Still Plenty Of Hope Left For This Horror Franchise
Having been a fan of the Resident Evil franchise since its inception way back in 1996, I’ve stuck with it when Capcom replaced the deliciously cheesy dialogue (“Jill sandwich!”), puzzles, zombies, and awkward camera angles with action, helicopters, explosions, and Ganados. To longtime fans of the series what I’m about to say is going to come off a little blasphemous, but Resident Evil 4 is actually my favorite game in the series. I can’t tell you how many hours I invested into that game, and from all accounts, Resident Evil 6 looks to offer more of that. With this game, Capcom is going for the “toss in everything and see what sticks” approach–a strategy that could backfire just as easily as it could be successful. So which is it? Let’s find out.
I won’t bury the lead here: Resident Evil 6 is a fantastic game. It’s not perfect, but it offers more high quality content than most other games do these days. More than that, with four campaigns, two multiplayer modes, and a bevy of unlockable content, it actually ends up feeling more like four different games in one. Each story follows a different duo: you have Jake and Sherry, Chris and Piers, Leon and Helena, and Ada’s campaign, which unlocks after you’ve beaten the first three.
Let’s start off with the most disappointing of the group, Chris’ scenario. His adventure is in no way bad; in fact, it’s actually quite good, and it’s far superior to his previous outing in Resident Evil 5, even if I did find myself missing his last partner, Sheva Alomar (she’s curiously missing in this game). Piers is a strong enough replacement, even if he’s lacking in any real personality. The same could be said for the entirety of the campaign, actually. It’s more of the same. If you like firefights, explosions, helicopter chases, more explosions, and car chases (there’s a lot of chasing in this game), then you’ll likely reap a lot of enjoyment out of this. The rest of us will move on to the vastly more original campaigns.
Jake’s story feels like the area of the game where Capcom decided to toss all their more ambitious game design ideas. the first half introduces a few series firsts, including a fight through a whiteout blizzard, followed by a snowmobile race down a mountain as you try and outrun an avalanche, and a stealth section. Yeah, there’s actually a stealth section in a Resident Evil game now, but it’s actually pretty fun.
Over the course of Jake and Sherry’s adventure they’re being chased by the intensely creepy Ustanak. He’s just as, if not more terrifying as Nemesis from Resident Evil 3, the only difference being this guy doesn’t want to kill you, he wants to experiment on you. The contraption on his arm can be outfitted with a flail (see during a fantastic fight later in the story), a bundle of robotic arms ending in hypodermic needles, a shotgun, and more. He also seems somewhat intelligent, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that he enjoyed causing pain. Nemesis never gave me that impression, and I think that’s why the Ustanak could be my new favorite B.O.W.
The final, and strongest, of the three main campaigns is Leon’s story. It’s not classic Resident Evil, but it is decidedly Resident Evil 4 in its flavor. There are even hints of RE2 and RE5: Lost in NIghtmares in there to help make this the more memorable of the bunch. It’s also obvious Capcom saved their creepiest mutations for this scenario, the Ustanak not withstanding, as there are some incredibly freaky new creatures for you to run away screaming from.
I’d say my only major complaint about Leon’s campaign is also one I have with the others, only to lesser degrees, and that’s being forced to fight the same boss many, many times. I counted seven, even though the last fight barely counted. He just keeps coming back, even after you’ve hit him with a train, struck him with lightning (twice!), and mowed him down with an attack helicopter. Mind you, he does return in different forms, so it’s not as if you’re going through the same exact fight each time, but it’s still a little annoying having to beat the same guy down seven times before he finally dies.
Excluding the aforementioned boss, for the most part, the bosses in this game rank as some of the best the series has brought us so far. They’re always enjoyable, even if a few do outstay their welcome a bit, and many of them are very fun to look at. This extends to the lesser enemies as well. There’s nothing special about the zombies: if you’ve played a zombie game, you’re not going to see anything new there, but the new J’avo enemies are, for the most part, very well designed.
They are, however, a mixed bag. An overwhelming majority of the mutations you’ll encounter are neat, and there are a lot of mutations. A serious amount of time and creativity was put into making sure no two fights would play out in exactly the same way, because of the mutations that trigger after an enemy has taken damage. Blow off a guy’s arm and there’s a very good chance he’s going to grow a shield or some sort of long-range grabbing tentacle thing that makes him much more dangerous. Then there are the more extensive mutations, which can result in massive, hulk-like creatures that will charge at you and try to slam you into the ground.There are also women made of insect swarms, half-spider people, guys with explosive centipede things on their torsos, and many more.
There are also the lame mutations. The ones that, once you see them, all the horror fades away and is immediately replaced by a desperate need to laugh at the screen. The creatures that inspire this hilarity include the guys with bird legs, the wasp-shouldered men, and a few others. They aren’t scary, they’re comical. Capcom should’ve hired someone to take a look at all of the mutation designs before they were approved so they could make sure things like these didn’t make the cut. On the other hand, I got a good laugh out of them, so it might not be so bad.
The combat, and movement in general, have seen huge improvements since the last installment. For one, you can finally strafe. This might not seem like a big deal, since it should be standard by now, but Capcom took a while to jump on that bandwagon, so I’m thankful they finally did. The cover system has also evolved since its atrocious introduction in Resident Evil 5. It’s not perfect, but it works well enough. You can also dodge roll, run and slide, and execute a bunch of different melee and finishing moves on your unsuspecting foes.
In Resident Evil 5, one of my biggest complaints was how you had to rely on your partner to get you out of the stickier situations, like when you’re incapacitated and in need of a good epinephrine injection to the chest. This might sound like an odd complaint for a co-op game, but when you’re surrounded by enemies and you take that one last hit that sends you into the dying mode, you’re very likely going to die. This was especially frustrating in Mercenaries, where you’d have to split up in order to get all of the time capsules scattered around the map. Thankfully, now you aren’t completely reliant on your partner, because when you’re incapped in RE6 you’re only down for a few seconds. This “last stand” status is temporary, so if you’re able to survive long enough to get back up, you can heal yourself and go on your merry way.
Those are the good things, so let’s jump into one of my biggest issues with Resident Evil 6: the guns. Since Resident Evil 4, we’ve been able to choose and upgrade our loadouts. That’s gone now. Not only are you no longer able to upgrade your weapons, you can’t even choose them. This means it’s now up to Capcom to decide which guns they want to give you, so if you find a sniper rifle in-game, you should expect to have to use it pretty soon. I absolutely loathe this decision, because much of the feeling of progression and of getting stronger the farther you get into the story is now gone. It’s not entirely gone, thanks to the skills, but those aren’t the same.
The skills are new passive perks, much like what’s seen in Call of Duty, that you can equip to grant you little bonuses like steadier aim, quicker reloads, damage resistance, and more bizarre ones like Lone Wolf, which renders your A.I. companion into a mindless husk that follows you around, unable to fight. Many of them can be upgraded, using the skill points you accumulate in-game, and you’ll have to play through the game multiple times to unlock them all. They’re an interesting enough addition, but they just aren’t enough to make up for the loss of gun customization.
Naturally, Mercenaries makes a triumphant return, and for the most part it hasn’t really changed. This is because it doesn’t need to change. It’s still insanely addictive and adds countless hours of replayability to Resident Evil 6’s already impressive shelf life. The more intriguing new mode is called Agent Hunt, and while I can’t believe it’s never been done before, since it’s such a simple idea, the result is one of the most exciting things Resident Evil 6 brings with it. In Agent Hunt, you join another player’s game, or open your game to other players, so you can play as one of the enemies. Your goal is simple: to ruin the other players’ day. If you succeed, you’re rewarded with neat little bonuses like titles, medals, and skill points. The matches don’t last long, usually not more than 10-30 minutes, making this an excellent source of bite-sized multiplayer entertainment.
As you might’ve gathered, Resident Evil 6 is not a perfect game. It’s not even all that scary, but it is immensely entertaining, gorgeous to look at, and it has more content than I’ve ever seen in a game like this. It might not revolutionize the genre like Resident Evil 4 did, but it does offer something for everyone. If you have an itch that only Resident Evil can scratch, then this game won’t disappoint.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.8 Graphics
This is a massive game, but that didn’t keep Capcom from making sure it was consistently beautiful. 4.5 Control
The controls have seen a massive overhaul, and the result is a finely tuned game that controls extraordinarily well. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music transforms depending on the campaign, switching between loud and orchestral to creepy and atmospheric. 5.0 Play Value
Few games offer the sheer amount of content this game has, including four campaigns, two multiplayer modes, and a bevy of unlockable content. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best