With the past entries into the Resident Evil series, there’s no denying that Capcom was gearing towards a more mainstream action-orientated approach. In an attempt to cater to both loyal fans and newcomers, Resident Evil 6 contains four long, diverse campaigns made up of nearly every third-person shooter cliché with a blend of gameplay elements from previous entries.
Shunning the standard linear narrative path, the story follows the exploits of six characters – a combination of familiar and new faces – as they attempt to make sense of the C-Virus and stop Neo-Umbrella from turning the human race into mindless zombies and grotesque creatures. Each campaign offers a different style of gameplay. RE4‘s Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper’s story is the closest to an actual old-school Resident Evil experience with its mixture of zombies, atmospheric lighting, and desolate, ravaged locations. Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans campaign is heavily focused around action as they travel across Eastern Europe and China taking on a new type of J’avo. While the offspring of Albert Wesker, Jake Muller teams up with Sherry Birkin (the little girl from RE2) in a campaign that resembles Resident Evil Nemesis as they outrun the claw-wielding abomination, Ustanak. Each campaign can be completed in any order and completion of all 3 unlocks the final campaign with Ada Wong.
The trading of scares for gunfire is a bit disappointing, as Resident Evil 6 closely resembles the straight to DVD CGI movies opposed to the video game series. With several plot sequences existing, characters will frequently cross paths in a story that is composed of theatrical acting, predictable plot twists, and a ludicrous amount of quick-time events. Resident Evil 6 is infatuated with delivering a “cinematic” experiences, but includes scenarios that seem out of place – stationary gun segments within helicopters and trucks. Action sequences also take all the action out of your hands as players are forced to suffer through moronic quick-time events like synchronizing button presses to climb a rope. I hated rope climbing in high school, and I hate it even more thanks to Resident Evil 6.
Just like in RE5, each campaign features offline and online cooperative play, with special sections allowing up to 4 players to simultaneously tackle boss fights. If you decide to tackle the campaign alone, you will be happy to know your partner’s AI is vastly improved over RE5‘s Sheva. Your partner will not use up all your herbs to heal themselves and at times you can just sit back and allow him/her to do all the dirty work since they have unlimited ammo. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the shift from complete isolation to reliance on a co-op partner since it removes the “survival” aspect of the series. Although you can’t command co-op partners controlled by the computer, they still perform well in combat and will do their best to revive your downed character.
An emphasis is placed on fluidity and movement – a huge departure from the tank-like controls of previous games. The control scheme is updated with the addition of moving and shooting at the same time, crawling, and a cover system that never seems to correctly work. At time it’s still rather clunky, such as when navigating menus or attempting an advanced melee hit. Unfortunately the camera still presents an issue, especially during moments when the combat is contained within tight spaces. The new inventory system is accessed in real-time, leaving you open for attack while you scroll through looking for health or a gun with more ammo. It’s a welcome change from having to constantly pause and jump out of the action.
Upgrading weapons has been removed, making way for upgrading character skills. It’s kind of a let down not being able to max out weapons, but you can improve damage to specific enemies, health regeneration, and buy unlimited ammo. Skills can be crossed share across all characters. Players can equip different skills to different slots and change slots anytime in-game to fit the situation, but you’re still limited to items you can carry. One of RE 6‘s triumphs is that shooting feels great, the meatier guns packing heavy recoil and each shot accompanied by a blustering audio crack. In previous game you could weaken an enemy and go for a physical kill to avoid wasting precious bullets, or you can just go in punching them down. Well, sadly no more infinite beatdowns as the stamina bar lowers each time you activate a physical attack.
Agent Hunt a new online mode where you join another player’s game as an infected creature like a zombie, J’avo, and zombie dog. Your job is to stop the agent from surviving. It takes a few moments to get used to the infected you’re playing as, and when you are killed off you switch over to another infected until you’ve take down your opponent, or until they reache a checkpoint. In Mercenaries mode, you’re placed in a timed setting where you can choose to play with an online partner, co-op or solo as you try to survive increasingly difficult waves of enemies. You can select from your main characters and partners (Ada can be chosen once you unlock her), and the points you earn can be used to buy skills for your campaign or Mercenaries Mode.
Resident Evil 6 is far from a perfect game, but it fixes the problems that have plagued its predecessor. Although pushing great graphics, the visuals can only drive the experience so far, and it doesn’t take much to see the gameplay compromises made in the name of accessibility. Fans of the series may be disappointed by the lack of exploration, scant resources, and terrifying encounters but this 20+ hour entry is still worth checking out. For those who want to complain about Capcom’s new direction of the Resident Evil series, Jay-Z said it best “Want my old s**t? Buy my old album.”
Editor’s Note: Resident Evil 6 was reviewed using an Xbox 360 copy of the game. If further investigation reveals any differences between the 360 edition and the PS3 edition of the game, this review will be updated to reflect those differences.
Release Date: October 2, 2012 • Publisher/Developer: Capcom • Genre: Action • Multiplayer: 2-6 players • Achievements: Moderate • Cost: $59.99 • Replay Value: Moderate