It has been a long time coming, but Resident Evil 6 is finally here. Being one of the most recognizable series in gaming puts immense pressure on each new release. It is no secret that fans have been mixed about the switch from more traditional survival-horror to more of an action game, but honestly it seems like a natural progression. RE6 takes this even further by adding traditional controls and, of course, the ability to shoot, dodge and move all at the same time. This is an action game with horror elements, and one that is executed very well. The real question is whether the game holds up to the series’ lofty standards.
The story is broken down into three main campaigns and one extra one you unlock after finishing those three. They can be played in any order, but they all take place simultaneously. In fact you will often run into the other two characters throughout your adventure. This is a cool feature that can even be implemented online. In addition to playing either split-screen or online co-op, you can turn on a feature that has other random players taking on the roles of the other characters when you run into them online. Sure it is completely random, but still a cool feature.
Each campaign has its own unique feel. I started off with Leon’s story. He partners up with new character Helena as they attempt to uncover the secrets behind the C-virus. This campaign feels the closest to classic Resident Evil out of them all. There are lots of tense moments and some good story development. Chris partners up with newcomer Piers Nivans, and their campaign focuses more on action. It really feels like a modern action shooter most of the time. Finally, we have Sherry Birkin, who most will remember from RE2 and Jake, Wesker’s son. This campaign feels like a mix of the other two with a lot of focus on melee and the secrets behind Jake.
What separates RE6 from other titles is the deep, interwoven narrative. They are telling three stories simultaneously, and each one intersects with the others. The voice acting is actually really well done, and the twists and turns make much more sense this time around. Seeing old favorites such as Sherry and Ada Wong really drives home the fan service and everything wraps up nicely. Once you complete the three main campaigns, you unlock one final campaign featuring Ada Wong. There is seriously a breadth of content here with each campaign spanning five chapters, and lasting anywhere from 6-8 hours each depending on exploration and difficulty.
In addition to these lengthy campaigns, you also have Agent Hunt mode. This is a unique mode where players can invade other players’ games as the infected J’avo and hunt down the player characters. More than one person can invade at a time and even voice chat to coordinate their attacks. This can be turned off from the main menu, of course, and is only available after completing at least one of the main campaigns.
Mercenaries also returns to the fray with plenty of new levels and weapons at your disposal. This mode is either a love or hate affair, and with that said hasn’t changed much from previous iterations. The appeal of this mode is definitely the slew of characters to play as. Players are also much more mobile thanks to the newly-designed control system. The inclusion of traps in levels also really fleshes out the carnage. Capcom will likely offer up more maps for Mercenaries as time goes on. I had fun playing this mode in RE5, and that continued with RE6. It is not the focus, but a nice distraction from the core campaigns.
Like I mentioned before, the controls have been acclimated to new design. You can now move and shoot. There is also a dodge button that doubles as the dash if you hold it down. You can leap over objects and even take cover in certain instances. There is also an upgrade system for characters now that allows you to earn skill points for certain types of kills, and spend them to upgrade things such as damage intake and aim steadying. The weapons are pretty much found throughout the campaign, and by the end, your arsenal is definitely a force to be reckoned with.
Quick-time events also play a large role in a lot of sequences. When an enemy grabs you sometimes, you have to wave the analog stick back and forth or time a button press. These are only annoying when they end in instant-kills upon failure, especially when followed by a lengthy cut scene. For the most part they feel overused, but never end up ruining a boss fight which is always a bonus.
The item system has also been revamped. Herbs are still present, and you can mix them tpgether, but they all end up being tablets you can take to refill your health meter. These are stored in your hud along with ammo and the new stamina meter. This meter drains as you perform melee attacks. When depleted, you will stagger around and be more vulnerable to attacks from slow-plodding zombies. It is worth noting that when playing online, there is no pause button and even when you open the item menu in single player, the game doesn’t stop. Everything is overlaid onto the game and looks rather slick. The quick select on the d-pad also returns with left and right cycling guns, while up and down handles grenades and first-aid sprays.
The game looks fantastic. The levels are well-designed, and the effects are top-notch. Watching characters climb out of water and or items ablaze looks really good. The screen tearing has also been cleaned up substantially from the earlier demo of the game. I really enjoyed the locales. The boss fights are also as epic as you might expect, even if some of them go on entirely too long. The one nagging issue that carried over from the demo is the camera. It is entirely too close to the character, and turning quickly almost made me nauseous at times. They really need to pull it back a little to give a better view of the action. The voice work is surprisingly well done. The only gripe is that the main male characters have little distinction between them. The music is classic RE, and it all sounds great pumping through a good headset or surround system.
Resident Evil 6 is truly one of the best experiences I have had with a game this year. It is just loaded with content, and playing co-op with a friend is definitely a blast. The story is well-told, and the characters are interesting. I personally like the new mechanics; it was time for RE to evolve, and Capcom has pulled it off extremely well. Each campaign feels like a game within itself, and the bonus campaign and online content will keep you occupied for some time. Resident Evil fans should be thrilled with the latest chapter and it only excites me to see where they take it next. RE6 is easily in my top games of the year, and I cannot wait to go through it again on a higher difficulty. That always speaks volumes about a game to me.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.