By Hailinel 78 Comments
Capcom, despite what successes they've had in games like Street Fighter IV, has had a pretty rough go on the current generation of hardware. Poorly budgeted and organized games have drained their coffers to the point that they reportedly have less than $150 million in assets left in the bank. They're not dead yet, but they've certainly made a fair number of mistakes. This blog post over on Destructoid sums up the mess that has been the decision-making that led them to their current predicament. I don't entirely agree with all of his assessments, but on the whole, it's a pretty solid analysis.
What Capcom does in the first couple of years of the new hardware generation will hopefully paint a brighter picture for their prospects. That is, assuming that they learn the correct lessons and adapt accordingly. There's only so many times that they can return to the Street Fighter IV and Monster Hunter wells to stay afloat. But it didn't have to be this way. If they had made better, smarter decisions years ago, then they might not have been faced with the prospect of a dwindling bank account now. Of course, nothing is ever certain; sometimes even supposedly great decisions can lead to poor outcomes. After all, the PS3/360 Bionic Commando seemed like a great idea on paper and in demos. It just didn't work out.
So what could they have done differently? Well, a lot of things, and some of them are pretty easy to spot by just reading the blog post linked above. I'm not a business expert, so I can't claim to suggest I know what would have been best for Capcom in the short or longterm outside of the obvious. Like budgeting Resident Evil 6 in such a way that wouldn't require seven million copies sold to turn a profit.
For the remainder of this, I'd like to focus on Resident Evil, because the sad twists that franchise has engaged in has left me disappointed. Just as I'm not a businessman, I'm not a game designer, but I can't help but feel that there were some serious missed opportunities on the creative end that could have left the series in a better place. Again, supposing that Capcom didn't let a post-cocaine binge Gordon Gekko run the accounting department.
I know that Resident Evil 5 has its fans, though it also has its disappointments. Disappointments like removing the horror element for a heavier reliance on action and a plot that turns Albert Wesker into a comic book supervillain, complete with a mind-controlled Jill Valentine in a catsuit. By the time a remarkably buff Chris Redfield is punching a boulder in a bid to stop Wesker, what about this game is still recognizably Resident Evil? A franchise that was built on B-movie zombie scares? Not much that I can see.
If I could turn back the hands of time and then somehow convince Capcom to listen to me (one step is impossible, the other involves time travel), I'd present them with this idea. Start with the initial marketing ploy that marked RE5's announcement; the supposed death of Jill. Now throw everything else about Resident Evil 5 as you know it out the window.
No, I'm not saying that Jill dies right off the bat. But rather, instead of Wesker making her a mind-controlled catsuit warrior, he actually do something more devious and in line with the established themes of the series. Imagine a scenario in which Jill, after the initial sequence that leads to her presumed death, awakens in a Wesker-Post-Umbrella facility and at his mercy. She has been infected with some variant of the numerous viruses that have come and gone over the course of the series and has to hunt Wesker down or search for a cure.
As far as the gameplay is concerned, it starts off in the same manner of Resident Evil 4. Jill can use guns, knives, grenades, eggs, and everything else. However, as the game progresses and the virus takes hold, make the weapons harder to control. Have this loss of control grow over time to the point that she no longer has the fine coordination required. As the virus mutations continue to take hold, leave her at first completely disarmed and then gradually more powerful. Crimson Head-style claws and the like.
Now couple this with an Eternal Darkness-style sanity mechanic. As the virus works on her brain, visual and auditory hallucinations affect her (and the player's) judgement. Maybe to the point that if she were to cross paths with Chris, she wouldn't know if he was real or not. Handle the mental deterioration in such a way that we get a sense of her encroaching and impending doom. If Jill is going to die, let her go out in full-blown Resident Evil style. Just not boulder-punching Resident Evil 5 action hero style. Maybe while using her last shreds of cognizance to tear Wesker a new one, and then, having lost all humanity, getting put down by Chris.
Weird idea? Sure. But one that had been bouncing around in my head ever since Resident Evil 5 turned out to be, well, not so Resident Evil-ish. It also fulfills the notion that Jill dies (without being an obvious fake out or a cheap kill) and the death of Wesker (which ties up a long-hanging loose thread). Would this necessarily be a good game? Hell if I know, like I said, I'm not a game designer. But on the basic premise alone, I feel it's a more experimental concept that still holds truer to the ideas of Resident Evil as a whole, rather than "Resident Evil 4, but with co-op and in Africa this time."
And hey, maybe it would leave a better jumping-off point for a more sane conceptualization of Resident Evil 6. I'm not saying that this idea would single-handedly prevent Capcom from being in the financial pickle they're currently mired in. But maybe it would have helped one of their more troubled franchises and tried something that stuck closer to what Resident Evil originated as; a horror game.