Can we believe that there are 6 Resident Evil games; excluding all of the side-stories and remakes out there. Capcom’s horror title is one of the most prolific in the genre. It was once known for shambling zombies and outlandish voice acting. The franchise flipped upside down on its head with the release of Resident Evil 4, replacing zombies with mysterious villagers with a deadly disease. This change continued onward to Resident Evil 5, which didn’t exactly impress players and critics alike. Is Resident Evil 6 a true survivor horror experience that everyone can appreciate, or has the series finally gone off the deep end?
This marks the first time that Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield are both playable characters in the Resident Evil series. The addition is a mysterious superhuman being named, Jake, who has the weight of the world on his shoulders. A contagion has been wrought upon China and begins to ravage every living being it can seep into. The story branches across the three main campaigns, which eventually brings all of these characters together to attempt to stop the Biohazard threat forever.
The story-lines are all about stopping the disease, but there is some personal subject matter for each character involved. Leon’s story is mostly about explosions, falling, and Ada Wong… but mostly about explosions. Seriously, an explosion happens every minute in his campaign. Chris Redfield has amnesia from post-traumatic syndrome. One of the key members of the S.T.A.R.S. team has to have amnesia to fit into the game. You know… because now that Wesker is gone… there isn’t a good enough reason for him to fight bio-terrorists. Jake’s story revolves around him being the one who can save us all. He’s all for it as long as he gets paid.
Leon’s story-line is more of the traditional Resident Evil 4 format of game-play Capcom’s favorite pick of the games is given the “Horror by Michael Bay” treatment. The haunting moments when walking through dimly lit hallways is reminiscent of the past. It doesn’t take long for this to be rudely interrupted by an explosion for absolutely no reason… shame. Chris’s story is Call of Duty with zombies shooting it out with you instead of Nazi’s. Some of the flashbacks make you wonder if you’re playing a war game, at least until one of the bad guy’s shifts into a horrific beast.
Jake’s story is Capcom’s way of fitting as much ridiculousness in one game as they can. Jake and Sherry aren’t bad-asses, they are superheroes. Taking a page out of the Resident Evil movies, both Sherry and Jake are infected with different strains of the virus. This allows them to fall out of planes, survive harsh temperatures, and somehow find their way into the Star Wars universe. I thought I was watching an uncut version of Episode 3 at one point, and I wondered why the Millennium Falcon was trying to crush our heroes.
Evil is beautiful, and it’s a pleasure to be a Resident in this abode. It’s almost hard to see something so grotesque look this good. Character animation is absolutely fantastic; the expression on facial features is a sight to see. The areas surrounding our characters are always astounding, the vibrant explosions, harshness of weather, and outright lived in feeling of cities is captivating. If above all else Resident Evil 6 is the best looking in the series.
Let’s move on to the actual combat which has changed greatly since the release of Resident Evil 5. Players can now melee at will, but they are given a stamina bar to lower the usage of it. The weapons feel more powerful in 6, but enemies take more damage compared to previous titles. You can literally blow the top of an enemy’s head off, and they will continue their attack. Enemies also mutate much more frequently in this game, especially in Chris and Jake’s campaigns. Players can now drop down into cover and pop out and shoot like most 3rd person shooters.
Unfortunately, the feel of moving in and out of cover is a real chore compared to games like Uncharted or Gears of War. It doesn’t feel as fluid or even worth using in most situations, so you’ll most likely do the side-step dance instead. Aiming a weapon feels the same as it always has, which isn’t good for a game that is looking to step up the action. A slow and clunky aiming reticule accompanied by an unwieldy camera is never a good thing. Resident Evil also makes heavy use of quick-time events during stressing times. So prepare your fingers for lots of wiggling and the rapid pressing of buttons.
The camera is in fact the bane of your existence, as it decides to whip around without your permission at every waking moment. Its mind boggling to discover how much action the camera won’t find. It’s a must to take manual control of the camera, and get used to the slow turning speed of characters. Once you’ve settled on this, combat is an above average experience that will leave you wishing for more. Cooperative play actually helps with the camera problems, because it’s less likely that a real player will leave your back open to attack. In particular, the cooperative play is what makes Resident Evil a game worth playing.
Solo-play is perfectly fine once you get used to the mechanics and the camera, but the tension from playing with another player does not exist. The ally at your side is much improved from Resident Evil 5, and the fact that they cannot die is a godsend. Even so, Resident Evil 6 branches out into many cooperative puzzles. So the need to protect or not fail your partner is where this game stands on high. Resident Evil 6 is a 25 hour title that’s focus is mostly on cooperative play, and that’s exactly how I recommend playing it.
There are multiple intersecting sections in each of the main campaigns; the game will partner you up with players who have reached these sections for a bigger event. In these larger areas, players will face off against gigantic bosses that belong in Monster Hunter. As I say that, I realize how closely that Resident Evil 6 plays to Monster Hunter. 4-players pitted against these large monsters with high health bars, and using whatever means necessary to take them down. It’s maddeningly fun, even if these sections are few and far between.
If you can find a friend to constantly play Co-Op, it’s almost certain that you will have a blast. The errors that occur when you’re searching for a game are what shatter the experience. From time to time the game will just outright disconnect the matchmaking service. This will completely remove the connection and force you to quit your game to re-establish it. It’s pretty annoying, and can ruin the flow of those intersecting story moments.
Players will also constantly receive skill points that they can use to purchase enhancements for their characters. Skills help your character with increased aim, higher fire power, etc. In a way, you can tailor your character similarly to the manner you would in a Call of Duty game. The descriptions are pretty vague but players can see significant advancements when actually playing. It’s a fun addition for committed players, who wish to extend their game-play at higher difficulties.
I feel like it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t talk about the inventory system. It is absolutely dreadful, and not just because of the interface. Players cannot quickly cycle through weapons without popping the inventory up, so even in co-operative games… you have to block your vision of monsters to get a new weapon. The major issue isn’t selecting items; it’s trying to get more after your inventory is full. The possibility of dropping a items is null, so the only way to pick up a new item is to “delete” one. How the heck do you delete a weapon from existence? Why can’t you just drop an ammo box, pick up an herb and put it in a capsule, and pick the ammo box back up? You aren’t even wearing a bag and seemingly pull weapons out of your buttocks, so the thought of your inventory being full is buffoonery.
The Mercenaries returns with three stages to invest in. It even comes with its own variety of skills to earn. The newest addition is ripped straight from the playbook of Dark Souls. Agent Hunt allows players to jump into the body of a B.O.W. and try to slaughter another player in their Campaign. If those were not enough to extend the title, there is one last campaign that can be earned after beating the game. Players will be able to play as Ada Wong in a single-player only extravaganza.
Now when asked if this is the Resident Evil game that we’ve all been hankering for. I’d clearly say that this is a no. Conceptually, this is nothing like the survival horror we’ve all come to know. However, it is a fairly good game when played in the company of others. If you can get over the wonky controls and often archaic combat mechanics, Resident Evil 6 is a good game. The story is absolutely a mess, but the action packed cut-scenes keep you distracted long enough to forget about it. Half-Ass Gaming gives Resident Evil 6 a B-, the series may never return to what it once was… but Resident Evil 6 is a solid game in its own right.