Everyone was surprised when Capcom suddenly announced the next chapter in the Resident Evil series, earlier this year. Even more since not only was it being released this year, but a Resident Evil 6 demo was also coming out a few months in advance, exclusively on the Xbox 360.
The only trick is that it requires the purchase of Capcom’s recent blockbuster Dragon’s Dogma to try the Resident Evil 6 demo. But will the demo leave players eager to play more, or as cheerful as the zombies that Resident Evil is so well known for?
The demo consists of one short section for each of the three main character duos. This is slightly reminiscent of the earlier Resident Evil video-games, where the player would have a somewhat different experience, based on the character picked. This time though, each campaign feels completely unique both in how it’s presented and played.
Playing as Leon or his guilt ridden partner Helena Harper is perhaps the closest Resident Evil 6 will get to the original. Both are stuck in the middle of another virus outbreak. For Leon it’s just another day at the office, but Helena has never met a zombie.
We all have secrets, but Helena seems to have a deadly one, which suggests that it will help this story move forward. The pacing in this campaign often changes from slow to frantic.
It’s easy to see that this is an attempt at making players feel tense. It does work for most of what is played, but it’s also frustrating on a few occasions. Perhaps it’s because it is introducing the player, so it will likely end up being different in the full version.
What this portion of the demo does extremely well is provide plenty of classic horror moments. This is down to the superb use of typical horror props such as music, lighting and suggestive imagery. There are various bodies in the dark and other disturbing sightings found throughout. What makes it so scary is that most of it is left to the imagination. Will those dogs barking suddenly crash through the windows?
Are those corpses really dead or are they waiting for the perfect moment to jump up? Everything is deadlier under the cover of darkness, and the same applies to the desolate halls of the once prestigious Tall Oaks Ivy University. This has potential for being the campaign that will provide the most spine chilling frights in Resident Evil 6.
The section with Chris is very similar to his adventures in Resident Evil 5. There is a lot of focus on gunfights. It’s just a small section but if the rest of this campaign is anything like it, then expect plenty of confrontations with mutated enemies.
The guns have a kick to them when fired, and some even become less accurate, if used for more than a couple of seconds. There’s a rudimentary cover system used in this campaign. It requires pressing the trigger to keep in cover, while holding the stick to aim at enemies. It’s not exactly the most comfortable way to stay in cover, but it didn’t exactly feel essential to use it, while playing this demo portion.
Playing with Chris or his new partner Piers is pretty straightforward though. It’s more about strategy, since it is all out war on the new J’uavo enemy types. J’uavos are interesting creatures since they start out looking like humans, but mutate when under fire. These mutations range from shields to flying creatures – similar to those found in Resident Evil 5.
The final campaign section of demo consists of newcomer Jake and a grown up Sherry. It’s easy to think of it as the cherry on top of the cake. Both characters are being chased by a giant beast hell bent on capturing Jake. It’s fairly confusing at the start due to a running section, since the instructions aren’t exactly clear. Jake is not an easy character to play as, since he relies more on physical attacks.
His attacks have a fairly short range, so it’s best to try and sneak up on enemies. But it improves once the duo is inside an abandoned building. It’s here that tracksuit clad transformed enemies pop up. They are only a minor distraction compared to the giant B.O.W climactic fight towards end of this demo section. It’s nothing ground breaking, but it’s still interesting to try and fight it off by making use of the environment. This campaign feels a lot like playing Resident Evil 3, and even Code Veronica to a certain extent.
A closer look will reveal some other changes in how Resident Evil 6 tries to evolve the series. It’’s now possible to evade enemies, and even perform a fancy move where the character does a back dive. It’s now easier than ever to physically attack enemies, by continuously pressing the right trigger.
A lot of effort went into making sure that the controls have different options, such as the ability to pick which side the HUD appears. It’s possible to even change minor details like the gun laser sight colour. There’s a few minor issues that do make playing the demo less enjoyable, but it’s early days, so plenty of time to fix them. These include the way that quick time events are presented, since it’s not clear at first what action is required.
The controls aren’t quite there either, and would benefit from being more accurate. It’s also not clear how it will make use of a second character. The demo only included simple actions, such as breaking down doors. It’s an easy way to ensure that players don’t feel frustrated, when relying on the AI partner.
The re-designed interface is a major improvement over the one found in Resident Evil 5. It’s now much easier to equip items, since it still lets the player control the character.
Inventory menus for each campaign are different, but are designed in a way that they are extremely easy to use. This is vital because it’s essential to use items quickly, when surrounded by enemies. The AI is good enough to help fend off enemies, but the demo doesn’t provide any challenging sections to test it.
Overall, the demo clearly demonstrates Capcom’s commitment in trying to appeal to different fan bases. Resident Evil has grown as a brand in such a way, that it has many different audiences to cater for. It manages to do so to a certain extent, by including the three different campaigns.
However, it’s clear that all three will make use of modern Resident Evil mechanics. It’s still early days, but there is certainly potential for Resident Evil 6 to turn into the one that manages to please everyone.