WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Mike Webster, and I'm the director of marketing for Capcom.
WP: What's your history with the Resident Evil series? Have you been there since the beginning? Is RE5 new to you? Where do you come in, and how did you get involved with RE5?
MW: Well I've sort of been, really, a fan for the better part of five or six years now. I was really awed with Resident Evil 4, like many consumers were. Thought that was just a really revolutionary game, especially for the GameCube. Then I had the opportunity to come onto Capcom about three months ago as the director of marketing for Resident Evil 5, and being able to take a look at the game every day and see sort of what the development team has done to take the game from a GameCube and PS2 game to really a next-gen game on the PS3 and Xbox 360 is just amazing.
WP: Aside from the obvious upgraded visuals, what features jump out at you as really being a next-gen game, versus just being Resident Evil 4, only prettier?
MW: I think the main feature is co-op. A lot of what Takeuchi-san tried to do when he took a look at Resident Evil 4 and tried to lay out what he was going to do for Resident Evil 5 was really take a look at how franchises fail as they progress, and one of the things that I think he identified was that they really don't innovate very well. So that was really a big focus of his, and I think he's done an amazing job. Co-op is a really big part of Resident Evil 5, and the gameplay that you're able to experience is really very innovative.
WP: Being a fan yourself, you can probably appreciate this and talk about innovation. A lot of people have looked at the prior games as being survival horror, and it started a little bit with RE4, but RE5 is more really action/horror. How has the shift in gameplay style been received within Capcom? What have you heard from fans regarding that? Are they pleased? Are they apprehensive? Are fans worried? Are you getting a lot of hate mail?
MW: (laughs) Not me personally, but I think that fans are receiving it very well. I think with the jump to next-gen, a lot of the processing power that you have, as a designer, you sort of want to show off the graphics that you can, and you want to show off the fidelity of your game, which I think they've really done. And I think something that they've been able to accomplish is take the fear and sort of a bit of the horror from the past games and really take it from a place where you can only experience that in darkness and say, "Well, you can actually do this in the light as well." I think they've captured the essence of what made the original Resident Evil games so great; they've just done it in a way that takes advantage of the next-gen platforms.
WP: What was the reaction like inside Capcom when you guys realized that the "exclusive" Japanese demo wasn't actually region-coded and people all over U.S. and Europe were happily downloading the Biohazard 5 demo two weeks ago and playing it? Was there worry? Were you guys excited that everyone was so interested? What was the internal reaction like, and how did that play out inside Capcom?
MW: I think we're very excited. It's a good problem to have, right? You know, when everyone is willing to go to the lengths that our fans are willing to go to, to be able to play our game, I think it says a lot about the fans that we have, and we definitely want to bring this game to those fans.
WP: One more question about that before we get into the game itself. When will the U.S. officially see the demos for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3?
MW: We haven't announced that yet because we don’t know exactly when we're going to be releasing that, but I think it's coming soon.
WP: Specifically about the game, story-wise, this game reaches back all the way to Resident Evil 1 with Chris. How did the developers go about deciding if they were going to do new characters or old characters? We've also seen ads in Japan hinting at the death of Jill Valentine. Without spoiling anything, can you give us a brief overview of the story and how long it took to get to the final story?
MW: I honestly don't know how long it took Takeuchi-san to get to the final story. I do know that he's an absolute perfectionist, and he's been with the series since the very beginning, so he's got a very robust knowledge of the franchise. I don't know how long it took him to come to things, but I do know that I've played a lot of the other Resident Evil games, and I think this is the best Resident Evil story that I've ever seen.
Basically, the premise of the story is Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 1 and Code Veronica is back, and he's now a full-fledged BSA agent, and he's been sent to Africa to uncover the roots of the progenitor virus, the virus that sort of started the Umbrella Corporation. He meets up with Sheva Alomar, who is sort of his partner in crime and is a West Africa BSA agent. That's sort of the premise of the story, and what happens next is something that unfortunately, if I talked about in this interview, it'll spoil it for a lot of fans, so I'll stop right there.
WP: How big can we expect the game to be in terms of gameplay? Is this roughly the same size as Resident Evil 4? Is it bigger?
MW: Bigger. It's massive. It's huge. I mean, it is really, really a lot of content. It's really a lot of content and really well-done. As you move from level to level, the environments change, the lighting changes, it's very well paced. From a design and developer standpoint, it is really as close to a masterpiece as I think these guys are ever going to get. They've definitely done the franchise well, seeing as how RE4 was such a huge success, I think RE5 will be a bigger game.
WP: Total fanboy question: I've got a PS3 and Xbox 360 at home. I'm looking for the best copy of Resident Evil 5 that I can get. Are there any differences between the two? Do we get SixAxis control on the PS3? Are there any visual differences? Heck, is there any difference in the packaging of the Collector's Editions? Are they truly identical, or are we looking at the Xbox 360 version does something and the PS3 version does something else?
MW: I think it's really about how you like to play co-op. That's really the main feature of the game. Do you prefer Xbox Live, or do you prefer the PlayStation Network? How do you prefer to hook up with your friends and play games? Whichever way you prefer to do that, that's the version you should get.
WP: Downloadable content is very big these days. Are there any plans for DLC for RE5?
MW: We're not talking a whole lot about DLC right now, but I'm sure we'll be discussing that at a later date.
WP: So that's not a "No."
MW: It's not a "No."
WP: Nice! You've obviously had a good deal of time with the game. We've seen two large levels in the demo, and tonight you're showing another level out in the jungle. How many different environments can we really expect? I know you talked about being outside, but without getting into the story for it, can you tell us about some of the different environments that players can look forward to checking out?
MW: There are a host of environments in this game. Really pay attention to the stuff that our PR department is going to be putting out because you're going to find that it's everything from the shantytown levels that you've seen in the past with really close quarters and urban African environments to sort of broad-reaching vehicle environments to dark mines to water-based environments. They really, really brought it all together for Resident Evil 5.
WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?
MW: No, I think we pretty much covered it. What the development team really tried to do was take advantage of the platforms that we were going to be on. The increased processing power and all the advantage of the next-gen platforms, and I think they've done an amazing job with co-op, with the graphics, and the empty framework engine that just creates the most beautiful game that I've ever seen. And there's the AI, which controls how your enemies react and how your partner reacts when you're not playing with a friend, so I think a lot of that lends itself to good gameplay design, and I hope everyone enjoys it.
Resident Evil 5 is currently scheduled for release in Japan on March 12, 2009, and in North America on March 13, 2009.
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