October 17, 2012 by Paul Curtin
Admittedly, I was pretty hard on Resident Evil 5 in my review three years ago that was almost more of a rant than a review. Being a fan of the series since the very first game, I had high expectations after Resident Evil 4, and the next-gen sequel was sadly a train wreck of dated gameplay mechanics and a story that seemed to be straying even further away from the classic Resident Evil universe than the movies.
Surprisingly, unlike most people, I actually really enjoyed the latest non-canon spinoff Operation Raccoon City’s multiplayer and saw it as Capcom taking the right steps to try new things in order to not be left behind. Truth be told, even as a Dead Space convert, I’m still rooting for Resident Evil, and while the latest game is far from perfect with many flaws, it too shows that Capcom is willing to see the error of its ways and break from tradition in order to deliver an entertaining experience.
Fans who were furious will the last Resident Evil game for being all about fast-paced competitive multiplayer and lacking a real story will be happy to know that Resident Evil 6 tries to slow things back down and take the story back to the basics. Unfortunately, Capcom has tried to do too much with the game in an effort to please everyone, which in most cases isn’t ever going to happen, especially when dealing with long-running franchises.
Resident Evil 6’s story is split up into four very lengthy campaigns, so there’s no question that you get your money’s worth in terms of story. While the game is far from perfect, the solid voice acting and twists and turns of the story are enough to help carry the game and make up for all of its other various flaws. Each campaign focuses on the journey of one of the main characters during Umbrella’s most recent outbreak in Tokyo and is a bit nontraditional as it allows players the option to jump into any one of the three main campaigns right from the start and then unlock a fourth final campaign after completing the first three.
Returning fan-favorite hero Leon S. Kennedy is the default starting campaign, which feels and plays the most like his last adventure in Resident Evil 4 by taking players through abandoned houses and secret catacombs filled with the walking dead. The original hero, Chris Redfield, has a story that plays more like his last journey in Resident Evil 5 with a more fast-paced action theme as he fights his way through Tokyo accompanied by SWAT teams. And new character Jake Muller, son of villain Wesker, has a campaign that plays like a mix of the two. All of the campaigns are based around the same time, and characters are frequently popping in and out of one another’s campaigns – which is great except for the few times you’ll end up replaying similar events when all the characters are together in the same area.
Because the heroes’ stories are different and sometimes taking places in different areas of the world, the zombie enemies and bosses vary from campaign to campaign. Strangely, some of the classic monsters, such as Lickers, have been done away with and replaced with stranger-looking mutated zombies. New monsters is always a plus, and concepts such as people who have mutated into half-human-half-spider on paper sound chilling. The problem is the way in which the enemies look and how the heroes react to them takes any of horror instantly away. Take for example, the human-spider-mutated enemies: sounds gross and scary, yet because only their lower half is spider and their upper half is still human that holds and shoots guns, it’s just not scary — then take into account that heroes can run up and grapple enemies and repeatedly knee or suplex them, and you start to feel bad for the zombie piñatas as Conan O’Brien put ever so perfectly in his comedic review.
Like Resident Evil 5, each of the characters is also always accompanied by a companion that can be used by a friend through the co-op feature or if just wanting to see a campaign played out from a slightly different perspective involving a couple different paths when split up – another nice incentive for replaying the game if you loved the story the first time around. Capcom has clearly taken into account the numerous complaints regarding how much of a burden the partner A.I. was in the Resident Evil 5 and improved it in every way possible. Oddly, RE6’s fourth main character, Ada Wong, whose campaign isn’t unlocked until beating all three other campaigns, is the one campaign that plays the most like classic Resident Evil by going it alone without a partner and having to solve multiple puzzles that the rest of the game could have greatly used.
While co-op was one of the main problems with RE5, it wasn’t the biggest, and Capcom has finally decided to switch up the controls and character movement in order to do away with the dated stop-and-shoot mechanics. Players can now move freely while shooting, and although at first a little confusing and rough around the edges, the new dodging system that allows players to instantly jump into a prone position and continue to move around on the ground (even while crawling through vents) is pretty innovative and a good sign Capcom’s Japanese developers aren’t totally stuck in the past.
Capcom has even gone as far as redesigning their inventory system. The pacing might now be a lot faster, but going into the inventory no longer pauses the game, with the inventory being a column of items and row of weapons that players can quickly and easily shuffle through in the middle of fights. It’s a surprisingly good system that more games should use and neat how it looks slightly different to match each character’s theme. The HUD isn’t as nice as in Dead Space where there is no HUD in the corners, but the way it’s custom to each character, fades away, and swaps sides when swapping the over-the-shoulder camera is again a welcome improvement.
If you’re looking for an entertaining singleplayer or co-op experience, then the latest Resident Evil game may be for you. However, if you’re looking for anything more, such as entertaining online survival and competitive modes, I’d strongly suggest looking somewhere else, such as Operation Raccoon City or Dead Space. After completing any one of the campaigns, players can unlock Agent Hunt mode, which is an interesting concept. Like Dark/Dead Souls, players can join other players campaigns, but as the enemies trying to stop and kill the heroes.
Agent Hunt mode would be a lot of fun if not for how terrible the controls are. After playing for a couple minutes and watching your character taking forever to attack heroes that are right in your grasps only for them to take their time and kill you in a couple shots, you start to again feel bad for the zombies. There’s also a Mercenaries mode, but it’s even worse than RE5‘s with the competitive aspect taken out and only allowing two players to fend off zombies together in a race against the clock. The Resident Evil series has never been about the multiplayer, and not every game needs a strong multiplayer component, but after seeing how well it can be done in ORC, what you get in RE6 just seems like a ripoff.
Fixing all of the problems with the Resident Evil series seems to be a conundrum that Capcom’s Japanese developers just can’t seem to figure out. On one end you have the developers trying to finally revamp the dated gameplay mechanics and using Western influences in order to keep the series from being left for dead by other survival horror series. Updating things like movement and cover systems is always a plus, but on the other hand Capcom seems to be trying too hard to copy what Western developers are doing and as a result straying from the survival horror roots of the series and turning the series into a action-based shooter and losing its identity. Resident Evil 6 is a vast improvement over Resident Evil 5, but still a ways away from bringing the franchise back to glory. Resident Evil 6 gets 3.5 out of 5 stars (Very Good).
- Great storytelling and character development that brings back old favorites and introduces new heroes
- Controls, movement, cover, and aiming have all been modernized
- Campaign gives you your money’s worth basically being 4 games in 1
- Solid voice acting and character animations
- New inventory system works great by combining old school with new
- Not enough scares and far too much action
- Too many quick time events that make gameplay feel dated
- Controls and camera still aren’t perfect and can be annoying
- Terrible controls when playing as zombies in Agent Hunt mode are very frustrating
- Mercenaries mode lacks competitive multiplayer and feels hollow