- Format: PS3 (version reviewed), 360
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Capcom
- Players: 1-2 (offline), 2 (online, 3-4 at specific points)
- Site: http://www.residentevil.com/6/?lang=en
There’s no doubt about it. Twin stick controls that allow you to move & shoot at the same time and dive out of the way of attacks; bullets flying around on a regular basis; a plethora of QTEs; something exploding in every other cutscene; vehicle sections; an obsession with spectacle. Yes, the emphasis is firmly on action in the latest Resident Evil. Does that automatically equate to a bad game, though? The answer can only be found by breaking Resident Evil 6 down into its component parts.
Leon’s campaign is the closest to a traditional Resident Evil experience. There are zombies, claustrophobic fights, gloomy areas, and times you’re actually better off running straight past enemies. The contentious co-op element does undeniably diminish any traces of horror that may have been there to start with; but, when playing alone, it also acts as a reliable safety net. Friendly AI will never go into a dying state, and will always rush to revive you as soon as possible (unless you equip a certain skill which prevents them from doing so). Whether that’s a good thing or not is up for debate.
Story was never Resident Evil’s strong point, no matter what nostalgia may tell you; but the script celebrates the series’ heritage – especially for Leon – in a way the gameplay never really does. Enemy designs too almost always hark back to previous games, in a way that to be honest treads a fine line between fan service and laziness.
Chris’ campaign isn’t the train wreck many had feared. Again, the new character is dull and unexplored, but there is an attempt (of questionable success) to turn Chris himself into a more interesting protagonist. In terms of gameplay, this certainly strays the furthest from previous games. There are no puzzles at all, and always something to shoot; more often than not, something that shoots back. It’s telling that Chris immediately defaults to an assault rifle, and that his campaign has the highest concentration of powerful enemies. The dialogue and general plot direction often takes an inevitable dive into sterotypical hoo-ra “no man left behind” nonsense too. Sometimes, it threatens to devolve into a brom-com.
Nonetheless, it’s still fun to play. Inaccuracy is punished by a lack of ammo, particularly at the start of the story; and taking down fast, intelligent enemies quickly and efficiently is satisfying. The bottom line is though that this campaign feels like Gears of Evil and, one boss fight aside, never feels like it belongs in the rest of the series.
Sherry Birkin appears as a playable character, her partner being the (predictably) vaguely-sketched character of Jake, Wesker’s son with antibodies for the latest nasty monster virus. Sherry & Jake’s campaign, well… it’s certainly the least enjoyable. It starts off well enough, halfway between the approaches of the Leon and Chris campaigns. It sags heavily and for far too long after the first chapter however, and struggles to pull itself up until the whole thing is over. There’s lots of Running Away From Things, an overlong and ill-advised stumble through a snowstorm, stilted (though mercifully brief) forced stealth sections, and a recurring enemy who even looks like the Nemesis, dammit; albeit Nemesis with a combover. It’s not irredeemably terrible, but you may find yourself wondering if this particular campaign shouldn’t perhaps have been dropped altogether.
Finally there’s Ada’s campaign, unlocked by completing the first three. Like Sherry’s, there are times you’re encouraged to be stealthy. Unlike Sherry’s however stealth is never compulsory, but certainly in your best interests where it’s offered. It’s great when you nail an unobserved headshot with your crossbow, and explosive arrows can be just as much fun as you might imagine. The hardcore may be soothed when they hear that this campaign is singleplayer only, and features the most puzzles (though that’s still only a handful).
Scattered throughout every campaign like writhing maggots are QTEs. This wouldn’t be so bad, were it not for the fact that many demand a determination to break the joypad for success. Equally jarring are the vehicle sections which, while never more than “adequate”, do at least provide a little variety. Most seem designed with co-op in mind, as are certain sequences where one player covers the other. Some of these are excellently thought out, others… not so much. Online play is however just as smooth as offline, and if one player drops out play almost seamlessly continues for the other with AI.
The returning Mercenaries survival mode – as fun as ever – is (as in 5) a hundred times better in co-op, not least because it greatly increases your chances of a half-decent score. The new mode is Agent Hunt, where you join another player’s campaign as a (purposefully awkward to control) standard enemy. You can constantly respawn until you score a kill, or until the player/s complete the area. It’s a great idea, hampered slightly by your chances of success depending greatly on the scenario you’re thrown into – which you cannot choose.
All modes allow you to buy and equip abilities by harvesting ‘skill points’, sadly standardised pickups and not actually awarded according to, say, accuracy. Though Skills are handy for increasing defence, firepower etc. they’re entirely optional, and one of the medals to be had for completing a chapter is in fact bestowed upon those who forsake Skills entirely. Few will ignore them completely though, as you’ll gratefully receive all the help you can get during the 25-35 hours needed for the four campaigns.
If you were (bizarrely) expecting a game soaked in the atmosphere of the first titles then yes, you will be bitterly disappointed. Judging it as a game rather than as a Resident Evil game, what we have here is plenty of content for your money that is (usually) fun to play. You can’t help but wonder, though; would we have had a better game if fan service had been the rule here, and not the exception?