Resident Evil 6 Review
As far as expectations are concerned, I found myself in a pretty solid middle ground sitting down to begin playing Capcom’s latest entry into the long-running franchise, Resident Evil 6. I was never a huge fan of the original 3 games on the PlayStation. Finding myself struggling against awkward controls more than the actual game’s challenges, I eventually gave up on the series, looking elsewhere for my survival horror fix. Resident Evil 4 was the game that brought me back into the franchise, breathing enough innovation and life into the game to instill renewed faith, only to be let down by what many considered to be a wrong-turn for the series, Resident Evil 5.
There is a considerable shift in Resident Evil fans after the 4th entry in the main series. With a vocal group shouting heresy against the more action-oriented direction of the newer games, and a large fanbase still defending these titles as fun AAA experiences, I find myself somewhere in the middle. Never a dedicated enough fan to feel a deep connection to the franchise, but engrossed in it on enough isolated occasions throughout my life to always keep an eye on what it’s doing next. I guess it’s safe to say I’m not necessarily a hardcore fan of the Resident Evil series, I’m a hardcore fan of some specific Resident Evil games.
That said; let’s get on with the review.
Resident Evil 6 (abbreviated as RE6 from this point on) is an action game, at its core. There are elements here of an attempt at horror, but, at its best moments, it’s more along the lines of suspense over terror. Building off the foundations of the previous game, RE6 puts players in the boots of one of numerous agents or characters, finding themselves cast into a nightmarish scenario involving some sort of viral outbreak or mutation.
There are three main campaigns present in the game, with one bonus campaign playable after the initial three are completed. Each of the campaigns does offer a bit of variety in the overall atmosphere and storyline. Leon’s campaign does open with some really stellar setpieces, creating a really dark environment and some excellent portions where you fight to escape a burning and infected city. It’s one of the first times I’ve had to bunker up alongside other survivors in a RE game, and it helps kick off the whole experience with a bang. Nothing in Leon’s campaign is reminiscent of the old school RE games, and it’s opening sections really play like a vastly improved RE4 with a RE2 inspired skin. In my experience Chris’s campaign was the weakest of the bunch. Chris’s sections still benefit from all of the excellent gameplay improvements introduced in RE6, but follows closer to what RE5 offered, and a lot of fans found that disappointing. It’s a lot of fun to shoot through, but I don’t think it offered the same moody points that Leon’s campaign did at times. Jake’s campaign offers up some unique experiences of it’s own, with the player constantly being stalked by the “Ustanak”, and indestructible creation hell-bent on pursuing Jake. At the time of this review, I had completed the entirety of Leon’s campaign, and a few chapters each of the remaining two, totaling for around twelve hours of gameplay, approximately seven and a half of which were dedicated to Leon’s sections alone. While I have yet to finish the remaining two campaigns, I am under the impression that they are all fairly equal in length. I’ll have more on the remaining campaign sections in my updated impressions later this week.
Gameplay is generally what fans of the series should expect coming off the heels of RE4/RE5. The isolation and exploration/puzzle solving of the original three games isn’t making a return here, with what little puzzles you come across being both blatantly obvious, and highlighted by waypoints and objective markers that hold your hand through them. As introduced in RE4, RE6 is about tension, overwhelming enemies, and high action sequences that keep your finger on the trigger. While fans who were expecting a return of old with this newest entry may find this disappointing, those who enjoyed the intense gameplay of the more recent games will be pleasantly surprised with the excellently redesigned gameplay mechanics.
The tank controls of RE5 are gone, replaced with a more traditional setup, similar to other current-gen horror-giant, “Dead Space”. For the first time in the series, players have analogue control, meaning players can go from slowly walking to jogging based on how far they push the control stick. Movement in RE6 far surpasses anything we’ve experienced in the main series before, giving players access to a wealth of new maneuvers, allowing them to do a number of various dodges, slides, and crawls. Anytime you would’ve needed to dodge an enemy in previous games with a QTE is replaced with actual dodge controls that you have full use of at all times. Add to that a quicker inventory system, and helpful mechanics like the quick shot that fires a single auto-aim bullet at the closest foe, and you find yourself in a game where movement never feels restricting, and you always feel like you are completely capable of surviving a scenario with fast reflexes.
And all of these new changes to the controls are important, because alongside your new abilities come far more vicious and unforgiving enemies than you would’ve found in previous games. Because of the sluggish controls of RE5, enemies would be forced to stop dead in the tracks a few feet away from you, and begin a very slow stumble towards you, giving you ample time to react and be able to defend yourself from them. Because moving was so difficult and slow, every shot you fired would stop or slow an enemy in some way, and every enemy seemed to take it easy on you to make sure everything was playing out fairly. Luckily, this is no longer the case. Enemies will now sprint right at you, attack you from numerous locations at once, move quickly and no longer be stunned or stopped by every bullet you fire. Quickly rolling out of the way of a lunging dog and then leaping backwards into the dirt while firing your gun into the dark, hoping to hit the silhouettes of nearby zombies is absolutely exhilarating. Resident Evil gunplay has never been this satisfying.
And with gunplay being so fun, you’d have to hope that there are some fun things to shoot at. While not the most unique or creative bestiary out there, RE6 does supply you with a decent variety of enemies, introducing themselves to you relatively quickly, and appearing in varied combinations throughout the game. While you spend a lot of time shooting zombies specifically, it never really feels like your pushing through the same encounter over and over again. There are some unique bosses in the game to break up the pace, but some of them really just bring the game to a halt, providing awkward and unsatisfying segments.
Missing from the previous two entries is the weapon shop. In this installment, players will collect skill points which they can use to purchase various abilities and power-ups. These power-ups are profile wide, meaning they apply to any character and any campaign at all times. It’s a decent enough substitute for the original weapon shop, and still provides you with a way to beef up your character before attempting the high difficulties.
RE6 is best when played with a partner. The AI partner the game gives you is an improvement over RE5, but still is no substitute to a real person. While the new AI partner doesn’t ever seem to get themselves killed, ruining your progress, they don’t really add anything that warrants them being there when playing solo. In fact, if one thing keeps this game from actually become a bit scary during its darkest moments, it’s that you’re never alone.
There are a few moments in the game where some neat co-op events happen, that require you to depend on the other player or work together to accomplish a task, and they are fun enough gimmicks when they come around. One of the best aspects of the co-op involves online play. During certain points in the games, the four different campaigns intersect with each other. At these points, the game will actually bring in two players from their own game into yours, forcing you to work together with a group of strangers as well as your partner. It doesn’t happen often, and is usually over very soon, but it’s one of the more unique ideas I’ve seen in a co-op game, and is definitely something I look forward to as it approaches.
Speaking of co-op, there are a few things worth noting if you plan on playing the game with a friend as soon as you crack it open. First off, the split-screen feature is an absolute headache. Each of the two screens is shrunk down to preserve the game’s original aspect ratio. This can result in some painfully small screens if you don’t have a large television, with a significant amount of your screen real estate being wasted with solid black. I played about four hours of local co-op on a 37-inch HDTV, and it wasn’t long before we both moved our chairs uncomfortably close just so we could see what was going on. If you plan on playing co-op, I highly suggest doing system link or playing online.
Secondly, don’t bother booting up the game for the first time with a controller in your buddies hand, or with your friend on the other end of the internet waiting to join your game. Upon launching the game for the first time, you are immediately thrown into a prologue that can’t be skipped and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. It’s not a huge deal, but it is unexpected and a tad annoying when you are sitting on your couch in anticipation of playing with a friend.
Speaking of interrupting things, the game has a lot of cut scenes, and they invade the gameplay at really unnecessary times. The game could’ve been a far more seamless experience if I didn’t have to see a short scene every time a certain door opened, or a chandelier fell. The worst and most frequent of which is during local co-op, where every time you assist a restrained or downed partner, the game suddenly becomes one full screen cut scene for a few seconds, before shrinking back down to the two small screens. It just becomes visually confusing and annoying.
The story in RE6 is pretty standard fare for this series as well. Awful dialogue riddled with one-liners and really thin character development, the plot in the game does little to engross you in the trials of its characters, and ultimately serves as your standard summer movie ride along.
None of these things stop RE6 from being a really enjoyable and satisfying game though. There is a great amount of variety between the different campaigns, and even within them. With lots of locations to explore and enemies to fight against, the game offers up a lot of content for the entry price. The new refinements to the controls and enemy AI make RE6 a strong action game, and a varied and content-heavy cooperative game to enjoy with a friend. Add on additional difficulties, collectables, and extra modes like returning favorite “Mercenaries”, and you’ve got a pretty rich package that can keep you coming back for weeks. Even though old-school fans might still miss the survival horror direction of the original games, there is still a very solid game here that offers up a few creepy moments among its hours of satisfying gunplay.
Who will enjoy this game?
Most Resident Evil fans will enjoy RE6, it continues the action-heavy direction introduced in RE4, but refines it to a level making it the best and most content filled entry to date. Fans of shooters and co-op games can also find a lot to love here, regardless of familiarity with the series. Those looking for survival horror or terrifying experiences will probably want to skip this one.
Do I recommend it?
Mostly yes. For Resident Evil fans, even with the split in the fan base, I think this is an immensely enjoyable ride and absolutely worth trying. It won’t be everyones cup of tea, so if you’re skeptical at least give it a rent.
For the RE fans who have enjoyed RE4 and beyond, and the wealth of shooter fans looking for the next co-op game to share with a friend, I absolutely recommend it.