Let go of the past, Resident Evil 6 is a blast! Hey—that's a poem!---
Over its 16 year history, the Resident Evil series has grown into one of the more divisive titles in the gaming industry. Evolving over the years from a spook-a-thon survival-horror affair into a third-person action blockbuster, many of the game's core fans have lamented how far it has strayed from its roots. But really, what are we missing out on here? The loss of the ridiculous "up directional button is always forward regardless of camera angle" and tank-like controls of yesteryear are nothing more than archaic mechanics which many of us hardcore gamers would certainly be hard-fought to argue in favor of. In fact, since Resident Evil 4 ushered in a glorious new era of controller ease and action-packed thrills, the series has been much more playable. Now I am not saying I would trade the jumps and frights from previous RE iterations, but rather that evolution is necessary in order to appeal to a broader audience.
Resident Evil 6 is by far the most unrecognizable in Capcom's long-running tale of evil pharmaceutical companies and international intrigue. The newly developed C Virus is terrorizing the globe, and many of the series' stalwart baddasses (Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Ada Wong, etc.) are caught up in the aftermath. The game is split up into 3 lengthy campaigns that span multiple countries and locations and deliver enjoyable, albeit disjointed experiences.
As the mystery slowly comes together, will our heroes be able to put a stop to Neo Umbrella? Probably.
Without offering spoilers or divulging too much of the plot, we can suffice it to say that RE6 feels more like 4 and 5 than older entries. The over-the-shoulder shooting mechanics return (thank god!), but the newly implemented ability to move while shooting amps up the action and, quite frankly, makes the game more playable. In the past when aiming your gun meant you were rooted to the spot, it always felt like a cheap trick to add to the frantic nature of combat. Fans of the series will no doubt recall such encounters as the zombie army attacking the cabin in the woods in 4 or that stressful oilfield battle with the chainsaw wielding Majini in 5. Being able to dodge, roll and slide may come off as a betrayal to the game's core audience, but it adds a new level of strategy to combat that is refreshing and sometimes downright satisfying.
Each campaign offers a unique experience (Chris and Jake's less so than Leon's) and provides so many hours of gameplay you won't lament the loss of your 60 bucks even if it isn't your favorite game ever. I'll admit to enjoying Leon's escapades over the other 2 campaigns (more zombies and jump-scares than flat-out action), but there was still plenty to enjoy about putting the intersecting pieces together. At some point during each campaign, we run across the other stars of the game...slowly, a picture of the events unfolds and we are given more lore for the long-running and complex tale. You'll be genuinely interested in who is at fault for unleashing yet another plague on humanity, and a few twists and turns flesh out the plot nicely.
RE6 looks absolutely beautiful. From the neon-lit streets of China and the cold, grey bleakness of Eastern Europe to a misty, moonlit graveyard and beyond, details are in abundance and environments are interesting. Hell, the facial animations alone are some of the most bitchin' I've seen since Enslaved and LA Noir, and boss battles with gigantic mutated creatures will make you think Capcom's design dudes must've had a field day coming up with these creatures.
RE6 tends to err on the repetitive side as you get into the non-Leon campaigns. The day I tire of blasting off zombie heads will be a sad one, but without strong protagonists the game treads dangerously close to zero personality territory.
Longtime fans will no doubt be eager to discover what else their favorite RE mainstays will get into, but the newly converted will surely furrow their brows in confusion at the mention of names like Wesker, the subtle flirtation between Leon and Ada and probably wind up wondering why we're just supposed to know who this Hunnigan lady is.
Guns are fairly generic, and the newly implemented skill points system of upgrades simply costs too damn much and provide too little reward-wise to play a major role. Think back to how all the good stuff in Devil May Cry requried so many red orbs that it was almost impossible to level up in a single playthrough and you get the idea. This is probably an attempt to encourage multiple forays into the campaigns, but the desire for reality will always be trumped by the ability to shoot one bullet through a whole mess of dudes and to smash open heads with your bare hands.
Certain mechanics are just plain confusing, especially a certain climbing segment that took me well over 10 minutes to figure out. Whether these were simply bad decisions or a cheap way to add difficulty isn't known, but I sure as hell didn't appreciate it; there is a big difference between challenging and stupid.
Mercenaries mode returns as well as a slew of special unlockables that just aren't interesting enough to captivate. You'll have way more fun playing co-op with your friends, I promise.
The Bottom Line
OK, so Resident Evil 6 is more Gears of War than traditional RE, but as the entire industry shifts more towards action in an effort appease us Western gamers (we spend the most money) it's hardly surprising. Yes, we all had a lot of fun solving puzzles in the original mansion or running for our lives from Nemesis, but this is a game that's closer to 20 than not, and has made some serious leaps and bounds. Imagine a world in which games were always exactly the same (I'm looking at you, Call of Duty). Things sure would be boring and there'd probably be more complaints than we already have to contend with. Grow up, gamers, and realize that this is a totally solid game with hours and hours of fun. It's time to give up the past and realize things will change—embrace it! Those willing to fondly remember previous titles while looking toward the future will find a lot to love about RE6, while those who simply won't give up this bizarre idea that they're owed something from Capcom in the form of backtracking will probably nitpick and miss out on some seriously awesome boss battles.
Let it be known to all men and women that Resident Evil 6 receives 3.5 out of 5 stars!
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Rating: M (lots of exploding heads)