As a reviewer I often find myself giving good scores to games I dislike and giving bad scores to games that I personally love. Resident Evil 6 falls into this trap much to my chagrin as I really do enjoy my time playing it (most of it anyways) the game itself is just bad. Not bad in the sense that it’s entirely irredeemable but in the sense that this is a game that tries to do too many things at once and just fails in every conceivable way possible. It’d almost be amazing if it wasn’t so upsetting to see the franchise, newly invigorated by Resident Evil 4 and 5, just be so utterly dead on arrival.
First off let’s not mistake the fact that the series has been kind of forgetting itself in the past few years. Resident Evil has always been known for resource management and the tension that this element brings but that’s been getting less and less prevalent as the series went on. Then number 4 was released and Resident Evil was less “Japanese interpretation of a Western horror movie” and more “Japanese action movie with western horror elements.” It was a drastic change but it was definitely for the best as the series was revived like few others.
Resident Evil 5 could have continued this trend but it took it one step too far. Bowing to the idiotic cries of racism they added in a co-op partner and created a game that, while immensely fun, lacked any sort of horror or even tension. Even the most intimidating monster that could be thrown your way wasn’t much of a threat with a partner covering you. They did try to backpedal a bit and bring some of that back with Revelations, the 3DS outing, but due to the low sales of that title they seem to have given up entirely.
This leaves us with Resident Evil 6 which feels less like the old games or even Resident Evil 4 and more like Operation Raccoon City. A game that we at GamingExcellence weren’t exactly happy with might I add. There is no tension beyond the fear that you’ll die to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quick time event. There is no fear beyond the worry of another terrible vehicle segment. There is no horror beyond the slow dawning realization that this game is 100% serious with its stupid plot. All that was Resident Evil is gone now and all we have is this shambling mess of a film.
Resident Evil 6 is supposed to be an intersecting story that follows Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield and Sherry Birkin along with their partners as they attempt to save the world from the C-Virus, a new B.O.W. strain. Leon must bring the perpetrators of this new viral outbreak to justice, Chris attempts to stop the new outbreak from reaching global proportions and Sherry must get Jake Muller, son of Albert Wesker, who has the antibody to render this virus obsolete.
Each of these stories takes place on a timeline that routinely intersects and crosses paths. It lets you play the story from both sides as they meet, allowing you to play as Chris or Piers to shoot at an attack chopper to help Sherry and Jake down below. Later on, you’ll play as Jake and Sherry down below while Chris and Piers cover you. These crossovers are interesting but they don’t add up to much except to introduce minor plot holes?
Much like the storyline the controls seem to be well intentioned but flawed. You can shoot while moving now or just roll and dive your way out of incoming fire which lets you feel like a huge badass. Going kung-fu on a group of zombies or J’avo is actually pretty cathartic as well as nice for conserving ammunition. However the controls feel a bit too lose as opposed to the tighter controls you find in Resident Evil 5 or Dead Space. For example when you press the backwards on the analog stick you turn around slowly before running that way. This feels slower and clunkier than the older games where you’d simply slowly back away. Also using cover, especially the cover that is at waist height, just feels clunky as hell. Going in and out of cover never feels natural so charging the enemy is the easiest way to deal with gun using enemies.
It’s also hard to feel scared when you can mow through whole hordes of zombies with your bare hands and then roll around even the scariest of enemies before gunning him down with an automatic. More than either of its predecessors this is a game that just gives you a ludicrous amount of weaponry and ammunition to just gun everybody down. Because of the combat controls and veritable arsenal you possess there is no tension or horror to be found anywhere in this beast of a game.
It’s also kind of hard to remain scared of anything when the game regularly chooses to flat out murder you in the stupidest way possible. Most of the time you’re tasked with avoiding instant death via QTE’s that happen out of nowhere and expect you to respond in the blink of an eye or you get to reload. Honestly you know that a game is overusing QTE’s when one can last for over a minute if you don’t do it perfectly. Worse is that several bosses have one shot kills that give you only the briefest chance to dodge, if any at all. The boss of Leon’s campaign is especially notorious for this in all of his various appearances.
That’s probably the second biggest problem that Resident Evil 6 has going for it – it just never knows when to stop. Leon has an incredibly enjoyable campaign, taking about seven hours or so on first completion. Unfortunately the last two hours or so are spent fighting the same boss as he repeatedly comes back from the dead to menace you in new form after new form. You have no less than three fights that feel like the incredibly climactic final bout before he appears for just one more round. In much the same vein all of the other bosses you fight come back from the dead again and again to “menace” you with more QTE’s and instant death attacks. While bosses that attack you repeatedly throughout the campaign are a bit of a staple in horror games RE6 just abuses this to the point that it loses all meaning, leaving it just a simple chore.
Replacing the merchant from Resident Evil 4 and the mysterious shop in Resident Evil 5 you have a skill system. Not only is this vastly inferior to the gun upgrade system it’s insanely restrictive. The amount of points required to purchase any but the most basic upgrades is prohibitive, requiring tens of thousands of points to increase one skill while you’re lucky if fighting a boss gives you a few thousand at best. If the game doesn’t just end the chapter or push you to another checkpoint without letting you pick up the skills you still never feel like you’re getting enough points. Add onto that fact that you can only equip three skills at a time and the whole customization system feels ridiculously underdeveloped and fairly useless.
On the bright side, if you happen to enjoy the game then the four campaigns all add up about twenty-five hours of gameplay. Unfortunately if you cut out all the reloading due to cheap shot deaths you can take a good couple hours off of that. Another unfortunate fact is that a solid 1/3rd of that gameplay time is Chris’ campaign which is just atrocious. All of the problems in the game, from annoying QTE’s to cheap Gears of War imitation gameplay with automatic weapons, are just exemplified here and it’s just a mostly miserable experience.
When the game released on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 back in October we didn’t even mentioned Mercenaries mode in our review as it felt redundant. After you spend twenty odd hours shooting zombie after J’avo after everything else having a mode that only consists of shooting zombie after J’avo feels pretty dang redundant. While it’s cool to play it with a partner this doesn’t really seem to do a whole lot to make it more fun so it ends up sorely lacking in replay value.
Well to address that complaint Capcom has teamed up with Valve to bring some Left 4 Dead 2 content to the game. Brand new characters with unique load outs will be brought to the game and a pair of new enemies will be added to the roster of enemies. Know what all of this adds up to? Absolutely nothing. Even when it’s finally released this content will add nothing of note to the game itself, merely more characters to use in the repetition that is Mercenaries mode. It’s nice of Capcom to reward those loyal customers who moved the four million odd units on consoles for them by releasing PC exclusive content but this is nothing we shouldn’t be used to by now.
All Resident Evil 6 really has to its name is the production values. The game runs smooth as butter most of the time which is impressive as the game looks fantastic. All of the characters look great, lip sync is solid and the animations are top notch. Even the monsters and backgrounds are finely detailed which really stands out during the Tall Oaks segments of Leon’s campaign and the parts that occur in China. Paired up with top notch voice acting, including barely noticeable changes in cast members, the game makes a better looking movie than it does a game to play.
Honestly when all is said and done this game has as much in common with Resident Evil as the Mila Jovovich films. All we have left is the mindless violence, over the top action, pointless but frustrating vehicle segments and lots of automatic weapons. Frankly Resident Evil needs to split into two sub-series at this point – one that focuses on action and one that actually does the horror thing. Otherwise we’re going to end up with more and more half-baked games like this.