The Resident Evil video games, known for being cinematic and scary, are part of a subgenre of action games called survival horror, which tries to give audiences the experience of being in a horror film. Players are put into environments that are dark and mazelike, making it difficult to see what’s around the next corner, and they are always at risk of dying, because resources like bullets and health packs are in limited supply. A good strategy for succeeding at a survival-horror game is often to run, not fight, because combat can be agonizing.
“You reach for your gun, you make sure it’s got a magazine, you practically make sure the safety is off to fire that gun,” Andy Santos told the Straight by phone.Santos was Slant Six’s game director for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Capcom; PS3, Windows, Xbox 360; rated mature). It is a shooter, more like Call of Duty or the SOCOM tactical titles Slant Six created for Sony, in which shooting, for example, is as easy as possible because of mechanics such as automatic targeting. On the phone from San Francisco, where he was attending the Game Developers Conference, Santos explained that Operation Raccoon City had to be both. “For this game, we had to come up with something innovative,” he said.
In collaboration with a design team at Capcom’s head office in Osaka, the Slant Six development team came up with the shooter that was promised, which preserves many of the elements that make Resident Evil such a recognizable franchise. So while combat in the game is easier than it would be in a survival-horror game, Santos said that stopping before shooting improves accuracy and in some missions the availability of ammunition is an issue. “We made sure that health was not regenerative like every other game that seems to be out these days,” Santos added.
Operation Raccoon City is built on “three-corner conflict”, so-called because of the groups—U.S. special forces, a private security army, and monsters—struggling for dominance in the game. Santos said it’s those monsters that really make the game feel like it belongs in the Resident Evil catalogue. “There’s a lot of characters and creatures that people will fondly remember from those old games,” he said. And they’ve been updated in such a way “that doesn’t destroy your recollection of them”.