Ever since Resident Evil 4 burst onto the scene back in 2005, there’s no denying that the franchise has been moving towards a more action-orientated route, stripping frights from the core gameplay for a more visceral and explosive experience. RE 5 saw a major leap in that direction, becoming a polarising game that still sold well. Now, the sixth core game expands on this new direction entirely, adding more explosions than necessary to become an action game centred on bio-terrorism. And it fails miserably in that transition.
Resident Evil 6 is pretty much the polar opposite of what made the franchise so memorable in the first place. It’s less a game that would give an opportunistic politician an erection, as it trades mental and physical frights for a play it too safe experience that depends far too much on quick-time events and is more clichéd than a daily soap opera.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning of the tale here.
Bio-terrorism is once again rearing its ugly mutated heads, threatening world stability, leaving players to pick up the pieces in one of three campaigns (With a fourth being unlocked after their completion), as they try and stop the world turning into a cannibalistic all you can eat buffet of brain-dead shufflers.
Each character has their own story to tell, from Chris Redfield and his alcoholic journey to find some sort of redemption for himself, through to new character Jake Mueller dealing with the fact that he happens to be the son of series big bad Albert Wesker, and Leon Kennedy finding himself on the run from a president who is hungry for more than just votes (It’s brains).
With several plot threads present, players will routinely cross paths and fill in gaps in the story, as they race against the clock to save the day and uncover who’s been pulling their strings, in a tale that is littered with melodramatic acting and plot twists that never surprise the way that they were meant to.
With the exposition out of the way, players find themselves tackling the next generation of Umbrella research, hideous mutants both new and familiar, alongside their timeshare AI partners.
Anyone who has played a Resident Evil game in the last couple of years will feel a familiar level of nostalgia here. Characters move pretty much the same, but this time, they have all new moves! Such as being able to actually move while holding a gun and aiming! Except doing so is slower than the intelligence in parliament, and even more aggravating.
Meanwhile, characters can now also acrobat their way out of danger, diving and rolling past lethal encounters, except for some reason, Capcom has decided to make this a feat that requires the dexterity of a piano player, with a set of commands that are needlessly convoluted. The number of times that I’ve attempted to do a barrel roll to the left and wound up kissing the floor, is far, far too many.
And not forgetting that other new gameplay function, taking cover! And not even this has been implemented properly, as you’ll hug the wall at the wrong time, while finding yourself face to face with enemies who manage to slip from their conflictingly stupid AI into Wil. E Coyote cunning at an instant. I’m not joking here, as one scenario that presented itself on a regular basis, was for me to stand in front of a J’Avo zombie who would stare blankly at me for a good minute, before snapping into action.
Co-operative gameplay is the name of the game, and it’s implemented wastefully here. Sure, it’s handy to have a buddy alongside you, but they’re about as useful as a crap flavoured lollipop.
They’re only there to hold things up really, as far too many situations require your partner to be present when you open a door or complete a puzzle, a slapdash idea that fails in the empathy department, because if it was possible, I’d sooner off my partner and carry on alone in that game.
Sure, your friends can join you too help spread the gospel of lead into the brains of the undead, with the action being split between useful and mind-numbingly wasteful as you watch your buddy complete quick-time events that you can’t participate in. It’s a missed opportunity to make the gameplay mechanic worthwhile, and unfortunately, it’s only one of many.
Enemies come in an impressive amount of flavours, from your run of the mill zombies, infected J’avo strains that wield weapons, and extreme mutations that occur on the fly, through to all manner of boss monsters.
There’s a few good ideas on display here, from mutants that will snatch you out of cover, through to undead shamblers that will evolve skills to help counter your assaults, but it’s all let down by the confused AI, squandering the moment to make these waves of foes actually an enjoyable challenge, making it far too easy instead.
But hey, what’s life without some balance, amirite? This equalisation comes in the form of a persistent camera that has somehow lodged itself up your rectum, as it hugs every possible inch of your anus, making it unfairly annoying to get a good grip on the action that is happening.
Sure, you can point out that games such as Arkham City/ Asylum also boast such a close-up system, but at least those games have the good sense to zoom out when the action heats up. And yes, a patch is inbound that will give a wider field of vision to the game, but seeing as it’s only arriving in December, it’s clear that this issue was never addressed in beta-testing.
It’s clear that the game has taken quite a few cues from the turkey that was Operation Raccoon City, but seeing as how that game still managed to actually sell, Capcom has clearly ignored the criticisms to forge ahead with RE6.
Combat is still sluggish and clumsy, QTEs are far too prevalent and the aiming always feels off, no matter which point of view you prefer, while the constant explosions and vapid dialogue remind one just how far Resident Evil 6 has strayed from its roots. It’s one thing to alter the path of the game towards a new genre, but when you do it so terribly, you’re just going to wind with upset loyal fans and a disinterested consumer base that isn’t too keen on becoming acquainted with the franchise.
And that’s one of the main problems with RE6, as it plays things too safe. It’s an attempt to branch out and attract as many demographics as possible, in order to maximise the profit, but it winds up falling flat on its face as it tries to go down that path.
It’s more of a chore than anything else to play through the game, as players are hindered by a clunky interface and a medical system that now wants gamers to take things further and refine the collectible Mary-Jane plants into pills before you can get a health boost.
It’s an uninspired linear corridor of explosions and firefights, as the escalating action wears thin early into the game. The Chris Redfield campaign is the prime offender here, with balls to the wall action and plot straight out of a hackneyed direct to DVD film.
The Jake Mueller campaign isn’t much better, and by the time you get to Leon Kennedy, you’re desperate for a mere glimmer of that ol’ RE magic. And for a few brief moments, it’s there, and it’s beautiful. It’s almost creepy, it’s the Resident Evil that fans have been wanting and then Capcom cocks it up by turning that campaign into a QTE waggle-fest.
And speaking of making it rain bullets, the game seems to have an obscene sense of humour, as ammunition is a rare commodity, one that needs to be hoarded and treasured, with a scant few action points and drops from the undead replenishing those stockpiles. Fortunately, a superior melee attack can make short work of any enemies, but the fact that the game needs such an option, is just indicative of how broken it really is.
Add to that an upgrade system that barely makes any difference, and the grinding for points from fallen foes makes the game feel even more laborious than it actually is. But I’ll say this; if you can overlook all these glaring issues, then you’ll most certainly get your money’s worth in the longevity department. Each campaign will take you quite a few solid hours to complete, and overall, you’ll waste 20-30 hours of your life on the game.
It does look fantastic at least, and it’s clear than an enormous amount of effort went into getting the game to look great, making mutated citizens look authentically repulsive and disgusting, with the heroes of the day looking every bit their part.
The constant explosions look fantastic at least, while the locales are textured nicely alongside some big set pieces that occur in the game, even if the voice-acting can get a tad too cheesy.
Mercenaries mode at least still feels like a better alternative, as it squeezes another round out, thanks to ammo being more plentiful and the plot being dumped for score-attacks. Agent Hunt is another great idea that is woefully under-utilised in RE6, as it gives players a chance to invade the space of another gamer, and try to take them down in the process as an enemy this time around.
And that’s one outstanding aspect of Resident Evil 6. It’s ambitious as hell, but when it has a time to really shine, it becomes pure rubbish.
This ain’t how you do it Capcom. After years of progression, the gameplay has stagnated significantly, with no major upgrade to the core idea, resulting in a game that feels archaic and outdated. Convoluted controls, unnecessarily complex actions needed for what should be easy movements and a menu system that overly complicates things instead of being quick and to the point, these are just a few of the problems plaguing RE6.
Design and Presentation: 7/10
I’m actually quite in awe of the game here. It suffers from the usual Japanese sense of design, with characters being too perfect and actions feeling a little too lifeless at times, but overall, it paints a pretty picture, even if that image is of a tentacled monstrosity that is gunning for your face, amidst a sea of Baysplosions that is lacking an Aerosmith backing track.
It’s pretty hard to justify Resident Evil 6, what with its myriad issues and the fact that epileptic seizures are more fun, but for those of you who can overlook it, you’ll find yourself playing a game with a campaign that extends into the double digits, backed up a by a Mercenaries mode and some Agent Hunt ideas that are underutilised.
The real tragedy of Resident Evil 6 is that the game could have really been something. Money has clearly been poured into it, but the end result is a broken mess that feels like a shell of its former self, as it attempts to become something that is isn’t, and should never be.
Less fun and more troublesome than a herd of undead walkers banging on your front door, if this was a new IP on the market, it wouldn’t have been judged so harshly. But with a new core entry in an iconic franchise, comes an expectation that needs to be met, and Resident Evil 6 shrugs that responsibility off, resulting in the broken experience that it is today.
[Reviewed on PS3, played on normal difficulty]
Resident Evil 6 was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys