Resident Evil 6 was announced to the world with Leon S. Kennedy killing a zombified President of the United States. From that moment, we knew that the next entry in the series wasn’t going to hold anything back… or at least that’s what we assumed.
Capcom’s latest installment to the Resident Evil franchise was created by massive team. It spans four separate campaigns that include characters from throughout the series including government agent Leon S. Kennedy, BSAA Captain Chris Redfield, an older Sherry Birkin and Ada Wong. These characters get partnered up with newcomers Helena Harper, Piers Nivans and Jake Muller. Leading up to the game’s release, the idea of having different campaigns sounded like it would offer something for fans of the older and more recent entries to the series.
Was this one of the biggest games of 2012? Or was this one of its biggest disappointments? Read on for our full review!
Minor spoilers below.
Resident Evil 6 tells several stories with its 4 different campaigns. Sadly, quantity doesn’t mean quality in this case. Only after completing Ada Wong’s campaign, which is unlocked after completing the other 3, do you only kind of understand what was going on throughout the game. There are still several questions and motivations that simply go unexplained. What’s worse is that there are key elements excluded from the playthroughs which can be found inside of documents that are unlocked as you collect the Serpent Emblems scattered throughout the game. Without spoiling too much, one of the villains in this game is a member of an Illuminati like group, but other than a single line of dialogue that only hints at this group, the story behind this character and his motivations are left a mystery. In addition, once you unlock these documents, RE.net (explained below) provides even more information on each one. For example, a document about one character in the game has extra information on RE.net and adds that the C-Virus is a mix between the T-Veronica and G-viruses. This type of information, already hidden within the game, is further buried because it’s only available online after unlocking it in game. The lack of information presented to the viewer during the playthrough of the campaigns would even make fans of LOST wonder just what the hell was going on.
One of the best things about Resident Evil 6 that we haven’t seen since Code Veronica is the return of zombies! Albeit, there have been some minor changes such as their ability to jump at you, wield a melee weapon and occasionally shoot you should they be packing. Having a more normal enemy such as these C-Virus zombies is something that has been missed from the series and it’s great to see some original enemies return. However, some bosses faced throughout the different campaigns are also updated monsters from the original games as well. Zombies are a staple of the series, but having another Snake boss, while a nod to the first game, feels somewhat uninspired here. Then there’s Ustanak, a seemingly updated version of the Nemesis who has the Mega Man-like ability to attach different weapons on one of his arms. There aren’t any STARS members to be had this time around, instead Nemesis 2.0 is out to capture Jake because of the antibodies in his blood that could help create a vaccine for the C-Virus.
There are also some higher tiered creatures created by the new virus.Ever since Valve’s Left 4 Dead, it feels like every game featuring the undead features a “fat zombie” and Resident Evil 6 is no exception. There’s also the “Shrieker” a zombie that can yell so loud that you can lose a bit of health while zombies in the vicinity lose their heads. The part of the game where this creature entered shows him making some noise and attracting nearby zombies. So I guess the fatty’s weren’t the only idea inspired by Valve’s zombie series.
In other parts of the game the frequent enemy goes from zombie to the J’avo, mercenaries that have been injected with the C-Virus. The problem with these guys is that… well, they’re not your classic zombies. They’re more like a group of mercenaries that can occasionally transform to be more of a pest to kill, similar to the Ganados created from the Las Plagas parasite in Resident Evil 4 and 5. There was a point in the game during the China sequence where some J’avo shot down some civilians running out of an alley. Shot. With guns. At least the Ganados would have shoved a parasite down these peoples throats to turn them. While Resident Evil has been shifting away from its survival horror roots towards more of an action game, this scene in particular shows just how far gone the series now is.
Controls and Gameplay
When I got the chance to play this game back at E3 this year and during my first hands on I felt that something was… off. The aiming felt weird, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. After finally sitting down with the game and spending more time with it, I figured it out. The way aiming works in RE6 has been slightly changed. Instead of 4 and 5’s process of gun has laser, laser on target has dot, dot is where bullet hits, 6 goes and makes it more difficult to hit where you want by having a reticule area and then having the dot move around inside it after each shot. This makes the process of getting accurately placed shots annoying, which, could have been one of the reasons for the aiming changes.
While we’re on the subject of the controls, Resident Evil 6 is the first numbered entry in the series that allows you to move while shooting (first to include this feature were Outbreak File 2 and Revelations on the 3DS when using the Circle Pad Pro). Another control aspect that has returned is the 180 degree turn around. However in this game it feels quite loose and doesn’t always seem to work the way you would expect. A new addition to this game is the ability to dodge or dive to the ground, allowing you to shoot the enemy as you lay on your back. In most cases, doing this can look neat, however the controller input required for doing this feels awkward.
The game’s cover mechanic is yet another area where the game fails to implement something that over games have done so well. Luckily, you won’t find yourself in many situations where you need to be using it. Another point of annoyance is the amount of effort required in some cases to free yourself from an enemy if you get grabbed. My least favorite of which is the popular “rotate the analog stick” until you fill a little bar, allowing you to get away from what ever is attempting to eat your face. Sometimes it feels like it takes a long time to fill that bar up and get away, so much so that sometimes I feel like Capcom should have included a glove with the game similar to how Nintendo sent out gloves for Mario Party because people were wrecking their palms while playing mini games that involved rotating the analog stick around a million times.
Now there could be a way to fix some of the above issues, though I would argue the solution is the cause of the problem in the first place.
Instead of allowing you to upgrade your inventory space and weapons like in previous titles, ResidentEvil 6 has you collect and spend Skill Points which enhance your character. These skill points are dropped from random enemies with higher tiered monsters dropping more skill points. It feels very similar to Resident Evil 5’s gold and weapon upgrade system. The term Skill Points however, feels like it should be an experience points type of system and not one that tosses in the possibility of picking up skill points over other items that appear after an enemy’s defeat. However, it feels like some of these mechanics are so poor at the start because Capcom intended people to purchase upgrades for steadying your hand while shooting, reducing recoil, or allowing you to more easily escape from an enemy’s grasp. The problem? Only three of these skills can be active at one time. Players are then forced to choose between skills such as increased item drop rates, firearm power, defense, bullet piercing potential and upgrades for things that should work well right out of the box.
Some of the skills you can purchase will allow you to find more items, or specifically, find more of a specific ammunition type. Resident Evil once again goes back to its roots by not providing as much ammunition as you need. You’ll find yourself meleeing frequently in this game either to conserve ammunition or because you’ve run out. Jake actually excels at this due to being able to select his fists as a weapon. I found myself at the last boss on one of the campaigns with no health left, and my only useable weapon was my knife because I didn’t have any ammunition, though I suppose there is some comfort in knowing that a boss is actually beatable under these conditions. It just takes time that would be better spent unloading your favorite gun into the monstrosity instead of being overly cautious as you walk around and wait for an opening so you can attack the “big final boss!” with a knife.
Something else that has been added in Resident Evil 6 is the ability to recover from a near death experience. If you’re knocked on the ground with what would normally be a final blow, you can now recover from by either having your partner reviving you, or by avoiding enemy contact while you’re on the ground. An issue with this is that when you get back up anything can kill you, you essentially have no health left. You’ll find yourself dying many times while in the middle of being revived by your partner. The issue is frustrating and something that you sadly just have to deal with.
Once an important part of the Resident Evil series, puzzles are not as plentiful here as in past games. Leon’s scenario, which has been said to be more similar to the idea of survival horror than an action game has the most puzzles. However, for whatever reason, Capcom saw the need to include a particular puzzle (if you want to call it that) in all four campaigns. At a point in each characters campaign they encounter a door with three locks on it. You then spend the next 20 minutes running around either alleyways or small corridors fashioned to almost resemble a maze of sorts in order to collect the three different keys. The second time you encounter this you’ll think “wow again? I did something like this before” and by the last campaign you’ll wonder why all these different campaigns have the exact same puzzle.
Another pressing issue, which initially I made a joke about, was the lack of an instruction book with the game. Who reads them anyway? As I played the game, I almost wish that there was one. The loading screens of the game will provide small tips for how to do this and that. Several of which made me go “Well now THAT is a tip! I had no idea you could do that!”. What’s worse is that this game has something that tries to resemble a tutorial and several of these little tricks for the controls are never mentioned. It would appear that the story wasn’t the only thing in this game that Capcom forgot to explain well.
Something that Resident Evil 6 does very well are its online features. As was the case with ResidentEvil 5, you’re able to co-op the game with a friend online. However this time you may be joined by players in different ways.
In Agent Hunt, players can join your game as one of the monsters you’re fighting against. Players are able to control zombies, the zombie dogs, or other monsters while they try to kill you while you’re playing through the campaign. A player will join your session without any interference on your end and from that point on you just know that one of the undead you’re fighting is actually another person with the sole intent of killing you.
The Mercenaries game returns in Resident Evil 6 and allows you to tackle the various levels with another player. Similar to past games, the scores you get on these levels can unlock additional characters and additional costumes which in return have different weapon loadouts for you to use. Playing a match online with someone that knows what they’re doing and working together to build up a huge kill combo is satisfying. At present, there is a lack of variety as there are only a handful of levels to choose from. However, due to this you’re able to learn the levels quicker and in turn that will help you build up your scores. If you pre-ordered the game at select retailers you were able to get a hold of an additional Mercenaries level and the chances are probably pretty good that they will be made available later as DLC.
Other multiplayer content will become available for the game later via DLC, with it landing first on Xbox 360.
Capcom has taken some extra steps for the online features of Resident Evil 6 by introducing RE.netwhich allows players to track their progress on not only multiplayer content, but also on the single player content as well. For actions you complete either on the site or in the game, you can earn points for RE.net which will allow you to either buy avatars or wallpapers for your profile page as well as color variations of the special character costumes you can use in The Mercenaries game. There are also going to be special events held through RE.net where players will be tasked with survival or time trials and given special rewards for their completion. It’s a cool idea and definitely something that you should check out if you decide to get the game.
But should you get the game?
Resident Evil 6 has its fair share of issues, that much is certain. The story has so much left unexplained in the actual playthroughs that even devoted fans of the series will be left unsatisfied with everything that transpires. The controls have been updated from Resident Evil 5 and in most cases they don’t feel right. However for all that the single player content lacks, the multiplayer, although currently limited, can be quite enjoyable. With the inclusion of events from RE.net, the replay value of RE6 will be higher than that of its predecessors. If you’re a big online person, Resident Evil 6 is worth picking up as we know its multiplayer modes will be expanding. However if it’s the story you’re after, you might be better off sitting this one out, you’re not missing much.
Resident Evil 6 is available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 with a release coming next year for PC.
~ Final Score: 7/10 ~
Review copy purchased by reviewer for PS3.