Resident Evil has had a number of ups and downs ever since its debut in 1996. Considering the amount of side-stories, spin-offs, and lackluster (in the eyes of the public at least) titles introduced over the years, it’s safe to assume that a lot of gamers are skeptical of Capcom’s movement farther into action territory.
Capcom attempts to quell these fears with a mix of both action and horror, but the mixture is fairly volatile.
I’ll start off by mentioning a little antecdote that intially made me weary of Resident Evil 6. When the demos for Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 were released, I easily played them for over 20 hours. I was engrossed with the changes, the environments were stunning, and the stark graphical upgrades were a huge jump from previous games for each respective demo.
When I got my hands on the Resident Evil 6 demo, I played it once, and immediately deleted it, never to return until the retail release. For whatever reason, whether it was the odd distribution of three seperate stories, or the lack of engagement from the demo’s part, I just couldn’t get into it as much as nearly any previous title in the franchise.
Although I would never factor this into my review of the final version, it serves as an immediate illustration as to how RE6 isn’t as gripping as many other past RE titles, especially from the get-go. There’s something about it that just seems off, or less “Resident Evil” than others. The franchise is no longer a pioneer of horror or action — it’s simply an above average action game.
First off, the split campaigns are very, very jarring. All of them are around 5-10 hours long, which means that they can far from overstay their welcome depending on who you’re playing. Leon and Helena have a distinct horror theme, Chris and Piers have a cover-heavy action theme, and Jake and Sherry are a mix of the two.
Simply put, Leon’s story is a bit too slow at times without truly building any real horror/tension, Chris’ campaign is way too action oriented to the point of absurdity, leaving Jake’s as the sole survivor of the mix (other than Ada’s fourth campaign, which is actually fairly entertaining).
The camera and UI are also excruciatingly bad. The camera never seems to go wherever you want it to, ever, and often shows absolutely nothing of value while you’re fighting to see anything in front of you. The idea of offering a different UI for just about every unique character is cool in theory, but ends up flying in the developer’s face given how poorly it’s implemented.
Firstly, in order to “ready” healing herbs (which are basically now mints that you pop into your mouth), you have to go into the item menu, select the herb, select combine, quit, then press RB/R1 to pop them one by one. Even though experienced RE gamers will easily be able to press Y, A, A, A, B, RB very quickly to heal, most gamers will not like the kooky UI changes.
Coop however, is really, really fun, just like Resident Evil 5. Plus, if you don’t have a friend to carry the load with, the AI is not NEARLY as frustrating as Sheva was. Plus, you have the option to play as either partner when you’re playing solo, even during your first playthrough (RE5 forced you to beat it once to play as Sheva).
For the most part, I’ve never truly taken Resident Evil‘s story seriously — ever. It was kind of birthed in cheese, and always lended itself to a rather B (or C) plot. There’s some mysterious figure behind it all, someone betrays you, you usually fight a giant monster. Without spoiling anything, RE6 doesn’t really deliver if you were looking for something truly enlightening — which to me, is just par for the course.
Where RE6 truly shines is in the game mechanics and ancillary modes. Mercs is back and better than ever. When married with all of the new mechanics (quick-shotting, rolling, aiming while laying down, and more), Mercs becomes a much more action oriented experience, which enhances the enjoyment of it tenfold.
For instance, now you can bend upwards after getting knocked down, and shoot zombie dogs at eye-level instead of constantly aiming down to find them. You can also counter enemy attacks with the all-new counter system (it’s kind of like RE3‘s dodge system but a bit more reliable).
Mercs also has a TON of extra content to explore, like new characters, new costumes, and its own XP system and upgrades. Just like past modes, it’ll last you quite a while.
Agent Hunt mode is another awesome addition that helps curb the sting of the campaign. After completing one story sequence, you can start invading other people’s games as zombies/monsters. It’s kind of like Left 4 Dead’s versus mode, but with a much smaller time comittment.
The Crossover system is also pretty cool, as it allows four player coop during certain parts of the campaign. These are often some of the best moments in the game, and you can easily keep this option on to instantly search for two other players to fill in.
As you can clearly see, Resident Evil 6 is packed to the brims with extra content, just like Resident Evil 5. So long as you buy into the pure mechanics of the game (which, as mentioned, are fairly solid), you’ll be playing this well into 2013.
If you enjoy Mercenaries, extra content, coop play, and versus modes, you will most likely enjoy Resident Evil 6 nearly as much as past franchise titles despite the issues I have above. If you’re solely into coop play and have no intention of playing anything other than the three campaigns, you’re probably going to want to wait for a price cut.
This review is based on a physical copy of Resident Evil 6 for the Xbox 360.