If I Go Back To Raccoon City, I Go Alone
So Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a go and we have both a teaser trailer and the promise of a demo at E3. And while I may not have my finger on the pulse of the horror nation, I get the feeling that some fans are none too happy with this new "squad-based shooter" approach. And neither am I.
From a personal standpoint, I just see this as another step in the "twitch" direction, and a way of assimilating the shooter craze that currently grips the industry. I sense a faster pace, I sense more gore rather than nicely designed fear, and I sense exactly what I consider to be a mainstream concession. Japanese developers have been trying for years to cater to the Western audiences and thus far, their only plan involves making games faster and dumber. I've played every RE iteration and I think anyone will tell you that part of the fear we experience came from being alone.
It's part of the reason why Silent Hill, or any fear-based entertainment product that features a lone individual, is so damn creepy. It's just one person against God knows what; I say "God knows what" because what scrapes and thuds in the dark is always ten times more frightening than the reality. It's how the human imagination works, and something the true masters of terror well understood. By bringing in a "squad," you immediately remove that crucial aspect; the part of our brain that harps on the inherent fear of being alone. Plus, based on the teaser trailer, it's not a difficult leap to surmise that action, not growing tension and anxiety, will be the name of the game.
That might turn out well, but it just ain't as scary. I'm sorry. This announcement has, however, increased one fear that resides within me: the fear that at some point, every single game available will be all about speed and reflexes, and the faster something is, the "better" it will be perceived to be. ...at which point, I'll be done with gaming. ...okay, that's a small exaggeration, I admit. ;)
4/1/2011 Ben Dutka