Resident Evil 6 director Eiichiro Sasaki talks terror, tension and tie-ins

resident evil 6 zombie gameThe director behind Capcom’s epic new Resident Evil 6 game was at Gamescom 2012 to discuss the huge sequel. The game offers players four unique interactive stories, three of which will allow cooperative gameplay. With a new Resident Evil: Retribution movie opening just before Capcom releases the game, and a straight-to-home video computer-generated sequel, Resident Evil: Damnation, coming out as well, this fall will be dominated by all variations of Capcom’s zombie franchise. Resident Evil 6 director Eiichiro Sasaki talks about the virtual and linear sequels in this exclusive interview.

What were some of the cinematic influences for Resident Evil 6?

There were a lot of cinematic influences in Resident Evil 6, but the most specific one I can point to is for Chris’ campaign. The real influence for that comes from the movie Aliens. If you think about that movie, you have this group of people who trained really hard and they start from a position of confidence and security, but as they get more and more involved in the situation it gets worse and worse and members of their team get picked off one by one. Well, the same thing happens to Chris. And as the situation progresses for him, things get worse and worse, until in the end it’s just him and Piers that are left to fight the menace that faces them. I think this type of experience, this kind of terror that you feel from seeing teammates fall one by one, is something that you can only feel from playing Chris’ campaign.

What are the challenges of developing four unique storylines within the overarching Resident Evil 6?

The biggest challenge for us is trying to make them all feel unique. We want to make sure that they all felt like a different campaign when you’re playing them. We have Leon’s campaign, which has more of that classic Resident Evil gothic horror feel; Chris’ campaign, which I already spoke of; Jake’s campaign, where you’re going to feel this tension because you’re always being chased by this creature that won’t stop stalking you; and the fourth campaign is Ada’s campaign, which you can play after you complete the other three campaigns. Hers is a little different because it’s a single-player experience that is more reminiscent of the original Resident Evil games. Because she’s a spy, you’re going to have to use some stealth moves to get in and infiltrate certain areas. She’s a woman of mystery and there’s just a different atmosphere that surrounds her campaign compared to what is in the other three.

resident evil 6 game charactersHave there been any influences on you from what they’ve done with the Resident Evil movies that have impacted Resident Evil 6?

They’re great movies and Paul Anderson has done a great job as director of those films. It really shows that he’s a big fan of the series. I think more than us taking cues from him, he’s done a lot to actually incorporate a lot of elements from the games themselves into the movies. He’s taking more from us than vice versa.

Have you been able to go to any of his sets for the films and if so what’s that been like?

I really want to go so badly, but unfortunately I just have not been able to get there. But the executive producer of RE6, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, has been able to attend and he has been impressed with what they’re doing.

What’s it like having your Resident Evil characters like Ada Wong and Chris Redfield starring in Resident Evil: Retribution?

It speaks to the power of the franchise that what we’ve created in the games that they can be exploited in so many different ways. We’re trying to tell our own unique stories with Resident Evil 6 and Hollywood is trying to tell its own Resident Evil stories. I mean Resident Evil can be done in books, movies, games, whatever. It really is a multi-purpose franchise. It’s interesting to see how they overlap in many ways, but I would prefer that each medium does something unique to that medium. I want the Hollywood movies to take where they think Resident Evil should go in their direction. And I want the games to do with Resident Evil what they do best and make sure that they’re offering the best gaming Resident Evil experience out there. It’s really great that you can see Resident Evil take shape in so many forms.

With so many characters to deal with in Resident Evil 6, what role did the voice actors play in bringing these characters to life?

They really brought the characters to life. One of the ways we were able to do this was through full performance capture. This wasn’t the case for all of the actors, but many of the motion-capture actors and the voice actors were the same person, so they really brought the character to life. They really became that character during the course of the creation of the game. Another thing we did differently is that usually with games you write a script and pass it to the actors and they read it and perform it. It’s normally a very quick process. But we wanted the actors to be more involved, so from the very beginning when we selected the actors for this project we had meetings with them. The game’s scriptwriter and I sat down with the actors and really tried to come up with a direction for these characters to take. We tried to really create realistic, three-dimensional characters. I really think that’s the way we want to do it in the future to get the most out of these performances. Voice acting is a critical part of the game’s production and you can’t just treat it as an afterthought.