It’s been fifteen years since Sega Saturn and PlayStation players first heard that iconic voice on the Resident Evil title screen. Many of us(this reviewer included) were scared witless by the gore that Resident Evil had to offer. Fast forward to modern times where evil has literally gone global.
It’s no secret that Resident Evil 6 consists of three main campaigns headlined by well known characters. This is perhaps one of the best ideas that Capcom had in recent years. It literally means that each campaign feels like a completely different Resident Evil.
Leon’s campaign is the one that long time fans will identify with the most. It’s not just because of the classic zombies that both Leon and new partner Helena Harper have to face. Most of Leon’s campaign early on takes place in dark areas. This means that players will often end up being ambushed by hungry zombies. This is not just a cheap attempt at scaring players either. The music often changes to more sinister tones whenever something creepy is about to occur.
Leon is a survivor and that shows throughout his campaign. He will often stop to try and help various people. It’s interesting to see that these people will most often meet a grisly fate. Poor Leon does his best to keep them safe, but not even his veteran expertise in surviving zombie outbreaks can help them.
It’s Leon’s campaign that also provides some of the toughest puzzles in Resident Evil 6. Some of them will make players think outside the box. It is definitely a welcome break from the various horrors that await in the dark. This campaign is as close to the original formula as Resident Evil 6 will get.
Playing as Jake or Sherry is reminiscent of both Code Veronica and Resident Evil 3. This is due to the fact that they are constantly being stalked by a relentless B.O.W creature. This giant called Ustanak will often appear to make life difficult for our heroic duo. It’s an interesting way to ensure that players never know what will happen, since he can appear at any moment.
It’s not just Ustanak that will make life difficult for Sherry and Jake. Neo-Umbrella thinks Jake is vital to fulfilling its plans and will stop at nothing to capture him. But it’s the harsh environments that will test players to their limits. A snowy mountain in particular will almost make it impossible to see more than a couple feet ahead, due to a heavy blizzard.
This campaign provides a different kind of fear that doesn’t rely on darkness or the desperation that comes from being in an extreme situation. It’s the fear that comes from being the only hope in the world. Jake holds the key to stopping the global epidemic and it’s up to Sherry to ensure that they both make it out safely. At the same time, this campaign offers a frantic experience that relies on quick decision making. This often occurs when facing Ustanak who will rip them to shreds, if given the chance.
Naturally the toughest campaign to discuss is the one involving Chris Redfield. One of the original outbreak survivor, Chris hasn’t exactly been that popular with fans since his outing in Resident Evil 5. His campaign is very similar to the events of Resident Evil 5 – in that it contains a lot of gun fights. However, the war themed locations do make for a more believable setting.
This isn’t the way fans tend to see Resident Evil but war is a part of this global epidemic. It’s only natural that this campaign involves lots of gun fights. Specially considering the path that Chris has taken since forming the BSAA with fellow survivor Jill Valentine.
Fortunately everything that may have frustrated gamers in Resident Evil 5 has been tremendously improved. Chris now makes use of a squad for most of the campaign. This makes for a believable scenario since they will work as a team when fighting the new J’avo enemies. The campaign itself consists of adrenaline fueled chapters that makes it worth playing as Chris.
This is one of the first Resident Evil video-games that attempts to revolutionize the franchise in a major way. Being able to move freely while shooting is perhaps one of the best implementations in the Resident Evil video-games. Now being able to also dodge and shoot enemies while on laying on the floor is even better.
An intuitive user interface ensures that anything from mixing/equipping items and using them to finding the path is an extremely easy task. This is handy since all of this happens in real time, but it’s still possible to move the character. It certainly helps that it does all of these functions and more while looking stylish and relative to each campaign.
One of the biggest complaints for Resident Evil 5 was the quick times events. There are QTE in Resident Evil 6, but don’t let that put you off. They are incredibly well implemented to the point that they actually make fights exciting. They either consist of mashing 1 button frantically moving analogue stick or pressing a button at the right time. Some of these QTE will result in instant death, if failed, but fortunately there are regular checkpoints.
Perhaps one of the very few minor issues is how checkpoints work. Quitting a campaign will mean having to start from a much earlier point in a chapter. This means losing a substantial amount of progress, since it doesn’t always continue from the latest checkpoint. It’s also not possible to quit halfway through a chapter for one character, start another campaign and then attempt to continue the chapter for other campaign. It’s a very minor issue that doesn’t ruin the experience.
The AI partner has seen a major revamp from that found in Resident Evil 5. It will no longer hog all the ammunition and items. It doesn’t seem like the AI partner can easily die. Instead it is able to work efficiently with the player to defeat any enemies.
A character is no longer helpless when downed by an enemy. The player is given the opportunity to try and survive by not being hit, while a bar on-screen fills up. It’s an interesting idea and another player or the AI can still help help the downed character.
The areas available to explore are not only diverse but also huge. Some of the areas are so wide that players will often have to check the way-point. They are filled with all kinds of twisted creatures that will haunt the player’s mind for days. Some of the bosses in particular are so grotesque that it’s difficult not to wonder where ideas for such designs came from. It certainly proves that there it’s still possible for Capcom to frighten a whole new generation of players.
Finishing each of the three campaigns is only the beginning of this epic experience. Resident Evil 6 is packed with content that will ensure players will play it for countless hours. There are the usual collectibles earned by finding blue emblems in levels. The all new Agent Hunt mode where players can invade other games as enemies. The superb Mercenaries mode also makes a welcome return with bigger maps and more characters to use. This is just a small glimpse of everything that players can experience. But those that finish all three campaigns are in for a treat.
The upgrades system is less complex as it makes use of skill points earned by defeating enemies. Characters share the same skills purchased and it’s only possible to equip three. This means that players will need to think carefully about which skills to equip, before starting a new chapter. An interesting system that works extremely well, since it is much easier to use it.
The inclusion of physical attacks is very handy considering how sparse ammo is. It feels satisfying to chain combos and finish an enemy in style. Each campaign is actually quite challenging, and this comes from someone playing on normal, but it feels rewarding to get through tough sections.
Playing online with someone is actually useful this time around. Levels are designed so that both players will play a role in completing tasks. One task for example asks that one player distracts an enemy, so that the other can grab an item on the floor. This is the sort of thoughtful idea that validates the existence of a co-op mode in a Resident Evil game. There are even sections where characters are separated, so the player must fend off enemies without relying on a partner.
The story for each set of characters will make the player care about them and want to see it through to the end. It’s impressive to see how each story is connected at certain points. It certainly helps that all of this occurs while some of the best visuals that graced the current hardware generation are displayed on-screen.
This isn’t the same Resident Evil that came out fifteen years. It’s an improvement and natural evolution of the series. Those willing to give it a chance with an open mind will find themselves rewarded with a fantastic gaming experience. There is a reason why Capcom invested so much in Resident Evil 6. The combined effort of around six hundred employees has created one of the best gaming experiences in the last couple of years.
This isn’t the Resident Evil that long time fans are used to but it’s one that will surely cater for the different generations of fans accrued over the last fifteen years.
Resident Evil 6 is a masterpiece from Capcom and one of the best releases of 2012. There might be no hope left for humanity but there is certainly plenty for Resident Evil 6.