Review: Resident Evil 6
The sixth entry into this long running franchise aims to change the formula, but does it succeed?
- Worth The Time?Excrutiating to play at times, but it was interesting to see the story connect at the end.
- Things LovedInteresting premise for three individual stories, an over-arching storyline that intertwines nicely throughout the campaign, impressive visuals, great zombie designs and animations, lengthy if you somehow enjoy the gameplay.
- Things HatedBoring and messy gameplay mechanics, cheap deaths from quick-time events, puzzling design choices, mistaken identity when it comes to core gameplay.
- RecommendationResident Evil 6's four campaigns are extremely lengthy and combine to form a rather complete package. Sadly though, the game's mechanics ensure that these long hours of game time aren't in the slightest entertaining or engaging, even if the story tries so hard to keep you entertained. It's hard to reccomend a game that does so many things wrong and then gives you enough oppurtuntities to relive the mistakes over and over again.
- Name: Resident Evil 6
- Genre: Third-Person Shooter
- Players: 1-2
- Multiplayer: Co-oP, Online
- Platforms: PS3 and Xbox 360 (PC at a later stage)
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Price: Approx R550.00
- Reviewed On: PS3
When a series starts delivering more and more sequels, edging ever closer to infamous double digits on the cover, there’s a spilt between its fans. While developers try and keep things feeling new without destroying the old formula, fans are left to wonder whether or not the new additions take away from traditional gameplay. This has been the argument with the Resident Evil franchise for quite some time now, with Resident Evil 5 convincing long-time fans that Capcom was taking their survival horror franchise and turning it into a third-person shooter. While some say this is the change the series needed, other strongly disagree, begging for the slow-paced survival horror to make a return. Resident Evil 6 is not an answer to those prayers.
But let’s dial things back for a bit and look at Resident Evil 6 for what it is. Resident Evil 6 is a third-person shooter (although it sometimes thinks it’s a survival horror) that likes taking you out of the action. Through its bad use of quick-time events and mediocre set pieces, Resident Evil 6 sets a new low for the franchise as a whole. While the intertwining stories present an interesting way to tell an overarching story, the mechanics let this entire package down, creating a “horror” experience that is both frustrating and boring to play through.
Resident Evil 6 follows the stories of three pairs of characters, with an additional Ada Wong campaign at the end to tie everything up. Leon Kennedy is back with newcomer Helena Harper in what is the most traditional Resident Evil campaign out of the three. You’ll explore creepy cemeteries in the lightning, encounter some cheap scare moments and face off against some classic enemies. Resident Evil 5 protagonist Chris Redfield returns for the most action-oriented campaign, teaming up with fellow soldier Piers Nivans as they try and curb the escalating Bio-Terrorism attacks around the world. Lastly there’s Jake Muller, a rather interesting character with some ties to important past villains in the Resident Evil series. He pairs up with Raccoon City survivor Sherry Birkin, who aids Jake in the hopes that his blood could produce a cure for the C-Virus. Yes, we’re down to C from T now.
Having several protagonists presents an interesting way of telling the story, and Resident Evil should be commended on how it handles all the loose ends. The story unravels in a sort of Pulp-Fiction style, with some narratives starting at completely different points to others. As you slowly progress to the end you can start making connections between the three, and see just how all these characters have an effect on each others’ journeys. It’s only until you complete Ada Wong’s campaign that you get a completely clear picture of the events that transpired, which can only be accessed after you’ve completed the previous three campaigns (pre-patch of course). All of the campaigns are quite different to one another as well, meaning you’ll probably experience Resident Evil in four different ways if you see it to the end. From the more slow-paced Leon campaign to the more Michael Bay type campaign with Chris Redfield, or the more puzzle oriented Ada Wong campaign to the “holy shit run away from everything” Jake Muller story. Each of these campaigns shows you a different side of the Bio-Terrorism war, it’s just too bad that the gameplay that accompanies them doesn’t change at its core.
And the gameplay is really where it all starts to fall apart for Resident Evil 6. The signs are all there in the prologue, where your very first action is an extremely unnecessary and over-complicated quick-time event…to open a single door. Could Capcom please explain to me who said it would be fun to time not one, but three button presses to open one door? Couple that with the fact that opening this door is the only action you take between two lengthy cutscenes you’ve got one hell of a bad first impression. There’s nothing wrong with long cutscenes, especially ones that contain some explosive memorable moments and some occasionally solid voice acting. The problem comes in when these cutscenes happen every five minutes or so, with your actual gameplay comprising of you walking through an empty area and interacting with a door or object in order to trigger the next cutscene. Resident Evil constantly reminds you that you are just playing a game, ripping you from any immersion the narrative is trying to put you under.
These breaks of immersion can be seen nearly everywhere you turn in Resident Evil 6 as well. It’s puzzling that the game gives you some rather large areas to work within, setting the scene for some possibly rather great set pieces, but the execution of such events is extremely poor. Navigation around massive and small areas alike is stagnated with odd button prompts that literally rip control from your hands. Want to climb a ladder while running away from a massive hulking behemoth? Press a button and watch your character try by himself. Want to jump a small gap while sprinting at an enemy. Press a button and watch yourself slow down to a halt, take the small leap and be left standing still on the other side. Resident Evil is almost afraid to give you too much control, rather holding your hand when it comes to tasks it deems too hard for you to handle on your own. Implementing mechanics which allow more control when navigating areas is not that hard to do, especially in action oriented titles, so why the game keeps ripping control from you is absurd.
Speaking of bad design choices, Resident Evil 6 is full of them. Where other games give you the choice to look at events of interest, such as a horde or undead rushing through a doorway or a particularly massive enemy scaling a building, Resident Evil 6 forces you to observe these events while the game continues. Instead of simply allowing you to hold down a button to focus on such events, the camera immediately zooms and focuses on what it wants you to see, regardless if you were busy fighting for your life or not. The camera system itself is equally as awful, especially in small areas with lots of enemies. It jumps and darts around the screen, making it even harder for you to compete with the “floaty” aiming. It seems as though allowing your character to move while aiming seems to have thrown the camera off even more than before, so top marks to the testers for noting that while doing their job.
It’s almost as if Resident Evil 6 suffers from a lack of identity. The focus on more action is obvious, and not a bad thing, but the problem is that Capcom has just shoehorned more action while keeping a lot of the mechanics in line with survival horror. For example, in Chris Redfield’s campaign, you constantly run out of ammo, forcing you to roundhouse kick zombies until they drop precious ammo. This is fine and even perfect for survival horror, but when the game around you is built like a third-person shooter, with tons of enemies and an “iffy” cover system, it just doesn’t make sense. Rather than utilising mechanics that were added to make the game feel more like a squad-based shooter, I was forced to rush into a group of zombies and tackle them with an imprecise melee system. The same can be said for the way the game deals with health. You still have to collect green and red herbs, hit select, watch the game continue around you and combine them to make pills that you can then take to restore health. A lengthy process for a game whose entire formula has sped up considerably, making this exercise nigh impossible when you really need it.
But by far the most annoying mechanics present in Resident Evil 6 are the dreaded quick-time events. When it comes to quick-time events there are only two options; either they work or they don’t, and Capcom has found a way to make them falter in the worst way possible. Aside from slowing down the pace to a crawl and making the most simple of task complicated, quick-time events are the primary source of some of the most frustrating deaths the game has to offer. A lot of the time you’ll be forced to rotate the analogue sticks at obscenely fast speeds, or a random button prompt will suddenly appear, giving you little to no time to react. Failing these instances more than often result in death, which takes you to the famous “You Are Dead” screen followed by the infamous screams of your partner. The problem is that these events rely on prior knowledge of their existence in order for you to succeed. It’s annoying and frustrating, not challenging. It’s not about fast reflexes, it’s just bad game design.
Thankfully the A.I holds up more often than not, with your partner usually doing his/her bit to heal you in tough situations and hold their own in large battles. Occasionally the A.I will stumble and force you to wait while they catch up to you, or end up getting themselves into trouble when there’s no trouble around, but for the most part you won’t find yourself hating your campaign tag alongs. The game is easier to play with a friend, be it local or online, but I couldn’t imagine subjecting my closest friends to this type of torture in large doses. Multiplayer makes a return in the form of Mercenaries, but with the above gameplay issues still present there is really no need to invest any more time than you have to in this title.
On the visual front Resident Evil holds up rather well, with some impressive lighting effects bringing the various different locales you’ll visit to life. Character design is rather impressive as well, especially when it comes to the new J’avo enemies that you’ll encounter on a regular basis. Much like previous virus victims, these J’avo twist and transform in truly gruesome ways, ultimately creating beings that would give you nightmares back in the day. Also, seeing people with eight eyes all moving on their faces is rather creepy. The framerate does seem to suffer a little when things get a little too chaotic, but you’ll most probably be worrying about the camera’s behaviour in such instances rather than the framerate.
Forget about Resident Evil 6 catering for long-time fans of the series because Capcom has already made it abundantly clear that they want to take the game in a new direction. It’s faster, more action-oriented and without a lot of the scares you probably remember from your childhood. If that’s what you came looking for, then you’ll probably leave more than disappointed. The real problem is that Resident Evil 6 fails at being a decent third-person shooter as well, suffering from what seems to be a lack of identity. There’s a lot of mechanics that have been thrown in to try and make the series transition easier, but the fact that these mechanics don’t cohesively work with the ones that Capcom decided to keep in ultimately makes the game feel like a mess. Stay away from the sixth entry into this dying franchise, regardless if you’re a fan or newcomer. You’ll struggle to enjoy what waits for you.