Within ten minutes of Resident Evil 6’s prologue, you will be treated to an introduction stuffed with explosions, quick time events and well over-the-top action.
Whereas Resident Evil 5 may have taken the series farther in a direction that’s more in line with the third-person shooters of this console generation, Resident Evil 6 has metastasized it. It quickly becomes abundantly clear that Resident Evil has eschewed much of its George Romero influence and replaced it with Michael Bay-inspired theatrics
If you’re an old-school fan yearning for the puzzle-solving, ammo-hoarding and jump-out horror found in the series’ earlier days, know that you’ll hardly be seeing any of those within Capcom’s latest entry to their franchise.
Players familiar with the control schemes of Resident Evils 4 and 5 will first notice some significant changes in RE6. Moving the left analog stick in a given direction will now make your character move in that exact direction, and the right analog stick now grants you full 360-degree camera control. Maneuvering with these new controls would be perfectly fine if the camera wasn’t glued so close behind the character’s back. The game stuck me in a variety of tight spaces and corridors where I had to constantly turn the camera around every corner to see where I was going.
The issues with the camera don’t stop there. The game loves to interrupt gameplay by yanking control of the camera away from the player to focus on something happening in the environment even during moments when it’s unwanted–like in the middle of a firefight.
Another game design flaw rears its ugly head during boss encounters. More than a few times I fell victim to incredibly unfair, cheap deaths in which I was knocked to the ground only to be knocked down yet again (or worse, killed) immediately after getting up.
By and far the most frustrating and unforgivable aspect of Resident Evil 6 lies in its quick-time events. Be prepared to go from timing button presses to mashing furiously and wiggling those analog sticks Katamari-style. To say the game is chockful of them is a vast understatement. The most frustrating ones involve climbing, thanks to on-screen left and right shoulder button prompts that aren’t fully explained, thus leading to cheap and instant deaths.
RE6’s enemies are a diverse bunch that are infected by the new “C-Virus.” These infected range from your classic RE zombie to the multi-eyed Juggalo-looking J’avo that utilize firearms. Depending on whichever body part you blow off with these infected, that section can mutate into something new, which in turn lengthens the battle and leads to more expended ammo (of which there never seems to be enough of). This felt more like an annoyance than a neat and new gameplay mechanic.
One of the biggest features Capcom touted with the game was its four surprisingly lengthy scenarios. Players can assume the role of series’ regulars Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Ada Wong, newcomer Jake Muller and their respective partners in any order. Although each campaign seemingly has its own style, you’ll find for the most part that it all ends up degenerating back into an action romp.
Leon’s campaign initially focuses on a spookier atmosphere that hearkens back to the series’ roots (even making me jump with one particularly cheap scare), but this is quickly abandoned a few chapters in. Chris’ campaign is monotonous, being comprised of one shoot-out after another, with painfully out-of-place vehicle and flying sections thrown in. Jake’s campaign has some interesting bouts of action mixed with a stalker-like villain reminiscent of RE3’s Nemesis, but becomes sullied by a poorly-done stealth and chase sequences which have players awkwardly running towards the camera. Ada’s campaign, which is unlocked after completing the previous three, was surprisingly the most enjoyable. It breaks up the action with puzzles and stealth sections that aren’t mind-numbingly annoying.
The moments where the campaigns’ stories briefly intersect allowed two other players to temporarily link up with you and your partner in online co-op. This is a rare novelty, however, as you may not always successfully find a game that’s running adjacent to yours. The moments where the matchmaking does find someone is pretty satisfying, even though my first experience with it was soured by a “communication error” that disconnected everyone.
The game’s voice acting is well-done save for a couple of awkward lines of dialogue. The same can’t be said for the plot, which is too absurd and convoluted for its own good (even for a Resident Evil). Due to the game’s split-up campaigns, the plot’s progression moves way too fast and there’s not nearly enough time to get invested in the game’s large cast or its cookie-cutter villains.
Resident Evil 6 ultimately comes off as a game with a hodgepodge of ideas thrown in, regardless of whether or not they mesh well together. On paper, the idea of incorporating different gameplay styles with each scenario sounds like the best way to appease classic and modern fans of the series as well as newcomers, but it’s all sloppily executed. It’s going to take a considerable retooling to get this franchise back on a more sensible approach to its classic gameplay. Consider this Resident Evil fan disappointed.