First off, the game is playable either in single or multiplay modes, though multi player will have you connect over the Internet to find matches for your experience. Local multiplayer is constrained to split-screen functionality, which will do just fine, given a large enough monitor. For the most part, I was attacking the game solo. There is a lot to cover, as there are four separate storylines that converge, split, and meet again, with each one offering greater insight into just what is happening in the game.
You can pick either Leon Kennedy, a mainstay in the series since Racoon City, and his partner Helena, a new character; Chris Redfield from the first RE, and his partner Piers, both from the BSA; or Sherry, the little girl from RE 2, who is now an agent herself, and Jake, a mercenary with a past that ties him to Albert Wesker. Ada Wong, another RE mainstay, is there as well, features quite prominently in all of the story lines, and is herself available in her own playable campaign.
The game has changed radically over the years, and in its sixth form, is a little less survival-horror and leans far more towards the action end of the spectrum. It is still a third-person shooter, though a lot has been tweaked in order for it to much better please the action-hungry garners out there. Ammo is a lot more abundant than other RE games—even RE S—and though there are some points that will require you to be a little careful with ammo consumption, it is helpful enough to keep you fed enough to handle more or less any part of the game, as long as you aren’t wasteful.
The game has taken away the weapon upgrade system which we saw in the previous installment, in lieu of a skill-based system that allows you to purchase different abilities to suit your play style using skill points throughout the game. These range from hugely helpful skills that steady aim, to some more interesting ones like massive last-round damage every magazine. This is a bit of a shame, but is still a fun element, as it has you scrambling for every skill point you can find in order to tip the balance of the game to your favor. You can now also perform melee attacks and combos that can almost instantly put an enemy down, but can only be performed limited times before you have to recover.
Capcom has finally addressed how none of its characters can reload or fire when moving, which is no minor thing, as really everything about the game whizzes by at a much faster pace than you would normally associate with the title.
Enemies are interesting in this installment as well. Slow, lumbering zombies are so 2000, and have been replaced by slightly more ambulant ghouls that have a little more zing in them. They are also a bit tougher, and start to vary slowly as the game progresses. By the time you hit the second campaign, you’ll have really massive, super-tough creatures that are less zombie and more bio-organic weapon. It makes from some rather frantic gameplay, which is still really enjoyable.
The story is probably the single most intricate one in the whole series, and has so many appearances by the other characters in the game, who are themselves protagonists in previous RE titles. It’s very rewarding to watch, particularly for long-time fans. The many intersects, different storylines, and twists make for an immersive game that has oodles of replay value. Actually, you haven’t really finished the game until you have done so with all the characters available. This gets total play time way up there, which is great, because the game can be pretty immersive. Quicktime events are still here, much to my absolute frustration, but are a little simpler than in the past, so as long as you are paying attention, you aren’t likely to get insta-killed because of those. Good job, Capcom.
Still, Resident Evil 6 is not without its shortcomings. Control issues plague the game. It has many time-critical, instant-kill action scenes which will have you pulling at your hair. It’s not that those parts are difficult, per se, but wonky controls that have you instantly running towards the wrong direction during a timed game segment can really get frustrating. It was so bad in some points that I actually gave up and skipped some parts via the “Chapter Select” option at the start of each game. Not only do these failures to implement controls in a sane way ruin your run-through score, it very sharply removes you from the awesome story. It’s really a shame, actually. Still, combat, which is a big part of the game, is solid. You can run and gun, or move a little more methodically through each of the chapters, though, like an actual zombie outbreak, you have to move, otherwise, you risk getting overrun, particularly when the enemies start to get tough.
Friendly AI is a little more helpful than previous installments, and most of the time, your partner is able to hold their own, and even give you a hand when the shooting gets a little thick. The same can’t really be said about enemy AI, though, as they tend to either beeline for you, or in some cases, just shoot randomly. I get that zombies are supposed to swarm, but some of the higher-level infected-those that are supposed to retain their military operator training-don’t really act like soldiers.
Boss fights are epic as always, and are all difficult and interesting enough without being frustrating. RE has boss fights down to an art, in my opinion, RE 6 has some pretty creative ways of taking down bosses. Leon and Helena’s bosses in particular stand out for the “WTF” factor, and the amount of fun you’ll have taking them down.
In true RE fashion, the game requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, but to be honest, that’s one of the things that makes this game a lot of fun. Like an action movie whose plot is so bad that it’s good, this game gives you a really fun over the top, B-movie experience that’s a heck of a ride. If not for the rather glaring control issues on the PC version, RE 6 would have been a must play. As it stands, however, you might want to pass on this title, unless you’re a hardcore Resident Evil fan, in which case, you’ll greatly appreciate the deep, intertwining stories and nicely-tweaked gameplay.
Words by Ren Alcantara
First published in Gadgets Magazine, September 2013