|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Up until now, I was a bit skeptical about Resident Evil 6. It looked like the game was being pushed toward the action side of things, rather than the traditional survival horror that the franchise is known for. Well, today I had the privilege of getting behind closed doors for a session on Resident Evil 6 at the Capcom booth at E3, and I easily put all of my zombie-related fears to rest. Resident Evil 6 boils Resident Evil down to the core elements that make it the leader in survival horror today. It is simultaneously nostalgic and modern, and as such manages to appeal to just about everyone.
A while back we ran a speculation article which theorized that the three main characters, Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and Jack Wesker—sorry—Muller, would all have their own unique and distinct styles of gameplay, and we were pretty much right. Each character focuses on a different aspect of the Resident Evil franchise. In fact, playing every character's missions is sort of like taking a trip through the past of Resident Evil itself. You can choose to play the characters' stories in any order, although they cross paths at times, and they all meet up at the end. It allows the player to choose the way they want to experience the game and as such gives every Resident Evil fan exactly what they are looking for.
Let's start with Leon. Leon's gameplay is the most similar to Resident Evil 1-2. He moves slow and is forced into dark and claustrophobic spaces. He isn't very well-armed, employing handguns most of the time, with the rare exception of bigger firearms like shotguns or uzis. Much of his gameplay involves solving puzzles and making his way through maze-like corridors, and it will feel a lot like exploring Resident Evil 1's mansion or Raccoon City in Resident Evil 2. Every character has his own special ability, and Leon's is the ability to dual wield certain firearms. Don't let this make you think that Leon is powerful, though. On the contrary, ammo is very scarce in Leon's missions. Dual wielding is more like a panic button, used to dispatch zombies that have crept up too close.
Speaking of zombies, that's Leon's primary antagonist: zombies caused by a viral outbreak in a small city. Seem familiar? Zombies are slow moving shamblers that only pose a threat when they reach close quarters. You can safely pick them off from afar, but the rarity of ammo means that big groups will pose a serious problem. Half the time it's better just to run from zombies, but since they pop out at the most unexpected times this isn't always an option. For example, at one point in the demo Leon saved a girl, but didn't know she was infected. Obviously she turned undead when the lights went out and immediately tried to eat his brains. This sort of dark loneliness coupled with jump scares easily encapsulates the solitary feeling of early survival horror games, and that's what Leon is all about.
Chris, on the other hand, reflects the action side of Resident Evil games. While Leon is all about exploration, puzzle solving, and inventory management, Chris is all about shooting up bad guys. Chris equips high-grade military weapons from assault rifles to sniper rifles and everything in between. While Leon goes through his missions by himself or with one partner, Chris is backed up by an entire squad of BSAA agents. Leon makes a habit of wandering around dark basement catacombs, while Chris leaps across rooftops and shimmies across ledges in his best Nathan Drake impression. While Leon faces the occasional zombie mob, enemies constantly come at Chris from all directions, forcing him and his teammates to put combat first and everything else second. While Chris has a smaller inventory than Leon, he also has fewer things to fill it with. While Leon is off collecting keys and parts of statues and what have you, Chris is just concerned with grenades, bullets, and the occasional health spray.
Chris's enemies are not zombies, but rather parasite-infected soldiers, much like the enemies from Resident Evil 4 and 5. Each of these enemies has mutated in some way to make them deadly. Some have huge bulky mutant arms, others have grown strange winged insects out of their body that allow them to fly, and still others are the familiar tentacle scythe heads we have come to know and love. Chris's enemies are not only far more powerful than Leon's, but also far more intelligent. They will act quickly to corner him and take him out and will ambush him while he is hanging off rooftops or ledges. Luckily, Chris has his squad to back him up and he can utilize cover better than any Gears of War character. Ammo flows like water for Chris, allowing him to take out the endless waves of enemies he faces. He also kills humans with guns as often as he kills the mutated undead. Overall, he is the character you want to play if you want to feel like a bullet god among frail rotting corpses.
Finally, there is Jack, whose sequences play out somewhat like Resident Evil 3. Jack is being hunted by something called the Unitank, a gigantic mutant cyborg zombie (you heard me right) that for some reason wants to squash his face with a vengeance. Yeah, he isn't going to kill that thing any time soon, and his inventory is even smaller than Leon's, with even fewer options for weapons, causing Jack to rely on his fists more than anything else. However, Jack won't have a lot of time to spend killing his enemies (which mostly consist of either unarmed or lightly armed humans) because he will constantly be running from the Unitank. Let it catch him and he's dead—it's just that simple. Not even his ability to activate Wesker-style time-slowdown can save him.
As I said before, Jack's main enemies are human soldiers and the Unitank that wants to either capture or kill him. Thus, Jack's sections are all about the "OH MY GOD I'M GOING TO DIE RUN RUN RUN" style of Resident Evil. Jack is by default better than most of his human pursuers, able to easily take them out with a few punches and kicks. He comes from the Wesker school of martial arts, so mere mortals are like so much paper to him. The problem is that fighting takes time, and wasted time allows the Unitank to catch up with him and eventually kill him in a one shot death.
Overall, Resident Evil 6 feels like a great new Resident Evil title. Capcom's team realized that they can't make one game that is everything to everyone, so they basically made three instead. I have always been a fan of games with multiple intersecting chapters that tie together different characters with different styles of gameplay, and Resident Evil 6 is a good example of this. Be on the lookout for the game when it releases on October 2 this year.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 7, 2012