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- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Platform: Playstation 3 (tested), Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
- Release Date: 2 October
- Price: £39.99
Resident Evil 6 Review
Depending on which of its three single-player campaigns you choose first, Resident Evil 6 starts brilliantly. Leon Kennedy, accompanied by partner and Secret Service agent Helena Harper, is picking through an American university in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak.
Lecture halls are abandoned, furniture is overturned; there's nary a zombie in sight. For 15 minutes or more, Resident Evil 6 is completely non-violent. The only thing to be scared of is your own shadow, cast high and long by the game's beautiful lighting effects.
It's very eerie, in a way Resident Evil hasn't been in years. The silent and empty university has echoes of the Spencer Estate, and the RPD building; eagle-eared players will even catch a few bars of music from Resident Evil 2 on the soundtrack.
Tension builds until you encounter the first zombie and even then, the game doesn't go full-octane. It's not until after the university, and a densely atmospheric sequence on a closed subway, that Resident Evil 6 begins to unravel.
Out on the streets of Anytown, America, Leon and Helena throw in with a band of ragtag survivors, and make their stand in a boarded-up gunshop. Zombies and monsters slither in through the windows, members of the group run frantically to-and-fro; the gunshop scene is total chaos, in a bad way.
It's clearly intended for more than one player. If the nameless AI bots giving you a hand isn't hint enough, the respawning enemies and ammo drops should tell you all you need to know. Resident Evil 6 is not to be done alone; unless there are enough of you to handle the play-load, combat, platforming and everything else becomes scrappy and frustrating.
The gunshop is just a first example, but it gets worse from there; sticking with the multiplayer angle, the rest of Resident Evil 6 isn't linear, per-se. Instead, you're led by the nose through a series of small enclosures, or hubs, where zombies reappear and there's plenty of room to run around. #
The best example is the catacombs, which follows shortly after the gunshop. Room by generic room, your job is to hold zombies off for a finite amount of time, or cover your partner while they do something, or vice-versa. It's one obvious multiplayer set-up after another; the claustrophobic corridors of Resident Evils-past are expanded into circular arenas, to give you and, the game presumes, a pal, enough space to play at the same time.
With some friends by your side, it works a bit better, but as a solo mission, Resident Evil 6 feels directionless and confused. Enemies amble in from any and every angle; your only real objective is to survive and make it to the next combat room.
Where good single-player campaigns are driven by tangible objectives, and a variety of different tasks , Resident Evil 6 is one round of thinly disguised team deathmatch after another.
Resident Evil 5 had the trouble of trying to shoehorn one game mode into another. Play it alone and you're constantly impaired by resource-sharing with your AI partner, and forced co-op sections. One player can never fill the space of two.
Resident Evil 6 suffers from the same problem, where it has a traditionally one-player franchise to live up to, but also a perceived market of online multiplayers to satisfy. As a result, it works on neither level. The offline campaign is too busy and loose to be enjoyed by yourself, and the multiplayer mode feels ungainly in what is still, to most people's minds, a one-player driven horror game.
Capcom doesn't know what to do with Resident Evil anymore
The story and characters are equally disorganised. With its three interlocking campaigns, and a fourth one to play afterwards, plots and subplots come and go nowhere, with laughable consistency. Dialogue and narrative have never been Resident Evil's strong or selling points; that hasn't changed at all.
Resident Evil 6 is a cluttered disarrangement of action and horror movie clichés. Dead President this, kidnapped sister that; moody, alcoholic hero the other. Series regulars Leon, Chris, Sherry and Ada make a predictable comeback, and their dialogue ranges from flat to hilarious.
"Leon, what's your status?" asks his handler over the radio.
"I just shot the President" he immediately replies.
Later on he calls back to say: "Hunnigan, I need you to fake our deaths."
Generous fans might call this schlock trademark; we're not so sure.
There are a few good and very welcome new ideas. Cumbersome mechanics like the inventory menu have been ditched or streamlined; instead of opening a pause screen to pick guns and aid kits, they can be flipped through on-the-fly and used by touching R2, respectively.
The infamous knife has been pretty much binned. Resident Evil 4 players will remember it being handy for smashing item boxes open, but now that's done automatically with a squeeze of R1.
Action vs horror
And although Capcom can't choose between single and multiplayer, it's at least got off the fence in the action vs. horror debate: Resident Evil 6 is a third-person shooter.
The enemies might be zombies, and the rooms might be dark, but the new cover mechanics and the ability to move while firing (as well as melee combat and dodge buttons) make RE6 the most fighting fit Resident Evil to date.
A lot of people will mourn the series' survival horror roots, but with a friend involved, and the new features mastered, Resident Evil 6 can still be frighteningly intense. An early sequence in a cemetery requires nerves of hardened steel.
Mainly, though, Resident Evil 6 is a joyless game. The single-player is unrelenting - enemy-after-enemy, room-after-room; gun fight-after-gun fight - and quickly loses drive once the multiplayer framework starts to bleed in.
Chris' campaign is undoubtedly the weakest (a repeat performance of cover-based shootouts, it's absolutely no good unless played with a friend) and even the best ideas, which mostly appear in Leon's story, are hampered by two-player level design, dull shooting and a clunky, flailing melee system.
With so much happening in every direction of Resident Evil 6, it's impossible, and dull, to try and keep track of so much action.
The pacing is completely off. Where Resident Evil 4's big fight scenes were often divided by plodding, combat-less item gathering, Resident Evil 6 never takes its foot off the gas.
This is a multiplayer game. With some buddies next to you, the levels feel much more appropriate, and it's easier to overlook the sometimes satisfying, always awkward gun and fist combat. But that's not an excuse for a bad solo campaign; if any game is going to have one, it can't just hang off the bones of a multiplayer mode.
Capcom needs to think about the Resident Evil series going forward. RE 6's almost complete lack of scares will silence the horror debate for good, but now it needs to be decided if Resident Evil should be for one person at a time, or for groups of friends. There's a great game to be made off the back of either decision; Resident Evil 6 shows you can't have it both ways.
- Gameplay - 5/10: Clunky combat, and multiplayer amounts of enemies make Resident Evil 6's solo mode a misery. Get some friends in and it chirps up
- Sound - 7/10: Despite the Ed Wood level of dialgoue, voice acting is still solid, and the monster's groans are terrifying
- Graphics - 9/10: Resident Evil 6 is gorgeous to look at, unless you're looking at the zombies, which look absolutely disgusting
- Replay Value - 7/10: Plenty here to keep you going, if you want to keep going, which you won't
- Overall - 6/10: A bloated, directionless, overly-mixed bag that fans will hate, and newcomers might find hard to fall for