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DID YOU READ

E3 2012: Capcom promises “Resident Evil 6” will “satisfy fans of the series”

Resident Evil 6

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By Michael Rougeau

LOS ANGELES, California — The “Resident Evil” series’ slow shift from tense survival horror to balls-out action shooter has been both predictable and, for some, difficult to watch. But even the most ardent of fans have mostly resigned themselves to the reality that the series will (thankfully, for some) never revert to its awkwardly-controlled, fixed-perspective roots. No matter what Capcom may tell them, with a wink and a quip, behind closed doors at E3.

“There’s a fear that comes across,” said game producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi. “You can have thrilling fear in action that makes, you know — it’s something you have to be there to experience yourself.” Having just played through a brief section of the game’s story, during which four characters team up to battle a hulking, frothing beast known as the Ustanak, Hirabayashi opened the floor up to questions. He spoke to a small crowd of about a dozen reporters through a translator.

“We thought this was a really good example to show you where that action comes into play,” he continued. “But please don’t think that this is representative of every single scene in the game — there’s going to be a giant explosion with an enemy falling out of the sky on top of you.”

The demo he showed off was designed specifically to illustrate a brand new concept in “Resident Evil 6” known as Cross Over. It goes like this: the game’s story is made up of three more-or-less parallel plot lines, one for Chris Redfield and series newcomer Piers Nivens, one for Leon Kennedy and another newcomer, Helena Harper, and one for Jake Wesker (son of series villain Albert) and Sherry Birkin, who first appeared as a child in “Resident Evil 2.” The three duos embark on separate journeys that will occasionally intersect, and that’s when the opportunity for a Cross Over emerges.

Upon reaching one of these intersections, the game will ask players whether they’d like to open up their experience to other live players. It’ll then pause and search for online players who’ve reached the same point in the story, temporarily merging the two games until that section is complete. During that time, the four players can work together or split up (sometimes even swapping partners briefly) to fight bosses, solve puzzles and so forth.

Players can choose to decline the Cross Over opportunity or play offline, in which case the other three characters will be controlled by the game’s AI. They can even request that the game only match them up with friends during Cross Over play, though that would require players on their friend lists to reach the same intersection as them around the same time and at the same difficulty, which seems rather unlikely unless it’s planned in advance. Rather, then, the idea is for players to be matched up with random allies, cultivating a sense of uncertainty that could add to the game’s tension.

“We feel the exciting part of this feature is to not know who you’re going to be matched up with,” Hirabayashi said. “It’s kind of a surprise.” Players who want to game with their friends, he added, can play more straightforward co-op by taking control of two characters in the same plot line.

In Hirabayashi’s demo, Leon and Helena are recovering from a plane crash in the middle of a Chinese city when they encounter Jake and Sherry, who are being hunted by the Ustanak. The group quickly realize that Leon’s target is Sherry’s boss, though they’re saved from coming to blows more by the arrival of the beasty than by their own ability to peacefully resolve said conflict of interests. The player switches between weapons quickly via a snazzy new real-time inventory UI, but all the bullets in the world can’t seem to harm the Ustanak, who absorbs them like the meaty sponge he is.

Ten feet tall, with interchangeable arm attachments (sporting a mini-gun or claw to suit the situation) and a cage strapped to his back, the Ustanak snares players who get too close and momentarily incapacitates them. “He’s like an ex-girlfriend,” Leon says, the heartthrob that he is. “Guy doesn’t know when to quit.” The four heroes take turns climbing ladders to gain high ground and shove explosive barrels down onto his head, continuing to shoot at him even when they’re knocked on their backs. Their new ability to run and shoot simultaneously (hard to believe, isn’t it?) comes in quite handy, as do fancy dodging and up-close combat mechanics.

There was little of the series’ past glories evident here, and the gameplay itself won’t make any best-of-E3 lists. But it’s definitely nice to see Capcom going the extra mile to devise something that’s never been done before, especially something that could generate such unique opportunities for interactive storytelling. “There could be points with, not just literal gameplay cross overs, but you might see — Leon could be on an airplane with a television screen in the background, and you see Chris on the TV,” Hirabayashi explained. Putting a pin in Leon’s storyline and starting up Chris’s will eventually bring players to the same point, but from an alternate point of view. “You’ll be free to explore the story from all sides in any order you like,” Hirabayashi added.

Besides, if he can be taken at his word, there will be horror aplenty elsewhere in “Resident Evil 6.” Capcom just didn’t want to show it off now. “The best way to show you Cross Over is four people kicking ass against a big enemy,” he reasoned. “We want to keep the horror for you to experience. I mean, if we were to show ‘Resident Evil 1’ here, we wouldn’t put a screen up and show you two dogs coming in the window. Because then you’d go and play the game and, like, ‘Oh yeah, that part.’ That wouldn’t be horror for you anymore. So we really want to keep that stuff for you. You know, the best time for you to experience horror is when you’ve got the game in your hands and you’re playing it and the lights are off and you’ve got the popcorn or whatever.”

IFC had the opportunity to briefly try out the Chris/Piers and Leon/Helena missions, and they did indeed feel like completely opposite ends of a very wide spectrum. Chris’s was a fast-paced shooting gallery similar to “Resident Evil 5,” in which he co-starred, and Leon’s was — well, Leon’s was slow. Painfully slow. It too was unimpressive, to say the least, but there’s still hope that Capcom’s simply withholding the good bits until the game’s actually out for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on October 2.

“Leon’s got this real gothic horror aspect to his storyline, if you think of some really good classic ‘Resident Evil’ horror,” Hirabayashi promised, adding that each of the three plot lines will have its own type of scares. “So please rest assured there’s a good balance of elements in the game, and that should satisfy fans of the series.”

Are you happy with the ways “Resident Evil” has evolved? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.