Resident Evil 6 has all the makings of a classic Resident Evil game. It has herbs, awkward camera placement, slightly over the top dialogue and a huge collection of horrific monsters. So why does it feel like a Resident Evil game in name only?
Resident Evil 6 features a story that aims to be epic in scale, with conspiracies, global bioterrorism and, of course, genetically engineered living dead. Split across three campaigns, the game stars series protagonist Leon Kennedy, who starts his chunk of the story having just killed the zombified President of the United States; Chris Redfield, who’s recovering from both PTSD and amnesia in order to battle a bio-terrorist attack in China; and newcomer Jake Muller, a cocksure mercenary whose blood holds the key to solving the whole C-Virus epidemic that’s being caused by an evil organization called Neo-Umbrella. The separate campaigns offer up a different take on the overall narrative, and each is built around varying gameplay styles – Chris’ campaign is more action oriented, for example, while Leon’s is more geared towards survival horror. There are even a few instances where the campaigns cross over, but instead of giving you the chance to see how a particular battle plays out from another perspective, they’re mostly just a rehash of the same section with the only difference being the character you control.
While the events and set pieces of each campaign are mostly different, they all blend together into the same b-grade action game that just doesn’t really feel like it belongs in Resident Evil. Each campaign is a linear path and, although there is some variance in the overall pacing of each campaign, most of your time will be spent in combat. You’ll be going through a large amount of ammo as you shoot your way through a variety of creatively designed enemies, but even running out of bullets is hardly a death sentence since each character can simply change to melee attacks when their guns run dry.
From fierce urban combat in Eastern Europe, to exploring a church/secret bioweapons lab to fighting against a widespread outbreak in China, Resident Evil 6 does have some enjoyable action sequences. But ultimately every level descends into the same formula of “shoot everything that moves, reload, repeat” with some scripted quick time sequences thrown into the mix. Even Leon’s campaign, which is supposed to be the scariest of the three, is still full of repetitive situations where you’re expected to shoot your way to safety.
There are a few places where Resident Evil 6 has improved upon the technical failings of the previous game, such as its inventory system, which is much more streamlined. Mixing herbs and selecting weapons can be done on the fly and you won’t have to break the flow of the game for more than a few moments to heal up or pull out a grenade. If you’re playing solo, your AI companion does a decent job of backing you up and taking the fight to the enemy rather than just standing by with a med kit for the first time you get a paper cut.
Resident Evil 6 also introduces a cover system mechanic, the most forgettable new feature of the game. It’s not overly complicated to use; whenever you’re near a box or a wall you just aim and then press a button to take cover. And since a good chunk of the new “J’avo” enemies you face (mostly in Chris and Jake’s campaign) actually wield guns, ducking behind a sandbag or a chest-high wall does make some sense. However, you’ll often find it just as effective, if not easier, to run around, shooting enemies point blank or kicking in their skulls.
When you get down to it, Resident Evil 6 isn’t a horrible game, but it certainly isn’t a great game, either. The action sequences and boss fights can be fun, and even challenging on rare occasion, but the whole experience blends together far too easily, feeling more like a generic action shooter than a classic Resident Evil game. Whatever tension or horror that may have existed in previous games has been replaced with quick time events, run-and-gun gameplay and levels that look like they belong in Call of Duty or Battlefield. Those who enjoy a decent action game will probably get the most out of Resident Evil 6‘s mindless explosions and gunfights, but for those who were hoping for a return to the more classic, scarier days of the series are going to be left disappointed.
Bottom Line: Resident Evil 6 is an average third person shooter that’s missing much of what defined Resident Evil as a classic series.
Recommendation: Like guns, explosions, and zombies? Resident Evil 6 has all of those, but don’t expect anything more substantial.[rating=3]
This review as based upon the Xbox 360 version of the game.
Game: Resident Evil 6
Genre: Survival Horror
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360