Review by Bkstunt_31
"Do I... Do I still call this a horror game?"
Resident Evil 6 truly needs no introduction. Gamers the world over have followed the series since its 1996 PlayStation days of exploring a puzzle-laden mansion with clunky tank-like controls. 16 years later we've seen dozens of Resident Evil games come and go, but we've finally come to the 6th officially numbered game in the series.
Resident Evil 6 is, without a doubt, a big change in the series. For one you can finally move AND shoot at the same time! However, the Resident Evil franchise is no stranger to change: just look at all of the titles Capcom has released. Light gun games, online efforts and that funky Game Boy Color title have all seen the light of day, and every time Capcom (or, well, any developer really...) messes with such a beloved series there's always a rash of fans that cry foul. So chances are you've already heard some VERY negative things about Resident Evil 6 and want to know what you can REALLY expect.
Well my friend, after playing through the game for 100+ hours and literally trying to dig up every piece of information I can out of it, let me tell you exactly what you can expect out of Resident Evil 6.
Bio-Terrorism is truly a global problem.
The virus may have started off in a single mansion, but as the years have passed bio-terrorism has spread globally. Mercenary units around the world try and employ the powerful viruses while researchers continue to try and perfect it and try to make soldiers that follow commands.
The story in Resident Evil 6 features four campaigns, each following a different character.
The first campaign features fan-favorite Leon Kennedy as he finds himself having to gun down a dear friend: the President of the United States, in zombie form! No! Leon soon discovers that he is in the midst of another T-virus outbreak just like Resident Evil 2, and struggles to survive while following one of the presidents body guards named Helena Harper who promises answers to this tragedy as she leads him to a nearby chapel.
The second campaign focuses on the legendary Chris Redfield, agent of the North-American branch of the BSAA who is suffering from memory loss after a botched mission. After he runs away from his responsibilities and becomes an unruly drunk in eastern Europe, his team (specifically his main "partner", newcomer Piers Nevans) finds him to take him back as they battle another viral outbreak.
The third campaign focuses on series-newcomer Jake Muller, a mercenary and son of Albert Wesker (although that is unbeknownst to him). Being Wesker's son, Jake has inherited some extremely rare blood that multiple people are after. However, Sherry Birkin (again from Resident Evil 2) gets to him first and "hires" him, trying to get him out of the country before anyone else can get him.
The fourth campaign unlocks after you beat the first three and focuses on international super-spy Ada Wong, as she works through her own challenges and story. Unlike the other characters and campaigns, Ada has no partner.
FOUR campaigns! Wow. You should also know that each campaign has five chapters in it and each chapter usually takes at least an hour to beat (or more; there are obviously exceptions in both directions). However, while each campaign focuses on a specific story, these characters stories will often overlap with the other characters campaigns. Called story intersections, these portions of the game are, of course, essentially the same for each character involved, leading to a somewhat repetitive story (but also allow online players to play with more than two people at any given time).
In the end, Resident Evil 6 tells a fairly cliche' story, one that has been more or less told before in the series with its own little twist (no spoilers for you!). It isn't presented particularly well, either. Not the main story, anyways. Each characters individual stories are decent but not very detailed.. just enough to "make sense".
The biggest issue I have with the story is that its cliches seem to play to the lowest common denominator in today's gaming society: the kind that likes to run and gun and is drawn to the fast-paced action genre. You know, explosions for explosion's sake! Granted, there are some parts of the game that decidedly try to satisfy the "old" Resident Evil fans (the first half of Leon's campaign) but the rest of the game tries its best to be dripping in adrenaline. As if to illustrate my point, at some point in Chris's campaign you will be fleeing from a helicopter and find refuge in a harbored ship serving as a Chinese restaurant. Here you will battle and destroy the helicopter targeting you, but once you defeat it a cut-scene will promptly show the ship exploding... because, you know, restaurant ships are highly combustible.
There's plenty of examples like that where the game (and story) favor the fast-paced action over any form of thoughtfulness. But while the story may not be the most believable, methodical or clever story you've ever played, it does do its job in setting up the framework for the game to take place. And while the scope of the game may have expanded, people looking for something deeper than that are likely to be disappointed. Much like my tagline for this review states... I'm not sure if Resident Evil 6 can still be classified as a horror game anymore...
Yes, you can expect more action.
Being able to move and shoot is unheard of in the Resident Evil series, which makes it the biggest addition to Resident Evil 6. However your character's mobility in general has just gone through the roof! I mean, you can sprint, slide, use cover, lie down on the ground, crawl around or roll around on the ground and even shoot your firearm from the ground! In short, you are extremely mobile throughout the game, which definitely helps you focus on the action (again, this may cause some gamers grief as they never wanted the series to be an action game). However, moving around in the game just feels natural. I slid around, fought on my back, and rolled away when necessary and felt great doing all of it. Melee is also a big part of the game as well, with each character having their own set of melee moves and context-sensitive attacks which are always fun to pull off. This time around, however, the game has added in a stamina bar to give players some sort of sense of physical exertion (and to presumably stop people from constantly abusing the melee system).
Fighting in Resident Evil 6 will feel natural to anyone who played and enjoyed Resident Evil 5 (or really and third-person shooter in the past decade). Everyone needs to aim before firing of course and since the game is focused on action you will be fed a steady stream of supplies as you play. Each character's inventory is limited, but your inventory system is no longer clogged up by weapons meaning that you will only have to manage ammo, health items and secondary weapons (like grenades). This of course means that each character has a predesignated weapon set that they cannot change. Swapping weapons and other items is a breeze using the controller's control pad, which is set up to quickly switch between items while the triangle button lets you look at (and more importantly organize) your inventory space. The game also has a skill point system in place that lets you find and accumulate skill points that you can spend on unlocking skills. These skill range from powering up your weapons to gaining more stamina and a host of abilities in between. You can equip up to three skills at any time and as you play the game you will unlock more skills to use. You will even be able to swap skill sets as you play to fit the circumstances you find yourself in (if you remember to, that is!).
With the game separated into four different campaigns, there's no surprise that each campaign has its own flavor. As I mentioned before, Leon's campaign is the closest that fans are going to get to classic horror. Leon does have to deal with more classic zombie-type enemies, after all. Chris and Jake will mostly be doing with a new enemy to the series: the J'avo. The J'avo are actually a very entertaining type of enemy, mainly because as you damage them their bodies will often respond to the physical trauma you are inflicting by making them more powerful. Shoot their arm and they'll grow a claw. Shoot off their legs and a moth-type creature (I can't make this stuff up) will sprout out and the J'avo is now airborne. There are easily a dozen mutations you will see throughout the game. J'avo are also a more advanced type of B.O.W. as they can use firearms and other deadly weapons (again, showing the game's focus on action).
As an action game, Resident Evil 6 plays just fine but it isn't without its problems. My biggest problem (or perhaps, my biggest distaste) with the game is how much the game relies on quick time events. The game is just utterly rife with them. It has SO many that I can use the word "rife"! This probably wouldn't be a problem if the consequence for failing many of the quick time events wasn't instant-death, but since it is you better watch every cut-scene just waiting for the next QTE to pop up! My next problem with the game play is how the camera works (or, more accurately, where it doesn't work). Don't get me wrong, for the vast majority of the game the camera works just fine. However there are times where the game will force the camera to focus in on something in the back ground (usually something that is admittedly awesome and/or explosion-y) but once it gives you control back your camera is still skewed. That's fairly natural though, but it get's really annoying when it happens to you in mid-fight. In one of Ada's chapters, you have to interact with a console up on a platform while enemies constantly come out of the woodwork to fight you. Once you are done, the camera focuses upwards. I found myself off of the platform, being attacked by enemies while the game decided the camera needed to be focused upwards and would not let me move it. Fun. I've also noticed that when you try and do a quick-turn in the game (turn around 180 degrees, a staple move in the series for awhile now), the camera doesn't always want to move with you, which as you can imagine is just fantastic.
In the end, Resident Evil 6 is just as good as any other action game out there. Like any other game, it has it's faults (abundance of QTE's, dedicated weapons and a questionable camera) and it has its highlights (great mobility options, excellent enemy design). The issues the game has are hardly game-breaking (well, most of the time anyways as dead Ada up above can testify) and any gamer who is a fan of the non-stop action will likely enjoy their time with Resident Evil 6's game play.
The graphics sure look like this should be a horror game...
With Resident Evil no longer trying to be simply a horror game, the graphics no longer need to come off as horrific as they used to, but that doesn't stop Capcom from putting an appreciable amount of attention and work on them anyways. There are still plenty of rooms and areas in Resident Evil 6 that actually look very horrific (especially in Leon's campaign). The backgrounds and environments throughout Resident Evil 6 are wonderfully varied and full of details, not to mention that exploring them often nets you extra items. The game also has you exploring some very big maps as well at times, which if pretty awesome. And while you'll undoubtedly come across areas you've already been to as you play through each of the four campaigns (due to the "story intersections"), you'll enjoy exploring every new area you come to.
Character designs and animations are all superb. In all of my hours of playing and the many (many, trust me) melee and context-sensitive attacks I pulled off I didn't see anything that didn't work like it was supposed to. There's the occasional graphical clipping and pop-in issues, but they are very few and far between. But with the characters each having 5+ weapons, one really does wonder where that shotgun goes once they're done with it...
The small details in the majority of the game's environments is great, but I also greatly enjoyed the enemy designs. Zombies can often take and show a lot of bodily abuse, which is great but the J'avo mutations take the cake. The mutations are always entertaining and you can't always predict exactly what you'll face as there are over a dozen mutations. All in all the graphics in the game are pretty sweet and are without a doubt the most horrific thing about the game.
Supporting the action!
I've never thought of Resident Evil's music tracks to be particularly memorable, but they've always been decent throughout the years. Resident Evil is no exception. The soundtrack does a great job of accenting the game play, but isn't exactly memorable in and of itself. Expect lots of dramatic orchestra pieces as you play through the game. There's plenty of silence as well, but those times are few and far between as the action is pretty much non-stop.
The voice acting in the game was well done. I know some characters (like Leon and Ada) have new voice actors, but they all sound perfectly fine to me. It's interesting to note that as you fight enemies from around the world you'll hear them talking in their native tongue (which of course most English-speaking players won't understand). Sound effects throughout the game are magnificently done and help add to whatever horror you can manage to find in the game. Plus there's just a ton of sound effects and voice clips in the game. Overall the audio is very solid. Sure, there's nothing really memorable here (excluding perhaps the mercenaries funky, club-like beat) but what is here is solid and does nothing but support the game.
Always better with a friend.
One big focus in Resident Evil 6 (which honestly carried over from 5) is the focus of having a partner. After all, Leon, Chris and Jake all have partners from beginning to end and while Ada doesn't current Capcom news states that she's about to get a partner patched-into her story! The focus on having a partner of course is aimed towards co-op play and as anyone can tell you blasting zombies (or J'avo) is always better with a friend. You can of course play online with a friend or you can play split-screen (thank you, Capcom, for remembering that some people still like to do this).
The game also has plenty of reasons to replay it even without a friend. For example, you can choose to play as the partner on any chapter as well if you wish. Of course each campaign is filled with moments where each player will be separated from their partner, often under dire circumstances so its only natural to want to see what the other person's game play segment is like. The game also has 80 hidden "Serpent Emblems" in it for you to find (replacing Resident Evil 5's BSAA Emblems), which pretty much only matter if you want to unlock biographies on the game's cast and look at in-game figurines. There's also plenty of trophies for the crowd that's into those as well.
And of course there is the "Mercenaries" mode, which is always fun, where you will unlock new characters and costumes by scoring well on any given stage. New to the series is the interesting "Agent Hunt" mode, where you can actually control one of the enemies in certain parts of the game while other real players attempt to complete the chapter. Controlling the enemies feels really weird at first but soon you will be out for blood as you and other players do your best to kill an over-powered Resident Evil main character.
Aside from all of that you always have different difficulty modes to try out. And once you fully beat the game you will also unlock several new skills to choose from, including infinite ammo for just about every weapon there is in the game. Interestingly enough, you can actually play through the whole game on amateur, unlock the infinite ammo options, and then use them to beat the game on professional, which of course undoubtedly dilutes how "hard" hard mode really is...
All in all, Resident Evil 6 has a wealth of additional content just waiting to be explored...
There's one great truth about every successful franchise (especially ones that span 20+ games): the developers can't please everyone. And by reading fan message boards and forums about Resident Evil 6 that fact is abundantly clear. In this one reviewer's opinion, the story is cliche' and the game is without a doubt doing its best to appeal to the largest numberof gamers humanly possible (because apparently Capcom likes to make money... can you blame them?). However the game is also huge and is beautifully crafted as well.
In the end, the game is not as bad as some people would have you believe, just like it isn't as good as some people would have you believe. Hopefully this in-depth review has helped you decide exactly what it is. Thankfully, you can also play a rather lengthy demo from the PlayStation store; one that covers a small portion of Jake, Chris and Leon's campaigns! Have fun and keep playing!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/23/12
Game Release: Resident Evil 6 (US, 10/02/12)
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