Whenever we hear of Resident Evil in this day and age, many think back to the old days where Resident Evil was once a scary, suspenseful game that you could get your evening scare from. Pulling things back into reality, we know that Resident Evil 6 is probably not going to do that for you. In fact, we now think of Resident Evil to be more of an action title, borrowing aspects from various third-person shooters.
So what is Resident Evil 6? Well, it’s Resident Evil. It’s not trying to be the next Gears of War, nor is it trying to strongly tap into the vein of a previous Resident Evil entry. Instead, you get Resident Evil 6, a game that features a lot of great mechanics that suits the more action-orientated shift of the RE series. But much like a kid who has one of the worst social interaction skills ever, it will take some time for RE6 to ease up properly for the player and likewise the player must be patient with it.
Resident Evil 6 gives you the option to choose what type of “adventure” you’d like to go on with different campaigns. Leon/Helena’s campaign involves dealing with zombies, Chris/Piers’ campaign involves dude-bros tackling on the new biological threat called the J’avo, and Jake/Sherry must save the world but also run in constant fear from Ustanak, a Nemesis-like creature à la Resident Evil 3. Completing all of these campaigns allows you to play Ada’s solo campaign, which focuses more on puzzle/stealth elements. Each campaign can be completed in about six hours, throw in a little time for the extra content such as The Mercenaries, Agent Hunt, and later multiplayer DLCs, and you got yourself a complete Resident Evil package.
The whole experience of Resident Evil 6 tends to go over a lot of people’s heads and for very good reason. There are moments throughout where certain game play elements and techniques are just not explained or given to the player in any sort of context. Obviously, you shoot zombies or J’avo, you run away from them to avoid dying. But then there’s a whole series of commands that get quickly brushed over. Crouching and ducking? I found that out by accident. A deeper explanation of how to quickly stun enemies using different melee and shooting techniques? Gotta find that out yourself! Marking targets for your A.I. partner to shoot at? Nowhere in the game does it tell you how to do that. These are important things to know, and going in without knowing how to do any of this will lead to frustration.
Then there are the moments in the different campaigns where you would just die or get hit by things you can’t react to. Early on in Leon’s campaign, for example, comes a vehicle that flies across the area during a shoot-out segment. If you just happen to be standing in the wrong spot, the camera shifts into the suddenly appearing vehicle — thus making you not see where you are — and shows it flying into the spot that you’re standing. This makes for a nice pancake’d Leon or Helena, leading to a game over that felt really cheap. Events like this happen throughout the game and having these moments feel very discouraging. At least with QTEs, you have some contextual information where something is going to happen.
There are also other moments where you’re emptying all the ammo in your inventory in order to kill a boss, only to find yourself without any ammo for the next part of the game. You may be called to assist your partner from afar depending on who you play. While ammo conservation is key, the game does little to provide the player any additional ammo in the case that you have none, thus being forced to wait out segments where your partner will have to handle everything while you do nothing. Thankfully, there are some parts where the game will spare some extra ammo, but these seem to be very limited in the long run.
There’s plenty to absorb in story, as rudimentary as it may be. President of the United States turned into a zombie, two separate stories of revenge, a man trying to cope and deal with his losses, a little romance here and there, and a huge convoluted tale that would make a biologist explode. Resident Evil 6 does do a good job meshing plot and facts between the different campaigns. As all the campaigns are running concurrent, there will be bits and pieces of information that will get answered as you play through each one. Playing as different characters in a campaign can also lend itself to the narrative, with characters taking different roles during specific co-op portions. Best example would be the end of Chris’ campaign where it would be worth checking out to play as Piers during that segment.
For the lone wolves, the A.I. has seen huge improvements compared to previous entries. Your A.I. partner cannot die by normal means and they actually “contribute” (using that term loosely) to kill enemies. You will not have to worry about their equipment or their ammo, you also will not have to worry about saving them either. There are never moments where you feel hindered by of your A.I. partner aside from just unlocking a few doors for them.
Playing co-op with another human player is still very much the definitive experience and Resident Evil 6 has expanded on this. New to RE6 are story intersections that allows you to join another duo in specific parts of the campaign. However, due to how specific it would be to get into one of these story intersections with another player or team, this little interaction rarely happens. Not only do the two team have to be waiting in the loading screen prior to the event (where they give you a 60 second timer that you can choose to cancel), but considering that you can only be paired up by someone who is of the opposite team and on the same difficulty level, the moons will have to align to get this working. Out of going through all of the four campaigns, I’ve only matched up with other one person in these cross-campaign intersections, and this was from repeatedly going back in and out of the game in an attempt to get matched up.
Instead of opting for a traditional inventory/weapon upgrade system, everything is streamlined — at least to some extent. Guns can no longer be upgraded or purchased. Herbs are now converted into tablets that heal you with a press of a button. Instead of grinding for gold, you now grind for skill points which can be used to unlock skill bonuses. You can equip up to three skills and these skills can range from increasing damage, increasing item drops, or support additions provided by your A.I. partner.
While the game does not explain itself well in terms of how to play, once you do figure out that there is a dodging mechanic, a quick-shot mechanic, and all the other mechanics in the friggen world that the game refuses to tell you upfront, you will find that RE6′s combat system gives you all the tools you need and is a hell of a lot fun when put into practice. While the “stiffness” in is mostly gone from the earlier RE titles, a level of finesse is required to survive and destroy huge group of enemies. Though, for as much time as it takes to put in the hard work to really be the ultimate anti-bioterrorist, it’s a complete shame that RE6 can leave a mistaken impression due to unclear controls.
That said, I find that Resident Evil 6‘s new action controls to be well suited for The Mercenaries mode.. Anyone who is familiar with the mode from previous RE games will know how much fun it can be trying to get the high scores by trying to chain enemy kills. RE6′s system really complements this mode well as now everything is much faster paced. It’s a shame that the initial offerings for The Mercenaries maps are scant as the other three maps are offered as DLC for pre-ordering from specific retailers. Even then, I see a bright future for The Mercenaries and the fans of this mode will find themselves quite pleased and entertained with the new engine.
In a nice creative touch, Resident Evil 6 introduces Agent Hunt mode, in which you invade a random person’s game much like Demon/Dark Souls and attempt to kill them. You get to try out a variety of different enemies from the game, but just take note that you’re not that much stronger compared to a normal A.I. controlled enemy. This means that unless you get a jump on someone, expect to die a lot. Other Agent Hunt players can join the game and you can work together to down the do-gooders. You will be rewarded skill points upon completion, which can also be used to give you a buff for Agent Hunt mode. If you rather not get harassed by other players, you can always turn Agent Mode off. Unfortunately on Xbox 360, it seems like a lot of players tend to want this off. I generally had a hard time finding games to invade.
Resident Evil 6 has a great foundation, but without the few needed steps to keep players from being disinterested, the game will rub people the wrong way. The new multiplayer additions are too strict for it to work consistently, but basic co-op is still very much a fun experience. If you’re able to learn the game proper and get past the issues of the campaigns, Resident Evil 6 can deliver the thrills that Resident Evil is known for — scary or not.