For years the Resident Evil series has captured the hearts of many, whether it is through the beloved characters or the crazy, yet addictive, stories each title told. Over the last few years the series has been slowly changing, partly for the good but mostly, and unfortunately, for the bad. With Resident Evil 6 now out on store shelves, will it live up to what fans of the series are expecting?
Resident Evil 6 takes you through four completely separate stories that involve seven different characters, and each campaign spans anywhere from 5-8 hours to complete. That’s right, RE6 is pretty much four different games in one. You’ll take on the role of Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Ada Wong, and newcomer Jake Muller. You can choose to play Leon, Jake, or Chris’s stories in any order but only after completing those can you unlock Ada’s. Each campaign – bar Ada’s – sees you team up with a partner for cooperative play: Leon has Helena Harper; Chris, Piers Nivans; and Jake, Sherry Birkin – who makes her return from Resident Evil 2. Jake, Piers, and Helena are all new to the series. During certain parts of each story, you’ll meet up with other players around the world that are also at that same part in another person’s story. For example; if I was playing as Leon and I run into Jake and Sherry, and we have to fend off a monster for a short time, I can do this with other people who are currently playing as Jake and Sherry instead of dealing with the AI. This means you have a pseudo four-player online co-op – although this only happens during certain events – which can greatly improve gameplay.
Leon’s story kicks off with quite the centrepiece: killing an infected President of the United States. After doing so Leon and his new partner Helena try to escape a college campus in anew city that has been hit with the new C- virus. Leon’s events are very reminiscent of the events in RE2 in Raccoon City. You’ll be dealing with those old-fashioned zombies that have finally made their triumphant return to the series since their departure in Resident Evil 4 - the entire campaign also plays out in a similar way to RE4.
Jumping across to Chris’ campaign, here you’ll be on the search for the mysterious Ada Wong who took out the entirety of Chris’ squad. This plays out in a similar fashion to Resident Evil 5 as it’s essentially just action instead of suspense and horror. That and the fact you’ll be dealing with the same machine-gun toting infected.
Jake’s campaign is one that focuses much more on survival – what with his blood being the only known cure for the C-Virus. Oh, and just so you know: Jake is the son of the infamous Albert Wesker, just to make things that little bit more confusing. Again this plays out rather similarly to RE5 but does throw down some rather intense chase scenes that hark back to those pant-dirtying moments in RE3 with Nemesis.
The RE formula drastically changed when RE4 arrived on the scene on the GameCube, and that model hasn’t really changed in the iterations since, except now RE6 feels a lot more like your everyday third-person shooter. Sadly, the gameplay on show also mimics this change. Saying that, RE6 has the best controls in the series thus far. You finally feel like you have complete control of your characters movement; being able to evade, slide, and finally being able to move and shoot. I did notice that sometimes the camera can get a bit wonky depending on the area, but that’s only a minor issue if you think about all the new improvements they made on the controls. RE5’s cover system is back, which isn’t saying much. It works well when you need it to but it just feels a bit odd having to hold down the L1/LB button to stay in cover.
You can now melee at any time, provided you have stamina to do so, is also a nice new feature. Don’t worry though this doesn’t mean that you can just sit there and just kick everything that comes at you. Stamina depletes pretty fast meaning you can only attack a certain amount of times before your character becomes fatigued. When fatigued melee attacks become useless and you’re unable to sprint, which is very bad when you’re in a pinch and need to get to cover. Also new in RE6 is a skill system that allows you to pretty much upgrade abilities to better suit your gameplay style. You want to go into a room and just light everyone up? No problem: just upgrade your gun damage and defense and you’ll be more like a tank. You’re allowed to use three skills per set and you’re able to save different skill sets so you can switch them out on the fly after each chapter.
The new skill system also gets rid of the ability to purchase and upgrade guns at the end of each chapter, like in RE5. This could be a downside for some as you can’t equip any gun you want. But by having each character have different guns sets and certain special abilities with certain guns makes them feel different. Come on let’s face it, it was fun in RE5 but if you played Chris and Sheva and used the same guns they would pretty much feel the same besides the obvious that one’s right handed and the others left.
As you have no doubt noticed from all the screenshots and videos, this game looks great. Character models and environments are superb, except for a couple of bland details in some locations when stop and stare. As you progress through each story, your characters go through hell and back, and it shows. Through the campaigns you’ll see characters sweat and bleed. The voice acting is also top notch, really allowing you to get into the story and really feel what these characters are going through.
RE6 also brings back fan-favourite mercenaries mode. Putting you on a map and throwing enemies at you in a survival mode, each kill you acquire grants you points; and, as you kill more and more enemies, you can gain combos that give you more points. Mercenaries mode also has a completely separate skill tree that you can use to unlock abilities, such as longer combo time and faster healing. Like always, you can play this mode by yourself or with a friend. By getting B ranks or higher, you unlock characters or costumes that each have different load-out’s for a varied experience.
A new addition to the RE franchise is the Agent Hunt mode included in RE6. It’s here that you take on the role of a B.O.W. and have to attempt to kill an unwitting player as they progress through the story. It’s a rather fun addition that completely changes the experience for both players – luckily it can be turned off if you don’t fancy playing through that way. Also new to the franchise is Residentevil.net that – once you create an account – allows you to link your PSN/XBL account and track all your statistics. Everything from checking to see how many emblems you have to your weapon accuracy is tracked. As you upload data to the site your online rank rises, thus unlocking points to buy alternate skins for characters in Mercenaries, gain collectable in-game figures, and unlock new icons for your online profile.
Resident Evil 6 is a great experience for long time fans and newcomers alike. Not only does RE6 have the best story in the series thus far it’s also the most cinematic; at times I thought I was playing Uncharted set in the Resident Evil universe – which some hardcore fans might not like. It also packs so much content it’s hard to pass up. Some people might not appreciate the new gameplay mechanics, while others will instantly fall in love with everything you are now able to do. It’ll take about 20+ hours to complete, making this the biggest RE game thus far. Trying to max out all skills for both Mercenaries and story modes takes time and dedication, while also adding replay value – and that’s before you’ve gotten to Agent Hunt. RE6 has changed things around quite a bit in trying to appeal to a larger audience. This could, and will, turn some hardcore fans off, but – for the most part – I think all the changes are good and I love the direction the series is heading in. All in all, RE6 is a great experience and if you’re a hardcore fan you won’t want to miss the story if anything else.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Looks great but some textures do look unpolished.
Gameplay – 4/5: Huge improvement over the old stiff controls; now you can dodge and even shoot while moving, but the camera can get wonky at times.
Innovation – 5/5: A more cinematic story than past titles with big improvement over almost everything.
Value – 4.5/5: With 4 stories to complete which takes around 20+ hours to complete all 4, not to mention Mercenaries and Agent Hunt mode. You’ll get your zombie fix.
Final Score: 4/5