Tuesday , February 27 2024
No (zombie) guts, no glory.

PlayStation 3 Review: Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6 is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, a brilliant game.  I am someone who hasn’t been a fan of the franchise’s turn to action from survival horror, and while this isn’t quite a return to the original games in the series, it finds a much better balance than RE 4 or RE 5 did.  The controls are fluid, the changes from previous iterations seem well considered, and it all looks absolutely fantastic.  That isn’t to say that there aren’t issues which ought to have been considered and fixed, but despite those, the game remains brilliant.

The new title provides three different main storylines (plus an Ada Wong campaign) with more playable characters than just those four.  And, for you Resident Evil aficionados, RE 6 marks the first time that Leon S. Kennedy and Chris Redfield have been available as campaign characters in a single game.  As for the story, well, that’s never really been a strong point of the series, has it?  Okay, yes, they’ve created a mythology, but it’s so twisted and convoluted that unless you’re exceptionally involved in it all, said understanding doesn’t travel much past there being a bad company called Umbrella Corporation who has been mucking around with human genetics.  Umbrella is now well on its way to destroying our world via a zombie menace (okay, that may totally not have been the goal and there may have been some nefarious, subversive elements within the corporation but the upshot of it is that the world is quickly coming to an end due to the corporation and/or its people).

Listen, don’t worry about it, the game certainly doesn’t.  Just accept that there are zombies all over creation and that your job is to get from point A to point B killing them as you go.

It truly is a matter of going from point A to point B — Resident Evil 6 is an incredibly linear experience.  Obviously as the game has a tale to tell (no matter how clearly it manages to tell it… or not tell it) there is a necessary starting point and an end point, but you really are just travelling along a single predetermined path as the tale unfolds.  In fact, the game stops repeatedly—far too much—in order to let bits and pieces of the story take place via cutscene.  Perhaps the reason that it feels as though the tale is so minimal is that it all comes out so slowly in such irrelevant-seeming bits and pieces.

Beyond that, the three different campaigns mean that we’re really getting three different stories instead of a single one.  Yes, there is an overarching tale and the three individual stories are linked together, but it still comes off as something akin to three separate games, not interlinked ones (even if the stories do actually come together at spots). 

So, there you are, a bunch of bad stuff.  What about the good?  For starters, the game looks simply fantastic (although it’s a touch too dark, even with the brightness turned up).  The gore and explosions are beautifully rendered and help throw you into the midst of the action… of which there is a ton.  Puzzles do exist, but they are none too taxing.  The game is heavily action oriented, but there is without a doubt a survival horror aspect to it.  You may not find yourself counting bullets as you had to do in the early RE games, but you just can’t press push the trigger without giving it a little bit of forethought. 

An interesting thing to note is that zombies here can not only jump at you, but fire guns as well.  Generally, the latter seems to be more of the sporadic, unintentional sort of firing (not that the bullets hurt any less), but the jumping is most definitely intended to get at your fleshy bits and chomp away (a nice shotgun blast whilst the zombie is in the air tends to put them down).

Co-op play is available and you can also unlock something called Agent Hunt mode.  This allows you to enter someone else’s game as a baddie and try to kill them (respawning as needed so that you can complete the goal).

One will note a number of annoying camera angles in the game, however, I’d argue that they’re a good thing (generally).  If you think back to those first Resident Evil games, there is a static camera which, purposefully, gives you awful angles on the action.  To me, therefore, RE games should have some bad camera stuff.  The developers may not have intended to hearken back to those early days with their camera angles, but the end result certainly does.

Between chapters, the game does allow you to spend points earned during a chapter to level up various aspects of your character (faster reload times, more steady aim, more item drops from dead enemies, etc.).  It feels like a relatively generic leveling scheme and, perhaps, would have been better left out.

Changing gears, while I understand that this is a zombie game and therefore probably not entirely realistic, I do still have a nit or two to pick with the way our heroes operate.  Let us say that you are Leon S. Kennedy and you have had a bunch of experiences with the dead coming back to life right in front of you (or right behind you).  At some point, you would think that, no matter how gruesome the act, every time you saw a dead body you would use your knife and take its head off – you wouldn’t wait to see if it came back to life, you would just take it’s head off.

The number of times in this game that you (as any of the characters) walk past dead bodies only to have them reanimate a minute later is ridiculous.  Even if you didn’t have prior zombie experience, after the first time a body reanimates once you pass it, you’ll start decapitating the rest.  I get it, doing that sort of thing could easily change the feel of a game—it’s different to kill a bloodthirsty zombie than it is to desecrate a dead body—but if the dead are coming back to life the rules change.  If the game wants to create a fully realized world in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, it needs to follow that to its logical conclusion, and that includes the use of proper precautionary procedures.

What else hurts the game?  Mainly its annoying reliance on quicktime events and, when playing single player, having to wait while your partner goes off and does stuff.  Both of these issues have the same effect and that’s to pull you, the player, out of the experience.  There is simply no reason for either, particularly when tension is purposefully being ratcheted up in order to create a better experience – both the QTE and waiting on a partner destroys all that built up tension.

Shortcomings aside, I have really enjoyed my time with Resident Evil 6, in fact, I like it far more than I ever liked Resident Evil 5.  I would like to see further incarnations take steps closer to bringing the franchise back to true survival horror, but what we’ve been offered here is certainly a lot to chew on, with plenty of different bits and pieces to keep people playing for an extended period.

Resident Evil 6 is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Nudity, Strong Language, and Suggestive Themes. This game can also be found on:PC and Xbox 360.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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