Have you or any of your team particularly enjoyed any western games recently? Have any games influenced your ideas for Resi 5?
Kawata: Bioshock. It's a classic game which really utilised the next gen power very well. The world is very strong and very believable, and the whole game was quite inspiring.
What about away from games? What ese has inspired you?
Kawata: The team was inspired by manga and many other modern movies; the obvious one is Black Hawk Down. Having said that, that wasn't our only influence... The inclusion of co-op play was influenced by western gamers. I can't talk about it right at this moment, but we have incorporated some other aspects of western games into Resident Evil 5 during development.
Do you mean a change to the control system? Something less like classic Resident Evil and more like Gears of War?
Kawata: What do you think? Which way do you think it should go?
We do like the current system. It's scarier to be compelled to stand your ground, even if it is harder to navigate...
Kawata: Yes. I've never thought of it as a problem, really. I'm used to the system. However, we have to be open to comments from fans. One thing to remember is that Resident Evil is a horror game, so we're not trying to make a typical game where you can just shoot your way through.
Resident Evil is obviously a very different type of game now to how it was when it started out back in the old Playstation days. Why stick with Mikami's new vision, established in Resident Evil 4?
Kawata: Mr Mikami used to take the movie Jaws as an example of horror. First of all you don't see your opponent, but you know there's something scary out there; then it reveals itself and tension builds up. But at the end of the day, you shoot the huge shark and that's quite a thrill. By making Resident Evil an action game we wanted to increase that thrill and that satisfaction. Obviously, the horror genre doesn't need to follow our path - it's something totally different and something we're continually experimenting with.
Speaking of experiments, do you think Japanese gamers will be as interested in co-op play as their western counterparts?
Kawata: Capcom is dedicated to creating games suitable for the western market, but we didn't include co-op just for western fans. Our take with co-op is that it's an expansion of the action, nd Japanese fans are starting to go online. So, we're hoping it's as well received in Japan (as it willbe in the West).
Lastly, then, the African setting seems to have upset quite a lot of people, and yet you've remained steadfast... What are your thoughts on the controversy?
Kawata: We chose Africa because we're extending the storyline logically. Following the tradition of the Resident Evil franchise, you'll remember from Code Veronica - the Progenitor virus comes from Africa so we wanted to go back to the root of where the virus originated. For the people who think it's racist... well, we can't please everyone. We're in the entertainment business - we're not here to state our political opinion or anything like that. It's unfortunate that some people felt that way.
We've gone where the story has taken us. There isn't any particular storyline that we have to conclude upon, but in the franchise there are still a few mysteries hanging, and we're going to give you a conclusion to some of them. With Resident Evil 4 we didn't really talk about the storyline before the game's release, and we'll be keeping secrets now too...