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Mar 25, 2013

Resident Evil 6 Review

The Good:

+It's a rather good looking game
+The atmosphere in some of its moments are great
+Some creative set piece moments
+Fairly decent voice acting
+A less frustrating AI to deal with
+Some neat little gameplay mechanics make it in such as the melee combat
+Four different campaigns keep things going for a long time

The Bad:

-Far too many quick time events
-Inventory management is a pain
-It's easy to suffer cheap deaths due to poor setups, unless you know the danger is coming you might not be able to do much about it in time
-Despite four campaigns the game has some unusual pacing; there are definitely moments where the game is padding out its length and they're clearly noticeable

Resident Evil has a long and varied history. As gaming moves on Resident Evil has spent quite a bit of time trying to find it's footing. It's not necessarily an identity crisis so much as it is that the gaming landscape has changed so much that Resident Evil has to keep up in an area it used to dominate. The approach with Resident Evil 6 seems to be trying to mend as much as they can to give you what may be one of the most varied gameplay experiences you'll find in the entire series. In part because there are times Resident Evil 6 just isn't sure what it really wants to be. It's not really survival horror at this point, but that's far from some of the questionable choices made with Resident Evil 6.

The story is rather simple this time around. There's a big virus outbreak only this time it's of epidemic proportions. It's been a long time since the outbreak in Raccoon City and the President believes it's time to let everyone know the truth. Unfortunately, someone doesn't want this to happen. And before long the President is infected and Leon has to put him down. Beyond that the game mostly spans a narrative that tries to weave everything together. The cutscenes themselves and the narrative actually aren't bad. As it's easy to be taken in by some of the games cinematic moments. The writing, however, isn't very strong at all. There are moments that are quite laughably bad. This is to be expected from Resident Evil but some of the writing moments are bad even for Resident Evil. The voice acting isn't too bad, however, and overall the story can be satisfying--even if it feels a little overly long. There are four different campaigns to play, each consisting of five chapters. There are the three standard characters: Leon, Chris and Jake. Each of them has a partner. Leon works with a woman named Helena, Chris works with a member of the BSAA named Piers and Jake works alongside Sherry Birkins, who hasn't been seen in a Resident Evil game since the second installment over fourteen years ago. Complete these three campaigns and you'll be able to play as Ada.

It's the three campaigns where it seems Resident Evil 6 is unsure of what it is. As each of the campaigns plays drastically different. Leon's campaign feels more survival horroresque as the mood and tone of it recall a few things from Resident Evil's past. The lighting is done in such a way that you can't always see. You don't always know if you have enough ammo to survive what's around the corner and the audio is sometimes eerie. Chris, on the other hand, feels incredibly like an action shooter through and through. Jake's campaign, however, focuses heavily on set piece moments and quick button presses. It's a strange mesh of things that helps each campaign feel almost like an entirely different game. Playing through one campaign doesn't prepare you for what you'll face in the next.

Resident Evil 6 tries a few new things and tries to revamp others. The gunplay is perhaps the most noticeable difference right off the bat. Resident Evil: Revelations had a targeting system similar to that of Resident Evil 4 and 5 but the sixth installment does away with that entirely. It's a new system that makes aiming slightly easier and less problematic, although there's a lot one can do. You can finally move and shoot at the same time, although you walk kind of sluggish when you're aiming. Likewise, you can be knocked to the ground and shoot while you're on the ground. When you're on the ground you can also roll or shift away from the enemy or slide past them. There are also moments when you can take cover behind objects, though the game's cover system is incredibly clunky and almost not worth utilizing.

A lot of the controls may take time to get adjusted to as it's all been reworked from the previous game. Some things work out fantastically while others haven't been worked out well at all. Melee combat, for instance, is better here than it's ever been before. You can perform melee attacks much more easily now. Instead of them all being relegated to button prompts when they appear, you can now use melee attacks any time you do not have a weapon raised. Just a simple tap of a button and you can start performing combos. You can also go in for stealth attacks or change up some of your power depending on the weapon you've got equipped (for instance, with a rifle you may actually hit the enemy with said rifle). It's simple and at times can be more helpful than actual fire power as these attacks are incredibly powerful.

The same cannot be said about the inventory system at least. Inventory management is needlessly complicated in Resident Evil 6. One does not simply pick up an herb and use it, they must assign it to their case to be able to use them. While it's great to be able to heal at the simple press of a button once it's there, it's hard to be able to manage say your healing items in the thick of combat. You'll also find weapon and ammo. It's pretty easy to switch to your weapons as you can cycle through easily, and even getting to first aid sprays is pretty simple (but strangely not the same as using an herb), once you really start filling your inventory out you may find you'll spend quite a bit of time combining herbs and the like. But once your inventory is full you'll find yourself having to dump things from your inventory a lot. Once that item is gone it's gone for good. The problem isn't that Resident Evil 6 has a very limited inventory. It's actually that it's hard to manage in the thick of combat. You'll love to get some downtime to be able to requip some herbs or to use a first aid spray or rearrange your weapons and dump things you don't need. It's just odd that in 2012 inventory management is one of Resident Evil 6's shortcomings.

Combat is often satisfying, but CAPCOM hasn't exactly gotten rid of the partner aspect. You'll always have someone at your side. This time around you don't have to babysit the AI by any means. They'll never take ammo away from you or waste your resources and they will never be in danger of dying on you because they're pretty much invincible. Meaning you can have them soak up damage if you want. So it's unusual, then, that the AI is still fairly useless. They'll shoot enemies more here than they did in Resident Evil 5 or Revelations, but a lot of the time they'll still be off doing dumb things. You can praise or thank them for saving you and they'll start to use more powerful weapons as a result, but the point is that the AI is still mind numbingly bad. It's just that this time around you don't have to worry about it. Nevertheless, having a human partner is still better. And luckily you can play online or locally. You can set it so people online can join you or keep it private. You'll also be able to invade other players game as the enemy if they've allowed for you to do so. The downside to a human partner, though, is that the game can be mind-numbingly simple. Not that Resident Evil 6 is too hard, but most of your enemies aren't very smart. When you're on the brink of death they strangely take forever to take that final blow. A lot of enemies will stand there and simply let you wail on them with physical attacks while the zombies around them strangely sit around and watch. Even when hordes of zombies are around you'll find the game is pretty relaxed in most moments. That's not to say you won't die... it's only to say you may die unfairly.

In 2005, Resident Evil 4 introduced the concept of Quick Time Events into Resident Evil and since then you get the feeling that the games should probably do away with them by now. You'll never feel this to be more true than Resident Evil 6. It makes more use of quick time events than just about any game in recent memory. The quick time events come around constantly and are sometimes longer than you expect. Certainly it'll keep you on your toes, but it'll also cause you to die constantly because you simply aren't aware they're coming. It's not just quick time events that can cause cheap deaths in Resident Evil 6. Some moments you may needlessly die at because the danger just isn't pronounced. Meaning, if you don't know what's around the corner you might die first (but at least you won't die a second time). Early on in Leon's campaign, for example, I was busy fighting zombies underground that I simply had no way to prepare for the train that killed me. And my AI partner simply didn't warn me fast enough. It's not that I wasn't warned it's that it came too late for me to get out of the way on account of me fighting zombies so that I wouldn't, ya know... die (But I guess that really didn't matter, did it?). It was easier the second time because I knew it was coming, but it seemed like I died needlessly just to prepare for it.

These moments are pretty constant throughout the campaign. Bad setups and quick time events run rampant throughout. When the game gets on a good flow it can actually be rewarding. There is just a bit of a learning curve to it and a bit of patience required on behalf of the player. Some of Resident Evil 6's set piece moments are actually really good and shouldn't be missed.

The only problem is that going through all the campaigns sometimes feels rather long and unusually paced. You'll have to play through all of them to get the full story, but there are some excellent moments that are marred by slower paced moments that you wonder why they're included in the first place. There are definitely moments of padding in Resident Evil 6 that are used to make each campaign last. And by that I mean, each campaign is about the same length, which means there are moments when each campaign is given moments JUST to make sure they're all roughly the same length. At least the moments of fun and progress outnumber the moments where the game is clearly padding.

Graphically a Resident Evil game has hardly looked better. The environments are really detailed and sometimes there are little things worth noticing. When you slide across a table filled with papers, for instance, they go flying everywhere. The lighting is especially good here as you'll traverse moments that are brightly lit and go down hallways that are dark with very little light to see. It makes good use of technology. The audio is also very good. The screams and groans of the baddies you'll face are pretty good. The sound effects are amazing and even the voice acting isn't too bad (though they haven't exactly been given the best script to work with). If there's one thing that will always remain true, it's that CAPCOM will never skimp on the presentation of a Resident Evil game.

It's a shame then that Resident Evil still can't manage to be scary, however. The atmosphere is sometimes there with the lighting and eerie noises. There are even moments when Resident Evil 6 will honestly try to be what it was at the height of the franchises popularity. Of course, Resident Evil can't really be scary anymore when the fans are so used to all of the tricks it tries to do. So it goes a more action oriented route. Resident Evil 6 manages to take some steps forward with some of it's melee combat mechanics and even some of its gunplay. But it takes some steps back with it's unusual amount of quick time events, clunky cover system and poor inventory management. Players may certainly have fun with Resident Evil 6 but it isn't going to come without some frustration that could've easily been avoided with some slightly better game design.
Verdict: 60/100

Genre Shooter
Style Third-Person 3D Shooter
Themes Undead Mutants
Release Date March 22, 2013
Publisher Capcom USA, Inc.


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