Late To The Party – Resident Evil 6

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Just to clear up one little thing, I am a huge fan of the Resident Evil series. I fell in love with the series back in 1996 when I played the very first title back on the good old Playstation and, with only a few exceptions (like the dire ‘Survivor’ game), I have enjoyed every game so far. This peaked, for me personally, with Resident Evil 2, which still stands as one of my favourite games of all time. As we all know, the series dramatically changed at Resident Evil 4, and it has evolved from there into a horror-action-shooter series from it’s original roots that were firmly lodged in survival horror.

Now, I must admit that I struggled to decide what I actually think of Resident Evil 6 as a title. Judging it in relation to other games in the series was wildly unfair, as it couldn’t possibly compete with my (higher than average) estimations of Resident Evil 2, nor the genius series reboot that was Resident Evil 4. However, assessing it up against titles of a similar genre to this instalment would be to no benefit as the titles I see as similar are arguably superior (like Gears of War).

I eventually decided that the best approach I could think of was from a standpoint as this being the only title of it’s ilk and, believe it or not, seeing it as not a Resident Evil title actually acts very favourably in Resident Evil 6’s case. This is because, as Resident Evil titles stand, this is definitely one of the weaker titles. This does not mean that it is a bad game. In fact, I personally really enjoyed it for the most part. However there are, as far as I can remember, two big things that I had a problem with.

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The action doesn’t really cease.

Firstly, and the larger annoyance of the two, is the insistence on continuing along the action-survival-horror route for the genre. This shake up worked with Resident Evil 4, mostly because it was the first, but partly because it maintained the survival horror aspect. This has since changed. Resident Evil 5 started the path to the series becoming a 3rd person action-horror-shooter, and Resident Evil 6 pretty much cements it. Personally speaking, I don’t mind the new direction, but part of me is still crying out for a return to the survival horror days of old (a thirst that was quenched by Resident Evil: Revelations).

The second problem I had is one I have with any game that decides to employ them (even Resident Evil 4), quick time events. These are the bane of my gaming existence and one that I thoroughly hate. The sheer amount of times I died in Resident Evil 6 solely due to failing a quick time event was maddening. This is an even more irritating fact owing to the overall speedy pace of the game being slammed to a halt almost every time that a quick time event intervenes. It does not make the game challenging Capcom, it makes it irritating, so please stop it.

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One of the many boss fights!

However, enough about the bad aspects of the game, especially as there is so much good in it to talk about. Firstly, Resident Evil 6 is a beautiful title! The scenery and settings, unlike some people have stated, were stunning to behold and a wonder to explore. I especially enjoyed the realism of the environments, especially the setting of China. The new creatures introduced are delightfully grotesque (and sometimes really challenging to beat), and the central characters are wonderfully rendered. What this means is Chris Redfield doesn’t look as unnecessarily beefy this time (looking at you Resi 5). Also Capcom, considering the canonical time that has passed, have aged some of the longer-standing characters (such as Leon’s face now clearly shows age).

The story, and I don’t really mind the fact that many will disagree with me on this opinion, I really enjoyed from start to finish. The four campaigns covering the now global threat of bio-terrorism (a fourth is unlocked upon completion of the other three) were very well-written in my opinion and kept to the story canon throughout. They introduced (and removed) new characters to the fold in a believable way, and also had various inter-sections in which the campaigns crossed each other’s individual stories.

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Another one of those horrid C-Virus monsters!

Probably the best aspect of the title itself was the fact that the feel of each campaigns was very diverse, giving vastly different experiences, pacing and challenges for each set of characters. Also, in a triumph from Capcom, each campaign had enough of a difference from the last to feel fresh, but was similar enough to keep the continuity flowing nicely. To be honest, that in itself is quite  great achievement.

Firstly, Chris’ campaign, where I started my journey, had a heavy emphasis on the shooting aspect of the game, with plenty of ammo available and A LOT of enemies to dispatch on your way. This campaign in fact was the closest that this title got to the comparison I made earlier between Resident Evil 6 and Xbox-exclusive Gears of War. The action is frantic, the bullets are almost constantly flying, and the pace doesn’t slow down. Also, I don’t think I ever even ran low on ammo during this campaign, sometimes having to drop ammo for weapons I didn’t use so I could pick up health items.

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Zombies!

Jake’s campaign is more sedate than Chris’, if only by a marginal amount. The amount of hostiles is lower, and the emphasis is placed on brute force. Jake’s heritage has given him some incredible melee combat skills, and I found myself using these at pretty much all times (explaining why I ended the campaign with so much ammunition left). I enjoyed the return of Sherry Birkin in this campaign, obviously owing to my love of Resident Evil 2, and I love the fact that Jake already feels like a very well-rounded addition to the character roster despite only being in this title.

Leon’s campaign was the closest that Resident Evil 6 comes to the classic survival horror roots of a classic Resident Evil title. The ammo is scarce, the environments are dark and claustrophobic, and (last but by no means least) the return of zombies! The pace is slower, more cautious, and has far more scares and jumps than the previous two. The story of this campaign is by far my favourite of the main three and, overall, I think this was my favourite campaign full stop.

The hidden campaign, I won’t go into too much for the benefit of those which haven’t got that far through the game yet, but I will say it is fun. The momentum shifts quite dramatically from the other three to an almost stealth set-up. There isn’t much frantic action in this campaign, and it feels all the more incredible for it. Also, the character in this campaign has, by far, my favourite weapon in the entire game.

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Trouble in China …

Speaking of characters, there are several new ones introduced in Resident Evil 6. The three main ones of these are Jake, Helena and Piers; who each fall into separate campaigns. All of these have had impressive levels of characterisation for a Resident Evil title (remember the awfully created Sheva Alomar?) and are welcome additions to the overall roster. Furthermore, the return of a few favourites from the series pleased me too such as the ever amazing / frustrating Ada Wong.

Overall, as should be clear from the overall tone of this piece, I really enjoyed Resident Evil 6 and I see no reason not to recommend it. It is far from the dizzying heights of the earlier titles, and is not a patch on the recent Resident Evil: Revelations title, but it is still a well constructed and enjoyable action horror game. At the very least, it is a vast improvement on Resi 5, but I must admit, I can’t wait to see if Capcom stay true to their word and return Resident Evil to it’s roots for the next instalment.

What did you think of 6? Did you enjoy it or did it leave you disappointed? Drop me a comment, or Tweet me @reubenmount.

About Reuben Mount

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