GamePro: How did you want to make RE2 different from the first game?
Shinji Mikami: Resident Evil was such a success that in creating the sequel we set out to enhance what we believe made the first game so popular. Our first goal was to recreate Resident Evil's sense of horror and the player's sensation of actually being inside the game's environment. In RE2 we're trying to make the environment even more true to life.
GP: Give us a brief walkthrough of RE2.
Mikami: RE2 begins two months later in Raccoon City where Umbrella, Inc., has been closed down for conducting illegal biological experiments. A strange skin disease suddenly starts spreading from unknown origins. It spreads incredibly fast, and those it kills become the walking dead, hunting their next victims. Raccoon City essentially becomes a dead town.
Located in the center of the city is the police department where rookie cop Leon Kennedy finds himself surrounded by zombies and monsters. University student Elza Walker runs to the Police department seeking protection from the evil that haunts her. RE2 is the story of Leon's and Elza's survival.
The tension in the game is built with the growing realization that the entire city is overrun with zombies. Not even the police can help. As the player in RE2, you try to help Leon and Elza in what is an increasingly helpless situation.
GP: Are there new weapons in RE2?
Mikami: We've added some new weapons to those from the first game, including an explosive new weapon, but I don't want to give anything away yet.
GP: Any new monsters?
Mikami: Besides zombies, there are many new monsters who "change" in the game. We don't want to spoil the surprises, but you'll have to play the game yourself to understand what happens to these monsters.
GP: Why aren't Chris and Jill the main characters?
Mikami: We wanted to create the same level of horror in RE2 that the first game achieved. Chris and Jill have already overcome the terror they experienced, so it would be impossible for them to be terrified in RE2. Thus the new story required a new cast.
GP: Describe the setting of the game and explain why you chose it.
Mikami: In RE, we chose an old mansion because we could make it remote and hidden away in the mountains. We did that to create horror in a place where you couldn't easily run away for help.
In RE2, we wanted a different setting but one with a similar enclosed environment. Also, we wanted to create the sensation that these events could happen to you tomorrow, so we made RE2's setting more modern.
We decided to start the game in the police station, because that's a place where you're supposed to feel protected. But Raccoon City's police department soon loses its ability to function as a safe place. Once again you find yourself surrounded by an evil terror.
GP: What advancements were made to sound and graphics?
Mikami: If you listen carefully to the sounds, you'll notice that the background music changes in real time depending on what's happening in the game. Thus the music is more like a movie soundtrack than traditional video game music.
Graphically, you'll notice changes in the backgrounds as events occur during gameplay. In RE2, what's going on in the background has more impact than in the first game.
GP: Did you get any criticism over the amount of blood in the first game?
Mikami: No. In fact, we believe that one of the reasons Resident Evil became so popular was because of the game's gore. The blood helped establish the violent, dark world of Resident Evil.
GP: Is RE2 bloodier than the first game?
Mikami: In RE2, we have taken the same approach as in Resident Evil - we do not show any extreme violence without a reason. But you have to remember what type of game this is. If we need to represent horror, we won't hesitate to demonstrate the carnage onscreen.
GP: What are you proudest of in RE2?
Mikami: The high standards. All of the game's features help RE2 exceed even the quality standards set by movies.
GP: Are you working on RE2 for any other platform?
Mikami: No, although we are working on Resident Evil for the PC and the Saturn.
GP: Will there be an RE3?
Mikami: This has yet to be determined.