Resident Evil 6 is a brave game, one that is not afraid to try new ideas that could, potentially, ensure that this entry is the franchises' downfall. To some, it will be a disappointment, the confirmation that a once-great series is, like the zombies that inhabit it, dead and gone whilst to others it is the start of an exciting new chapter in an ever-evolving saga. But wherever one stands, there's no denying that despite its faults, the game gets a lot right and, for a title that could have gone very wrong, almost completely succeeds for it as the latest instalment is one of the best entries into the series.
Ever since its announcement early this year, a great deal of attention has been put on one of Resident Evil 6's strongest points: the inclusion of not one lengthy campaign, but instead four shorter ones, each with a different protagonist and a unique way to explore horror. Just this alone allows the writers to experiment and explore, giving them the chance to tell a much more interesting, deeper story that not only spans different countries but also alternate time frames. Because of this, Resident Evil 6 is easily the series' most cinematic game so far and is on a scale that not many titles this year can stand up against: across the four campaigns, players will explore a war-torn Edonia, an underground cave system, an outbreak-ravaged China and not all of them are set in present day, with some taking place months before others and even sometimes at the same time, with the effects each event has on the other being blatantly obvious at some points.
With four well-sized campaigns, it was very easy for Resident Evil 6's plot to become so confusing and convoluted that players would rapidly stop caring. However, this isn't the case for instead of having one large plot, the writers have instead chosen to structure each campaign with its own plot that is resolved come the finale but still with enough questions unanswered that make the other three campaigns worth completing. For example, one campaign focuses around the two main character's journey to prove their innocence and discover the truth about one of the game's biggest questions whilst another tells the story of a pair making their way across the country to safety. It's genuinely exciting to play through a scene with one character and not have a clue what's going on but then later on playing through it again and due to events that have already happened, it all makes sense.
However, the presentation is by far not the only brave move Capcom makes with Resident Evil 6: what was created in 4, improved in 5 has undoubtedly been perfected here. Gameplay in previous title has been cited as restrictive, with movements being restricted beyond not being able to move and shoot at the same time: in the latest instalment this is not the case. Alongside having the ability to move around whilst killing the undead, players can now leap about, perform melee attacks, slide along the ground and dodge whilst on the floor, making Resident Evil 6 a considerably more fast-paced title even when not in the more action-orientated campaigns.
As great as the new gameplay additions are, it's not perfect. For those who see the game as a disappointment, one of the biggest complaints they will have is the fact that just these new features alone make the title feel less survival-horror and more like a third-person shooter. As intense as some moments can be, it's never quite so terrifying knowing that a quick way out is only a button press away whereas in previous titles, players would have to hope that a strategic place of a gunshot was enough to get out unscathed. Whilst Capcom have made it so that players never have an unlimited amount of melee attacks at their disposal, it seems that there's always just enough left to flee far enough away to reload or to get to safety. And the inclusion of "move-and-shoot" means that it's also very easy to back away whilst still taking out zombies: this isn't so much of a problem as it is a disappointment as some of 4 and 5's best moments were being backed into a corner by enemies and having to blast players way out.
Despite these problems, never once did Resident Evil 6 stop being fun. All four campaigns are an endless barrage of scripted moments, endless shootouts with the undead and some genuinely exciting scenes that will have players on the edge of their seats; and even when it begins to feel a bit dry with the constant corridor shooting, Capcom throw another massive scene in, whether it be a huge boss battle or an exciting story sequence. Sure, not all of the game is great and there are certainly some parts that are better than others but the game never, ever felt boring and that is a great achievement.
Graphically, Resident Evil 6 is certainly good-looking but it's nothing special. What may have looked great three years ago doesn't now and whilst character models and enemy designs look great, there's a general sense of blandness across everything, almost as if it's a bit simple. Sometimes, the game does look gorgeous with some genuinely breathtaking explosions and scenes of zombie madness and the whole title runs pretty well with very few glitches throughout the whole game. However, it just doesn't have the same high-level finish that Resident Evil 5 had: some textures are incredibly low in detail and facial animations look a bit bland. Nothing in the game looks bad but it's just shy of some of the better titles of the year.
As good as the latest title in the series is, its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. Like previously mentioned, Resident Evil 6 makes a lot of changes, some of which do come off pretty well but others are just slightly strange. Capcom have chosen to almost completely rid gamers of the ability to buy new weapons and upgrade old ones, instead choosing a much more dumbed-down version of it for their latest title. Finding skill points around the levels allows players to upgrade overall abilities like firepower and melee strength as opposed to upgrading individual guns. Also, instead of buying new weapons from a merchant, players now find them scattered about the world; whilst on paper this may sound like a good idea as it encourages exploration, the fact the game actually signposts where they are with an emblem on the screen (almost as if it's the next objective) almost makes it feel as if players are being handed them without actually working for them, like they had to in previous Resident Evil titles.
This alone makes the latest instalment feel less like a survival horror game and more like a third-person shooter: to some this could be a massive disappointment whereas others may be able to accept the fact that the Resident Evil they know and love is gone. This isn't a huge complaint as the game is a lot of fun but it's easy to see that the original charm of the franchise is gone: it's not the same type of scary anymore. Gone is the constant fear of running out of ammo as the game constantly seems to throw it at the player and the title seems to have gone for a more over-the-top set-up instead of a favour of quieter, creepier moments.
All of this adds to make Resident Evil 6 the bizarre game it is: strange choices make for an undeniably fun experience but one that is full of moments where the player questions Capcom's decisions. Why dispose of the merchant? Why make characters more manoeuvrable? Why go for four shorter campaigns instead of one long one? None of these ever make sense: the developer's reasoning behind their choices is never answered. Most strange of all, the aspects Capcom have decided to alter were never part of the series' problems.
Whilst none of these make Resident Evil 6 a bad game, it's hard to ignore the possibilities of what the game could be and this, quite often, masks the title it is: players will find themselves wondering about what Resident Evil 6 isn't rather than what it is. And what is it? It's a lot of fun, an enjoyable romp through endless zombies, foreign countries and exciting story moments. It's these that make the game such a great one but not what it could have been. Because of this, the best way to enjoy Resident Evil 6 is to just play it for what it is, regardless of whether one agrees with the alterations or not. Behind the absence of a merchant and the move-and-shoot mechanic is an undeniably great game, with an exciting, if over-the-top story, told through a unique and interesting manner that will give players a great time for over thirty hours. The Resident Evil players know and love may be dead, but the franchise certainly isn't and Resident Evil 6 is an interesting, if strange, entry into a series that's more than happy to do what most are not: try new things.
- Takes the formula in interesting new directions
- A great way to tell the story
- A surprising length that more than fills the asking price
- Exciting moments aplenty
- Great new gameplay elements
- The start of a new era for the franchise
- Graphics engine isn't as good now as it was three years ago
- Move-and-shoot isn't quite successful
- Some of the new additions don't quite work
- The absence of a merchant