Since January, GameCube owners have been the only American gamers able to enjoy Resident Evil 4. But while the best-selling, critically lionized title will arrive on US PlayStation 2s in the fall, it looked like Xbox owners would never be able to help Leon S. Kennedy slay the series' signature undead hordes.
However, today Capcom announced that Resident Evil 5 is coming to Microsoft's next-generation console, the Xbox 360, as well as Sony's PlayStation 3. The announcement came in the form of a press release on the English-language section of the Investor Relations part of Capcom's Japanese corporate Web site.
The news came as only a small surprise, as Capcom executives had declared their admiration for both Sony's and Microsoft's next-gen consoles when they were unveiled in mid-May. "Utilizing the PlayStation 3['s] and Xbox 360['s] unprecedented power, Resident Evil 5 promises to revolutionize the series by delivering an unbelievable level of detail, realism, and control," read the release.
The announcement of an Xbox 360 Resident Evil 5 does mark an increasing change of heart for Capcom. Traditionally, the company has given Microsoft's current-generation console, the Xbox, only tepid support in the form of rereleases of older titles such as Genma Onimusha. However, that changed during this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, with the unveiling of Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance and Final Fight: Streetwise, two top holiday titles that will ship on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 simultaneously.
Capcom's brief announcement did not mention a ship date for Resident Evil 5 for the Xbox 360, which is due in Q4 2005, or the PlayStation, which currently has a "spring 2006" launch window. American Capcom reps told GameSpot that they "do not have any further details at this time" on the announced versions or a potential version for Nintendo's Revolution, which was not mentioned in the release.
However, Nintendo fans shouldn't give up hope entirely. Resident Evil 4 spent nearly four years in development, meaning that Resident Evil 5 likely won't arrive before the Revolution's expected late 2006 launch. Given that the Revolution development kits went out in March, a version of the game could still be in development for the mystery-shrouded console.
While Capcom's release had little information on Resident Evil 5, the latest issue of Famitsu revealed many details about the game. It features an interview with the game's producer, Jun Takeuchi, best known as the producer of Genma Onimusha and Onimusha 3. He also worked on Resident Evil 1 and 2, handling character animation and directing the creation of gun models.
Images of Resident Evil 5 featured in the magazine shows that the series' setting has dramatically changed. Instead of the creepy dark atmosphere of previous installments, RE5 takes place in a hot and sandy desert city under a pounding sun. There are also scenes of unlit areas such as alleyways and buildings that sport the same shadowy atmosphere as previous installments.
The Famitsu images show an unshaven man in a short-sleeved shirt who appears to be the main character in Resident Evil 5. Armed with a handgun and knife belted to his shoulder, he is outnumbered and being chased by a mysterious group of enemies shown in silhouette.
Takeuchi commented that RE5's setting was inspired by the 2001 war movie Black Hawk Down, in which a crowd of angry Somalis swarm over an American helicopter after it crash-lands. Technically, the surviving soldiers have a lot of room to run inside the city, but they are quickly cornered by the massive crowd that comes after them. Takeuchi says that he hopes to achieve a similar kind of experience and "madness" in RE5.
When asked about the unshaven man, Takeuchi said that the core developers for RE5 include staff members that worked on RE1, hinting that it might possibly be Chris Redfield from the original Resident Evil. Takeuchi also revealed that RE5 will be an authentic sequel to the series' main storyline rather than a side story. He added that if the main character is indeed Chris, the developers might be preparing to create some kind of a conclusion to the series' long storyline.
In terms of the mysterious enemies, Takeuchi commented that they are displayed in shadows because they will feature new elements that can't be disclosed yet. However, he hinted that the talking enemies in Resident Evil 4 were something he hopes to expand on in RE5.
As expected, Resident Evil 5 will take advantage of the PS3's and Xbox 360's high-definition graphics. Takeuchi said that one of the main goals of RE5's development was to use said graphics to deliver a tangible "atmosphere" to the game, to the point where the player can almost feel the hot air of the desert.
When asked about how RE5 will actually play, Takeuchi said that he hopes to bring back RE4's gameplay in RE5. He commented that Resident Evil 4 caused a lot of excitement at Capcom, since director Shinji Mikami had successfully made major changes while still keeping the essence of the series intact.
When Takeuchi was asked about the game's release, he avoided giving a straight answer, only stating jokingly that it will come out "before the launch of PlayStation 4." Later, Takeuchi explained that projects for next-generation consoles will easily spend three to five years in development and that work on RE5 is expected to take a bit of time, since it's currently Capcom's main focus.
Capcom may exhibit a one- to two-minute high-definition trailer of Resident Evil 5 at the Tokyo Game Show, which is where the images of the game in Famitsu were taken from.