Ohh, poor, poor Capcom… What have you done?
I say this, not just as an avid fan of your other franchises, but mostly because of the soul-crushing regret known as Resident Evil 6.
Safe to say, if you’re a die-hard fan of this series or haven’t yet played the game, and still have intentions of doing so: Stop. Don’t read this. This isn’t going to be pretty…
Resident Evil 6 is Capcom’s latest 3rd person shooter/horror survival game, although to be fair, there isn’t that much horror survival elements. The game has a few strong points, but the overall feel of the game is just a tiring, floundering morass of button-mashing, entwined storylines and a few ‘wdf’ moments where the game’s uncanny ability to wrest camera control from you in a bid to up the action movie effect or cheap horror thrills keeps you away from seeing any and all imminent dangers, at least till it’s too late.
Resident Evil 6 juggles four interesting storylines that you can play either solo (not advisable) or with a friend in co-op mode. Returning to the franchise is Leon Kennedy, one of the original survivors of the Raccoon City incident. This time, he is paired with new-comer Helena Harper, a member of the secret security of the President. Their storyline is the most familiar to any RE gamer; avoid a lot of undead and infected. Then, there’s longtime fan favorite Chris Redfield, brother of nerdy Clair Redfield and his BSAA Second in Command (simply due to the fact that there’s no one else with him for most of the time) Piers Niven. As this duo, they more engage B.O.W’s in militaristic fashion in war-torn streets and back alleys, with an interesting twist of fate near the conclusion. And finally, you get to play as Jake Muller, mercenary for hire and his stunning sidekick/interested buyer Sherry Birkin. Interesting fact: they’re both offspring of some terrifying masterminds of the game’s past. Jake’s none other than the living relative of Albert Wesker, while Sherry’s last name should share some insight as to her past. But for now, just know that Jake’s blood type just made him the most valuable commodity on the market, with good reason. And if you managed to play through all three stories, you’ll unlock the mysterious and dubious Ada Wong, minus her flowing Chinese dress. You will encounter Ada as you play the other storylines, but playing all three means that you then control Ada, and the events as they unfurl, through her eyes.
Resident Evil 6 tries to appease the calls of fans by attempting to fix what was woefully broken in the earlier installments of the franchise. Finally realizing that in the real world, most people would prefer to shoot while moving and not become grounded by a two-handed stance on their firearm. No longer does the old “stand still and hope you hit something” rule while shooting still apply, now the player can walk or strafe and still get in a few rounds. The weapons themselves are a mixture of standard, undead-dismissive hardware, some of which are new and some are repeat offenders, with several possessing secondary modes which provide new ways of killing old friends. But if you’re low on bullets, or you just prefer the adrenaline rush of going toe-to-toe with RE baddies, then feel free to knuckle up. By fan request, the melee combat system is still very much incorporated into the game’s basic combat structure, but bear in mind every blow comes with a cost. (Note: try to master it quickly…you’ll need it!)
Another added benefit of the game comes through the RPG-styled customizable gameplay which can be purchased or unlocked. No longer will you be hunting for gold. Now your playthroughs will yield some fantastic points which you can then distribute to achieve effects accessible by any character you control. Upgrades such as Increased Damage, Critical Hits and Breakthrough are recommended, as the game’s baddies really haven’t learned yet how to take “No, stay away!” for an answer. The skill tree works well, but isn’t flawless and takes some time to figure out. Plus, whatever you equip for one character carries through for all, regardless of what storyline you choose. To be honest, the concept behind the skill tree is only to break up the monotony of the game, and while it manages to do that, it does present some problems in its own right.
As for the design and acting concerning the characters themselves, this is where props should be given to Capcom. Character designs are clean and crisp, animations appear realistic (a tad bit too realistic), and the AI isn’t no slouch, either…The voice acting is spot on, and storyline is somewhat solid, so the game’s many cutscenes don’t become ridge or downright repetitive, and with many twists and turns, the game easily becomes the movie that Resident Evil 5 should have been. I know, cheap shot… Co-op play, either campaign or in Mercenaries, also saves this game from being a total bomb. Making use of each other’s skills and abilities mean that you not only figure out puzzles and secret areas faster and easier, it also means that you shouldn’t be caught unaware in this game. Admittedly, it is highly recommended that whatever beef you might have with your co-op buddy, you patch things up before taking on the larger B.O.W’s that is synonymous with the franchise.
So much for the game’s positives…
The flaws are many, and they’re EVERYWHERE! Let’s begin with the game’s frequent ailment: cutscenes. Although the cutscenes add depth and variety to the game, they do appear in the worse times. Not only that, they’re endless! They appear when you hardly want them to, like opening a non-descript door or just walking along a lightning-struck cemetery path. I know they’re there for dramatic effect, but really? We’re kinda dying here, another time! All the many cutscenes do is disrupt an already jagged gameplay. I see the menacing avalanche approaching, but there are trees in front of us! And didn’t we deal with that annoying chopper, for goodness sake? Different storylines will often incorporate the same cutscene, but from another character’s view to add flesh to the overall story behind Resident Evil 6. By playing through all four campaigns and enduring all the breaks in gameplay…well, you get the idea.
What is the point of a camera that is posted over your shoulder, if it refuses to stay there? Okay, to be fair, I would rather the camera pan and move independent of my character’s movement from time to time, just to give me a panoramic view of my surroundings, but this isn’t always the case. In fine RE6 fashion, the camera will either pan away from you right when you need it the most, or will make you focus on something else in a bid to highlight the obvious. To make that even worse, imagine walking or running and you’re trying to dispatch whatever and it’s doing its utmost best to send you to the afterlife, and the camera can only focus on a ledge in the distance. With each campaign, the overall setting and tone of the movement of each character determines where the camera is, even if it isn’t supposed to be there. In co-op play, while your partner is performing some random action, the camera will occasionally drift to them so that you can see, all the while you’re hoping that something that isn’t cheerful is trying to sneak up on you. Point, always keep panning the camera back to you, or option two, fit yourself as snugly as you can in a corner and pray for the best.
Now, even more annoying than the possessed camera happens to be my pet peeve: RE6’s “what the f*@k!” moments. Again, to give depth to the horror factor in the game, this game just loves to throw in some moments which will make you swear quite often, especially playing Leon’s and Helena’s campaign. Walk through town and get run over by a random car engulfed in flames… check. Get trampled by two tons of fun you never saw coming… yeah, that happens too. Take on armed draugrs in catacombs…really? And dying sucks, we know… but dying OFTEN? All this does is make you go relive that dreadful experience from your last checkpoint, while the ominous “You Are Dead” sign slowly fades from memory. Again, just deal with it or you’ll need either a new television or gaming console or both.
Actual gameplay sets a trend really quickly, and your thumbs will let you know. With so many quick-time events, where you test the durability of your controller, it can slow down the game. With Jake and Sherry, this does become almost over-the-top and not in a fun way. The many different sequences that are thrown in do spice things up, but they are mostly hampered by dismal and sudden changes with the camera, and the situation dulls the “WOW” effect in my book. With Chris and Piers, there are times when trying to accomplish even the most menial of tasks often mean testing your reflexes when it comes to the prompts for the controls. This means that your mission objective is either lying or is out to get a few kicks as you navigate waves of bio-organic weapons all sent by the game’s new protagonist, Neo-Umbrella.
Another pain I’ve had with this game isn’t new to RE 6, but wow, they do amp it up big-time. B.O.W’s in RE have always been a staple, but could someone please tell me how they grow THAT big, THAT fast? And why do they all act like they need a hug even though they’re way past ugly? The enemy variation is still there, but baddies have become bigger, meaner and all-out weirder looking in this game, on even more juice than before. Thankfully, your hardware is also upgraded, and you find enough ammo to start World War 3, but your average enemy takes massive damage, unless you specifically target a critical point, which isn’t always in the head, which is just great. Ohh, and some re-spawn don’t just re-appear in previously cleared areas, I mean like, they can’t stay dead. All four campaigns have specialized enemies that you will have to figure out quickly and bosses and sub-bosses are a menace, not so much in the massive amount of damage you level against them, but more in line of what you need to do before you can even get in a scratch. But they do up the rewards, should you figure them out.
While we do enjoy a good brawl in Mercenaries, the game kind of lets us down here too. Firstly, there aren’t that many stages. You initially get a stage when you complete a respective storyline and unlocking the respective partner in that storyline means you need at least a ‘B’ Rank in that stage. Sounds easy, right? Yeah, good luck with that. Assuming you’ve obtained your ‘B’ rank, you need to get an ‘A’ rank to unlock that person’s alternative costume. Between smashing all your Time Bonus Crystals and counter melee kills, ranking up kill streaks is essentially the secret to successfully mastering Mercenary mode in RE 6. But again, good luck with that… almost isn’t worth Helena’s sexy cop alternate costume or Redfield’s samurai get-up but we’ll play along.
Resident Evil 6 is a game with a lot of heart and yet will have you swearing like a drunken sailor. Co-op makes it more fun, but only by so much. As far as shooters go, there were better ones released last year (Borderlands 2 comes to mind) and with patience, better ones will be out early this year as well. If you can’t go without your fix of being spooked, then check out Dead Space 3. Like a challenge? Far Cry and Crysis have you in mind. And if you still refuse to just desert Capcom like an unfaithful lover, check out their other titles, preferably where street fighting is concerned. Rent this title if you must, borrow it if you can (finishing it is optional, really) or bow out altogether if this isn’t your thing. Resident Evil 6 isn’t the worst game out there, but it will leave you down in the dumps if you are a true Resident Evil survivor.