Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Resident Evil 6 Review - Evil Never Dies

Score: 7.75 / 10
Resident Evil 6
Xbox 360 - PS3 - PC
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012

  • Separate campaigns and multiple collectibles offer plenty of playtime
  • Stellar cast and voicework
  • Four player intersections are high points of the campaign...when they happen
  • Local split screen co-op
  • Game is naturally dark, and even with brightness up it's hard to see
  • Certain button prompts are too fast to respond in time, and too often
  • Weapon upgrade system replaced with lackluster skill loadout
  • Cover system is clunky and frustrating
Resident Evil is no longer the survival horror game it used to be...and that is perfectly alright. I have fond memories of the first few games with the hesitation of walking around the corner for fear of the next big scare. Yet, I still have the same excitement in my voice when discussing Resident Evil 4, the game that made the jump from fixed camera horror to over the shoulder shootouts. To put the fans' minds at ease, Capcom has brought in the heavy hitters for the sixth installment to compliment the more action oriented approach. Despite all the changes and implementations, Resident Evil 6 comes out as a decent entry in the franchise...if you let it.

Insult my hair again...I dare you

The plot is interwoven between four different campaigns as Neo Umbrella unleashes attacks all over the world: Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper stave off an infection in another city, Chris Redfield and Pierce work with the BSAA to fight off bio terrorist attacks, Sherry Birkin is tasked with bringing in Jake Muller to develop a cure for the disease using Jake's blood, and Ada Wong sets certain spoiler heavy events in motion. The campaigns intersect with each other on multiple occasions, and you can figure out most of the intended surprises for yourself, though experiencing the same events from multiple perspectives is enjoyable. The plot has tattered over the years since Raccoon City, and the unfortunate pattern of a known enemy turning into a giant bioweapon that you must fight over and over again has not changed. The story would fall flat if it were not for the stellar performances of the voice cast, and the newcomers provide some genuine scenes that bolster an otherwise typical plot. Be it the partner trust issues between the newly acquainted Leon and Helena or the broken mentor/mentee relationship between Chris and Pierce, the exchanges between your companions make up for the cheesy dialogue. 

You open the game as Leon, but soon after will choose from one of three available campaigns, unlocking a fourth upon completing the other three. Though each are similar in gameplay they all have a particular feel to them: Leon's campaign feels reminiscent of Resident Evil 2, reviving a bit of horror and suspense the series was known to bring. Chris's campaign feels like Modern Warfare, populated with squads of AI marines and loads of action. Jake focuses a bit more on stealth and escaping danger, though it always seems to find you. The varying encounters and objectives did their part in distinguishing the campaigns apart from each other, with a few chapters that impress and others that utterly frustrate. The newest feature is the ability to link up with another player's game and encounter a segment where two squads combine. It is unfortunate that it requires someone else to be at the exact same part in their chapter to link up, as it is sure to diminish in likelihood to occur as time goes on. Despite this requirement, is still tended to happen fairly often and became a high point of each chapter.

Three eyes make them thrice as accurate
There are a few slight tweaks to gameplay, but Resident Evil 6 sticks close to what comes natural. You and an AI or human counterpart progress through each campaign shooting your way through hordes of zombies, solving the occasional "puzzle" (term used loosely), and wrapping everything up with a rating of your performance. The shooting works well enough, and the ability to finally move and shoot at the same time or dodge roll out of incoming attacks melds well with the more aggressive enemies. Melee is much more emphasized and now comes with a stamina bar, allowing you to dish out combos at the expense of a few regenerative ticks of stamina. The most useful new feature was the Quick Shot, instantly stunning an enemy for a follow up combo to gain some room to breathe. Enemies fail to react to limb shots as much as they used to, and the failed reaction led me to quick shot combo most large crowds to gain distance. The biggest issue lies in the multitudes of quicktime events that interrupt the flow of the game. Some of these outstay their welcome, some are unclear on what they want you to do, and a vast majority of them pop up so fast that it is impossible to clear them without failing once. Luckily, the AI is not only more helpful in battle (being invincible doesn't hurt), but spot on in never missing a single prompt.

One impressive aspect of the campaign is the enemy variety. From the slow moving zombies of Leon's campaign to the intelligent snipers of Chris's endeavor, there are plenty of baddies to pelt with rounds. Like before, most of these can morph when shot, turning a once harmless peon into a rolling death machine. Enemies gain bullet shielding arms, elongated arms to snatch you from cover, or even morph into a flying torso to turn your attention to the skies. Each campaign has its own group to overcome, which becomes more difficult when the cover system is needed. To battle the gunwielding infected it is a good idea to take cover, but the clunky system often misreads when you intend to take cover, when you want to peek out, and when you simply want to shoot; resulting in skewed aiming and frustration.

I was always a fan of the inventory and weapon upgrade system RE4 and RE5 put in place...which has been dismissed completely. Now in lieu of playing tetris in a cache case, you are given a simple windowed list. I would be more annoyed with the new system but as I played I found it actually works well considering the change in pacing, as you are able to mix herbs and heal on the fly. The only issue is attempting to choose a specific weapon or item, and I often ended up frantically scrolling through the list more as I acquired an arsenal of weapons with each Chapter. Instead of weapon upgrades, the points earned during the campaign are spent on loadout bonuses such as a boost in crit chance or improved melee damage. These can be rather expensive as you go along, and despite equipping them I barely felt their impact.

High Five!

Two additional modes are tucked away in a "bonus content" section of the game. Agent Hunt puts you behind the role of an infected troop in someone else's campaign. You can be practically anything outside of the boss itself, this includes the winged undead and the heavy hitting lizards. It oftentimes felt unfair to the player in the short respawn timer I had, but was an interesting addition that I wished was expanded upon a bit more. Mercenaries faithfully makes its return, both losing and gaining nothing. The two man survival mode acts as a point driven frenzy to rack up kills and combos for a high score, unlocking more characters along the way. It may be as fun as it was before, but the potential for a four person mercenary mode or 2v2 would have captivated me much longer. Sidenote, there are only three maps to play on if you failed to preorder...yeah it gets old fast.

Being a fan of the series from the start, Resident Evil 6 ends up being one of the less enjoyable titles of franchise, but it was not so terrible that I left the game feeling the series was a lost cause. The four player intersects are an interesting idea, and the co-operative action still offers plenty of thrills. The game just felt dragged down by clunky controls, terrible lighting that not even maxed out brightness could fix, and an excessive amount of poorly executed QTEs and vehicle segments. If you can manage to accept what is given expect a decent experience, otherwise the issues of this game will act much like their zombie counterparts...they will only drag on.

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