Posted on October 11, 2012 AT 02:37pm
The Resident Evil franchise has drastically evolved since it’s inception. Starting with notoriously bad dubbing and live-action cutscenes, it has evolved into a dozen games of varying “survival horror” levels and into a major movie franchise releasing it’s fifth movie this year, a sharp comparison to the acting in the first game. Resident Evil 6 continues to take the franchise in new directions, but are these directions good or bad?
The set-up is relatively unique. While previous core Resident Evil games (we’re counting 0-5, and Code: Veronica) started with different characters on different routes, much of the world remained the same for both. In some instances, you might want “the master of unlocking”, or need to toss an item to a partner on a train, or fight one boss while your paired character fights another. Resident Evil 5 made the title definitively co-op, with Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar going through the same game as partners. Chris and Sheva were beside each other for the entirety of the game, only splitting up for small segments that required to people to do something across from each other. With this newfound focus on partnership, the game also found a new goal in focusing on action. Previous titles largely encouraged you to reserve your ammo, run away when possible, and backtrack, but the duo’s fight lead them in a largely straight path filled with ammo; if Chris and Sheva somehow ran out, Chris became the master of uppercutting boulders.
Following this diversion of gameplay, Resident Evil 6 splits into, initially, three game routes. Leon Kennedy, last seen in Resident Evil 4, pairs up with newcomer Helena Harper; Chris Redfield works with Piers Nivans, another newcomer; and Jake Muller (a new character with a vaguely surprising tie to a classic Resident Evil character) partners with former-little-girl Sherry Birkin. While Sherry’s return is great, and Chris and Leon are expected (having starred in the franchise for large swaths), the game is largely a way to reconnect and explore the larger world of Resident Evil, especially after the somewhat-disconnected 4 and 5: It would have been nice for recent breakout star Sheva Alomar, series classic Jill Valentine, or even Chris’ sister Claire to get a reference. Chris’ route is largely defined by his regret over losing partners, and he doesn’t even remember the relatively-recent time he successfully killed Wesker with a partner that lived throughout.
Gameplay is largely defined by Resident Evil 4 and 5. Aim, fire, run up and do a physical attack, duck, cover, heal, reload, mix herbs, it’s all here, and if you’ve played Resident Evil 5, you know exactly how to handle the game. While you CAN command your partner, it’s largely unnecessary: they’re immortal enough that you can let them handle monsters, but they never seem capable enough to actually dispatch of them. If you go down, they’ll come up to revive you (largely) without fail, unless an enemy takes you out beforehand. Thankfully, you’re not just fighting the intelligent mutants of 4 and 5 (the J’avo this time around), but a healthy mix of zombies have been added to the mix. As always, aim for the head for the quickest results, but you’ll invariably waste a few bullets on a monster that just has to complete it’s animation for the plot to continue.
Many aspects of the game have been streamlined. Inventory management has been minimized, with all items taking up the same space in inventory, and the same amount of inventory slots from start to finish. Guns don’t take up inventory (more on that later), but disposable weapons like grenades do. With the streamlining, Capcom seems to have streamlined a few things too much; the fact that you can automatically mix herbs with a press of a button is never mentioned in-game, and the concept of running faster with a handgun than a grenade launcher is never mention. It’s necessary in a part of a game (requiring twenty or so failures before a quick Google search explains as much), but it makes no real sense: in any situation, the same mass would be on your body.
The game is co-op as much or as little as you want it. You can play offline, and let the computer handle all the partner stuff (and you do get to chose which of the two you play as), or you can play online, and have a friend join you. If you want a third of the screen space, you can even play local co-op, the best of both worlds. In other aspects, the game diverges from it’s original, solitary world; instead of being isolated in a mansion, at points you race cars, fly a jet fighter, and more. In a way, it brings back the concepts of the online games of Resident Evil’s past.
Various additional modes round out the beginning three campaigns (a fourth is unlocked after the main three are completed). The Mercenaries, a standard survival/killcount mode is back. Agent Hunt, unlocked after the first campaign completion, allows you to play as villains in other online player routes. It’s a unique and interesting feature, but tended to be short-lived from my personal experience. Collectible medallions in the game can also unlock bios and such, but you’re interest in that extends only to how much you’re interested in the mythology.
Visually, the game is a mixed bag. It looks good, sure… when you can see things. The suggested darkness level, set at the beginning of the game, is way too dark to see anything. If you play in the middle of the day, be prepared to close all curtains and turn off any lights. Sadly, there’s no real “scary” moments in the game; sure, there are disturbing ones, such as fighting what appears to be Juggalo Spiders, but there’s no moments where you jump, like the first time dogs shatter a window and attack, or finding a snake in a crate when you wanted some ammo. It’s partly to blame that we expect these things, but Dead Space proved that there’s always new avenues of fear to tackle. When it comes to character motions, it’s sad to see Piers and Chris run in the exact same manner, but thankfully Chris and Leon have different motion-capture actors (notably to me and me alone, Leon was motion acted by Jason Faunt, once the Time Force Red Power Ranger). Audibly, there’s only a few bad voice actors in the mix, and they’re usually relegated to one-shot characters, but by the whole, the music and voice acting range from acceptable to quality.
SUMMARY: Resident Evil 6 is a solid game, undoubtedly. It’s capable, it’s fun, it gathers players around for a good time, and advances the plot of the franchise. In exchange for mass-market appeal, it’s given up it’s original goal of survival horror for action horror. While the game is a great game, it’s only a mediocre Resident Evil game.
- THE GOOD: A solid action game that offers multiple, mixing routes and streamlining annoying parts of previous titles.
- THE BAD: Resident Evil‘s given up the title of king of screams in exchange for Gears of War gameplay.
- THE UGLY: The logic that what weapon you have in your hand versus on your body makes you run faster.
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