Resident Evil 6 Review

A Triumphant Success Or Failure Depending On What You Think Resident Evil Should Be

Reviewed by: Kevin Knapp
Systems: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Published by: Capcom
Developed by: Capcom


This is a NO SPOILERS review.

Resident Evil 6 was a very interesting experience for me because I wasn’t sure what to expect this time around. I loved all the games that used the classic Resident Evil formula. I really enjoyed playing RE4 with the extra content on PS2, and Resident Evil 5 seemed to really up the ante on action at the expense of “Survival Horror” in a franchise supposedly built on the foundation of survival horror.

What Capcom attempted to do this time around is simultaneously implement aspects people liked about RE4 and RE5 in addition to adding new characters, more content, and a story that breaks away from the convoluted hit / miss story arcs from past games.

Presentation

Compared to the last 2 entries of the series, Capcom pulled out all the stops to deliver a graphically compelling experience that sets a new bar for the franchise. An extensive amount of attention to detail went into a diverse number locations, set pieces, and boss battles. Everything you see in RE6 right down to the level design and use of lighting creates an experience that makes you feel like you’re immersed in the world. The main drawback in the graphics department is that a large portion of the game feels static and empty when fighting in supposedly heavily populated areas. Sure, there are plenty of zombies, BOW’s, and adversaries to engage in-game, but smaller things like people running away, minor environment damage, and your ability to affect the environment in real-time are very limited.

On the music / sound design side of the game, I felt the audio design team handled their part of the game very well. The music is appropriate during survival, combat, boss, or sneaking situations depending on what scenario you’re playing, and the environmental sounds are adequate for heightening the tension before all hell breaks loose. Voice acting for the main characters and support cast is consistently good.

Control

Capcom attempted to take elements that people liked from RE4 / RE5 and expound on them in way that gives the player more control at a distance and in close quarters combat. The inventory system also underwent a few changes so you don’t have to pause the game like RE4 or be handcuffed to carrying very few items like in RE5.

The control scheme takes some getting used to, but once you understand it, I think you’ll like the improvements. RE6 allows you to switch between right / left handed combat on the fly by pressing R3. You can switch between guns, support, and healing items on the fly using the arrow pad. Also, you can hug walls, peek / aim around corners, duck behind cover, slide, dive, crawl, scoot on your butt while aiming, and use combos in melee combat.

When an enemy grabs you, there’s real-time quick events to give you an opportunity to break the hold with no damage, minimize damage, or evade / execute a split-second counter during standard combat and in boss fights.

At first executing the controls can seem a little stiff, but I consider the improvements to definitely be a step in the right direction.

Camera Angle

One of the primary things that detract from the gameplay experience is the camera. If you look at how much space a character takes on the screen from RE4 and RE5 to RE6, the size of the character has gotten progressively bigger. When you aim any weapon, the camera also zooms in a little as part of the aiming / shooting design.

In scenarios with wide open areas, this design / camera choice doesn’t deter from the action. However, in the scenarios that have a more claustrophobic level design, your character’s body can eat up 1/3 or more of the screen. If you’re in a fight for your life, and the camera is zoomed in so much that it feels like playing a game with one of your eyes shut, that’s a problem that can disorientate and frustrate the player in terms of where enemies and gunfire are coming from.

The camera design isn’t a deal breaker, but enough people have complained to Capcom to motivate them to patch the game this December to let you zoom out the camera a little bit more if that’s what you want. From what I’ve seen, it appears a fully zoomed out camera allows you to play RE6 in a way similar to RE4 where the character is much smaller, and you can see a whats in front of you on both sides at all times.

Story

This time around, Capcom really tries to deliver a complete experience that appeals to your sensibilities regardless if you like RE4 / RE5 more and / or desire a completely new experience. Initially, you’re allowed to play the stories of Leon, Chris, or Jake. In each scenario, you can play as the main character or their partner for a slightly different perspective. When all 3 scenarios are cleared, you unlike Ada Wong’s scenario. Each section has 5 chapters, and to complete all of this content gives you roughly 30+ gameplay the first time through.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from each scenario without giving away any specifics.

Leon Scenario: This is the closest you’ll come to the classic survival horror Resident Evil experience. This is also Capcom’s attempt to give a nod directly to the players that prefer RE4 over RE5. Horror content is high and combat content is moderate.

Chris Scenario: If the action approach in RE5 is more to your liking, this scenario takes that premise to the ninth degree. Horror content changes from moderate to low, and combat content is high.

Jake Scenario: This scenario attempts to break the mold and deliver something new outside of RE4 and RE5. This combines elements of survival horror with “The Chase” premise in a classic sense. Horror elements change from moderate to high, and combat ranges from moderate to high.

Ada Scenario: This scenario takes more of stealth driven approach with a few more puzzles than the other campaigns. It’s meant to fill in some of the gaps and help the player realize what other events were taking place under other character’s noses. Horror content ranges from moderate to low, and action content ranges from moderate to low.

I’d also like to note that the scenario order I’ve laid out is the exact order I beat each section of content. Personally, I like this style of presentation because it gives the player a chance to pick and chose what they want to play in smaller, more digestible pieces. Separating the story also gives the player a chance to get more personally invested in each character’s plight while attempting to figure out the bigger picture.

Of all the content I’ve played, I would say that I personally enjoyed Leon’s story the most.

Partner AI / Online Play / Extras

This time around, RE6 does a significantly better job managing your partner. You no longer have to swap items with them. They don’t take items from the environment as you play. They are much less likely to be killed or get you killed, and they don’t get in the way very much as you’re playing.

Online co-op seemed smooth, and there was very little lagging. Personally, I didn’t buy this game for the online multiplayer modes, but what is there is competently executed.

RE6 has extra content that allows you to view cinema’s you’ve unlocked along with added story content. Personally, I would have liked to see the separated written content woven into the story more as you played through it, but I’m glad its in there to fill in some of the back story for each of the characters.

For extra modes, there’s an agent hunt and mercenaries mode for now. More online modes will be available later in the form of DLC.

Agent hunt lets you drop into another person’s game as a zombie / monster to attempt to kill them. It’s an original idea that has a good premise, but the monsters I used seemed to have such clunky controls that I quickly became bored of it.

The Mercenaries is a time-attack mode where you try to kills as many monsters as possible to increase your score. In this mode, you can buy / upgrade skills unique to this mode, and the points you earn can be used in 1-player mode to purchase upgrades to skills or new skills. This is nice in a way because you can grind points to make it easier to clear tougher parts of the main story. Personally, I thought this mode was fun at first, but I quickly put it down in favor of playing through the story mode instead.

Where Does Resident Evil 6 Drops The Ball?

Resident Evil 6 pushes the franchise in new directions that will please gamers, but the way Capcom went about executing some of their ideas leaves much to be desired.

#1 Most of the game isn’t scary.

With the exception of portions of Leon’s campaign, I didn’t find the attempt to create tension or scariness all that prevalent in RE6. Yes, there’s a ton of action, chaos, and destruction. Yes, there’s a lot of zombies and other monsters. However, the game has you rushing through most of the environments so fast as part of the story that you don’t get a chance to calm down long enough to feel a sense of fear or loathing as you turn the next corner or open a door.

#2 There’s even more combat and less thinking.

If you love intense, non-stop, in-your-face action, this isn’t a criticism at all. If you were expecting to solve puzzles, challenge yourself, and feel any sense of intrigue, you will be sorely disappointed.

#3 Boss fights grossly abuse the “Now I’ll show you my true power!” idea.

If you’ve ever played any game in existence where you thought you killed the boss only to have to fight them again, picture doing that 3-5 or more times in a row for many of RE6’s bosses. There’s so many fights were if you just wait long enough, keep moving around, or let NPC’s damage the boss, that you can progress to the next stage of the fight without wasting precious ammo.

#4 The tension, dread, or element of surprise of encountering a boss is absent by design.

When you play the 1-Player campaign in RE6, you have the option of turning off all options that allow another player to play with you during most of the game or assist you in boss fights. Despite having all these options turned off, you will always get a “Now searching for player” notification before every single boss encounter. This completely kills the potential surprise and suspense leading up to many of the games set pieces when you’re literally told something major is about to happen.

#5 The upgrade / skill system is a step in the wrong direction.

One thing I liked about RE4 and RE5 is that the gun mod / upgrade system gave you a sense of risk and reward when you used limited resources to tailor weapons to your play style. This time around, RE6 lets you buy skills, upgrade skills, and you can equip up to 3 of them at once to customize elements of your play style. The problem is that very few skills seem worth upgrading in comparison to others.

For example, I played through all four campaigns only using upgrade all weapons damage, upgrade melee damage, and increase item find skills. Why? After I beat the game, I didn’t see the need to use any of the other skills because their usefulness just paled in comparison. Sure, I could grind out points just to buy them all, but I simply didn’t care.

#6 Welcome to quick-time event hell.

I was able to skillfully play RE6 on moderate difficultly with little to no issues of dying in the game with the exception of quick-time events. There’s a lot of situations where you have to move fast enough, move at the right time, rotate the analog stick, or press a sequence of buttons to avoid a cheap instant death. Some scenarios have slow-motion / precision shooting set pieces that can be frustrating because you need to see what’s happening a few times before you understand what you’re supposed to do.

The quick-time events in RE6 are designed to punctuate set pieces and fierce action. In my opinion, they do a better job of frustrating the player, and that frustration significantly breaks the flow of the game by making the player feel like they’re constantly dying in a cheap way that doesn’t make sense. This feeling can suck the fun out of the room, and it could make people rage quit the game. In other words, when you’re playing parts of the game that simply make you angry instead of feeling challenged or entertained, that’s an absolute failure in game design in my opinion.

Final Thoughts

Despite Resident Evil 6 moving further away from its survival horror roots and more towards the survival action realm, I enjoyed my overall experience. With the game recently being discounted to $30-$40 through most retailers instead of $60, I think it’s definitely worth taking a look at with the current price point. If you’re a long-time fan of the Resident Evil franchise, I think there’s something for everyone regardless of whether or not you’re a RE classic purist or prefer the game design choices found in RE4 / RE5. If you’ve never played a Resident Evil game, the story is isolated enough to enjoy it without being exposed to everything that came before RE6 story wise.

OVERALL RATING:

7 / 10