The leaves are turning colors outside and there is a cold crispness in the air, these signal a change in season, from summer to zombie season. Capcom is back with a new chapter in the Resident Evil story. I have dabbled in the Resident Evil franchise quite a few times over the years, and my experiences have been mixed, with the older games in the series being much more enjoyable from a story and gameplay perspective compared to the more recent Resident Evil 4 and 5. With RE5 I got so frustrated with the game’s controls and gameplay that I barely scratched the surface of it. I’m glad to say that RE6 has been a totally different(in a good way) gaming experience than any of the past Resident Evil titles.
In Resident Evil 6 gamers can adventure through 4 different and unique campaigns and witness the epidemic spread of the C-Virus all around the globe. The game features 3 main character campaigns (and one unlockable campaign), Leon Kennedy, Jake Muller and Chris Redfield, each of which have a different partner to help them through the hordes of zombies and monsters. Each of the campaigns give you a different view on the global virus outbreak. Also all the campaigns have a unique feel to them. For instance Leon has a much slower-paced story compared to the other two. Leon isn’t about run and gun so you’ll be slipping past monsters and covering more dark scary terrain. On the other hand, if you jump into the shoes of BSAA agent Chris Redfield you’ll be using his assault rifle and weapon skills to mow down your enemies. Then you have Jake who throughout his story is on the run from a large Usatank monster. While there is some overlap between the campaigns for the most part they are standalone with each character on a unique adventure.
Also throughout each of the campaigns you’ll be fighting off different zombies and monsters. What is really neat is some of the various hand to hand combat moves you’ll see with different monsters. For instance if a zombie has a fire axe stuck in their chest you might witness your character rip the axe out of them and then chop their head off. Or other monsters might be carrying torches, which you’ll grab and then set the zombie on fire with. Other neat hand to hand combat pops up depending on where in the environment you are. Very early in Jake’s campaign you are on a mountain edge, and as you approach monsters from behind you give them quick boots off the edge, or if you are near table edges you might see your character smash the zombie’s head into the table. All these different moves are triggered when you see the RT icon pop-up on screen.
Once you complete the 3 campaigns you then unlock Ada Wong’s campaign, whose story overlaps and intertwines the most between the other 3 story lines. Like the other 3 campaigns Ada’s is very unique as well. From her use of a crossbow and grapple gun to the fact the unlike the other 3 campaigns her’s is solo. Ada’s campaign is like the bow of a present, tying everything together as her story weaves in and out of the campaigns you have already played.
As I said the biggest issue I’ve had with Resident Evil titles in the past was the gameplay. From the control scheme which locked players down when aiming, to the weapons and item selection system, the gameplay was just not my cup of tea for a game that is an action shooter. All these issues have been resolved in Resident Evil 6. Having the ability to aim and still move is great. I mean you are fighting zombies, it only makes sense that you’ll want to keep moving. The weapon and item system has also been revamped. Using the d-pad allows you to quickly change weapons and switch items on the fly. Also the way you collect and use herbs has been changed. You can still combine different color herbs to make better healing medicine, but now to use them you must place them in capsules. These capsules are then easily used during battle by pressing the right bumper. The bottom-line is the gameplay has been tailored for an action shooter, and I like it!
However with all the great gameplay changes there are still some issues. For instance the camera is really close, too close at times where you can’t see what monsters are approaching you until they are already chomping on your neck. Another problem pops up during some of the games bigger moments. Early in Leon’s campaign there is a large monster holding the getaway bus in place, but due to the scarcity of ammo I ran out and wasn’t allowed off the bus to scavenge or melee the monster. Instead I was stuck waiting for zombies to climb in the windows and hope they drop ammo. And while I was waiting the rest of AI party following me wasn’t unloading into the big monster, instead picking off non-threatening zombies on the street. Speaking of melee weapons, you can arm yourself with a knife if needed, but in order to use it you still need to hold LT which cause you to change into the aiming stance, which is slow moving. It would have been great if you had a knife equipped you would just use it by pulling RT instead of the normal kick that is associated with RT when not aiming.
Quicktime Events have been a staple for Resident Evil and they continue to play a big part in RE6. At times they work and are natural, at other times what might seem like a simple QTE becomes a frustrating few minutes of multiple deaths. QTEs range from spinning your thumbstick, to timing button presses. Most times I was able to just pull off the QTE and other times it felt like no matter how fast I was there just was no winning.
As you progress you’ll be collecting various items, like ammo (which is quite scarce so make sure you manage it well and when possible use hand to hand combat), to skill point items. Unlike past games in the series you don’t have to find stores to spend the skill points. After each chapter you have a chance to purchase and equip new skills. These skills carry over to all characters and you should make sure to select appropriate skill depending on which story you are playing. For instance Jake is a hand to hand guy, so you’ll want to equip skills the improve your melee.
The graphics of RE6 are amazing. I can’t say how much fun it was blowing off zombie legs and then watching them crawl angrily along the ground. The character models of most monsters are highly destructible. Unload into a monsters chest and you’ll see bits and pieces blow off till they are almost only bones. The environments are pretty good as well, but one thing I noticed is you really need to crank the game’s brightness setting up high otherwise you’ll get pretty much a black screen and perhaps some small lighted areas. Until I cranked up the brightness after the first few minutes there was times I couldn’t even see the zombies that attacked me. I understand that darkness is a big part of a horror game but it’s not good if you can’t even see what is going on.
Besides the campaigns you also have some other game modes available to play. The new Agent Hunt mode adds a very interesting twist to the game. Once you complete a campaign you have access to this mode, which allows you to assume the role of a zombie on one of the game’s maps. As the monster you’ll be hunting the human controlled characters as they play their campaign. Yes you can jump into someone else’s campaign game as an enemy. If you are successful you can then jump to another game and so on and so on. Don’t worry if you don’t want people jumping into your game you can turn off or limit who can come in as a hunter or even your partner. Also the popular Mercenaries mode is back. For those who haven’t played it, you are dropped into a map and have to survive for a set period of time till you are rescued. The more kills you get the more points you earn. These are both fun modes and great pick-up and play action.
Like prior Resident Evil titles, multiplayer is a big part of the game. Each character has a partner, and you can either play along with a friend via Xbox Live, split screen or system link. You can also run your game open and allow any Xbox Live gamer to jump in and out. However unlike the prior games the partner AI has been greatly improved. Playing solo you’ll find your AI buddy to be incredibly better and more self sufficient then in RE titles past. Your partner’s inventory is also solely independent of your’s so you won’t have to worry about them using your health or ammo. Throughout the campaigns your partners will play important roles in problem solving as you’ll be faced with many puzzles that require you both to make different actions.
It has been many years since I really dove into a Resident Evil title, mostly due to the frustrating game systems. I must say that Resident Evil 6 is a great step forward for the series. RE6 plays a lot more like other 3rd person shooters we enjoy, with still enough emphasis on its horror roots. In many other games with multiple character campaigns the subsequent campaigns always seem rehashed and boring. That is not the case with RE6 as each campaign while tied to a larger overall story, is still unique and has an individual feel to it. This is a must for all Resident Evil fans, and for those like myself that lost interest in the franchise this is a great game to return with. Resident Evil 6 is great game to play alone in the dark or with some friends.
A copy of Resident Evil 6 for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from Capcom