PC – PS3 – Xbox 360 (version tested)
I’m going to start with an apology. When I first played Resident Evil 6, I was unduly harsh. Although the game is a complete departure from the Resident Evil we’ve loved over the last 20 years, I never gave it a chance. Yes, Capcom were pandering to the COD crowd, with that generation of games being saturated with action games and FPS’s, however that didn’t necessarily mean that the game is bad, it just wasn’t Resident Evil. With that in mind I felt somewhat let down that the horror series I’ve loved for so long was only present in name. After a mere hour or so of playing the game I dismissed it as a shameless cash in on the current trend in gaming, never looked at it again, and tore in to it whenever the subject was broached. So with that I’m sorry for writing it off so hastily without having scratched the surface. Since then we’ve had HD rereleases of classic RE games and a few spin offs, so I decided it was time for reassessment.
Resident Evil 6 starts almost at the climax of the story, in the middle of a Chinese city, as chaos is erupting all around following an outbreak of a new strain of virus. This sets the scene and tone for what’s to come throughout the game. It’s an epic, action packed, gory blockbuster full of enough set pieces and destruction that Michael Bay could only dream about. This is where you have to remind yourself what you’re playing. No, its not another run and gun game, its Resident Evil. Gone are the slow ambles around derelict buildings and shanty towns, and in comes fast paced gun play and sprinting about town. The story spans across several months and intertwines with some classic Resident Evil characters and introduces some new blood to the series. We’re reacquainted series regulars Leon, Chris, Ada and also RE2’s Sherry Birkin. All of which are accompanied by a partner (unless you’re playing solo with Ada), helping you through each scenario. As with Resident Evil 5, you’re partnered with another character who is also playable either through local co-op or on-line. There are four different stories to play through, and although each unique to the character you choose, you will end up crossing paths, and on occasion joining in with the others. Leon is partnered with NSA agent Helena, caught up in a conspiracy to assassinate the US president. Chris, still fighting the good fight against international bio-terrorism with the BSAA, is joined by his right hand man Piers, as we follow them and their struggle to tackle the C-virus. Sherry Birkin, definitely no longer the little girl, now grown up and working for the US government is in the company of the mysterious mercenary, Jake Müller. Jake has an immunity to the virus and the authorities want him for a vaccine, but there’s also big bad guys on his tail, looking to use his immunity to increase the strength of the virus. Ada gets involved through a mysterious plot to spread the virus, with twists and turns throughout. When in co-op mode Ada’s partner is one of the infected from the first level of her story.
In it’s sixth incarnation, Resident Evil is unrecognisable when compared the mansion incident in the Arklay Mountains. The claustrophobic corridors with fixed perspectives and ominous spooky score have been chopped in for a grand stage of cities, graveyards and mountains, with rousing music and hordes of zombies. The item management and sparse ammo are still present, leaving that element of doom hanging over head, however, the ability to use melee attacks does make it a little easier when backed in to a corner however, and your partner does come to the rescue at times. Despite the gameplay going all Gears of War, mantleing and using cover etc., it’s still Resident Evil. The plot is as twisty and turny as always, and just as you think you’re on top of things, the floor collapses from beneath your feet, sometimes literally. It’s a B-movie horror wrapped in an action movie, with destruction and terror on a grand scale. There’s buckets of gore and plenty of new and nasty BOW’s to sink your bullets in to, some of which keep popping back up for more, with this new strain of virus being stronger than before. The cut scenes are a far cry from the early days, with the voice acting being of a more professional level, and even though the story is just as high brow as it’s always been with these games, it is easy to get lost in the impressive cinematics, which are directed really well, and give some Hollywood movies a run for their money.
There are 3 letters to make a lot of gamers wince that reoccur throughout the game, QTE. The Quick Time Events are a common feature in the game, and more prominent than the previous two games in the series put together. In spite of this, it’s not always a bad thing as it’s usually during a cut scene, although that does mean you can’t let your guard down. Most of the time it’s usually just press ‘X’ at the right moment or the right/left trigger. There are some confusingly frustrating sections as well. For example, one moment the command will be to keep hammering a button to run, then the perspective will switch, and all of a sudden you’re in control of the direction the character is running as well, but instead of tapping away you have to hold the button down, leading to an unnecessary death on the odd occasion. However, these sections are just to drive a set-piece or usually during a boss fight, so the game isn’t bogged with QTE, it’s just a pain in the arse when it arrives.
Resident Evil 6 is a sore point when it comes to discussing the main games in the series, but now that the dust has settled and it can be picked up for a few quid, it’s definitely worth a go. Get past the drastic change in gameplay and the substandard first chapter and there’s a great game here. If it wasn’t called Resident Evil, this would have had a much wider following I reckon. Either that or you can file this one under cult classic/guilty pleasure, because I had an absolute blast with this game and found myself getting completely swept up in the roller coaster of a story, and it is much more enjoyable than its predecessor. Yeah there was the odd moment that had me spitting obscenities at the screen, and also a cheap death here and there, but overall it’s a harshly berated, and in my opinion, excellent entry into one of the greatest gaming series there is.