Resident Evil 6 Review: Giraffe Cock
Resident Evil is one of the most prestigious series in gaming, and has produced what many consider the most iconic survival horror games in history courtesy of its past entries. After many years of great success the series was becoming repetitive, but Resident Evil 4 was a revolution that rejuvenated the franchise. Altering the established fundamentals of what had become a stagnant series, Resident Evil 4 was a stunning success which set a new standard for third person action games and managing to create a tense and oppressive atmosphere throughout the entirety of its campaign. Resident Evil 4 was also the beginning of a more action orientated approach to its gameplay mechanics than the tank controls and horror tactics of its predecessors. Resident Evil 5 did not manage to live up to the lofty heights that 4 achieved, but I definitely enjoyed the time I spent with its multiplayer centric action, despite its greatly reduced emphasis on horror. Now Capcom has brought us Resident Evil 6, the latest and biggest entry in the venerated series. However, Resident Evil 6 suffers from a litany of unexpected design issues and problems that dilute the entire experience in a way that is genuinely shocking.
Resident Evil has always had a pretty silly storyline, but despite the silliness I have always found it relatively charming, especially when it explores the origins of the Umbrella Corporation or the stand alone background of 4. With this in mind there are some gross missteps made in this latest entry. The story of Resident Evil 6 takes place over the span of its 4 campaigns, which occur simultaneously to each other. The cast of the game is considerable, with Leon making a return to a lead role alongside his newcomer partner Helena Harper. Chris Redfield pairs up with a BSAA sniper named Piers Nivans, while Sherry Birkin makes her first appearance since Resident Evil 2 alongside the son of Albert Wesker, Jake Muller. These 3 campaigns each have their own action story that interweaves with the others throughout their length, and each has an individualistic theme that makes them feel quite different from the others in tone and style. The way in which these lengthy and substantial campaigns interweave with each other shows clear ambition for the story on Capcom’s part, but the set up is startlingly weak.
I played Leon’s campaign first, and the first chapter of the campaign begins with Leon shooting a zombified President of the United States. There is no explanation about what is happening, where you are, how did the President become a zombie, there is simply no context. This same disregard for establishing the scenario and context for the story is present in all the campaigns, and this is especially strange considering the way Resident Evil 5 completely wrapped up the established lore. It is eventually mentioned that a terrorist organisation called Neo-Umbrella have released the C-virus, causing a B.O.W. outbreak on a scale of the Racoon City incident, and Leon embarks on a quest with his new partnet Helena to get to the bottom of things. Chris' campaign starts with the premise of Chris having become a depressed alcoholic, but things quickly degenerate into a mindless third person shooter slog there. Finally, the Jake and Sherry campaign emanates the feel of Resident Evil 3 thanks to the inclusion of a single monster that mercilessly pursues them throughout the campaign, but again the campaign fails to make good on any real story potential.
The weak and silly story is unfortunate, but the characterisation and narrative of Resident Evil 6 are also weak. The interactions betweens and motives of the characters are relatively poor, with only Leon and Chris being in anyway interesting. Helena is out for revenge, Sherry is the naive new agent, Jake is the cocky mercenary and Piers is the good guy agent. Chris' depression is never fully explored, each campaign spends too little time introducing and developing its key players and overall things just fall completely flat. For instance, Leon is clearly haunted and driven by having killed the President who was his good friend, but the player is never shown how or why they were close, and we learn nothing about the relationship between the two. A terrible villain and weak endings, all in a setting completely redundant after Resident Evil 5 makes for a very disappointing story.
While Resident Evil 6 has a mountain of problems in its story elements, there is no doubt that it is a stunning game visually. The graphical fidelity is extremely impressive, with fantastic looking character models, creatures, textures and environments. The skin on enemy monsters can appear extremely organic, shedding chunks of meat and flesh as you open fire on them. Animations are impressive and fast, with a natural look to them that just adds a great feel to events as they unravel. The zombies make a long awaited return to the series, and they look fantastic, with multiple tiers of decomposed corpses out for your blood, and the other enemy types are no slouches either. The level of detail given to the character models is really impressive, with small things like Jakes leather jacket looking truly fantastic, especially as he runs through an area filled with explosions and crisp snow. Resident Evil 6 also brings huge set piece moments to the franchise, and despite my lack of interest in "playing" these moments, they do look very impressive.
Many of the levels have had truly lavish amounts of attention given to decking them out with detail. Leon walks into a dining hall in his first chapter and each table of the tall has food and cutlery present, a storm brews outside the windows and the large ornate chandelier is shaking from side to side, dislodging dust into the air. Its a breathtaking level of detail by the developers and shows that a lot of effort was put into creating this level of visual splendour. The voice acting is generally very solid and the music is standard for the series, nothing great but fit for purpose.
With such impressive visuals its a shame that Resident Evil 6 has such a limited and unimpressive aesthetic design for the majority of its campaigns. There are industrial complexes, burning streets and a graveyard church area, all the usual Resident Evil locations. None of them are remarkably endearing or memorable, with a lack of imagination for these levels. With games like Darksiders 2 and Dishonored having such great aesthetic design despite their inferior technical prowess, its a failure on the part of Capcom that they stuck with the same old environmental philosophy that was found throughout there other games in the series.
Recent Resident Evil games ditched the tank controls of the early titles for an over-the-shoulder third person action style, though Resident Evil 5 felt out of touch and somewhat archaic compared to the likes of Gears of War. I felt that Resident Evil 5 was in an identity crisis between its survival horror roots and its attempts to gather an expanded fan base by becoming an action title in the modern mould. Resident Evil 6 completely fails to break out of this dangerous trap and actually falls further into an identity problem, and nowhere is this more apparent than in its gameplay. Capcoms inability to decide what exactly they want Resident Evil to be had resulted in Resident Evil 6 being nothing short of schizophrenic when it comes to its tone and its polish.
The way the player character moves is pondering and awkward, with a constant feeling that you are fighting the controls. The stiff shooting mechanics do not help either, and the sheer lack of impact from landing hits on enemies is deeply disappointing. The camera is very poor, constantly being too close to the player character and failing to give a decent field of view for the player. It is also incredibly poor when you are in tight corridor areas. Resident Evil 6 also has a mountain of QTE moments that just drown out the gameplay and are extremely counter intuitive. They constantly get in the way of actually playing the game, and are very unsatisfying as they are the worst kind of QTE's, ones that are not signalled by the game and result in instant death if you fail them. Resident Evil 6 also has a lot of cutscenes, and these serve to constantly interrupt the flow of the game and take the player out of the action. You will always have an AI partner with you in single player, but unlike Resident Evil 5 the AI partner here is ok thanks to having infinite ammo and being indestructible. This does not fix the problem of the AI being an annoyance when they won't catch up with you so you can open the door to the next area, but it is an improvement over 5.
The melee combat and inventory management are both poor, with the game failing to inform the player of how to do most actions that are possible. The game has no booklet, and the only way I learned most of my potential actions was from the messages that you can read on the loading screens. This is a terrible way to inform the player of core game mechanics, and just sums up the terrible gameplay systems of Resident Evil 6.
Resident Evil 6 has a huge amount of content spread across its campaigns, but the tone of each campaign is so different that the game fails to capture a single design vision. Leon starts along the lines of Resident Evil 4 but loses its pacing half way through, Chris is a mindless Gears clone and Jake is a giant chase sequence with some silly set pieces inserted randomly. There is no unity of tone, with the game trying to ferment a tense horror atmosphere in one segment and getting the player to fly a jet fighter in another segment. This really hurts the game, as it fails to be satisfying as either a horror or action game thanks to its failure to decide which camp it wants to be part of. Its a clumsy mix that sees the complete erosion of Resident Evil as a horror series and instead become a below average third person shooter for much of its length.
Resident Evil 6 cannot be paused, not even in the single player, in a move that seems reminiscent of Lost Planet 2. I absolutely hate this design decision, as you cannot change the brightness, subtitle settings or go to the toilet without leaving yourself vulnerable to death. Checkpoints are poorly paced and levels are far too long. If you join a friends game you lose your progress within any level you are playing in your own campaigns, and the cover system is a complete joke. The real crime here is the scripted chase and action scenes that barely even need the presence of the player in a parody of the worst elements of the Call of Duty series, and is a completely baffling design choice to me when examples as bright as Dead Space are there for Capcom to learn from. Finally, there are many instances of ridiculous character clipping in Resident Evil 6. Its not a big problem compared with the fundamental flaws I have been addressing already, but it is so noticeable in a game that generally looks so sharp.
Despite being one of the most lavish and likely expensive games of 2012, I can only say that I am shocked at the lack of polish and quality in Resident Evil 6. Critical design flaws, a weakling story that completely failed to live up to its ambition and a bi-polar style are all killer blows to this game, but the sheer boredom and chore like nature of much of the gameplay is the greatest problem facing Resident Evil 6. Co-op is back, as is Mercenaries, but neither of these are nearly enough to make this a good game. Resident Evil 6 is a game that copies what Capcom thinks is popular in the market at the moment for action games, and in doing so completely loses its own identity. It has some of the finest production values in history, but its just too thinly focused and lacks gameplay punch to compete with the great games available at the moment. It does have some merits, the odd moment every few hours that shine brightly, such as the tense Ustanak sequences or the well paced Leon early sections. However, these come too few and far over the course of its 20 hour plus campaign, and cannot save it from being average at best. It is a pathetic shadow of the amazing Resident Evil 4, and I can only say that it makes an interesting rental, but no one but die hard fans should buy this game. Resident Evil 6 is better than the likes of Kane and Lynch or Army of Two, but Capcom need to think long and hard about the future of this series and decide what they want it to be. There was a time that this was a series about exploring a terrifying mansion filled with unknown horror, and now its about terrorist attacks, and that sums up my disappointment with Resident Evil 6.
- Really ambitious narrative structure
- Lavish visuals
- Improved AI partner
- Too long and lacking identity
- Bad controls, camera and save system
- Poor story, terrible pacing and constant scripted sequences and QTE's
- Can't be paused and other stupid design choices
- That logo
- 3/10 - Bad