Capcom’s premier horror franchise, Resident Evil, has been slowly steering away from survival horror genre and moving more towards the action end of the spectrum. With the latest installment in the series, you get to play through four different campaigns, each with their own feel to them. But is this enough to keep old fans happy and draw in new gamers as well?
To answer that question simply, no, it cannot. Resident Evil 6′s story is about a terrorist attack using the C-Virus to mutate the population of the planet and how four groups of people attempt to stop it. You may be thinking, “that sounds like almost every other game in the series, it can’t be that bad right?” Well, it wouldn’t be if the writers had stuck to a central story line, but instead they spend each campaign veering off into a side story that often gets wrapped up in the final moments in such a manner that was either lack luster or completely invalidated what had happened in the story. Resident Evil 6‘s big evil corporation (yes, apparently there has to be one) is Neo-Umbrella. The name gets thrown around, but ultimately it is of no real consequence and more of a nod to the previous games.
The only story in Resident Evil 6 that showed promise was Jake’s. As a new character, the developers had more freedom to expand on his back story and give him life. Jake’s interactions with his partner Sherry actually show growth as a character and gave me motivation to continue paying attention to his storyline. It helped that Troy Baker did a great job on Jake’s voice as well. On the flip side, the Chris campaign served no purpose being there except to act as filler. He had the worst writing and voice work out the bunch. From the start of Resident Evil 6, Chris isn’t the same character we have seen in the previous installments. The cool and collected hero from the last numbered game is now a down-and-out drunk. What follows is one of the most predictable plots you can come across, and while Resident Evil isn’t a series whose writing will win any Pulitzer prizes, you can’t say that the games are generally predictable.
Leon’s story was got so sidetracked that it was easy to forget that there was an overarching story going on. He had the “classic” Resident Evil story, which consisted of a darker group of locations and a few more puzzles. While Ada Wong’s campaign was primarily the behind the scenes things are meant to complete the story. While she has a fair amount of puzzles in her playthrough, it is mostly focused on stealth. Being that you can only play Ada’s campaign once you have beaten the other three character’s storylines and she is the link combining the others, much of her story feels recycled…which is a massive problem throughout the game.
Resident Evil 6‘s storyline is criminally repetitive. Once you see one of the other playable characters show up in your game in a set series of circumstances, you can guarantee that you will be repeating that exact part again when it comes time to do that character’s story. This repetition wouldn’t be such a big issue if there weren’t two to three crossovers per character arc. This means repeating puzzles, escape sequences and bosses shortly after you previously finished them. There is also a notice that a crossover scene is coming in the efforts to bring in another human player to join you by taking over that playable characters role in the next section. You will sit at a waiting screen while the game looks for another player that happens to be in that particular spot in the story in the other characters playthrough. This may not seem like much, but after it happens a couple times you begin to realize that there a crossover coming and it takes away from the unexpectedness of the story. Another result of the shared story lines is recycled cutscenes. They are taken almost verbatim from the previous character with the only change being that the designers switched the perspective of the person talking. While this doesn’t happen as often as the rest, it is still a letdown to see the same scene play out the same way as it did three hours before.
But it’s not like storyline is the only problem here; gameplay is just as bad. The tutorial is as bare bones as it gets, where you aren’t even shown how many of the games basic mechanics work. If you hadn’t followed Resident Evil 6′s progress through development, you would never have known there was a cover system in the game until you got locked into it by accident while trying to aim. Along with the unintentional uses of cover, you more than likely won’t be able to shoot from the side of the cover either for some unexplained reason and shooting over the top is completely off limits. You will come across skill points relatively early, which the game instantly (and repeatedly) tells you to buy and upgrade your skills. What the game doesn’t tell you is that you have to wait until you beat a chapter to unlock the ability to buy skills then upgrade them. This should have been explained better, being as Resident Evil 6 didn’t even come with a physical or in game manual. You can unlock a range of skills, from increased ammo drops on various weapons to increase melee damage to giving your AI partner the ability to give you pills when downed. These are nice, but the chances you will actually get to the third tier unlocks are slim as they have them priced way too high for a single playthrough.
While the addition of being able to walk and shoot is great, the shooting mechanic as a whole is rigid and unresponsive. The game tries to give your aim a little realism to giving you a floating red dot in your cross hairs that wanders around to give your bullets and aim a bit of unpredictability, but it winds up feeling more frustrating as it prevents you from getting that much needed headshot and wasting your precious ammo. Aside from the aiming issues, the shots felt like they weren’t hitting anything as there is no consistency to the damage. One zombie takes a shotgun blast to the head and dies while another at the same distance is just downed. This is most prevalent in boss fights where you can dump your entire inventory of ammo without having any idea whether or not you are actually doing any damage. Usually, there is some untold task you have to complete once the boss gets to a certain point, but you wouldn’t know, as the game doesn’t give you any indication of that, which means you’re wasting valuable ammo on a boss before you realize you have to run up and melee him or throw a switch somewhere in the level to finish him off. The hand to hand combat isn’t any more precise. You generally get two to three hit combos, with the final strike being a knock down. Once the enemy has been downed you are supposed to be able to stomp and kill them, but that works about three quarters of the time at best, with the zombie getting up as you attempt to go for your second stomp, locking you in the stomp animation and leaving you vulnerable for an attack. Resident Evil 6 also added a stamina meter to prevent you from using your melee too often. This leaves you with a limp kick to the attackers shins should you happen to run out.
Quick Time Events (QTE) are nothing new to the Resident Evil series and they make their return here. The QTEs happen often, but aren’t overly complicated usually just requiring you to rotate the left analog stick in a circle a few times or press a button on time. While mildly annoying, they don’t really detract too much from the game. They primarily take place when you are downed and your partner can cancel it out if they attack whatever creature is attacking you. The only ones that get bad are the climbing ones that require you to switch off between triggers to climb, right trigger for right hand, left trigger for left hand. It seems as if the game doesn’t fully register you pulling the trigger unless you have released the other to just the right point. This doesn’t happen often compared to the rest while most of the QTEs are quick and painless.
Resident Evil 6′s camera handles adequately as long as you are out in the open, it is once you reach a confined space that you will end up having difficulties, like when the camera is fixed on a location you have moved past or turning a different direction than you are looking are common problems. Another concern is that when you use the 180 degree turn button, the camera doesn’t actually turn with you to see if anything is actually behind you and leaving you open to attacks, essentially defeating the purpose of having the button in the first place. Resident Evil 6′s chase scenes are where the camera is at its worst. You always end up running towards the camera unable to see what is coming or where you are supposed to turn. After you hit a wall you as the player couldn’t see but your character should have seen from a mile away and whatever was chasing you catches for the third time, you figure out there was a path you could barely see off to the right. This happens at least four or five times in the game.
Capcom made the AI nearly indestructible in Resident Evil 6. They can be downed, sure, but they are back up in seconds and blasting away. Another odd decision was to take away the need for your partner to restock their ammo, and yet despite being able to throw unlimited rounds at enemies still be unable to actually hit or kill anything they are shooting at. While the AI isn’t bad by any means, it isn’t without its hiccups. Some of the scripted tasks that require you to have your partners help end with the AI partner in an endless loop. For instance, they will climb up and down a stack of boxes that have nothing to do with the task. Your best option is to go with a live co-op partner. You have a better chance of the other person actually taking out enemies and being able to coordinate strategy than hoping the AI picks you up when you are downed or has wandered off too far to get to you in time. With each person getting their own set of ammo and skill points, there is hardly a reason to use the AI.
Resident Evil 6′s saving grace comes in the form of its extras in the Mercenaries and Agent Hunt Modes. Mercenaries Mode acts the same as it has in previous games, which is fine for bonus content. This is one of those rare occasions where more of the same is just fine. You kill zombies either solo or in co-op while trying to extend the timer and increase your score. Mercenaries still suffers from the same gameplay issues as the rest of the game, but when you play in short bursts the problems seem far less noticeable. Agent Hunt mode puts you in the place of a zombie and has you trying to take down an actual player in their campaign. The monster you play as handles as you would expect them to for the most part, but there is a zombie in Leon’s campaign that can sprint faster than most Olympians. There is not wait to respawn or limit to the amount of times you can do it either, effectively giving you unlimited chances to harass the player as they make their way through the level. You are able to purchase perks for your monsters before entering the match by using skill points earned in Mercenaries Mode and the story mode. These perks go from increased health, offense, defense, stamina, ect… and add a little boost to you without breaking the main game. Both modes give you an online leaderboard so you can see how you stack up against other players.
Resident Evil 6 is a very beautiful game with enough amazing environments to fill at least two other games. The locations have a large amount a detail to them, from seeing blades of grass sway in the breeze to pebbles tumbling down the face of a cliff in the distance, you can tell a lot of time and attention was spent on how the game looked. There were a couple chapters that weren’t up to the standard that the others had set, but only a couple. The disappointing part is that 600 people worked on putting this game together, and you can tell that graphics and environment was where all the attention to detail went to as opposed to tightening up gameplay or storyline.
Resident Evil 6 is, at best, an unfinished game. It uses mechanics that were either already in the series or in other games long before this and only implements them half way. Most of the ideas that Capcom had for the gameplay would have been wonderful had they just worked as they were supposed to. Unfortunately, it felt like Capcom was trying to rush out Resident Evil 6 so they slapped together a story, good enough gameplay, made it look pretty and called it a day. This isn’t a step forward for the Resident Evil series, it is two staggering steps backwards.