Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Resident Evil 6

“Building upon Resident Evil 5, the sixth instalments in the series expands Capcom’s iconic world and brings forth a delicately woven story across four thoroughly enjoyable campaigns. This may not be the Resident Evil you remember, but this new breed of horror is still just as much fun, if not more.” 

Taking another step towards modernising the franchise, Resident Evil 6 at times betrays the traditional survival horror roots the series is known for, but redeems itself with high production value, multiple long and enjoyable campaigns and some incredible set-piece battles. Old school fans may still be frustrated at the path Resident Evil has now been pushed down, but it’s hard to deny that despite a few technical flaws, this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. 

Resident Evil 6 is structured across four different campaigns with seven key characters: Leon Kennedy and Helena, Chris Redfield and Piers, Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller and finally, Ada Wong. As a result, Resident Evil 6 immediately offers four separate, slightly different and interesting takes on the events of this game. The story you engage with intertwines each character and key set pieces that might be hinted at in one campaign and then answered in another. This structure is enticing, exciting and forces players to complete each story (like you needed a reason to anyway). 

It’s also incredibly refreshing to see that every campaign is slightly different in gameplay too. Leon’s story comes first and clearly caters to the traditional survival horror elements of Resident Evil. The gameplay especially at the beginning is quite slow, ammo is scarce and zombies come at you in abundance. Some wonderfully terrifying moments occur throughout including a battle reminiscent of Leon’s encounter with a giant pond creature in Resident Evil 4 (he must feel such nostalgia). Leon’s campaign gives you sneak peaks into the other stories and by the time you finish this section of the game, you’ll be eager to see what happens in the other story arcs. 

When you move on to Chris and Piers’ story it’s awesome to see subtle changes in the HUD and gameplay. Chris caters to fans of Resident Evil 5, keeping the action fast-paced, offering plenty of knee-high walls to use as cover and gun down mutant zombies. The gameplay speeds up and the action becomes a lot more frantic. Then once you’re done here and you move onto Sherry and Jake the gameplay changes once again to a mix of the previous two campaigns while offering a few nifty additions too. Finally when all three main campaigns are over, Ada Wong’s solo campaign is unlocked: the only campaign you play without a partner. This too moves back to Resident Evil’s traditional roots as you uncover her plans throughout this timeline.

While it’s a whole load of fun to see how the stories mix together, the result sometimes creates moments where you’re forced to replay sections when groups of characters meet. This is a frustrating occurrence but can be forgiven considering the amount of unique content across the four campaigns combines to offer a whole load more substance than the majority of action adventure games on the market. 

The gameplay itself has been refined from Resident Evil 5 and has a certain fast-paced feel about it now. Players can now run, dash and dive out of harms way all the while moving around and gunning down enemies. The introduction of a cover and duck mechanic and the ability to pummel your foes with a barrage of melee attacks truly shows that Resident Evil has now taken a step away from survival horror and is now a fully fledged action game. For the most part however, the gameplay is highly enjoyable, when you’re allowed to play and are not bombarded by quick-time events. Resident Evil 6 is a game driven by a story and while there are certainly incredible set-piece battles, they are spread few and far between engaging battles with enemies, and monotonous exploring. The issue here is predominately pacing – Resident Evil 6 has a hard time keeping the action flowing and is often distracted by both story telling and quick time events. While the aforementioned is perfectly acceptable in a game of this nature, the latter is highly annoying, in particular is one QTE that occurs when climbing up a rope at the end of Leon’s campaign: a buddy and I spent forever trying to overcome a section of the game that ultimately, was completely unnecessary and frustrating, almost ruining the entire positive vibe we carried all the way through Leon’s story. This could be in part due to the size of the project with Resident Evil 6 being developed across various groups of developers and perhaps communication may have been lost at points of production, thus losing on occasion, its fluidity. 

Speaking of buddies, the issues that were so apparent with AI in Resident Evil 5 have also been refined. There are certainly no prizes for guessing that playing with a human friend is a much better way of experiencing Resident Evil 6, but the AI does a good job accompanying you should you choose the solo route. It can be annoying at times when the AI blatantly ignores orders you issue, but the job gets done eventually after a bit of teeth grinding. Thankfully online link up and offline split screen are present to allow you and a friend the opportunity to go through the game but expect a frame-rate and graphic drop when playing split-screen as I encountered this issue on the PlayStation 3. 

Resident Evil 6 also provides certain role-play elements in the form of skill points that are acquired throughout the campaign and other game modes. Skill points can be used to purchase and upgrade skills, with you being able to equip up to three at a time. These include strength increases to weapons, melee, item drop-rate increase, defensive additions and so forth. While the ability to upgrade each individual weapon like in Resident 4 is still omitted, the ability to create various skill sets and employ them at different points in the game at a whim provides an interesting twist on the Resident Evil formula.

Speaking of other game modes, The Mercenaries and Agent Hunt are also present should you want to take a break from the campaigns. Mercenaries provides the same timed zombie killing experience we all know and love, while Agent Hunt allows you to enter into the game of another player online. Skill points are also earned here should you want to collect them in another manner. 

Resident Evil 6 deserves massive praise in the technical department. Brilliantly created environments make this a memorable experience and this level of consistency transcends across all of the campaigns, with no particular weaknesses across the board. Beautiful lighting, textures, character models and a wide assortment of new and horrifying monsters makes every scene beautiful to look at and engage with. The new controller mechanics make Resident Evil 6 a much faster and exciting game but typical camera issues are present that can frustrate on occasion. 

Ultimately a series as iconic as Resident Evil will always find it very difficult to transcend into a modern franchise. I believe however that Resident Evil 6 does a wonderful job catering to the classic and modern fan (me being both) while clearly showing the direction the series is heading. There has been a lot of controversy on the Internet regarding Resident Evil 6 with lots of reviewers scoring it as low as 4.5 out of 10: for me this is ridiculous – I’ve played games that deserve such low scores and Resident Evil 6 isn’t even on the same wavelength. We are all entitled to our opinion but I had a blast playing through Resident Evil 6 and the over-use of quick-time events, slight repetition across the campaigns and occasional pacing issues are not enough to distract from the brilliant set-piece battles and wonderfully woven storylines across four distinct campaigns. Resident Evil 6 is an action adventure game that should not be missed. 

8.5 | Gameplay | 
Fast paced, exciting and engaging gameplay is spread across four different campaign modes. Each campaign has its own individual play style, individual enemies and individual iconic battles. The gameplay is hectic and a whole load of fun. Whether you’re shooting traditional zombies or giant Ogre-like mutants, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. 

9.0 | Presentation | 
Resident Evil 6 is a beautiful game across the board. The visuals are an absolute delight, both character models and the gorgeous environments. New devilish monsters are disgusting and terrifying, exactly how you’d want them. The narrative and voice acting are both of the highest quality with nothing sounding cheesy or awkward. The unique manner in which the story is told and intertwined across the campaigns makes you want to continue playing through each story arc to finally culminate the entire story and fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. 

8.0 | Replay Value | 
First of all it will take some time to get through each campaign, which is a testament to the longevity of Resident Evil 6. Then you have different difficulty levels, should you decide to tackle the game again, which you will. On top of that you’ll want to unlock all the different skills and this requires a whole load of skill points and you need to keep on playing to keep on earning! Playing with a friend while removes the horror somewhat, keeps the game itself very interesting and lots of fun. Nothing builds comradery like shooting zombies and monsters. If that’s not enough, then The Mercenaries, Agent Hunt and inevitable DLC will surely keep you playing Resident Evil 6 for a long time to come. 

8.5 | Final Thoughts | 
Let’s not judge Resident Evil 6 on what it’s not: we all know this is no longer a survival horror game. Rather let’s judge it on what it is, a really enjoyable action adventure game. I cannot stress enough how well developed the story is across the four campaigns and how much fun I had playing through with each cast of characters. People may say that the traditional Resident Evil roots are long gone but I say that these roots are there, placed delicately between engaging modern combat and mesmerizing story telling.  

Igor Kharin.

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