Is three protagonists company, or a crowd?
During the Microsoft press conference, Resident Evil 6 drew mixed reactions for its reliance on quicktime events and seemingly dated visuals. Since then, Kat and Eric have had a chance to see it up close and personal, and have their own thoughts on what they say. As it turns out, there’s plenty to like about Resident Evil 6, but plenty to be worried about as well.
Eric L. Patterson, News Editor: So, Resident Evil 6. This is a pretty big project for Capcom. Resident Evil 5 hit, and opinions of it ended up being very mixed. Some saw it as taking the series in directions it wasn’t meant to go, but others saw it as attempting to freshening up the franchise. Before we actually get to Resident Evil 6 proper, did you have any feelings or hopes in particular about it when it was first announced?
Kat Bailey, Contributing Editor: I can’t say that I was particularly excited for Resident Evil 6. It felt more like a formality than anything else. I mean, of course there was going to be another Resident Evil! But I was interested at least to see where the storyline would be going. I think this game is going to be huge for the Resident Evil mythology geeks.
Eric: It’s funny, because as much as I don’t always like Japanese games gaining more Western influence, Resident Evil was a series that I felt could really benefit from such a thing. When that first trailer hit, that’s indeed what I thought I was seeing. And yet, now that I’ve played a bit of it, it does feel like a Japanese game that’s taken cues from us foreigners—but I can’t decide if they’ve gone too far or not far enough.
Kat: Japanese developers seem to have a problem with incorporating western design tropes without a full understanding of their significance. Case in point–the cover system. So, first of all, it’s kind of awkward due to the camera position (the camera is right next to the character’s head). Second, you have to hold L1, then hold A next to a wall. That’s already one too many buttons. I know people have been giving RE trouble for years for eschewing cover, but it doesn’t feel well-realized here.
Eric: That’s a great example of the problems that I saw as well. This feels like a game that so desperately doesn’t want to be a Japanese action game, but it also doesn’t fully understand what that means. It’s not that control is bad—I think it’s pretty darn great compared to previous chapters of the series—but there’s this feel of awkwardness to so many things. Cover feels awkward. Doing the dodges or other special moves feel awkward. And like you said, the required button combinations at times feel awkward. You just can’t help but shake the feeling that things could be done in far better ways if in different hands.
Kat: I really think it’s the camera, to be honest. I think they pushed it in to limit sight and maximize tension, but it mostly makes things awkward. I’m not going to fault Capcom for wanting to go scarier though. In the Leon sequence, it did feel rather like the first game–creepy and claustrophobic. Ammo is definitely not going to be plentiful either. I would mark that as a pretty big change from RE5, and one that ought to make the survival horror fans happy. Like I said, Resident Evil 6 is definitely for the mythology nuts. The ones who played Operation Raccoon City for the canon.
Eric: Those people are crazy. That aside though, yes, the camera is way, way too zoomed in. Like, to the point that you can’t help but notice just how huge your character is on screen. It’s a shame too, because the environments are pretty fantastic, at least from what we got the chance to see. I want to see more of those locations, without my character blocking so much of the view! I really do think in those aspects, Capcom is doing a great job with the environments on Resident Evil 6.
Kat: Yeah, they’re pretty good. I mentioned already that I liked the creepy, claustrophic feeling of Leon’s area. That goes for Jake’s areas as well. I mean, industrial definitely isn’t anything new, but when you’ve got a huge monster demolishing everything behind you, things can get exponentially more interesting. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on Jake, by the way. He’s one of the newer faces in the group—the son of Wesker no less. Do you feel like he’s a good fit? Or is he just needless fan-service piffle?
Eric: Well, that was another big point I wanted to get your opinion on: Is Capcom crazy or brilliant for the three-protagonist idea for the game? I love Leon, so I’m glad he’s back. Chris has totally worn out his welcome to me, but I’ll let him be there for the hardcore fans. Jake is actually interesting—he can bring a perspective on the whole virus/Umbrella/zombie thing that we’ve not gotten before. So, in that respect, I am looking forward to playing his sections. However, up until now, we’ve always been able to pick who we played through the game as, one at a time. Now, we have three completely separate storylines and play styles to deal with all in one bundle. Are fans going to enjoy this? Or could this potentially end up a Solid Snake/Raiden situation, where people want to play as one but not the other?
Kat: I’m going to go “brilliant.” Everyone has their own favorite Resident Evil protagonist, and it’s great seeing Chris and Leon in the same game (even if Jill is nowhere to be found… yet). I especially like that each of the three campaigns has a different vibe. Leon is more like the classic RE—slow and steady—while Chris is more straight up shooting. Jake is kind of a mix of the two. Now, I think the challenge is for Capcom now to overreach and water down all three campaigns. Hopefully that won’t be the case. One thing that will be pretty cool: hitting one of the points where all three characters meet up, and having the co-op get extended from two player to four player. Nice little idea there, Capcom. Seems like Resident Evil 6 certainly has its potential. I just hope that it doesn’t get dragged down by a problematic camera and a questionable cover system.