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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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