Resident Evil 6 review
What could've happened after December 21st, 2012
Given that survival horror games like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Silent Hill: Downpour aren't selling like Call Of Duty, Capcom decides to give up any and all semblance of survival horror for the Resident Evil series. To an old school elitist shitheel, this spells bloodier murder than Resident Evil 5 and the inclusion of Star Wars characters in Soul Calibur 4 did, but for somebody who is willing to see where a company goes with change, I waited until I either got the “okay” to play it or simply ignore it like a person who is actually responsible with their money. Perhaps it's because of the refreshingly mixed opinions of both professional critics and gamers alike (seriously people, it's okay to have a different opinion to everyone else, no need to go ape shit over it), but temptation to give this game a try was too much for any mere mortal to handle. Suffice it to say... this was somewhat above average. It's one of those games that has a barrage of issues, but everything it does right is done very right. For that reason, I pressed on with Resident Evil 6 and actually had a good time with it despite its problems. That doesn't make it good, but it does push it up to a level above complete mediocrity, which at least counts for something.
Whilst it's split up into four stories that intersect with one another at points, the overarching plot has to do with the establishment of Neo-Umbrella Corp, and their evil plan to start up a zombie apocalypse across the world... moving on, there are some things that our four stories contain that differentiate themselves from one another. Jake Muller, hoping to have no relations to his father, is an agent for the Division Of Security Operations alongside a survivor of the attack at Raccoon City some years back that we'd know as Sherry Birkin. Unfortunately, he has a monster known as Ustanak chasing him, so he'll be required to kill it at one point. Chris Redfield and his partner, Piers Nivans, are attacked by Ada Wong - who seems to be working for Neo-Umbrella Corp – but are the only ones to not be turned into monsters by the attack. Sadly, Chris turns to drinking... until he gets the kick in the ass necessary to carry on a vendetta against Ada. Leon S Kennedy and his partner, Helena Harper, are tasked to take down zombies at the white house – one of which is the president of the United States as he had been infected with the C-virus that turns people into zombies, all because he made an announcement to the world about the truth behind the zombie apocalypse at Raccoon City all those years ago. The fourth character we control... is Ada Wong, but I won't disclose much if anything about her actions that haven't already been mentioned.
Despite the wall of text, the story, more often than not, isn't anything to make a big deal about. It's the kind of story that exists to justify bringing all of our favorite Resident Evil characters together, presumably for one last hurrah. The issue is with the inability to care. It treads old ground with there being a virus that needs to be contained and destroyed, and an evil corporation to stop. Given that the characters are about as interesting as cardboard, the only other way to go is the silly route – be as over the top as possible! Sadly, this is a very straight laced affair without an ounce of irony or good writing, existing only to slow down the action. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, and that is Chris's story. Given that he has a breakdown after his opening sequence, you'd think that his campaign would be about redemption. Well, yeah, but this is where it's apparent that the story simply didn't matter. Chris isn't given much development throughout the story and not enough is done to really make it work like it would in Max Payne. Instead, it's relegated to filler that slows down the game a fair bit into his campaign. To say I was upset is to say that the grass is green – of course I was *bleep*ing upset by the high amount of potential squandered by the demand for a half assed story, hence why I wrote two large paragraphs about it!
I have no idea why, but Resident Evil 5 looks better than this does. Instead of sharp textures and somewhat colorful African landscapes, we get the dull (oftentimes overstaruated to compensate) and dreary streets of Lanshiang, China as seen through the eyes of somebody who had one too many. Whilst the explosions are vibrant and massive in scale, everything is about as exciting as watching mud dry after a mudslide. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this to convey a dark atmosphere; it just looks like this because... it's easier and more cost effective, I guess? The animations are inconsistent – there are some smooth animations to be found with the formations of the explosions and other such set pieces like buildings falling down or blowing up, but it seems as if people and zombies share similar movement engines as while the zombies move as stiffly as they ought to, people seem to move... like zombies.
Thankfully, the sound design is top notch. The soundtrack is big and exciting, complimenting the set piece driven experience. It's nothing that will set the world alight, but it works out quite well for what it does. As far are the more quiet sections are concerned, while there isn't a lot of ambience to be found in what essentially amounts to unnerving woodwinds copulating in reverse slow motion, when the music is taken away, it works out a lot better. As for the voice acting, it's pretty good. Each of the actors and actresses manage to convey their dialogue in a way that tries to make the plot work – that is to say, everybody knows what emotion to convey and how to say their words without tripping over their tongues. Nothing fancy here either, but it's good enough to work. The only issue is that during any of the handful of stealth segments during Jake's campaign, it's rather tricky to gauge the volume of the sounds.
Finally being able to move and shoot is a big deal as it makes the game finally playable. Instead of constantly wrestling with the controls just to get a shot in, all it requires is that you get out your gun, navigate the crosshair towards where you want to shoot and pull the trigger. However, the controls are still far from perfect. Movement, whether it's with your feet or your arms, feels both touchy and rigid, and yet, I feel that the touchiness of it all is a result of the camera... which is zoomed far too closely into your character. The reason that Resident Evil 4 is infinitely more playable than 2 and 3 is because the camera was placed at the right angle and distance away from Leon, but then you boot up this game and notice that you see Leon's back and right shoulder up a little too closely for comfort. I have heard that there is going to be a patch that'll fix this issue, and I, for one, am looking forward to this. Once that's in effect, please consider my comment about the camera being too close at moot point, but until then, keep it in mind.
Anyway, Resident Evil 6 is a third person shooter where you'll move through mostly linear levels to the next zombie shootout or set piece. It's a structure used by plenty of third person shooters, although those games had a tendency to leave you with a bit more ammo than this does. I've had instances where I ran out of ammo simply because there wasn't enough to get out of the corpses of downed zombies. Instead, I sometimes get Skill Points, which are necessary in obtaining Skills that essentially give your weapons perks like increased damage, more ammunition drops (both of which are an absolute necessity in surviving this game) and whatnot. The only issue is that they cost a fortune – you can only equip three at a time, and how appropriate, as that's how many you'll be able to buy before the game ends. Until then, you'll find yourself using the melee system. Instead of only ever being able to use melee attacks at very specific times, you can use it any time to kill zombies, although it drains a portion of your stamina bar. It's worth it though – when you're out of ammo, you'll need to carve a zombie up with your legs so you can hopefully get some ammo.
An element that comes under constant scrutiny is one we've come to know as quick time events. People hate these by virtue of the fact that they give you minimal control, limiting you to pressing the on screen button as quickly as possible. I can see why it's easy to hate these things, especially if they're lazily done (am I right, Asura's Wrath?), but Resident Evil 6 has the right idea. They come at you quickly with very little warning, and you'll be required to press... err, mash the button as quickly as possible. I have no idea why you have to mash the button because it's actually less exciting than simply pressing the button. That's my only issue with the quick time events – otherwise, I'd actually consider these rather exciting, which is exactly what a sequence that would require a quick time event should be. Not everything can be achieved with 100% gameplay and sequences where you have to run from Ustanak or get away from a firey explosion are actually much more effective with quick time events. Sure, one could argue that it could just be a cutscene, but that's no fun – quick time events have a purpose, which is to make sequences more interactive whilst keeping them cinematic, and although the execution could be a thousand times better (again, why must I mash buttons when simply pressing would suffice), I'd say that they fulfilled their purpose here.
My main issue with Resident Evil 6 is its pacing. If it was a car, it'd only have two speeds – slower than a tortoise and faster than the Flash. The former is during a cutscene that you would think would be going somewhere, but alas, it meanders about as they try to find a way to stop Neo-Umbrella Corp whilst ignoring the possibility for character development for our new faces or the ability to really care. The latter is twofold: during intense zombie shootouts and quick time event laden set pieces. Whilst I understand that Resident Evil 6 wants to be bigger and better than the rest, it leaves very little breathing room to take in what just happened until the next QTE-less cutscene pops up.
Well, it's not 100% true as Leon's campaign does have a better idea of what pacing is as there are segments where there's no action, giving you ample time to breathe. Somewhere along the line however, it degenerates into PUNCH BANG PUNCH BANG PUNCH BANG QUICK TIME EVENT, which really does wear on your nerves after a while. Likewise, Jake's campaign has a few stealth segments that, whilst ill conceived, also gives you some time to think... not only about trying to get out of the zombies' eyesights (competent sound design, what's that), but also about what has culminated beforehand. I say ill conceived because it's not very good. Perhaps Capcom and Arkane Studios (developers of Dishonored) shared the same sound effect studio that day? I'd say so, except I'd give Capcom a pass as stealth only plays a part during moments in Jake's campaign as opposed to the entirity of the game, unlike Dishonored.
At this point, you're wondering where this game truly succeeds. I've made passing mentions of its scale while discussing the soundtrack and quick time events without exactly giving it its dues. Resident Evil 6 is a big game. Not necessarily because you're given four sets of 6-8 hour campaigns because if anything, that could easily be seen as annoying; it's more because of the scale of the firefights. You'll be taking down plenty of zombies per group more often than not, and the bosses are more on the heavier side of the scale. Each shootout, each boss fight and even each stealth segment feels big, as if you're defying the odds in order to take down Neo-Umbrella Corp. Each quick time event encompasses the scale of it all, especially those involving Ustanak. Finally taking him down is like a big sweeping epic that grabs you by the scruff of your neck and has you enjoying it so much that whatever pain you feel on your neck is maybe minor at best – which pretty much sums up this game, really.
Pacing, subtlety and atmosphere – you'll find none of those here. Resident Evil 6 is all about constant action, but what is to say that it's all bad? What's to say that Resident Evil hasn't been going in this direction since the second game, which featured more zombies and upgrades to the combat engine? Perhaps if we took off the nostalgia goggles and saw each and every entry in the series for what they really are, it'd be easy to see that only the first and fourth games were any good and that the sixth game is not that bad. Could it be better? Absolutely – I thought the controls were a combination of a bit too stiff and touchy upon first impression, the cover controls to be cumbersome, the stop-start pacing was somewhat irritating and... did the quick time events didn't need nearly as many button mashing sequences as it had? Is it bad? Not really. The big, bombastic direction this game took is one that I would love to see more of in the future as right now, it's actually kind of fun and has the potential to be really good. Besides, I think you can do a hell of a lot worse... you could be swimming through a sea of turds or.. I don't know, playing Operation Raccoon City – look, my point is that Resident Evil 6 is not that bad of a game and I do give it a recommendation, provided that you spend no more than $49 on it.
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