Resident Evil 6 Review

Resident Evil 6 is without a doubt, a terrible, rotten, no good, very bad game. Its an over-produced attempt to please everyone while pleasing no one, lavishly crafted yet inherently diseased video game.  There was never any momentum within the story or the gameplay that could provide anything more than a short, fleeting moment of mediocre enjoyment.

Resident Evil 6 is Resident Evil in name only. The game has become almost completely unrecognizable to fans of the series, save for a few characters and the now archaic, rehashed, and uninspired plot points. The core gameplay has changed so dramatically to try to cater to a wider, Call of Duty, Gears of War playing, Western audience, yet it can’t create an experience comparable to the titles it attempts to emulate. Resident Evil is no longer a survival-horror franchise– its a third person action shooter–and a terrible one at that. Players unfamiliar with the series and die hard fans alike should simply skip Resident Evil 6 and hope that Capcom can regroup and reestablish the core of this franchise teetering on the brink of disaster.

One of the most glaring and fundamental problems that makes the game a chore rather than a joy to play is the primary gameplay mechanics. Each reviewer may have their own say on how important story, graphics, sound and multiplayer may add, but the most important component is undoubtedly the gameplay mechanics. Any developer, player and, of course, reviewer, must ask fundamental questions of every game: Do the mechanics work? Do the controls have a satisfying feel and response time? Does the game offer variability and an incremental challenge? In all of these categories, Resident Evil 6 fails. It is astounding to think that hundreds of people designing a game at a cost of untold millions could have overlooked this core problem. Did anyone stop and say, this game simply isn’t fun to play?

Leon S. Kennedy, in the flesh.

Resident Evil 6 is comprised of four separate campaigns in which the player will take control of Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper, Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans, Jake Mueller and Sherry Birkin, and Ada Wong. These four interwoven campaigns will each take six to eight hours to complete. Unlike the gameplay, the story isn’t linear, and it is very difficult to comprehend the events as they unfold (to say nothing about their plausibility). This convoluted narrative is uninspired. Instead of creating a new plot line, Capcom decided to create one surrounding Wesker’s long lost son, the Neo-Umbrella Corporation and C-Virus. All of these elements are archetypes found in previous games in the franchise.

If you are a fan of the franchise you will be greatly disappointed to know that Resident Evil 6 is nothing like Resident Evil 4. There are basically no similarities outside herbs, a zombie virus and certain characters. The only campaign in the game that is any fun to play is the Leon campaign largely because it is the only that includes survival horror elements and thus is most reminiscent of the survival-horror experience. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the game is comprised of ranged shooting that is excruciatingly bad. More than any other section, the Chris and Piers campaign epitomizes the fundamental gameplay problems. It is quite obvious that Capcom was trying to make a Western style shooter a la Gears of War, but they absolutely failed.

The basic control scheme has been completely redone in Resident Evil 6 in an attempt to make the game more similar to popular shooters. The Resident Evil franchise has always had a control scheme that wasn’t entirely precise but in previous games it seemed as though it was a specific design choice employed to support the dark horror mood of the games. The most infamous element of this control scheme was the players’ inability to strafe while shooting. This made the game more difficult in many ways, but it also help created the tension that was such a vital element of the formula.

In Resident Evil 6 all characters have the ability to shoot while moving. This change fundamentally alters the experience because now you don’t normally feel as anxious when surrounded by enemy zombies as you can quickly retreat while dealing damage. This design choice, by itself, would not be an issue. However, Capcom seemed to exchange this ability with the inability to kill enemies quickly or sometimes not at all. The aiming in RE6 is an arduous and often frustrating task. Many games have swaying aiming sights for a more realistic portrayal of aiming a gun, however, RE6 makes it seem as though the characters all have Parkinson’s Disease. The reticle sways so much it is often impossible to hit targets at any range–the exact strategy you are supposed to utilize throughout several campaigns.

Unsatisfying ranged shooting.

If you somehow are able to aim effectively, you are often greeted with an even worse realization–all the weapons are significantly less powerful while enemies are more resilient to damage. In previous games, enemies reacted to being shot by stumbling, dropping weapons, and falling back. Resident Evil 6‘s weapons are unsatisfying because enemies hardly react to being shot. What’s worse, specific sections of the game have an unlimited number of respawning enemies (which like your objectives and general strategies against bosses, are never made clear to the player) while a large percentage of them have armor. Most infuriating, there is a significant shortage of ammunition necessary to deal with these enemies. In all campaigns besides Leon’s (but especially in Chris’s) ammunition is scarce and, more often than not, players will have to rely upon melee attacks which are incredibly dangerous in ranged combat. If this wasn’t enough of a mistake it is further exacerbated by bad camera angles in tight spaces and consistently imprecise melee attacks.

However, the single most frustrating element of the game is the ridiculously long and difficult quick time events that occur regularly and without warning. Although I am not a fan of QTEs, I understand that they are an important element of interactivity during cutscenes with virtually nothing to distinguish them from other passive media content. It makes sense to include one like the shake the analog stick as fast as possible to break free of a zombie’s hold. However, many of the actions in Resident Evil 6 made no sense, particularly the incomprehensible QTE to climb up a rope. Instead of hitting a button at the right time when hacking a terminal, why not make a hacking minigame? It would have been a welcome change from the frequent QTEs. The annoyance of these events should not be understated. They are terribly implemented and so frequent that they consistently disrupt the game. Their frequency doesn’t make you any better prepared for the sudden QTEs, so expect to replay countless sections of the game as you will be caught unawares or be confused by the unintuitive button combinations.

Ineffective weapons.

If there is any part of RE6 that is impressive it is the audio-visuals. Its quite obvious that a significant percentage of the development resources went to designing and polishing the character models and environments. That being said, it isn’t entirely perfect as the composition of colors is often overwhelming dark. Even with the brightness all the way up (on the tv and in the game’s settings) there were several sections of the game when I was stuck in a dark corridor, struggling to find my way. Nevertheless, Resident Evil 6 is still one of the best looking console games currently on the market. Additionally, the score is nicely done; however, like the gameplay, cutscenes, and almost everything else, all of the audio-visual elements support the ambiance of an action movie inside a third person shooter, not a survival-horror game. The music is similar to that seen in a Hollywood action movie, but it doesn’t create the same tension as in previous Resident Evil games.

Although they are ridiculous and filled with action movie gimmicks, the cutscenes are nicely choreographed.  Powerful voice acting adds a level of drama, particularly Chris’s story as the dialogue conveys his pain and anguish as his squad mates are killed one by one. Ultimately, however, the absurd story line undermines any power in the dialogue or other presentational elements. Many of set pieces and situations are in place just so that they can lead to bigger explosions. Many driving sequences, rogue helicopters, eminent missile launches, seemingly invincible and reoccurring bosses, and exploding tanker trucks are in the game just to create CGI pornography. The majority of these set pieces are completely ridiculous even within an already implausible story. For instance, Leon and Helena constantly struggle to escape the zombie hordes for the first four chapters, yet they somehow are able to get to a carrier jet, have a battle against a monster mid-flight, and land in China all so they can fit into Resident Evil 6‘s other campaigns.

Frequent QTEs.

Resident Evil 6 is designed to be a third person shooter and a fully cinematic experience. As previously mentioned in detail, the basic gameplay lacks almost any enjoyment because it attempts to emulate popular Western shooters at the expense of the survivor horror elements. Game sequels should introduce improvements and evolve certain elements but they shouldn’t lose the core essence that made them special in the first place. Capcom obviously spent an enormous sum of money financing this game, but by trying to make the game accessible to many different types of gamers they alienated all, including the franchise’s rabid fan base. Clunky controls and unbalanced gameplay make combat arduous while frequent quick time events disrupt this already unsatisfying action consistently. A beautifully styled world filled with detailed environments and lavish cinematics are a false facade in front of an inherently hollow narrative. No matter how much money spent on cinematics and graphics, they cannot distract the player from the terrible gameplay and vacuous story.

How could such a storied franchise with great resources result in such a disastrous game?  Its entirely possible that with such a large team developing a big budget title there was a lack of leadership and project direction.Resident Evil 6 will be remembered as a perfect reminder that a game can be lousy even if it has virtually unlimited financing and manpower behind it. Someone–a director, producer, engineer, artist or play tester–should have spoken up and tried to rectify the situation to prevent this calamity. Maybe some did raise concerns, but as it was the case with the Titanic, it is difficult to maneuver such a colossal project to safety and success even if there is advanced warning. It is difficult to see such a storied franchise’s fall from grace, but hopefully the negative reactions will help them chart a better course for the series. No matter what type of gamer you are, you will find almost no enjoyment in Resident Evil 6.

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