Review by UncleWesker
"The latest installment in Capcom's most successful franchise falls flat on its face."
Minor spoilers may be found in this review. I will try to refrain from revealing any major plot points though.
In 2005 the Resident Evil franchise changed forever with the release of Resident Evil 4. Hailed by critics, and a huge commercial success compared to the few recent entries, the game completely redefined the series mechanics, giving it more combat oriented gameplay. More than that though, it completely revolutionized the third person shooter genre, with such big name titles as Gears of War and any number of other imitators. In the coming years many games would build upon the formula it created, adding their own twists on the addicting over the shoulder combat. But there was a divide in the fanbase, some believing that the more action oriented style of gameplay had served to undermine the series horror roots. The release of Resident Evil 5 only served to further this divide, some fans highly appreciating the co-op oriented gameplay, others finding it to be a bother and to lessen the experience.
Resident Evil 6 was advertised as a title that would bridge the divide between the fanbase, with three separate co-op campaigns, each containing their own style of gameplay, and an unlockable single-player campaign for those folks who like to go the journey alone. With a development staff of over 600 bodies this was poised as one of Capcom's most ambitious titles, and had many hopes riding on it. Could it possibly live up to its predecessors, some of the highest rated and best selling games in their respective franchise? Considering you've already seen the score I gave you probably know how I feel about the matter, but let's look at it more in-depth.
- New Controls Bring About New Joys and Problems
Resident Evil 6 features an entirely new control scheme from its predecessors, gone are the turning ways of the past, as you can now run in any direction simply by angling your character that way from any camera angle. This allows you to more speedily change your direction, as well as looking away while you run, leading to some interesting chase camera scenes. However, the controls feel very loose and imprecise now, making it quite easy to slip up and misdirect yourself. Compared to this Resident Evil 5's strafing style movement allowed for very precise and exact movements, making it easy to judge exactly how your character would react to any tilt of the stick. This can cause a good deal of frustration when you react in a way you hadn't intended. Overall though the controls can quickly be adjusted to, and while still by no means ideal are functional for the purposes of the game.
What is a boon in Resident Evil 6's regard is the addition of any number of new combat abilities. Among these are the ability to duck, dodge roll, leap backward, lay on the ground and fire. And my personal favorite new ability is the slide quick, which can be followed up by supine gunfire. There's very little more satisfying than dashing into an enemy, sliding forward, tripping them and pumping them full of lead. Of course, what most will find most valuable is the addition of the ability to move and shoot. This had already been experimented with in the series by the Outbreak games and Operation: Raccoon City. It is about as functional and useful here as it is in any other third person shooter. Some would argue it robs some uniqueness from the combat, but I found no major issues with it.
- Surprisingly Large Campaigns Lead to Questionable Levels of Polish
When I heard word that the game would feature three campaigns (without knowing about the additional one) I automatically assumed they'd all be short, few hour long affairs that would equal to about the amount of time Resident Evil 4/5 took to complete. Oh how wrong I was! If there's one thing no one can accuse this game of, it's being too short. Just from the story mode alone you're looking at a solid 20-30 hours of gameplay the first time through depending on your playstyle. And that's not even counting the bonus and multiplayer modes. If length is a concern then Resident Evil 6 gives you plenty of bang for your buck. Of course, the question of just how much you might enjoy the whole of the experience is left up to you.
Three styles of gameplay all revolving around the same mechanics makes it seem like if you enjoy one campaign you ought to like the others, but I don't think this is necessarily the case. One might exclusively like Leon's macabre zombie fighting journey, Jake's Kung-fu antics, or Chris' full on shooter affair while despising the other campaigns, leaving them with just one enjoyable co-op experience. And the single-player campaign can only be unlocked by completing the other three, meaning folks who favor that will have to slog through the annoying AI controlled co-op campaigns to get to what they came for. It's certainly possible to like all three games, but you'll almost definitely come to favor one style of play above the others. It leaves you with the feeling that perhaps the game could have benefited from having a single design philosophy that had received much more polish and thought put into it.
- Game Mechanics that Serve Only to Stymie Enjoyment
There are some very, very questionable design choices in Resident Evil 6. For example, when the player takes enough damage from enemy gunfire, they are knocked down. It can take a full five to ten seconds to recover from the fall animation, slowing down the gameplay severely. In addition to this, the player has few frames of invulnerability after recovering, leaving them open to being hit by an enemy attack just as they are returning to their feet. There are some enemies in the game who can stunlock a damaged player, and if their ally isn't diligent in helping them they're going to be in serious trouble. There are also some very questionable enemy hitboxes, leading to major annoyances in hit detection.
The cover system to is a bit of a bother. When aiming near walls one will automatically stick to them, even though this is not always desired, and in a show of inconsistency when aiming near chest high walls, a staple of modern third person shooters, one will not automatically duck. Either of these styles could have worked, but to inexplicably mix them is annoying and confusing to players. What is neat though is the ability to slide into cover. One more point for the slide feature.
- Inferior Attention to Detail in Art Direction and Polish
Resident Evil 6 is not an ugly or abysmal looking game by any stretch of the imagination. It certainly makes better use of color than many modern titles which fall back on over use of bloom and muddy brown textures. However, something can be said for the fact that the level of detail doesn't seem to match up to Resident Evil 5, which was and still is an absolutely gorgeous looking title. One annoyance is that the game seems to have an abundance of random dark spots even when their is a light source very nearby, making it hard to see details or even enemies lying in wait. And the water effects are very odd, the characters becoming ludicrously shiny after being submerged as they have some thin sticky film over their bodies. That said though, the shadow effects are easily the best in the series, providing for some very cool lighting scenes on occasion.
- A Low Grade Plot that Wants to be Taken Seriously
Resident Evil's story has always been seen as a joke by most critics, panned for its poor character development, laughable dialogue, questionable plot holes and overall campiness. Not everyone sees this as a detriment to the series though, some finding it to be part of the game's charm. I'm not one to disagree with these claims, however I found it was most effective in Resident Evil 4 when the series embraced it, having the main character and villain's spew off cheesy one-liners and insults left and right. Resident Evil 5 and 6 though seem to take themselves completely seriously and come off as groan inducing for it.
Plot points and characters are introduced with little explanation or buildup. We're expected to feel emotional and sympathetic for new characters who are given very little time to develop or grow on us. The worst part of this being that Capcom opts to use these characters when the series already has a ludicrously large cast of potential stand-ins, and yet we're treated to Johnny and Jane no-names who will inevitable never appear and most likely not even be mentioned again in the series plot. On top of this the series now lacks a consistent plot arc with the last long one being wrapped up in the previous title. Instead of trying to introduce us to new elements and add a sense of mystery though Capcom simply tries to tie together a bunch of events in the loosest way possible. In one of the campaigns it's possible to barely learn anything about the major antagonists of the game, while in the others you have major contact with them.
- Bonus Modes, Some Good Fun to be Had
Mercenaries is back yet again, and it's about as fun as ever. All characters now have alternate costumes to give themselves different loadouts, leading to a good selection to play as. A disappointment though is that there are only three maps included on disc, with the other three being pre-order bonuses. This is a big disappointment as Resident Evil 5 came with eight maps on default. And this is more of a personal issue, but I find the bgm selected for Mercenaries to be very annoying. This is easily remedied by playing your own music in the background though.
What proves to be a highly interesting new addition though is the implementation of a feature called Agent Hunt. This allows you to invade another players game as a common enemy in an attempt to take them down. The controls here are a bit questionable, but it's a fairly fun experience. The biggest issue though can be the difficulty of finding a game to invade, as players can choose to turn off the feature.
- The Crux of it All: Is it Fun to Play?
Of course I can not claim that this is anything more than my thoughts on the experience, nor would I ever want to, but it is the most important part of assigning a review to a game, and why I choose to rate Resident Evil 6 lower than my previous thoughts might have indicated it deserved. It is by no means a meaningless journey devoid of entertainment and fun. There are plenty of moments to be had, but those moments are bogged down by many downright poor ideas and implementations. The overuse of QTEs and vehicle segments becomes wearying on the player very quickly, and the extremely linear style of the game leaves little room to build unique strategies to take on scenarios.
By the end I was finding the game a slog to play through. The game became very tiring and as I got close to the finish line I was running past a good deal of the enemies and obstacles, just trying to finish it all. The highlights were mostly in the boss fights, many of which were fun, giving you a fun arena to battle in and experiment on how to take your foe down with different weapons. The game also features an interesting system in which you can meet other players at the points that the plot intersects and play that section with them. I feel like the lack of a weapon customization system robs the game of much of its replay value outside of different difficulties. And overall, I simply didn't think the level design was altogether there. Some chapters were outright abysmal, while others were fairly good. It was a very inconsistent, and as a result, jarring experience.
In Conclusion, I can only recommend that one give Resident Evil 6 a look from a distance and weigh all the facts heavily before making their purchase. It may prove to be fun with a friend, but a lot of that fun can be robbed by the game's poor design and implementation. Some will undoubtedly be able to look past and perhaps not even notice its flaws. For me though, the game proved to be a highly middling experience, and one I doubt I will look back on in the future with the greatest of fondness. It's hardly the worst game ever made, but it may be the worst major Resident Evil title, and that's an unfortunate turn of events for this massive and ambitious project.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 10/24/12
Game Release: Resident Evil 6 (US, 10/02/12)
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