Alright, well it’s finally here. Resident Evil 6. Yeah I know it came out a few weeks ago, but I don’t have the free time I used to and this game is long. Of course, whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen. Anywho, you know the drill, probably. It’s Resident Evil 6. It was a pretty hyped release this year, and turned out to be critically panned. Now, I’m not a licensed professional critic for video games, but I’m here to offer my own personal opinion on the game. Let’s get the minor details out of the way. Resident Evil 6, released October 2, 2012. By Capcom. The sixth game in the numbered Resident Evil series (there are a ton of spin-offs, including the quite fun 3DS title Revelations). Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of this game~! (I am reviewing the PS3 version of the game, and only the PS3 version of the game, so please keep that in mind)
Before I get into my opinions on the game, a little note on my background and biases. I’ve never been a huge Resident Evil fan. Still, I’ve played and beaten all the numbered games and Revelations. As I’ve noticed whenever a Resident Evil discussion pops up, there are generally two camps of fans here. Ones that love the first 3 games and hate all the stupid action stuff afterwards, and people who enjoy the latter 3 (or just 4, or just 4 and 5) and hate the clunky tank controls that came before it. Of course, now that I say that, I’m going to have people jumping down my throat saying I can’t generalize like that, but that’s just what I’ve observed over the years. And if you’re a fan, you probably know Resident Evil 6 is a lot more like Resident Evil 4 and 5 than 1-3, so if you’re expecting some survival horror goodness you should probably just walk out now because you will not like this game. As for my bias for these games… I enjoyed all of them but I’ll be honest and say Resident Evil 4 is my favorite of the bunch. I’ve never taken the plot of these games seriously and RE4 felt like campy fun with stellar one-liners and super fun action. So keep that in mind, I guess.
Delving into the plot of Resident Evil 6, well… I’ll be honest, it’s not great. I’ve never been a fan of Resident Evil plots to begin with, but 6 in particular seems to poorly attempt to recreate some of the flavor of past games, while expanding on the major action focus that’s been building for the past two games. There are 4 routes in this game. The three main routes feature Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and Jake Muller. Once you beat all 3 of those, you get access to the final route, which is Ada Wong’s. Each of these are about 6-10 hours of gameplay, which adds up to be a fairly lengthy game. In that respect I was… somewhat pleasantly surprised. Obviously this would not be a selling point if you didn’t enjoy the content in this game, but if you like it, well, there’s a lot to like. As for the plot itself, the basic gist is that there’s a new virus in town, called the C-virus. And you’ve got to be a bad enough dude to stop it. There are some machinations in the background, particularly regarding Ada Wong’s story, which, while slightly more interesting, is still not that great. There are also, surprisingly enough, zombies in the game. Only in Leon and Ada’s stories, but a welcome and refreshing enemy to fight.
Along with the action-packed virus destruction plot, each of the routes have some sort of personal struggle. This is most apparent with Chris’s route, where he takes to alcohol in a desperate attempt to deal with some crippling failures he made in the past, as a squad captain. Of course each character overcomes their own personal faults and becomes a better person for it. To be honest, the drama felt a bit forced and not really something I cared to see in a Resident Evil game. It tried to be a cinematic experience in that respect and didn’t really convey it well enough to be seen as one.
Let’s get down to what really matters for a game like this (at least to me): the gameplay. Now if you’re familiar with and enjoyed the combat systems of Resident Evil 4 and 5, to which 6 is most similar, you’ll probably be surprised by this one. There are several major changes to the combat system in this game. The melee system has been totally revamped. Instead of being able to only do melee attacks when you shoot and stagger a zombie, now you can do them whenever. However, each and every melee attack is tied to this bar of 5 blocks. Each successful melee attack takes one of these blocks. This includes a melee attack following up a gunshot-staggered enemy, or a finisher as the enemy lies on the ground. This also includes a new attack in the game, dubbed a “quick shot”, which is performed by mashing L1 and R1 at the same time. It, for the most part, auto-aims. It will also auto-stagger an enemy as long as that enemy doesn’t have body armor, opening it up for a melee combo. Speaking of melee combos, each character has a combo of 3 melee moves, which you can perform by just running up to an enemy (provided it doesn’t resist physical attacks in some way) and mashing the melee attack button 3 times.
Besides the totally revamped melee system, I would say the combat feels mostly the same as Resident Evil 5, mechanically at least. There are some big changes but I’ll get to those in a little bit. Some other big gameplay changes include the total lack of inventory management. I’ll be honest, I was quite fond of that in the Resident Evil games, so I am a little disappointed. Okay, I’ll be honest: there is a minor degree of item management, but it is almost a non-issue. Guns are held separately than your items. In this game, the only things counted as “inventory” is ammo, grenades, and healing items. Ammo stacks can get fairly hefty, so generally you won’t have 2 stacks of the same type of bullet. The amount of spaces they give you is fairly generous as well, so you nearly never have to worry about item management in this game.
Which leads me to another fairly drastic change, at least from 4 and 5. Herbs in this game are handled quite differently, and in a more streamlined fashion. This has somewhat to do with how health was also streamlined. Instead of a fluid bar, your health is in discrete blocks. And herbs are now essentially tablets, one tablet fills up one of those blocks. These tablets are held in a herb case. So you have herbs in your inventory, but when you put them in your herb case they become tablets that your character can then use. The way they handle different herb colors is fairly simple. One green herb is 1 tablet, 2 is 3. 3 green herbs is 6 tablets, and a green plus a red herb is also 6 tablets. I never figured out what the maximum number of tablets you could have in your case, but it’s something above ten, so there’s generally little reason to hoard herbs in your inventory unless you’re waiting to combine them. I’ll be honest, at first I wasn’t a fan of this change, but as I played the game more it definitely felt more streamlined and led to a more fluid experience, instead of tediously searching through my inventory for a herb, finding out I had to combine them, and then combine them and use them all while some zombie struck me with a shovel.
The last major change to gameplay and mechanics is the loss of money. You don’t buy and upgrade guns anymore, either. Instead, you find skill points, which you can use to buy various skills. These can range from abilities such as healing your partner whenever you take a herb tablet, or doing more damage with gunshots, or increasing the chance for a critical head shot. While some aspects of this system are cool, I will say I definitely preferred buying and upgrading guns. The upgrades you buy with skill points feel generally bland, and I think my greatest issue is that I preferred the raw number data increasing as I upgraded my guns. For example, I do X amount more damage or reload Y faster, or can hold 100 bullets in a clip as opposed to 20. All in all it feels like skill points are a kind of bland replacement to a system I was used to, and I don’t really understand why it was changed.
Okay, so mechanically I think the game is fairly sound. The new systems took a little while to get used to, but as I got in the groove the game got really enjoyable. I think this shows the most in one of the extra game modes: mercenaries. Full disclosure, my buddies and I are big mercenaries fans, and if anyone’s similar, you’ll be happy to note that mercenaries is very fun in this installment. I think the new systems and how mercenaries is handled now work well together and make for a more enjoyable game, but I’ll cover that later.
Let me get into my biggest issue with the game. This doesn’t apply as much for Leon’s route, but it certainly does for Chris, Ada, and Jake’s routes. The fact of the matter is, you’re not really fighting zombies anymore (with the exception of part of Ada’s route and Leon’s route). You’re instead fighting people infected with the C-Virus. This is annoying for a multitude of reasons. Point 1 is that a great number of these enemies have guns, and use them quite frequently. In Resident Evil 4 and 5, enemies more or less only got guns near the end of the game. Here they start off with guns and it’s really, really annoying. Moreover, they have a whole host of mutations that are possible after they “die”, which are also a pain to deal with. Moreover, and this is just true with enemies across the board in this game. Resident Evil 6 enemies are very resilient, compared to past enemies. Unless you shoot them in the head (for the most part), they will barely be deterred by bullets. In fact, it takes quite a few bullets to drop an enemy in this game. So the enemies are tough, have guns, and don’t die when they’re killed. How can this get worse?
Well, a lot of areas have either infinite enemies, or a number that’s far too high to fight and end up with more resources than you started with. So, combine all those factors and you’ll find yourself in a lot of combat sections that are more annoying to play through than fun. This is particularly evident in Chris’s story, where near the end my friend and I would just run past enemies to the next checkpoint if killing enemies was not a requirement. Additionally, ammo seems to be in fairly short order, so wasting bullets needlessly on tougher zombies is not really worth it. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m whining about the game’s difficulty. The game isn’t really all that hard (though I played on normal, and not veteran). The enemies are just incredibly annoying and not all that fun to fight against. I will say there is a great variety of enemies in this game, which was kind of cool. Very few of them are fun to fight. I suppose Capcom wasn’t out to make enemies that were “fun to fight” but if I’m not having fun playing a game something is wrong. Unfortunately, this game is more action-y than any previous title, and has a lot of combat. So the issue of annoying enemies was present quite often. Fortunately, boss fights were mostly okay, with the very notable exception of one.
I just have some final notes about the gameplay that I’ll cover quickly. One minor thing that annoyed me is that each character has a different HUD system, and their options menus are laid out completely differently. It’s fairly annoying and totally unintuitive. For all the effort made to streamline the game, I’m surprised they went with different HUD layouts and menus. I didn’t want to get into certain annoying parts of routes, but I will say that Leon’s route’s final chapters (4 and 5) are essentially one boss battle against the same guy over and over again. It was very annoying and poorly done. By and large puzzles were non-existent, except for a few in Leon’s route and a few in Ada’s route. I rather liked the puzzles in the other games, so I was sad to see this change, but it’s not really a deal-breaker. Last but not least I’d like to address the issue of quick-time events. Generally, I don’t have a problem with them, and for the most part I didn’t really mind them in RE6. However, this game abuses the quick-time event like no other, throwing them in quite often in the middle of combat and also fairly often in cut scenes. So the sheer frequency of them really turns me off from quick-time events from this game. And if any of you reading this have played this game, I’m sure you remember and shudder at the L1/R1 alternating rope-climbing quick-time event that was poorly envisioned and executed.
The graphics for RE6 are mostly okay. I really liked Resident Evil 5′s graphics, and this felt like more of the same. To a degree, that’s a bit of a disappointment considering Resident Evil 5 came out in 2009, so you’d think in 3 years they’d get out something a bit better, but it’s not as if these were bad on their own. The environments felt fairly bland, I suppose, but I can excuse that. By and large I had no problems with the graphics of this game. As for the sound design… Well, the voice acting was more or less pretty good. Leon may not have had as many awesome one liners as he did in the past, but that’s okay. I am generally not a fan of the Resident Evil series’ music, and honestly 6 did not change that opinion for me in the slightest, with one exception. The mercenaries theme in RE5 was excellent, and the theme in RE6 is also quite good. My complaints (or lack thereof) in these two departments didn’t change my opinion of the game, but they definitely did not make a bad situation better.
As I mentioned before, there’s a ton of content in this game, specifically four fairly lengthy campaigns and two special modes. Mercenaries, which has been a staple of the series since Resident Evil 3, is back and still quite good. Like I mentioned before, if you take out the poorly done gameplay segments of the campaign, the new combat mechanics of RE6 hold up quite well, and this shows in mercenaries. There were some changes to the mercenaries mode, though they’re mostly minor changes. One of the major ones is the introduction of skills to mercenaries as well, similar to the main campaign. I enjoy the skills here, because it leaves for simply more customizable gameplay. Nothing was taken away to add skills to mercenaries, which was cool, whereas gun customization was taken away from campaign to make room for skills. Besides that, there were some minor changes dealing with times (streamlined the amount of times, there are fewer per map now) and combo times (generally more hidden and you have to shoot them to activate them). Additionally, and one of my favorite changes, is how mercenaries is more incremental than before. While in 4 and 5, to a degree the lower your time got the more intense the enemies got, in RE6 the enemies come in “waves” so to speak. So the game starts by throwing weak zombies at you, then armored zombies, or zombies with guns. Then dogs, or acid spitters, and then the big fellas come your way. Of course, this is cumulative so you eventually you’ll be fighting everything at once.
The other new mode in Resident Evil 6 is Agent Hunt. On paper, this sounds like a really cool concept. You invade another random players world as a zombie, and do your damnedest to slay them. Unfortunately, this mode was poorly executed. There is some skill point use but it’s very basic and bland. Additionally, the gameplay for the most part is slow and not fun… Kind of what you’d think the game would be like if you were playing one of those slow enemies you maul by the thousands as you proceed to beat the game. One point I will praise for Agent Hunt is that there are quite a few enemies in the game, and from my limited experience you can be a good number of them. They in general have quite varied move sets and are kind of fun to play for a few minutes in a novelty sort of way. But for a fully fledged game mode Agent Hunt is poorly executed and pales in comparison to Mercenaries.
Some closing thoughts on Resident Evil 6.:I don’t think it’s a bad game. If you enjoyed Resident Evil 4 and 5 for the action, you’ll probably enjoy Resident Evil 6 to some degree. I do think it is, for the most part, a worse game than those two, but it is nowhere near unplayable. Parts are annoying, but all games have annoying parts. There are just a few more here. And hey, what Resident Evil 6 does do well, I think it does pretty damn well.
– Good changes in combat mechanics from melee system to the way herbs are handled.
– Mercenaries is still very fun.
– It’s an action-packed ride that isn’t terrible but has some poor segments.
– The poorly done segments are really poorly done.
– Agent Hunt was a mistake.
– Skill Points feel like a bland replacement to gun customization.
– The enemies in the campaign are by and large quite annoying to fight, not very fun.
– Quick-time events everywhere.
Available on: 360, PS3, soon to be PC
Genre: Third-person shooter
Release date: October 2, 2012