Resident Evil 6 – Game Analysis and Review
By Patrick Newman
Director: Eiichiro Sasaki
Producers: Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Yoshiaki Hirabayashi
Designer: Jiro Taoka
Composers: Akihiko Narita, Akiyuki Morimoto, Azusa Kato, Kota Suzuki, Thomas Parisch, Laurent Ziliani, Daniel Lindholm, Sebastian Schwartz
Engine: MT Framework
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Genre: Third-person shooter
Mode: Single-player, multiplayer
Resident Evil 6 is a beautiful mess, a game that works best when it adheres to those classic survival-horror tropes the franchise invented. With four individual co-op campaigns, two multiplayer modes and seven lead characters, Capcom’s newest opus is overstuffed with content, in practice proving that indeed there can be too much of a good thing. Ultimately, much of the intertwining global narrative of Resident Evil 6 is padded with monotonous gunfights and vehicle sequences – uninspired gameplay elements that take away from what in many ways does feel like an epic benchmark for the series.
Whereas many of the franchise’s previous outings dealt with virus outbreaks in a single location, Resident Evil 6 swings for the fences by using its parallel storylines to explore outbreaks occurring in multiple places throughout the world. The jump-off point for the story is the series of bio-terrorist attacks perpetrated by the ever-ominous Neo Umbrella. Each of the four campaigns is assigned a particular gameplay style and narrative focus, in an attempt to keep the style and surprise factor constantly fresh.
The majority of the game’s running time is assigned to Leon’s campaign (which is also the one that hews closest to classic Resident Evil survival-horror), in which he travels from the US to China with partner Helena to conduct an investigation. The dynamics of cooperative gameplay have thankfully been overhauled for this installment, as the partner AI is more receptive and a lot less erratic than in the series’ recent past. Still though, those Resident Evil fans that miss the days of being gripped by fear by what might be lurking around the corner will feel underfed here, as the nature of cooperative gameplay robs the narrative of that sense of isolation and dread that defined earlier Resident Evil adventures.
The remaining gallery of playable characters each occupies individual stories that overlap in crucial ways, each featuring their own beginnings and ends. Leon’s campaign is succeeded by Chris Redfield’s testosterone-heavy tour of Eastern Europe, which amounts to basically a cover-based shooter, and surprisingly manages to be the most emotional of the four chapters. Continuing Resident Evil’s proud tradition of disgusting villains, the primary enemies in Chris’ storyline are the gangster/monster hybrids known as J’avo, which wield guns and swords but also evolve into nastier beasties if given half a chance.
Jake’s campaign is the more balanced of the four (the game is heaviest in melee combat here), and features a great monster – the hulking, biomechanical, claw-armed Ustanak. Though this thread probably had the most “filler,” especially in the beginning, the persistent presence of the Ustanak (which calls to mind the titular “Nemesis” from 1999’s game) brings the terror back, as it rampages throughout the story to become the concluding boss. Jake’s partner here, Sherry Birkin from Resident Evil 2, is a welcome throwback to the series’ earlier era. Ada’s storyline is unique in that her challenges are more puzzle-based, and she fights through her campaign solo. The puzzles lack the variety and depth to become really interesting, but the combination of both J’Avo and zombie threats does set Ava’s narrative apart from the pack.
Though the multiplayer co-op experience is a mostly successful one (partners can drop in and out of the game at any time), the much-touted online additions come off as more superficial than anything else. The promising-sounding Agent Hunt Mode, in which you play a random enemy in opposing players’ maps online, is all but unplayable due to the clunky camera control and combat dynamics. The score-and-time-based Mercenaries Mode offers some incentive, however, to those who thrive on winning achievements and upgrades.
Both to its success and its detriment, Resident Evil set the bar fairly high for itself early in its lineage. Resident Evil 6 only disappoints here because of the epic horror masterpiece that might have been, had the more erratic elements been reined in. Things like extended driving sequences and cover and shoot combat seemingly airlifted in from a Gears of War title might be enjoyable in a different context, but this is Resident Evil, where tension, atmosphere and horror are king.
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