GAME NAME: Resident Evil 6
PLATFORM(S): 360, PS3, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): 2 October 2012
Resident Evil: The franchise that once upon a time scared the pants off me. I’m sure you’ve all got classic Resident Evil memories. Remember when the dogs jumped through the windows as you were walking down the corridors in the original mansion? How about the first time you came face-to-face with Nemesis in Resi 3? Then we have those uncomfortable experiences in Resident Evil 4 and 5 where a virus-infected chainsaw-wielding crazy-ass zombie thing came running after you and your partner (in Resi 5) and you would scream like little girls. Over the years Capcom has created various scenarios that have left a mark on different generations. Those of us who played the classic Resi games always moan and groan that suspense and horror has fallen to the wayside while the newcomers to the series want the action-fest that the later Resi titles have become known for. Capcom’s answer – compress three scenarios that will appeal to everyone into one package.
Set in 2013 – that’s exactly 15 years after the original outbreak in Racoon City – we now have six protagonists to deal with. Leon and his partner Helena (one of the new characters who was hired by the President to protect him), Chris and Pierce (another new character from Chris’s past) and Jake and Sherry. As the trailer proudly disclosed – Jake is Albert Wesker’s son… and Sherry? Oh, she’s the little girl you protected in Resident Evil 2. She’s a woman now and yes she’s still somehow stuck in the middle of another virus outbreak – the C-Virus this time.
After playing the quicktime, on-rails prelude Capcom gives you the option to decide which campaign you would like to play, in any random order that works for you. Each scenario crosses paths with the others at some point and though each campaign only has five chapters apiece they’re quite lengthy and will provide a hefty 12 hours of play time per campaign (that’s 36 hours of gameplay for those with maths issues like me *hides calculator*).
Leon’s sections have been designed with survival horror in mind in a direct response to the criticism levelled at Resident Evil 5’s all-out-action focus. But, like the 3DS hit Revelations, other playable characters are more than alternative skins: they’re vehicles for altogether different gameplay types. Take Chris. While Leon’s busy sweating buckets and shooting brains in Tall Oaks, Chris’s opening level involves storming through China with heavy weapons and a back-up team in a game almost transplanted from Resident Evil 5, but not quite. Sure there are civvies there to protect (and push out of the way when they get to close) but it’s now pretty much a third-person action Spec-Ops wannabe cover-based shooter. Expect enemies with guns, cover systems and lots of explosions. Jake’s opening segment takes place in Eastern Europe at first, which will remind you of a cross between Resi 4’s quicktime event moments with slices of fist fights and boss fights to complement the other two scenarios. For more on this see the preview I covered a few weeks back, there are no spoilers.
What made previous Resident Evil games all the more frantic was the fact that you could not shoot while walking. While some see this as a mistake on the developers’ part it’s actually purposely done. It’s more obvious now that you can walk or dive from side to side while shooting. Even Leon’s sections are not as scary as they should be as you feel that you have everything at hand to deal with the constant threat. Weapon selection is now as easy as it’s ever been. Instead of playing a game of inventory-management you can now swap between weapons by selecting left or right on the D-pad or press up or down to select herbs, first-aid sprays, grenades and other small arms on the fly. This works well as Resident Evil 6 is still generally linear, but there are sections that can get you a bit lost. Press the L2 button to bring up a directional arrow to spoonfeed you your next checkpoint. In their attempt to freshen things up you’ll find vehicles to drive in certain sections of the game, but it’s nothing to write home about. In fact, it damages a game that’s already in trouble of being infected with more than a virus.
If you plan to play this by yourself you’ll be glad to hear that your partner will never steal your ammunition, they’ll assist you in actually shooting the zombies and other monstrosities and be right on track when it comes to puzzle-solving and not run about aimlessly as Sheva did in Resi 5. But, truth be told, it’s all about the co-op and here Capcom has come through with all the options under the sun. Players can play it online via network play, split-screen or with a system-link. Should you play it online you can select the region, objective settings (playing for fun or more hardcore), switch friendly-fire on or off, switch infinite ammo on or off and allow or disallow Agent Hunt mode.
Agent Hunt is a new mode whereby you can enter another player’s online game as a creature and hunt him or her down. Unfortunately we did not get to play online as the servers were not yet up but it surely sounds interesting. Though I can’t disclose some of the other extra unlockable bits players will be glad to hear that the developers spent some time on a decent upgrade system for weapons and abilities alike called Skill Settings. After each chapter you’re given the option to spend Skill Points, earned by picking up dropped items from enemies that you downed, whereby you can add extra depth to the magnification on your sniper, increase the power of your handgun, upgrade your melee damage and so forth.
But Resident Evil 6 has some serious problems. The camera issue I experienced at E3 earlier this year has persisted. Camera settings have been added under options but there is nothing to resolve the fact that your character is generally taking up most of the screen and that you can’t splatter the brains of the approaching zombie as you just can’t see what’s going on. I also found that I randomly would get lost and could not find my co-op partner (while playing offline co-op with another person). There was nothing to track my partner down, so should you end up with a zombie munching away at your neck you’d have to fend for yourself while your partner frantically searches in order to rescue you. What makes it more troublesome is that Resident Evil 6 is generally a very dark game. I often found myself increasing the brightness to see what on earth is going on. The boss battles are generally lousy, there is no continuity in the presentation, the puzzles are unchallenging… and it’s just not anywhere near as much fun as Resident Evil 4 or 5 was.
What Capcom have done is admirable, but it’s a risk that has backfired on them. They’ve done their utmost to please EVERYONE, but at the same time they’ve left some people with what feels like a third of a game and crucially they’ve lost the spirit of what the words RESIDENT EVIL once meant. Capcom will have to find the cure if they hope to get rid of this virus as it’s spreading fast.