In a wide-ranging interview, Capcom's Jun Takeuchi discussed player reaction to "Resident Evil 5"'s controls, the lack of a Wii version of the game, his expectations on the race issue and much more.
Last week in Las Vegas, I had what was probably my last chance to interview "Resident Evil 5" producer Jun Takeuchi prior to the game's March 13 release on the Xbox 360 and PS3. It was a good opportunity to see how a top game developer reacts to the feedback he's received from the demo of his game and hit some other issues one last time.
Right away I found out that the demo has performed superb, having been downloaded more than four million times on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 worldwide in just a matter of weeks.
Here's what we ran through during our conversation...
Split-screen: One reaction we got to the "Resident Evil 5" demo on MTV Multiplayer was a complaint about the demo's split-screen options. On a single TV, the co-op is rendered as two stacked widescreen views of the game stacked unevenly, one pushed to the left and one aligned to the right. That leaves a lot of black space. (See it here.) Takeuchi explained the reason for that. "It was technically more difficult to make it like it is now than to split the screen in half," he said through a translator. Other options were inferior. Eliminating the black space would have made the players' view of the action to wide. And it introduced another problem. Without pushing one view to the left and one to the right, the lead characters stood in one column: "Having them on top of each other made it a little difficult to play," Takeuchi said. "We felt that having the characters on different sides of the screen was the best way to play."
Controls: The other complaint we fielded here about the demo was that even the new westernized "Resident Evil" controls had disappointed some gamers looking for a scheme similar to a "Gears of War." "We knew it was going to come up," Takeuchi said. "When you get your hands on the [full] game you'll understand the choice we made with the controls." He added: "We understand that there are many people who want to run and shoot at the same time, but it's not the right alignment for the game."
Race: Reactions to the depiction of black people in "Resident Evil 5" have been wide-ranging, dating at least as far back as this blog's interview with reporter N'Gai Croal about the "RE5" debut trailer. Recent previews have suggested that the retail release of the game will trigger a round of mainstream criticism from people well outside the gaming press. Takeuchi disagrees. "I'm not expecting it," he said. "When the game is out to the mainstream and on the shelves and being played by users, I'm not expecting it to be a problem. People will be able to play the game and see what it is for themselves." And if people do complain, he said, "I guess we would respond to that and point out our intentions in making [the game]."
Loading Times: Write-ups of preview builds of the game have raised another issue with the game: frequent loading times. "I do think there is potential to improve them in the future," Takeuchi said. "There are a lot of problems when you make a game like this. Loading times on Blu-Ray and DVD are not the same. The memory on the consoles are not the same. When it comes to having slightly longer load times or a worse gameplay experience, we'll take longer loading times." Takeuchi said that the finished game should have shorter loading times than the preview builds currently being written about. "No loading times, of course, is the ideal."
After all that, I threw in three questions of my own:
The Wii: I wanted to know why "Resident Evil 5" isn't being released for the world's most popular gaming platform. "When we set out to make 'Resident Evil 5,' the guys knew that if you want to make the most powerful, most pretty game, the Wii isn't the best choice," Takeuchi said. "From a business perspective it may have been, but after making this game we are happy with the choice we made."
Mercenaries: One of the most-imitated parts of "Resident Evil 4" was the game's bonus Mercenaries mode, which threw a rush of enemies at the player in the same way that "Gears of War"'s Horde Mode and "Left 4 Dead" would. Takeuchi wouldn't say if it's back, but did promise "some kind of bonus" for finishing the game.
Lonely 'Resident Evil': Lastly, I wanted to know if the introduction of online co-op into a core "Resident Evil" game meant that the days of lonelier single-character "Resident Evil" adventures were over. Can you have a single-player, single-character "Resident Evil" game in the future? Takeuchi replied: "Yes."