In a break with controversial tradition, you won’t have to stop to shoot in either of the next two Resident Evil games. You can run-and-gun in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City; you can run-and-gun in Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D.
Raccoon City is a team-based shooter, meant to be played either as black ops squad in its storyline campaign or as a competitive shootout in its multiplayer. In either mode, the game controls like a standard third-person shooter, letting you walk or run, shooting the whole time.
In the Mercenaries 3D, a Nintendo 3DS expansion of a mode that appeared in Resident Evil 4 and 5, sans running-and-gunning, players can aim down their gun’s sights and then hustle, shooting when they want to. This game is played for points, the more you rack up per consecutive zombie kill, the better.
“Certainly there’s a lot of debate as to whether stopping, having the player not be able to move [before shooting]in the old ones was a good thing or a negative thing,” Tsukasa Takenaka, one of the creators of the new Mercenaries game for the Nintendo 3DS told me during an interview in Miami last week. “There’s a lot of opinion on both sides.”
The Resident Evil creators debate the issue “after work, at the bar, drinking some sake”.
Takenaka said that the choice to let players move while shooting was easy for Mercenaries 3D. “The goal of of this game isn’t the traditional goal of creating a Resident Evil horror atmosphere,” he said. “Mercenaries is totally focused on the action and creating a more fast-paced game that is very different than the other Resident Evil games in the series.”
That doesn’t explain why the RE4 and 5 Mercenaries modes didn’t let you run and gun, and it sure seems like Capcom’s enabling of that activity is part of a gradual change in control design that’s been moving through the Resident Evil series. In those original RE games, players had to deal with the fright of needing to plant their feet in order to kill an approaching zombie with a shotgun blast to the head or to at least slow him with a pistol shot to the leg.
These are not sweeping winds of change, though. Capcom’s developers maintain that they’re making the choice to allow running and gunning selectively. They say it’s not even a situation that divides Capcom, dismissing the idea that there’s a pro-running-and-gunning camp in the company and a group opposed to them. “That’s just one of many design decision that need to be made when we make a game,” Masahika Kawata, producer of both of these new Resident Evil games told me. “When we talk about those decisions, they’re not really taken as singularly as that. It’s a much more holistic discussion that needs to be happening… It’s a balance decision that’s made with each separate title, considering the goals of that title,”
The Capcom developers with whom I spoke said that there are discussions all the time at their company. They say there’s a realism argument for forcing you to plant your feet before shooting. You would stand still most of the time you’d be shooting a gun in real life. There’s a horror reason for it too. It’s scarier if you have to stop.
The running-gunning Resident Evil debates will continue at Capcom, though not necessarily during the day. Fitting for Resident Evil, they’re more of an evening thing. “It’s not at lunch,” Kawata said, “It’s after work, at the bar, drinking some sake.”