Review: Capcom have the unenviable task of trying to appeal to everyone with RESIDENT EVIL 6. But will its four campaigns offer the different action and survival horror experiences fans are after, or is it infected with indecision?
Chris Redfield stands poised ahead of his men, an elite cadre of muscly GIs tasked with punching bioterrorism until it bleeds, buckles or boo-hoos back to mummy. With practised bravado he reels off a soliloquy torn from the diary of Captain America: “No one gets left behind,” he intones. “Not on my watch.” The music swells. Chris’ chiselled features move with resolve. A marine is reduced to quiet, patriotic sobs.
The chit-chat comes to a head and Redfield and co. join the ruckus raging through the streets of this chilly European hamlet. Chris spearheads the assault, tear-assing up the battlefield like a rhinoceros shot from the barrel of God Almighty’s gun. He thumps one B.O.W so hard his head just goes away. High above, jet fighters tear through an ivory sky, dropping ninety-pounds of fuck-you onto a cluster of enemies in the next province.
Ahead, a couple of lemmings take refuge behind a pockmarked wall. This isn’t what they signed up for. They’re ill-equipped to deal with the tsunami of machismo thundering their way. The B.O.Ws think about a do-or-die retreat. Too late. Redfield’s left-eye of Sauron tags them for sentencing. With quick bursts spat forth from the business end of an assault rifle the purveyor of pain brings their nightmare to a close. I imagine they perish relieved to be staring into the steely eyes of Satan and not Chris Redfield.
This, friends, is Resident Evil 6.
Listen, there are some things we ought to get out of the way. Most pertinently, the demo is representative of the final product – make of that what you will.
You’ll spend the best part of the four campaigns imparting the .50 calibre kiss of death to the J’avo, Resident Evil 6′s newfangled enemies. The J’avo are intelligent; they upend tables to use as makeshift cover, hunker down behind walls and arrive to the battlefield via helicopter. They’re terrorists with enthusiastically explosive heads, at least until they transmute into familiar beastie form.
Resident Evil 5‘s leaning towards all things co-op was as revered as it was reviled but it’s undergone some surgery for round two. Again, it’s better played with a real-life partner, but played alone rapacious co-op buddies are no longer a problem and friendly AI has been polished. By which I mean AI partners are invincible, have bottomless reserves of ammunition and are swift to administer the almighty healing chest thump. It’s certainly a better game played alone than 5 ever was.
That game’s weapon upgrading? Gone. Collectibles? Gone too, for the most part. Deputising are the new skill points – looted from the corpses of fallen enemies – which allow you to better attributes like damage dealt and accuracy between levels. Elsewhere ammo is usually plentiful, but herbs are rare. Moderate husbanding of resources is still necessary but you can punch your way through most levels. There are persistent on-screen waypoints, hundreds of QTEs and a bit where you shoot hostage takers in slow-motion.
Still with me? Good.
Resident Evil 6 is a considerable game comprising four campaigns that each last upward of eight hours and are, in theory, each tailored to a unique subset of Resident Evil fans. In truth, they all end up wild festivals of pew, but as Capcom have bestowed upon us such a plenitude of content it would be unjust not to appraise each chunk of this monolithic game.
All Hair, No Scare
Leon Kennedy’s campaign endeavours to evoke the glories of bygone Resident Evil and as such it’s the campaign long-term fans will likely begin with. There’s a plot of sorts, but it’s not much more than an excuse to send the bipedal fringe on a tour of Planet Earth’s spookiest venues: graveyards, catacombs and shadowy caves all high on the list.
Leon and cohort Helena are on the hunt for evil scientist Simmons. Simmons has plunged the world into accustomed anarchy and though he packs none of the hammy punch of Albert Wesker, he assumes the role of chief Resident Evil no-good well enough. By which I mean his machinations are as nonsensical as they are comfortably thwarted.
If there was any doubt before, it’s clear from Leon’s campaign that Capcom have either forgotten or disregarded what made the early games sing. Having enjoyed Resident Evil 5, I don’t think this is something we should necessarily mourn, but Capcom have had a stab at doing the scary schtick again and the result is a vanilla third-person shooter set in the dark – one that subscribes to the Doom 3 notion that anything that happens with the lights down low must surely be terrifying. It fails to take into account, though, that nothing is terrifying when you’re armed with a triple barrel shotgun, a fistful of hand grenades and an assault rifle with a foot-long bayonet fused to its svelte underbelly.