Giant Bomb Review

271 Comments

Resident Evil 6 Review

2
  • X360

Resident Evil 6 may be the most lavishly produced bad game in history.

The heart of RE6's problems is action that just feels unrefined.

Resident Evil 6 is a big-budget disaster on the order of the Star Wars prequels, a sprawling production that clearly required so many individual talents to bring it into being, you can't help but wonder how the end result could have turned out so bad. Then again, the game tries to be so many things to so many different people, the image of a many-headed hydra thrashing violently beyond the control of its developers comes readily to mind. There are a few fleeting moments of greatness in Resident Evil 6, but you'll likely spend so much time with your head in your hands that you'll probably just miss them all.

Whatever else could be improved upon in this game is moot, since its fundamentals as a third-person action game are just plain badly implemented. After the great last couple of installments in the core Resident Evil franchise, it's astounding that the basic act of playing RE6 doesn't feel at least as good as it did in those games. On the surface, RE6 is made up of the same third-person shooting, button-prompt-driven melee combat, and inventory management, though it goes further in the direction of similar Western action games that focus on moving and shooting in tandem, largely at the expense of the series' traditionally deliberate style of gameplay. But it doesn't go far enough to produce a satisfying game of singular intent. In trying to have it both ways, clumsily mixing that more active style of shooter with vestigial elements of the series' survival-horror past, and peppering the entire thing with excessive Quick Time events and nearly hands-off action set pieces, RE6 takes a tremendous step backwards in terms of basic playability.

The reasons for this are too numerous for any one review, but here goes. The character movement is awkward, the aiming and shooting are stiff, and your basic interactions with enemies feel unresponsive and grossly unsatisfying. With a laser sight that swims around wildly within the targeting reticle and enemies that sometimes feel like bullets are passing right through them, the shooting makes a lousy first impression. And don't get me started on how clumsy the camera can get when you're trying to move around in tight spaces, or about the game's nasty habit of cutting back from a cinematic sequence with your camera angle pointed not only in a different direction than you left it, but also away from the thing you need to focus your attention on. The trusty old 180-degree turn from previous games sometimes turns only your character while leaving the camera stationary, exposing you to unnecessary risk as you then have to manually swivel the perspective around after you've wasted time expecting a basic game mechanic to work like it's supposed to. Playing RE6 is like suffering the death of a thousand cuts, as one minor annoyance and unavoidable death after another chip away at your enjoyment.

There's a little too much pushing the stick in one direction and holding A here.

Most of Resident Evil 6 is marred by a glaring lack of that video game critic's old standby, polish. Every time you're killed instantly by an unavoidable scripted event, it feels like a good opportunity to turn the game off and never turn it back on. Seriously, there were multiple times in more than one level where I or someone I was playing co-op with was killed by some timed event--say, a truck hurtling into the area from offscreen--that you just couldn't avoid if you didn't know it was coming, and often don't even see coming if you don't happen to have the camera pointed randomly in the right direction. The game rarely communicates what it wants you to do, leaving you in many of the game's long, multi-phase boss fights to blindly waste ammo as you try to figure out whether you're effectively doing any damage to an enemy that barely reacts visibly to your attacks.

There are other basic design issues that make the game feel like a chore, like the inability to stop time even while you're trying to change your brightness or control scheme. You're never even alerted to the existence of a cover system or dodge mechanics outside of loading-screen tooltips that, at least on the Xbox version I played through, were typically onscreen for less than a second. But the game sure does make a point of driving home how Quick Time events work in its laughable tutorial segment. It never even attempts to explain the quirks of ducking and rolling, which require you to use the same button combo in different ways, but it goes out of its way to make sure you know to push the stick down and hold the A button every time you need to run toward the camera through a barely-interactive scripted chase scene. That's a telling example of the poor attention to detail here where basic playability is concerned.

To be fair, the more you play RE6, the more you'll adapt to the long list of quirks that initially conspire to make the combat in this game a miserable experience. Eventually it becomes less miserable, but it never clicks and feels satisfying and engaging the way the best action games do. Think about the brightest lights in the genre on this generation of consoles. For me, it's games like Infamous and Dead Space that give you immediate, absolute control over your abilities and impart the information for you to make split-second decisions about how to deal with any threat. Those games just feel right. Even at its best, playing RE6 feels like fumbling around blindly in the dark by comparison. The impression is of a game that underwent little to no playtesting, to see how actual human beings would respond to the mechanics and systems that make up the gameplay, and to refine and fix them in the places where they weren't working.

Be prepared to fight this exact boss battle twice before the game is over.

As Resident Evil goes, this game's justification for its own existence is questionable in the first place. Resident Evil 4 went to admirable lengths to upend the series' longstanding fiction by bringing in new antagonists and a new location, and I felt like 5 was already pushing its luck by turning right around and going back to the well with Wesker and the Umbrella Corporation yet again. But at least that game was bold enough to resolve those longstanding story threads with finality, explaining and killing off pretty much everything there was to explain and kill off. Then along comes RE6 with... Neo-Umbrella and the son of Wesker. That's really the most inspired premise they could conceive? I'll grant that this game is awkwardly timed at the end of a console cycle, and it's too soon to go back to the drawing board and completely rebuild Resident Evil from the ground up, but couldn't Capcom have just put together a more modest side story to fill the necessary spot on the release calendar until then? (Actually, I guess they already did that.)

Whether RE6's premise strains plausibility or not, the series has had good luck in the past with multiple concurrent campaigns starring different characters, and here you get a whopping four of them. Dandy-haired Leon Kennedy's vignette feels the most like an old Resident Evil, with the highest concentration of cathedrals and rotting zombies in the game. Square-jawed Chris Redfield's campaign then goes and does a middling Gears of War impression, with an increased emphasis on taking cover and shooting at enemies who shoot back at you. Then son-of-Wesker Jake moves through a campaign with a disjointed mix of shooting, ill-conceived stealth sequences, and an indestructible Big Bad who chases you through every area like a modern-day Nemesis. Once you finish the three storylines, you unlock a hidden fourth campaign so top-secret it's mentioned on the back of the box, one that's meant to give some additional context to everything you've seen over the last 20 hours or so.

The idea of this many criss-crossing storylines is a great one, and you do get little nuggets of info in each campaign that expand on the events in the others. It's hard to get too excited about anything that happens in the game, though, revolving as it does around yet another iteration of the X-virus that's always been at the center of the whole zombie mess. Nothing of major importance to the Resident Evil continuity takes place here, as every character and story thread introduced at the outset has either been blandly resolved or summarily dismissed by the end, resulting in a conclusion that, as far as Chris and Leon are concerned, might as well never have happened. More damningly, as the game wears on, it becomes more and more disappointing how much content is flat-out recycled from previous campaigns. By the time I got to Jake's campaign and especially into that last one, I was replaying sequences and boss fights on a disturbingly regular basis that I'd already played before. Sometimes you at least get to take part from a different angle, but just as often you're literally fighting the exact same boss fight you already did a few hours ago. It's especially glaring that if you play the campaigns in the recommended order, the first last-boss encounter you face is identical to the very last one. That's a pretty anti-climactic way to end such a huge production, and it's emblematic of the many aspects of RE6 that just weren't thought all the way through.

Playable characters cross paths to mixed results through each campaign.

The game at least earns a few points for sheer audacity. Its scope is enormous; the volume of huge, detailed environmental art crammed in here could fill two or three similar games of average length. And many of those areas are framed and lit to great dramatic effect, though others look like they had less attention given to them, and the frame rate is low enough across the board to diminish the effect of actually moving around in them. Many of the monster designs are creepy as hell (a human torso attached to spider legs and wielding an assault rifle seems like something that just should not exist), and the bosses are plenty big and menacing and impressive to watch, though that effect is often lost in the frustrating trial-and-error required to fight them. The production values in the cinematics are top-shelf, and the character performances are quite well done, with Troy Baker further cementing his status as the new Nolan North in a nicely snarky turn as the wisecracking, in-it-for-the-money merc Jake. And as flat as I found the broad story, there were a couple of honestly affecting human moments that got to me a little bit. But once the moment is over, they don't really go anywhere.

By the time I'd slogged through the two-dozen-plus hours of the four main campaigns, I couldn't find it in myself to care much about the return of The Mercenaries, the score-based time attack mode that I used to play obsessively in past games, or Agent Hunt, which lets you match your way into another player's game as a monster so you can give them some trouble. That's a great idea, though most of the monsters you end up with aren't very capable or much fun to control in practice. Mercs is the same as it ever was, which is fine, and by the time I was done with the game, I felt well enough attuned to the combat that I could have given it a pretty effective go, I just had no energy or desire left to do so. It's worth noting you can once again play the whole game in co-op if you like, though your ever-present, indestructible AI buddy is actually pretty effective in combat, except for the rare moment where they refuse to get themselves over to a tandem door you need to open. That doesn't happen often, but always seems to happen at the worst times.

At a glance, Resident Evil 6 is built on the basic blueprint of a good action game, swaddled in what must have been one of the most expensive productions in video game history. You could offer a lot of ifs about how to make this game better: if the fat were trimmed out in service of a shorter, tighter campaign; if the designers had drilled down more intently on one style of gameplay rather than trying to cover all of them; if the player's core interactions with the game were simply as refined as they should have been. But in the real world, we're left with what's in the box. It's hard to fathom how Resident Evil, which almost singlehandedly redefined the action genre just two installments ago, has now become such a strange, mediocre pastiche of the better games this series once inspired. What a bitter irony that is.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
273 Comments
Posted by nohthink

BOOM!!! Shame on you, RE6!!!!!

Posted by Fredchuckdave

Olawds

Online
Edited by Oni

Shocker!

Also, tied with FF13 for "most lavishly produced bad game"

Posted by Korolev

Oh ho! You are in for a shit-storm of negative comments Mr. Shoemaker! Be warned!

Posted by Morningstar

Oh snap!!

Posted by neoepoch

I'd say the Stars Wars prequels are way better than this game. Take that as you will.

Posted by Benny

If I could get a dollar for everyone who comments here and uses the word/words 'Shit storm'

Posted by Hardtarget

oooouuuuuch at that headline

Posted by Mandrewgora

Damn!

Posted by Cheesebob

I thought it would be 1 star...but I guess it isn't inherently revolting.

Posted by deano546

Was hoping for 1 star, if just to piss off the fan boys...

Posted by XcL

Cliff Leaves Epic now this.

Posted by OldManLollipop

I'll miss u brad

Edited by Trusty_Spoon

From what I have played in demos and heard, it seems everyone has the same oppinion except for the occasional fan boy who really cant accept they just wasted a good sum of money on an inferior product

Posted by OllyOxenFree

And here... we... go...

Posted by MooseyMcMan

I feel sorry for you Brad. Having to play stuff like this.

It was a well written review, at least.

Moderator
Posted by duke1gears0

Whatever, I like RE6

Posted by Sooty

The worst thing about RE6 is that people will now look back on 5 as if it was actually a good game.

Posted by unholyone123

At least he can get back to playing Starcraft II.

Edited by kerse

I hope Japan doesn't keep up this trend. If they want to use things that are in popular western games they need to understand why those things are fun, or not fun. Just because qte's are in some really popular titles over here, doesn't mean we like them. In fact I think almost all of us hate them unless they're used sparingly. I loved Asura's Wrath but I feel like its an exception.

I don't know if I'm in the minority but I want the scary back in "survival horror" games, is it just hard to make a game scary?

Posted by Jace

*Roger niner, we got a hostile inbound, over*

Posted by chrishardyblue

I almost bought this game until I saw how much Brad was hating it. Thanks for saving my $60 and 30+ hours

Posted by Oni

@Sooty said:

The worst thing about RE6 is that people will now look back on 5 as if it was actually a good game.

It was! It was totally fine! It had some questionable parts, especially in the last third, but the tight combat of RE4 was present and correct. And Mercenaries was wild fun in co-op.

Posted by bonbolapti

I'm a fan, and from playing mercs mode so far, the controls are really something to get used to. But it terms of it's overall, I'll be marathoning it with my friend on the weekend, and I'm too invested into the series to not play this.

So if it feels like a over-produced B Movie, I'm okay with that :D

Edited by CaLe

Good to know I don't have to buy another game. It will still sell though, because it says Resident Evil on the box. Hopefully it won't be enough make them immediately start on a sequel. Maybe after a long break and some new creative talent, they'll come up with something that isn't terrible.

Posted by GalacticPunt

Two stars might be charitable. "This is all terrible, but there's SO MUCH of it! What a value!"

Posted by Maajin

I'll have to experience the badness myself, as the bombcast only brought up hopes that I'll actually like it.

Posted by billyhoush

I'm kinda glad this is one less game to buy since we're about to get dumped on with AAAs.

Posted by Anung

Having sank 38 hours into this already I really don't think this deserves the hate its getting. It isn't perfect but it's not awful either. It has great qualities with some bad designs.  Seems like alot of bandwagon jumping to be fair. Also the controls are perfect when you change the camera settings.

Posted by TheVideoHustler

Does anyone else read this in Brad's voice?

Also, very well written Brad. You accurately delivered your points in a way that I can understand your viewpoint, and agree with you.

Posted by Xer0Signal

After Kinect Star Wars, and this, what will it take to get a 1 star review from Brad?

C'mon Brad. Embrace it!

Posted by mortal_sb

this is probably a pretty well written review, but man, i checked in word: 2700 words and almost 4 pages. that's just too long. three times the length in comparison to the joystiq review. a review shouldn't be a short story.

i know GB loves to do long and elaborate reviews, but i would prefer if they would review 2-3 games more and write reviews that are only (at max) half als long as these.

Edited by CptBedlam

@Korolev said:

Oh ho! You are in for a shit-storm of negative comments Mr. Shoemaker! Be warned!

What? All I'm seeing is people shitting on this game with the occasional "I like this game, what's wrong with me" comment sprinkled in between.

I'm in the "it has flaws but the hate it's getting is way overblown"-camp by the way.

Posted by Jost1

@Sooty: RE5 was a good game. It may not have been to your taste but it's polished, it does what it sets out to do, its only flaw is that is doesn't really do anything NEW. Now if you want to say you don't LIKE it, that's fine. But it is not a bad game.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

@TheVideoHustler said:

Does anyone else read this in Brad's voice?

Also, very well written Brad. You accurately delivered your points in a way that I can understand your viewpoint, and agree with you.

No, but this seems like the perfect opportunity for the return of the video review.

Posted by Jazzycola

Only needed to read the first half of the review and hear brad's complaining on the I love mondays video to know that maybe Brad should go back and play RE5. This is just coming from me watching him play RE6 in the quicklook, but it looked like it played pretty damn close to RE5 and the enemies acted the same as well. I've played a few hours of RE5 relatively recent (about a year ago) and everything about the game just felt broken. It doesn't seem like that's changed so I don't know why RE5 is being held to such a high standard which brings me to my original point, Brad should go back and play RE5 to see if that game actually holds up. But I suspect that at this time of year there isn't much time nor is it valuable for a review to do so.

Posted by Phatmac

:/

Posted by Undeadpool

Having played about four hours, I'm ready to say that this game is like Deadly Premonition but with better production values and less personality. But it makes up for that lack of personality by basically being The Room/Birdemic/Kickpuncher in its dialog, acting, and absolute self-seriousness. Despite its MYRIAD flaws, I am having a BLAST playing it (but also absolutely agree with the review).

Posted by AlwaysBeClothing

Its ok Brad, Resident Evil 6 can't hurt you anymore. Ssh, you're safe now.

At least till the raging fans come.

Posted by AndyAce83

Resident Evil 6 is a good game. First annoying, then it grows on you. Its called an acquired taste.

Posted by DeF

I'm curious as to why RE: Revelations never came up in the discussions or the review ... especially since you reviewed that earlier this year as well. Looking back, would you have preferred a bigger budget for a HD release of Revelations instead of RE6? (Though at this point I guess you would prefer anything to RE6^^)

Posted by fargofallout

Holy long review.

As much as some people think being a vide game journalist would be the best job ever (and I think it would mostly be awesome), there are times like this, where you have to get through and finish a game you don't like. I, for instance, couldn't get into Resident Evil 5, so I didn't play the whole thing.

I feel for you, Brad, and I agree that it sucks that this game apparently sucks.

Posted by connerthekewlkid

cmon brad the prequels thing is beating a zombified dead horse

Posted by NoobSauceG7

I honestly thought that even 2 stars would be too high for this game. Brad said absolutely nothing positive about this game...

Posted by Dogma

@Sooty said:

The worst thing about RE6 is that people will now look back on 5 as if it was actually a good game.

Resident Evil 5 was an OK game. BUt yeah, reading and listening to writers during the release period of that game back then you did not hear much love for it (but to be fair...we do know that Brad and espacally Vinny loved and played the shit out of RE5). No one really hated it but the whole "it's an action game more than an horror game" came up a lot, that and complaints about stupid co-op AI, and clunky controls and...yeah, you get my point. Crictics looked at it in a very negative light. It's funny how this game now give these people the impression that RE5 was good or better. A worse game does not make the precursor better it just makes it seem less bad. But that is not the way people talk about it at the moment. It's wierd.

Posted by DG991

0 stars!!!

Posted by Brad

@mortal_sb said:

this is probably a pretty well written review, but man, i checked in word: 2700 words and almost 4 pages. that's just too long. three times the length in comparison to the joystiq review. a review shouldn't be a short story.

i know GB loves to do long and elaborate reviews, but i would prefer if they would review 2-3 games more and write reviews that are only (at max) half als long as these.

If you think the writing is the lengthiest part of the review process, you're badly mistaken.

Posted by JDW519

This game is getting trashed by almost every person that plays, I don't understand how sites like IGN have given it decent reviews, definitely need to play it now just to see how bad it is

Posted by fox01313

Didn't care much for RE5 but hearing on the QL & the bombcast on just how they tried to bring this franchise back by cheaply putting in game mechanics that don't seem to work right or have proper context/tutorials to them. Seems that RE might have more life in the Raccoon CIty game if they do more with that over this. Great review full of insightful stuff Brad, now please go play something you'll find fun & entertaining.

Posted by Animasta

@Xer0Signal said:

After Kinect Star Wars, and this, what will it take to get a 1 star review from Brad?

C'mon Brad. Embrace it!

he gave a one star to velvet assassin, I believe.