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There is no denying that Resident Evil 6 is arguably Capcom’s biggest game in this console generation. This is their most mainstream franchise that can attract multiple audiences from fans that loved it since the beginning to those that love Western-developed shooters and action games. Capcom’s change of direction for the series has been mixed among fans, since it goes away from its survival horror roots to a more action-heavy adrenaline rush seen in most of today’s Hollywood blockbusters. Capcom was able to get things right the first time around with RE4, setting new standards for multiple genres. However, that is not the case with RE6 where they decide to go overboard with pretty much everything. From horrible, questionable design decisions throughout the four campaigns, major pacing issues, and many more, Resident Evil 6 is the frontrunner to be the most disappointing game of 2012.
The storyline this time around is about the C-Virus, another new biological virus created by a mysterious organization known as Neo Umbrella. Leon Kennedy, one of the franchise’s mainstays, shoots down the President of the United States after being turned into a zombie by the new virus. Along with new partner Helena Harper, Leon has to figure out what is behind the C-Virus while trying to survive in the zombie infested city of Tall Oaks. Another franchise mainstay Chris Redfield of the B.S.A.A. and another new partner, Piers Nivans, are in China where the heart of the bioterrorist threat is located; they are also trying to figure out who is behind the virus.
In addition, Chris is seeking revenge against returning character Ada Wong, who is presumably behind all of this and killed most of Chris’s team at a previous mission in Edonia, which you play as a flashback. The third core campaign stars newcomer Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin, another returning character to the series. Sherry has to bring Jake in because he has the anti-bodies to get rid of the virus entirely. Jake is also related to one of the infamous villains of the franchise, Albert Wesker. Once the main three campaigns are beaten, another one gets unlocked featuring Ada as you figure out her true intentions in this whole storyline even though most of the cast assume she is the one behind the virus.
All four of these campaigns do eventually meet up at China where one pair meets up with another pair for a segment or two. In a way, it is nice how Capcom pulled this off, but the repetition does kick in when you have to fight the same exact boss battle twice in two different campaigns. Each of the four campaigns are about six to eight hours long with a total of more than 20 hours for the whole game. Each chapter is takes an hour or two to complete, which is pretty long for a normal session. Many times, I felt like I reached the end of one chapter, but it keeps going for another ten or twenty minutes. Most of the little storyline details in the campaigns are hidden in the game’s collectables, the serpent emblems. You might miss a little more background and details about certain events and characters if you don’t find these, so it is weird that if you want uncover more about the story, you have to shoot down these emblems.
The campaigns are also filled with major pacing issues. One minute you’ll be in a kill room against enemies and one minute later you’ll be in a short cutscene. This tends to repeat a lot throughout the game. Another example is there will be a cutscene that starts out a chapter, you then walk slowly with limited control to another point triggering another cutscene. If it is not a cutscene after a minute or two of actual gameplay, there is usually a quicktime event where you have to do some timely button presses. I’ll talk more about the quicktime events, specifically where Capcom went overboard with them, later on. Load times are also spread out throughout segments as well, which is another reason why the pacing in RE6 is really bad. I wish the developers were able to streamline all of this together rather than take control away from you every couple of minutes to the point you’re watching another one of those Resident Evil CG-only movies.
All of the campaigns are supposed to be catered to different gameplay styles. Leon’s campaign is more in the vein of RE4 with zombies making a return to the series to shoot down. In other words, it is more of a slow and steady pace with darker environments to explore that reminds players of the older games. Chris’s campaign is the most action-packed and faster-paced of the four as him, Piers, and the rest of his B.S.A.A. team take out the J’avo, who seem to be humans, but can mutate into a variety of monstrous forms. Jake’s is a mix of Leon’s and Chris’s, but with a little more running away from a Nemesis-like creature. He does have more hand-to-hand moves than the rest of the cast, which is the only major difference in regards to play style. Some of Ada’s campaign requires more stealth than the other three and has more puzzles in the classic Resident Evil vein. At the end of the day, however, all four campaigns play fundamentally the same at their core with some differences with weaponry.
I mentioned earlier that Resident Evil 6 is filled with bad and questionable design decisions. The core gameplay plays a lot to those decisions. While folks that played RE4 and RE5 will be familiar to the controls, the biggest addition in this new sequel is that you can finally move around while aiming your gun. Other than the basics, the game doesn’t tell you that much about the advanced controls at all. More importantly, there is no manual at all when you buy the game and the prologue level that is basically the tutorial does not do a good job of explaining the fundamentals. It was more of an excuse to have some quick time events to get people warmed up for what is to come in the main campaigns.
Most of the advanced controls are mentioned in the game’s load times such as dodging and the cover system. If you thought the shooting mechanics were clunky back when they were introduced in RE4, they still are in RE6, but with complicated controls to dodge and go in cover. Due to how badly controlled it is, I personally didn’t use the cover system that much and it wasn’t really that useful in many situations. What is more useful is the quick shot, where if it hits most of the regular enemies, it gets them on a staggered state so you can finish them off with a melee attack. The quick shot does cost some stamina meter along with melee attacks.
Another bad design decision in this game is the ammo management. In all of the campaigns, I played some encounters with little to no ammo at all and sometimes I had to just run away just to move on to the next area of the chapter. For a game that still has some survival horror roots, I can see why Capcom wants to keep the “use as little ammo as possible” mentality, but now that it has gone more action heavy, it doesn’t cut it anymore. Once you’re able to use the quick shot and melee attacks more effectively, ammo management isn’t that much of an issue, but for many players that just want to shoot things to death, they are going to run out of ammo a lot. Boss encounters also take forever to beat due to this major flaw because you’ll be wandering around too much trying to find ammo. In addition, you can’t really tell whether or not you’re dealing damage to these bosses as you’re just shooting them hoping they will be eventually defeated.
Then there are the quick time events in Resident Evil 6, which some of them are the worst ones I ever played in any game. The developers went way overboard with them in this game as some of them are trial and error the first time you play through the campaigns. Most of my deaths involve these because some of them just don’t give you enough time to react seeing a certain button or two compared to most games that have them today. This wasn’t that bad when they were first introduced in RE4, but in RE6, it is just overkill and bad game design in general. Some quick time events require analog stick waggling to the point I had to rotate the left or right stick viciously as if I’m playing a mini-game from Mario Party seriously. In other words, the game’s QTEs require a little too much out of players especially mashing a certain button in the short amount of time the game gives you to get zombies off. Some QTEs don’t exactly tell you how to do them properly and those are the worst ones. Honestly, I was stuck in one of these for more than twenty minutes because the game thinks I’m doing it wrong and you’ll know what I mean once you play this specific scene.
The game’s inventory system is also changed besides some of the core gameplay. Gone is the weapon upgrades system for a simpler skills system. These skills can be purchased in between chapters that increases defense, damage, item drops, etc. Some skills are actually useful like the increase of item drops due to how many times you’ll run out of ammo, but the majority are not though. The herbs system is also changed in which they are used as health tablets. What I mean is one green herb equals one health tablet that recovers a bar of health. Combining green and red herbs equates to six health tablets, but you can’t really pause the action to make this happen. You better find a safe spot during an enemy encounter to heal up. How this system was handled was another questionable design decision I had with RE6 because how many sub-menus I have to go through to combine. Fortunately, there is not much of an inventory management issue in this game compared to past entries since you’ll be using the items frequently.
Similar to Resident Evil 5, all of the campaigns in Resident Evil 6 can be played co-op locally and online in their entirety with four difficulties to choose from. The functionality has been improved from last time with the ability to drop in and out of the action. There are save issues with it however as you can lose your progress within a chapter and start over from the beginning of it if you decide to continue it alone, so if you plan to play it online with another person, it is recommended to finish the chapter you’re in before stopping. If you set your game to be online with players joining in, you can’t technically pause the game if you have to take a break. Even if you have to change control or brightness settings, the action is still going on and you could die if you’re stuck changing them, which is another problem I have with the game in general. It is recommended that you set the game to offline if you’re gonna play it alone and have to ability to actually pause the game normally.
When playing alone, the partner A.I. does a good job for the most part being invincible, taking out enemies when they have to, and healing you when you’re in a dying state. However, they sometimes heal you at the worst times and you have no time to escape from enemies to heal back up to normal health, so you’ll be running into cheap deaths like these. In addition, they sometimes don’t respond in time to open up doors that require both to open especially in certain sections. You’ll be waiting for them for a while if they’re too far back to catch up and open the door to the next area.
Besides the four campaigns, there are two other modes playable in Resident Evil 6. Mercenaries returns once again as players try to get the highest score possible killing enemies within a time limit. This can be played both alone and co-op although it is much better playing it with another person to rack up high scores. My only gripe is that there are only three maps available to play in this mode and two of them have to be unlocked by beating the campaigns, but more are coming via DLC. Agent Hunt is a little more unique as you get play as the enemies from the zombies to the mutated J’avo in attempt to kill the main players while playing the campaigns. Most of these games don’t last that long as the game sometimes join you in at bad times at certain sections whether they’re going to proceed to another area or get killed. It is a neat idea at first glance, but the fun can only last so long once the awkward controls kick in for most of the enemies you can play as.
At various times, Resident Evil 6 is a good looking game graphically. Some of the cutscenes look cool and the environments you have to explore are well detailed. The character models also look great, but the animations could of been better especially in specific gameplay situations. The camera has been a major problem since the game was first announced and still is now that it is out in players’ hands. It remains too close on the characters for the majority of the game, but it is fixed a bit in various scenes where they have to pull the camera out for something crazy to happen. Another big problem since the game’s initial announcement is how dark the game is to the point you can’t see where enemies are especially if they’re on the ground trying to grab you. Even if you crank the brightness up to its maximum, you still can’t see certain things due to how dark the game can be. As far as sound is concerned, the soundtrack is what you expect from a Hollywood blockbuster and the voice overs are fine for the most part. Most of the supporting cast, mainly Helena and Piers, are not really memorable characters, but Jake and Sherry’s relationship development is the more tolerable out of the core three campaigns and it shows with their voice acting.
With all the bad design decisions regarding the gameplay and levels, the worst quick time events ever in a videogame, and many other issues, it was hard to enjoy and have fun playing Resident Evil 6. The numerous frustrations got in the way and quite simply, this is a bad game for whatever audience Capcom is trying to attract. It is still a big game with lots of content and replay value, but each of the campaigns could have been a hour or two shorter by cutting away some of the filler segments. After two disappointments this year with this and Operation Raccoon City, is there truly no hope left for the Resident Evil franchise? I think it is time for Capcom to go back into drawing board to see where they went wrong and maybe even do a reboot. Resident Evil 6 is one of the most disappointing games I have played in a long time and there are better games that are coming out this year worthy of your attention.