Resident Evil 6 Review

By Darryl Kaye on October 1, 2012

Despite selling well, Resident Evil 5 became a real low point for the Resident Evil franchise. It was the opposite of what gamers expected, with the previous installment into the franchise being a breath of fresh air for the genre and garnering widespread critical acclaim. Resident Evil 6 therefore arrives with a huge level of expectation as poor deliverance could spell trouble for this venerable franchise - not something anyone would wish for.

To say that from the outset might seem rather gloomy, but when you look at what Resident Evil 6 contains, it's clear to see that Capcom wanted to deliver an experience that would put this franchise back on the map. You've got a multitude of characters from the Resident Evil franchise all appearing in one epic story that spans a considerable amount of game time and you've got plenty of additional modes to boot.

The story is split into four different campaigns, with three available at the start. You can play through either the story of Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper, Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans or Sherry Birkin and Albert Wesker's son, Jake Muller. Each of these campaigns are co-operative, with you being able to play either of the characters from the story tree. They also inter-twine, creating a massive story that spans continents and sees the world's population come under serious threat because of the C-Virus.

Throughout the campaign you'll see flickers of good story telling mixed with smatterings of bad story telling. There are some moments that really strike a chord and resonate with the survival horror franchise, but also some moments that just feel rather ridiculous. It's something that Resident Evil has become known for and it works quite well - if anything certain elements of this story have more "realism" to them and it's much appreciated.

Not often is the phrase "too much" used in the video games industry, but it does feel like Capcom are a little guilty here. Due to the expansive nature of the entire campaign, while the different campaigns do meld together at some points, they will often be quite unconnected. It means that playing through one campaign and then starting another feels a disjointed. For example, if you play through Leon's campaign first, you have no idea what has happened in the lead-up and the narrative isn't good enough to gloss over this.

One of the big criticisms with Resident Evil 5 was that it was too static and not all that scary. To try and counter the first criticism, Capcom decided that Resident Evil 6 would become more like a traditional third-person shooter. Yes, you're now able to move and shoot at the same time. There were fears that this would dilute the survival horror nature of the game even further and this is true to some degree. It's nowhere near up there with some of the top players in the survival horror genre, but it still offers much more of a traditional Resident Evil experience in many ways. They were never the scariest games out there, they just offered an uncomfortable experience at best - that's what Resident Evil 6 achieves some of the time, it's just not often enough.Resident Evil 6 is far from a traditional Resident Evil experience when it comes to gameplay, but it does work. There may not be much adventuring around or puzzle elements and yes, it's now a very linear experience, but that doesn't mean it can't be an enjoyable experience.

You'll get some hefty guns and the traditional zombies don't offer much of a challenge, but that's not anything all that new. What makes Resident Evil 6 shine is how they've implemented other gameplay elements. One great example is how sorting through your inventory is processed in real time. If you need to mix some herbs, you no longer have the safe haven of your menu to rely on - they have to be mixed while zombies are getting ever closer. The same goes for selecting different inventory items - it's often surprising how much difference a little pressure adds to the situation.

New zombie-types are also present, many of which have been subtly lifted from other zombie games in recent times. Despite this they still help to offer an experience that's more expanded - they help to offer a different threat. It's a bit disappointing that Capcom couldn't come up with some more original enemies though.

Expanding further on the new gameplay in Resident Evil 6, you're now able to have much more control over your selected character. This includes dashing and performing dodge rolls, but also a combat system that feels more comfortable. There's still plenty of room for improvement here, but it's a good step in the right direction. For example, it's difficult to understand why you need to be aiming to perform a roll, but that doesn't stop it from being any less annoying. It seems like it wouldn't be a Resident Evil title without these nuances. There's also some clumsiness that comes when switching between secondary inventory items.

To go along with the story's ups and downs, what you end up doing as a result is directly affected. Most of the downs come with the boss battles that are scattered throughout the game. Each campaign is split up into different chapters and at the end of each chapter you're "tested". This starts off well towards the beginning, with "last stand" scenarios cropping up as you fight against waves of zombies due to annoying civilians. However, as the story starts to get more ridiculous, so do these scenarios. You will often find yourself squaring off against opponents that are either indestructible or just take a massive amount of punishment and there's no indication that what you're doing is even making a difference. It's a bit frustrating as the only thing you can keep doing is pummelling the thing until you've got nothing left and hope it's enough.

It's in-keeping with Resident Evil, they've always had crazy boss battles in the past, but many of these go way beyond that and end up just being ridiculously pathetic. They provide very little satisfaction because you know full-well that the thing you think you just killed isn't dead and sooner or later you're going to have to fight a more powerful version. It epitomises what's wrong with Resident Evil 6. Each campaign starts off with promise and the further through it gets, the less scary it becomes and the more ridiculous it gets. There are some defining moments throughout, but they become much more rare as things progress.That's probably the biggest disappointment. As the old adage says, less is more and with Resident Evil 6, that's very much the case. The start of Leon's campaign is filled with tension. There are plenty of dark corridors, lights going out and creepy happenings. Zombies aren't all that prevalent, but they offer enough to make you think twice about your next move - this is what people expect from a Resident Evil title. The end is about killing zombies as if they're nothing but a nuisance, and monsters that are of ridiculous proportions. You go from genuinely worrying about your health and ammo supplies, to not even being remotely bothered and there's something wrong with that.

When it come to presentation, Resident Evil 6 is pretty decent. You've got solid animations and good graphics, but none of it is going to be pushing any boundaries. Perhaps the most impressive aspect is how the MT Framework Engine deals with smoke particles. It's one of the main elements to the story and seeing how the zombies interact with gas in real-time is impressive.

The voice acting is also of a high standard, even if the script writing doesn't necessarily reach the same level of quality all the time.

With four different campaigns, all clocking a solid amount of time, the single-player campaign offers plenty of game time. It can also be played co-operatively too, which is a massive bonus. Once you finish off a campaign, you're also given access to the now famed Mercenaries mode and there's also Agent Hunt, where people are able to take control of random enemies in other people's games.

When this is coupled with all of the dog tags, titles and extras, it's clear that Capcom wanted to show good faith with their fans and it will be appreciated.

Final Thoughts

Resident Evil 6 might not revitalise the franchise how Capcom hoped, but there is plenty here to show that they're moving in the right direction. The story does help to create a fantastic, tense atmosphere at some parts, but it's then ruined by equally ridiculous parts. The same also applies to the gameplay, which benefits from some added elements of stress, which are negated by elements of annoyance. There is so much potential here for Capcom to tap, they just need to make sure they focus their efforts to ensure that the future of Resident Evil is clear-cut. But for now, Resident Evil 6 is still a solid game that's enjoyable and well worth picking up.

Although often sparse, there are still some great survival horror moments.
The introduction of real-time menu systems helps to increase the stress levels.
The sheer volume of content.
A campaign that tries not to, but degenerates over time.
Annoying gameplay elements are still present.
Some of the boss fights.
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