Capcom's Resident Evil: Survivor series was first conceived as an opportunity to branch out from the Resident Evil storyline and gameplay mechanics, placing an emphasis on action as opposed to the puzzle-solving elements in the adventure-oriented originals. Indeed, Capcom even went so far as to change the perspective and gameplay to resemble something that you might find in a light-gun game like Sega's The House of the Dead--except the Survivor games didn't force you to move in any particular direction, instead allowing you to freely explore the games' environments and avoid enemy confrontations when necessary. The latest game in the series, Resident Evil: Dead Aim, has many of the same features and mechanics as its predecessors, but interestingly, Capcom has made some changes to make the game feel more like some of the classic Resident Evil titles, the most notable of which is the addition of the third-person perspective.
Don't think that this has turned Dead Aim into the next major Resident Evil game--much of the game is focused on action and little else. But even so, Resident Evil: Dead Aim has some of the classic Resident Evil characteristics, including a storyline that revolves around the T virus developed by the Umbrella Corporation. This time, a man named Morpheus has stolen the virus and essentially unleashed it on a hijacked Umbrella cruise ship. As special government operative Bruce McGivern, you have to track down Morpheus and fight through the hordes of horrible creatures that are now running rampant the cruise ship, including some familiar enemies from previous Resident Evil games. Naturally, you'll meet up with other characters along the way, some of whom you'll actually have to control in later on in the game.
There are a number of other similarities as well. Like the other Resident Evil: Survivor games, Resident Evil: Dead Aim features an inventory system that allows you to store ammunition, weapons, and various health power-ups such as the first-aid spray and the green herbs. You can also view the files that you collect throughout the game, as well as a map of the ship. This inventory system isn't all that complex, but then again it really doesn't need to be, since Bruce won't be running around the ship, collecting different jewels, shields, lighters, or any of the other common items found in the standard Resident Evil games. You'll still have to find keys or keycards that make different parts of the ship accessible to Bruce, but most of them can be found near the locked doors they open.
But the similarities go beyond just the inventory system. Like the traditional Resident Evil games, Dead Aim takes place in the third-person perspective, at least when you're not engaged in a battle against the undead. This allows you to have a broader view of your surroundings, which can be useful when looking for items or for spotting enemies that may not be directly in your line of sight when in the first-person mode. It also lends itself well to avoiding enemies entirely, since you can now maneuver your character with precision through the dark and dusty environments.
It takes a few seconds to get adjusted to the notion that while you can play much of the game from the third-person perspective, you still have to shoot in the first-person. Whenever you feel the need to start shooting some zombies, you can tap one of the shoulder buttons on the PlayStation 2 controller and jump into the game's first-person mode. Once you're in this mode, a targeting reticle will appear, making it possible to target any portion of the zombies or other monsters you're fighting against. However, targeting specific areas doesn't seem to have much of an effect, as most zombies will take several bullets before going down anyway. However, you can time your shots in such a manner that when a zombie appears to be stunned, you can shoot it a second time and cause it to go flying across the room. So, much like in any other Resident Evil game, it's important to be at least a little conservative with your ammunition. Instead of unloading on every enemy in sight, it's wiser to be a little more selective and time your shots. Also, while you're in the first-person mode, you'll notice that there's a danger indicator that tells you if a zombie or other creature that isn't directly in your line of sight is getting too close, in which case you can turn and quickly fire a few rounds or be prepared to use the escape button when an enemy latches onto you and starts feasting.
It's worth noting that ammunition for the default handgun is quite plentiful and that save areas are stocked with boxes of ammunition. Ammo for the special weapons in the game (such as the magnum or the shotgun) isn't quite as readily available, but these weapons can easily be reserved for use against some of the tougher enemies and boss characters that you encounter.
Since Resident Evil: Dead Aim uses a first-person perspective, all the environments are rendered in full 3D, and while they aren't as detailed as the environments found in the Resident Evil remakes for the GameCube, they do a solid job of conveying the same sense of tension. There are also some nice lighting effects, specifically the ones created by the small flashlight mounted on Bruce's shirt. Unfortunately, the third-person perspective combines with the 3D environments and enemies to cause some noticeable slowdown at various points in the game, particularly in some of the larger areas.
Even with some of its technical deficiencies, Resident Evil: Dead Aim seems to be a step in the right direction for the Resident Evil: Survivor series, since it's essentially trying to appeal to those who like the major Resident Evil games while keeping the focus on the action found in previous games in the Survivor series. Resident Evil: Dead Aim is scheduled for release in June.