident Evil series since the first game made its debut on PS one back in 1996. Starting off as survival horror, it has steadily brought in action adventure elements which resulted in the gun-toting Resident Evil 5 on PS3. With Resident Evil 6, Capcom wants to use all the best parts of the series to date and create something terrifyingly new.
"Resident Evil had a tension of not knowing what was around the corner - and we're bringing that back for this game," explains Kobayashi. "We're putting back in all the thrills, spills and chills you expect from Resident Evil but taking it to the next level. Everything you love about the series is going to be here but we're going beyond the boundaries of everything you've ever experienced."
One aspect which will help push Resident Evil 6 into this exciting new territory is the arrival of some familiar faces mixed with some new ones. The return of Chris Redfield, Sherry Birkin and Leon Kennedy will make Resident Evil fans happy, partnering with the mysterious likes of Secret Service agent Helena Harper, talented Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance sniper Piers Nivans and Jake Muller - the enigmatic son of Resident Evil bad guy, Albert Wesker.
Unleashing the undead
These six characters are caught up in a multilayered story where they are paired off in missions for a tale that eventually brings them together in China to unravel a deadly bioterrorism plot. A new virus strain - the C Virus - has been created, and the results are horrific.
"We're proud to announce that zombies have returned to Resident Evil," smiles Kobayashi. "We realise they've been gone a while so we're happy to bring them back. But we didn't want to make them typical zombies, so we've changed them - they can now use the weapons and items they had as humans, and can leap and run at you."
Super zombies aren't the only new threat you'll need to look out for. A brutal new enemy called the J'avo has emerged from the C Virus. The J'avo are not your typical brain-munching straggler - they use tactics to attack you, heal from wounds and regenerate any missing body parts into new weapons. As an evolving mutation, individual J'avo will make you fear for your life... and you'll never know how it will mutate each time you try to kill it.
"Horror has to be immediate"
To cope with these gruesome new perils, Capcom has changed the control scheme slightly, making the characters more dynamic than before. The rigid controls of previous Resident Evil games have been replaced with the ability to run and shoot simultaneously, there are more melee attacks at your disposal and you now have the option to lie on your back and shoot from a low position or while rolling. "The challenge was to make the game stress free to control while putting you in the middle of the horror," says Sasaki. "We've made changes that still make it feel like it's a horror game with a smooth and easy to control system."
With a new way to fend off the enemies of Resident Evil 6, Capcom wants to make sure you're immersed in the spine-tingling tension and hair-raising action of the game at all times, whether you're watching a cutscene or playing. "Horror has to be immediate and you have to feel it as you play the characters," explains Sasaki. "We want you to feel part of the story with emotional depth, and that you always feel an immediate sense of horror."
And that sense of horror is palatable in the demo Capcom presents. Tense, dark and dripping with a feeling of dread, Resident Evil 6 is immediately impressive. Character animation is smooth as Leon and his companions react to their surroundings with subtle gestures which adds to the immersion. And as you progress, rats run across floors, lightning flashes through windows and bloodied bodies litter deserted hallways.
"A horror entertainment experience"
As each section of the game features two characters, a partner can be either computer-controlled or assumed by a friend over PlayStation Network or offline in split screen mode. Wanting to make co-operative play as accessible as possible, Capcom has allowed players to drop in and out of the game whenever they want, without the need to go back to a menu screen or checkpoint.
Resident Evil 6 also sees the return of the score based arcade mode, The Mercenaries, which is unlocked from the start of the game - giving you a quick blast of action aside from the main story mode.
Expectations are high, and Capcom isn't scared - there's plenty of confidence that Resident Evil 6 will deliver a layered and satisfying adventure. "We're trying to provide a horror entertainment experience," says Kobayashi. "But it's not just about horror - we're creating a complete package. We want to make everything as dramatic as possible, from the story to the action, and tie it all together for a great game."
You can see for yourself when Resident Evil 6 hits PS3 at the end of 2012. Expect more on this stunning survival horror on playstation.co.nz soon.
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