PLATFORM(S): PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
RELEASE DATE(S): October 2, 2012
Very rarely do I play a game and find myself struggling with how I feel about it. Usually I’m one way or the other; I really like it and it successfully did what it set out to do, or I hated it and it failed on just about all accounts. It’s not often that I am undecided. I have strong opinions about just about everything. Yet here I am, writing my review on Resident Evil 6, and in all honesty, I’m not really sure how I feel about it. Perhaps I can write my way through it.
Resident Evil 6 is Capcom’s most ambitious effort in the series, putting players through four different campaigns told through four different points of view that all intersect with each other at some time or another. The basic premise is that the C-Virus has been unleashed, and in typical Resident Evil fashion, thousands are infected, cities are devastated, and the conspiracy with Umbrella just gets deeper and more convoluted. Both old and new characters find their way into the story, and the way it is told and how things weave together is impressive. Each campaign has its highs and its lows, but all have one thing in common: There’s just too much of everything; too much action, too many enemies, too many repetitious fights with the same boss, and way too many quick-time events.
When Resident Evil started out, it was all about atmosphere and horror. Conserving your limited ammo, running from as many fights as possible because you never knew when your next green herb or ammo drop would be. The games were scary, at least for the time they were released. Then Resident Evil 4 came along, which got rid of the zombies and cranked up the action and added the popular mechanic of quick time events. Resident Evil 5 followed, which everyone knows, has been more appropriately titled in the gaming community “Resident Action,” and many gamers were disappointed.
Well, Capcom somewhat got the message from fans, and while I applaud them for bringing back some of the old school elements like zombies and some genuinely tense sequences and creepy locations, they still included the over the top action of Resident Evil 5. Much more than I would have liked. The amount of explosions and ridiculous gunfights and car chases and set pieces really turned me off to the game. It doesn’t feel like Resident Evil most of the time. Why are characters swinging around like Spider-Man? Why can everyone fight so well? Does everything really have to be on such a grand, overly stylized scale?
I suppose I should get into the actual gameplay mechanics, and quite honestly, there’s nothing really wrong with the game. The controls are responsive and for a game that focuses on teamwork, partner AI is actually quite good and very helpful. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my partner saved my bacon. There’s even a nice little “Skills” menu to bring up, which is basically a bunch of upgrades you can purchase using skill points from killing enemies or breaking open boxes.
The game also features two extra modes, Agent Hunt, which allows you to join another player’s game as an infected creature, and Mercenaries, which has you kill as many enemies as possible in the allotted time and rack up as many points as possible in the process. With four different campaigns and two additional modes, what’s not to like, right?
The truth is, I found the entire experience to be annoying. The game is hard, and not because I was just bad at it. It was hard because it is cheap. Enemies can jump across the room and latch onto you without you even seeing them. Every time you’re grabbed, it’s a quick-time event, but regardless of whether or not you do the event right, you still take a lot of damage. Everything swarms. The constant button mashing gets old. Fighting the same boss a dozen times is stupid. Enemies take a crazy amount of damage to put down, and unexpected quick-time events during what appear to be cut scenes got me killed many times.
Then there’s what I call the “Special Infected.” If I may be blunt, these creatures are a blatant rip-off of what Valve created in the Left 4 Dead series. I was really disappointed with Capcom by the inclusion of these creatures. While some of their designs are interesting, all I could do was shake my head. None of them are fun to fight, either.
The game just kind of seemed to drag on for me. I understand, we’re going from Point A to Point B, why do I have to dodge fifty different explosions and jump from platform to platform to get there? Why are there cut scenes succeeded by me walking ten feet, followed by yet another cut scene which takes me to a completely different part of the game? Oh, I have to kill one hundred enemies before I proceed? This boss has to destroy every object in the room first before we can carry on? I get it already. All the action in the world can still get monotonous if it is dragged out for too long.
Even with all my complaints, you’d think I hated the game, but I really didn’t. It’s not by any means a bad game. It is designed well. It plays good. There’s definitely a market out there for this type of game. It was just too much for me. It wasn’t the Resident Evil I grew up playing and loving. It has more in common with the action heavy movies than the survival horror games. I understand that every series must grow and change and adapt with the times to keep from getting stale, but the series has just gotten too excessive.
While there are nods to the classic games – the herbs, the zombies, and the little typewriter when the game is auto-saving – there just wasn’t enough for me. I want my survival horror element. I want to be afraid of what is around the corner. I want to feel like I have to conserve my supplies. I want Resident Evil back.
I know what many of you are thinking. How can I praise Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and bash this game? The answer is simple: Operation Raccoon City is not a core game in the series, but a what-if; a side step from the series’ cannon if you will. I feel like if you’re going to do a spin-off, you can approach that however you want. In that respect, Operation Raccoon City did that, and did it well. Resident Evil 6, however, has betrayed the series in my opinion. It is an improvement over 5, but not by much.
In the end, whether or not you like Resident Evil 6 will come down to how you like your games, and more importantly, how you like your Resident Evil. It’s action-heavy, over the top blockbuster nonsense with a touch of classic horror moments thrown in. I think even the most die-hard action lovers will grow tired of the drawn out, repetitive set pieces and quick-time events, though. There’s an interesting story here with some interesting concepts thrown in, it’s just buried underneath the explosions.
Resident Evil 6 is a decent game, one I might even go so far as to call it good, but I was disappointed and wish we could get the series back to its roots. As it stands, my time spent annoyed with the game far outweighed my time having fun and enjoying the experience. While I won’t tell anyone to stay clear of it, I won’t full out recommend it, either.
The PS3 version of this game was used in the review.