Controversial Resident Evil 5 on its Way to Retailers

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Game publisher Capcom has announced that it has shipped the controversial action combat game Resident Evil 5 to North American retailers for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 platforms. Rated M for "Mature" by the ESRB, the game followed two Bio-terrorism Security Assessment (BSAA) agents to Africa where a biological agent is transforming both humans and animals into hostile, dangerous creatures. The game features cooperative play where players must work together to survive and ultimate work out the mysteries…and, of course, work out puzzles and dispose of a lot of zombies along the way.

"With record-breaking downloadable demo numbers on both Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network and critics across the board singing the game’s praises, Resident Evil 5 is poised for a very successful launch," said Capcom marketing VP Mona Hamilton, in a statement. "The new two-player co-op experience, variety of control options, new storyline and advanced inventory system have created a revolutionary new action-packed Resident Evil game that both fans and newcomers to the series will love."

Resident Evil 5 has been the subject of ongoing controversy since Capcom showed a trailer for the game at the 2007 E3 conference. The trailer—and the game itself—feature of what some consider to be racist imagery, as well as characters and scenes that some interpret as perpetuation of imperialist and colonialist perceptions of Africans as somehow primitive or sub-human. Capcom has said it tried to balance any racial elements to the Africa-based story by making one of the main characters (the female lead Sheva Alomar) black and by including several races amongst the zombies encountered in the game.

Resident Evil 5 is priced at $59.99.

In related news, Capcom has also announced it plans to launch three zombie-splattering Resident Evil titles for the Nintendo Wii, including two reworks of titles originally developed for the Nintendo GameCube (Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zero) and a new Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, which will be a sequel to events in The Umbrella Chronicles. Darkside Chronicles will be the first to be released, and will also feature a co-op gameplay experience using two remotes. The games will be prices at about $30 apiece.

Although some gamers welcome the addition of more hard-core gaming titles to the Wii lineup, some industry observers wonder if mature and violent games for the Wii might not tarnish the console’s wholesome and family-friendly image among consumers, many of whom were attracted to the Wii not just for its innovative controller, but for its comparatively innocuous and family-friendly fare.