Op-Ed

Op-Ed
The Future of Resident Evil

Phillip Levin | 8 May 2009 16:00
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How's this for a setting? A ruined New York City, set in the middle of the night. Not a fan of New York City? Then pick your favorite major city instead. But I think Resident Evil in the Big Apple is too good to pass up. Imagine wandering around an infested Times Square, looking up at skyscrapers with shattered windows. Cars flipped over. Dead bodies lying around. Occasionally, you might encounter a survivor, but for the most part, imagine a devastated, lifeless New York City, crawling with zombies.

That's right. Zombies. Capcom, please bring zombies back. But not the sluggish, "Oh, I'll just sidestep this one when it gets close" zombies from the Resident Evil of old. I want fast zombies. The violent, relentless, fast living dead. I don't care if Capcom wants to borrow some plot elements from 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, I want zombies just like the ones in those films. Picture this: You're on the 50th floor of the Empire State Building, exploring a room without power. The only illumination is the moonlight staring in from the huge windows you're standing in front of, as you look down upon a ravaged, apocalyptic New York City. You hear footsteps behind you, so you turn around. A group of speed zombies have entered the room and are hauling ass at you. What do you do? Your back is against a glass wall and on the other side of it is a 500-foot drop -- a couple seconds of falling, and then splat. You have to think quickly because these zombies aren't the slow dawdlers from previous Resident Evil games. They want to kill you, and they move fast. If that doesn't get your adrenaline going then you're probably not alive, or you're just no fun.

Setting the game in a city would make it even easier for Capcom to incorporate some backtracking elements -- something sorely missing from Resident Evil 5. We don't need Metroid levels of backtracking, but having players revisit areas provides the perfect opportunity to catch them off guard with a scare or two. Walking through an area you've already explored, you're never sure what to expect. You're familiar with the surroundings, but at the same time, you know this is Resident Evil, so you're on your toes. Plus, connected world design is generally a lot more fun than moving from stage to stage.

By the time the next Resident Evil arrives, we'll hopefully be playing on next-gen successors to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (and please, Nintendo, a comparably powerful Wii 2), which means Capcom will have extra horsepower to make use of. If the series' track record is any sign of things to come, it'll look fantastic -- that's a no brainer. But the extra processing power can be used in ways other than visual eye candy. I'd like to see destructible environments as well as burnable environments. Imagine if when you toss a grenade, when it explodes, the surrounding walls go with it. You'd have to be careful about where you use explosives, so that you don't end up giving zombies in another room a way into the one you're in. On the flipside, you could also use explosives to blow your way out of a sticky situation by turning a useless wall into an exit. Further, with Far Cry 2-style burnable environments, explosions would leave an aftermath of flames -- perfect for cooking large groups of zombies.

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