Resident Evil 6 Review: A Horrifying Experience
Halloween is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a new installment of one of the greatest horror series in gaming: Resident Evil. Since the late 90’s, Capcom’s much loved survival horror franchise has been revolutionizing the way we get scared in games. Now, the latest entry in the series, Resident Evil 6, has been unleashed on the public like a new strain of the T-Virus. Does this game revolutionize the horror genre like it did once before, or is this game a brainless, shambling mess? Read onto find out.
Resident Evil 6 tries out a few new things, but never manages to make any click like they should.
Resident Evil 6 features 3 intertwining stories involving Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and newcomer Jake Mueller, as well as their respective partners Helena Harper, Piers Nivens, and Sherry Birkin. Each different campaign plays somewhat differently from the others. Leon and Helena’s story involves the pair trying to escape a new zombie outbreak in the town of Tall Oaks. Chris and Piers’ story involves Piers trying to get an amnesiac Chris back into the business of killing B.O.Ws by going to China to help contain and defeat a new biological warfare threat. Jake and Sherry’s story involves Sherry trying to get samples of Jake’s blood to research facilities in order to manufacture a cure for the new C-Virus. It’s neat to see these characters meet up at various points and help each other out, but if keeps the game from having focus on just one story. I would have been just as happy simply having a game about Jake and Sherry’s adventures, learning more and more about these two characters as opposed to Leon and Chris who have already been featured in several games. However, story problems are just the tip of the iceberg with Resident Evil 6.
Gameplay and combat in Resident Evil 6 is more or less the same as it was in Resident Evil 4 and 5, however you now have the ability to move and shoot, as well as dive and roll around to avoid attacks. Having a bit more mobility in combat is welcome, however it doesn’t help much when the enemies can easily dodge your attacks. In the past two games, enemies seemed to all gang up on you, yet you still had enough time to line up your shots. In Resident Evil 6, both zombies and the new enemy types called J’Avo will instantly run towards you or lunge at you from the ground, more or less forcing you to settle for emptying your clip trying to hit them as you try to get the game’s clunky camera under control. The game introduces a new quick melee attack maneuver where you can hit nearby enemies with devastating combos, but doing so will quickly tire your character out, leaving you somewhat defenseless.
And speaking of the J’Avo, expect to see quite a few enemies shooting back. The J’Avo are relentless with their guns, quickly chipping away at your health from their cover. On top of that, getting hit with too many bullets will actually cause your character to slowly fall down, which is extremely annoying. Having to fight off biological nightmares is tough enough, but having to worry about the hulking monstrosity to your left and the enemy pelting you with automatic fire from afar really kills the tension of killing the living dead. Some of the enemies are pretty cool, however, mutating as you do more damage to them. For example, destroying an enemy’s arm may cause them to grow a new grotesque appendage. Defeated enemies may also go into a cocoon state that can give birth to large brute type enemies or lighting fast lizards.
Resident Evil games have (to an extent) been about slowly building up your arsenal in order to fight tougher enemies. Resident Evil 6 does just that, but it throws away one of the greatest features (In my opinion) instituted by RE4: Purchasing and upgrading new weapons. I loved the idea of purchasing one of several different functioning pistols and then tweaking the individual statistics of said gun. Resident Evil 6 gives you a single new gun for each of the 5 chapters in the character’s campaigns. In each of the campaigns, you are essentially picking up the same weapons you picked up in another campaign, aside from maybe a grenade launcher or a crossbow. Sub-weapons include standard frag grenades, remote bombs, incendiary grenades, and flash grenades, although I found myself not using them nearly as much as I had in previous games. What is cool, surprisingly, are the melee kills you can perform on weapon wielding enemies. If an enemy is swinging an axe or a broken bottle at you, you can counter them with a QTE, allowing you to steal their weapon and use it against them. It’s really cool to execute and see, however it happens less and less as more enemies begin to use guns.
Instead of purchasing and upgrading weapons, you’ll find skill points as you defeat enemies and break open crates. This new skill system allows you to purchase new skills of which you can equip a total of three. The skills are more or less just small passive perks though, allowing you to do a little bit more damage, take a little bit less damage, find more items, and more. Throughout my playthroughs I felt as though the skills added nothing to actually help me out, even with the increased weapon damage skill maxed out. In a cool move, though, the skill points you accrue in the story campaigns can be used in the always fun The Mercenaries mode to buy skills tailored to Mercenaries play, such as increased time and combo length.
Capcom really wanted to drive home how epic they wanted Resident Evil 6 to be, however it just doesn’t work out in their favor. From the start of each of the campaigns, you’re constantly assaulted with exploding cars, helicopters, barrels, etc.; The explosions just feel as though they’re there for the spectacle of it. Characters are introduced and killed soon after, causing our heroes to feel tormented and we get to see just how badly things have gotten. But haven’t they been in the business of killing zombies for the past 15 years? They sometimes act as though this is their first zombie scenario. Don’t these people know that any vehicle they get into will explode a minute later?
Resident Evil 6 is also much more of a cinematic experience than previous entries into the series. Expect to see damn near every important moment in the levels highlighted with a camera zoom, taking you out of the action for a bit, but still giving you control. It’s like the camera actually grabs your head and says, “Look! Look at this! There’s a brand new enemy type right here! Look at how scary he is!”. Having the appearance of a new, grotesque enemy type pointed out before you can engage it sort of kills the thrill of running into one on your own. As far as other scares go, the game attempts to throw in a few jump scares here and there, but even those fall flat. Instead, players are forced into awkward chase sequences with sometimes weird camera angles that led to failure more than once for me. And the Quick Time Events! Dear God, the QTEs in this game are relentless. The game can and will throw a QTE at you whenever it feels necessary, including moments when you are least prepared. The QTEs pop up lightning fast, and by the time you realize there is a QTE indicator on the screen and see what button you have to press, the event is just a nanosecond away from being over.
I consider myself a Resident Evil series fan. I haven’t beaten all of the games, yet I respect and love the older entries as well as the recent ones. Resident Evil 6 could have been a worthy addition to the series, yet it feels as though it lost its way somewhere down the line. Capcom boasted about how Resident Evil 6 had such a large development team, which seems like it could have ultimately been a problem. The multiple campaigns all seem like they were pitched and intended to be their own full blown game, but were condensed and glued together to make something that isn’t quite survival horror, not quite a military based third person shooter, and not quite a “blockbuster” type game. In all, Resident Evil 6 is a game that plays like a generic third-person shooter tacked on a zombie mode at the last minute. It works well enough at times, but it feels like there’s a lack of substance. Here’s hoping that the next numbered entry into the franchise is developed by a much smaller team of people who truly “get” and love the Resident Evil series and can experiment with the mechanics just enough to be as much of a breath of fresh air as the original Resident Evil or Resident Evil 4 were.
Final Score: 5/10