Jones: Resident Evil 6 needs more credit

By Tim Jones

Flickr/PlayStation Europe

If you’ve been keeping up with Capcom’s Resident Evil 6, you’ll surely have noticed the overwhelming panning of the game from critics, who have called the game a complete mess and a broken shell, virtually unplayable.

Claims like that are unfounded.

The game isn’t perfect, but offers so much more than some are willing to give it credit for.

Bio-terrorism returns once again, as a new threat threatens to overtake the world with the C-virus, which turns its victims into horrible zombie mutants. What’s different about this outing is that the game is separated into four campaigns, which include the return of Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield. Jake Muller arrives as a new main character to the series. His partner, Sherry Birkin, who fans will remember from Resident Evil 2, is very much welcomed back.

These four campaigns all offer a story that can only be understood when every campaign has been completed. While the story isn’t the gold standard for writing, it’s better than previous outings.

Leon and new partner Helena Harper tromp through a city very reminiscent of Raccoon City, and certain set pieces are subtle throwbacks to RE2. Chris and partner Piers Nivans use their time to track down and eradicate infected that pose a threat. Jake and Sherry use their time to outrun the Ustenak, a creature very much like Nemesis from RE3, who is hunting the agents to get its hands on Jake.

The story is traditional Capcom fare, but thankfully isn’t insulting. It would have been nice to see some character development for Leon or Sherry. They have nothing much in terms of self-exploration, yet take a backseat to their newcomer partners. It would have been nice to see some development all around.

Each campaign offers something different in terms of gameplay. Leon and Helena must combat actual zombies who are capable of throwing weapons, crawling at fast speeds, and lunging from a far distance. The first time a zombie throws itself from across the room, it’s an adrenaline rush. It feels like survival horror mixed with modern gaming and it’s easily the best campaign of the bunch.

The gameplay of Chris and Piers is pure action, with barely any time to let the player breathe. It’s a completely different feel, as they do not actually fight zombies. J’avo, the infected race in the game, shoot guns and can have limbs mutate into various horrible things when shot. These limbs can give them flight, shields, lizard-abilities, etc.

Unfortunately, Chris does have the weakest campaign in the game. It’s not horrible, but it’s not very memorable, except for the final chapter. Jake and Sherry have a mix of the other two styles of gameplay, with elements of stealth added, and it ultimately rounds out into a solid mix.

Players both new and old to the series will need the time to get used to the new control system. Characters have full mobility and can run in any direction with a tilt of the analog stick. Shooting while aiming, which is something that should have been present in RE5, finally makes its debut, and works exactly as it should. Dodging has been implemented, and becomes something of a necessity. Rolling out of the way of an oncoming attack is a satisfying feeling and can add a deeper play style for some players.

The cover mechanic has been panned all around, and for good reason too. It’s clunky, it’s awkward and it doesn’t work right, especially in a frantic fight. When taking it slowly, it’s fine, but thankfully one can go through majority of the game without really needing it.

There is no money in the game, nor is there the ability to purchase weapons. Instead, there are skill points, which can be used to purchase perks to improve your abilities. Some are absolutely useless, while it seems obvious which one warrant spending points on. The system works, and there are some interesting combinations. Unfortunately skills require a hefty amount of points, so players must choose wisely which ones the truly want.

Health is now represented by six blocks, which are restored by health tablets. These tablets are still obtained by mixing herbs, so it’s not really much of an issue. Inventory is much more bearable compared to RE5, and item slots are limited, so in later chapters most players will have to decide which item to toss out or leave behind. It’s not as great as the case from RE4, but considering the online play of the game, managing an inventory in real-time in the game would have been a disaster.

Speaking of online play – it’s either hit or miss.

First, when offline, the AI partner isn’t actually a burden like before. They have infinite health and ammo, and will actually fight with some ability. When playing with a friend, all ammo and items are set specifically to each player, meaning that no one is fighting to pick up the handgun ammunition on the floor.

Co-op still remains an absolute blast, especially in the mercenaries, which is the most fun it has ever been. There are only three maps available at the moment, but it’s obvious Capcom plans to support this game with a hefty amount of downloadable content.

The one online-only mode is Agent Hunt, where players can jump into others’ games as an enemy to attempt to take down the other player. It controls horribly. It’s awkward and extremely annoying at times, but it’s still entertaining enough to warrant trying it out a few times at least.

Gameplay doesn’t evolve much past the point of clearing out the enemies in a room, and then moving on to the next room, but this isn’t a legitimate complaint whatsoever, because the majority of games, both old and modern, follow this formula.

Capcom definitely increased the scale of the game. It’s much longer than any of the other games, and takes a good amount of time to get through the full thing, especially if one doesn’t try to run through it as fast as possible.

But with this, Capcom fell into the trap of many modern games. Cut scenes are abundant, and will frequently disrupt the flow of game play. The same goes with the use of quick time events, which seem to show up at least once every 10 minutes. Expect to fail a good chunk of these, or to sometimes be completely lost after a cut scene. There are so many cheap deaths in the game because it doesn’t properly give any indication of what to do at all, and it’s extremely frustrating.

Those who are looking for strong endgame content are not going to find it here. Unlockables are pathetic and a massive step backwards for the series, which is a shame because unlocking hidden goodies in previous games has always been a thrill. It seems like they didn’t even care about that aspect of the series whatsoever.

In regards to the series as a whole, it’s no longer survival-horror and that’s something people must deal with. Wanting Capcom to return to the roots of RE2 isn’t going to help. Clunky controls, horrible camera angles and walking around with zombies moaning didn’t add up to the greatest game of all time. RE6 is an action game, but a satisfying one.

However, the game is definitely not perfect in any way. It has many faults that add up, and for some, that’s just not going to cut it. But it doesn’t deserve to be unbelievably panned and called a broken shell of a game.

One massive campaign like Leon’s would have been unbelievable, but Resident Evil 6 is still worthy of praise and there’s enough content within to justify the price tag easily.

Tim Jones can be reached at [email protected]