E3 2012: Resident Evil 6 demos new enemies, weapons and characters

Battling the undead from the back of snowmobile

Resident Evil 6 has dropped with an action-packed new trailer and gameplay demo at E3 2012. But how does it measure up to its brain-munching predecessors?

Killer corpses, gun-toting babes and a shed-load of action can only mean one thing: a new Resident Evil is heading our way.

Resident Evil 6: Gameplay

From everything we've seen at E3, Resident Evil 6 is shifting away from hokey Spanish farming communities and not-quite-racist African tribal villages, dumping the series back into the darker atmosphere of the first three installments. That means the meat of the game's zombie-bashing now takes place across cities still succumbing to infection, in the dark, with everything going to pot around you.

The action, however, has only been ramped up - in place of slow-build, psychological horror, we're getting motorbike chases, crashing helicopters, parachuting sequences - even snowmobiles, in an unexpected nod to the Modern Warfare series. It's survival horror, Jim, but not as we know it.

To keep up with the cinematics, the player characters have picked up some new moves to keep the combat flowing quickly. Grizzly finishing moves that trigger when a nearby enemy is stunned make a return from Resident Evil 5 - from an up-close knife execution the ol' kick-em-so-hard-their-head-explodes trick.

But that's not all: characters in Resident Evil Six have finally mastered the trick of moving while shooting, as opposed to standing rooted to the spot trying to blast a zombie that's contentedly munching their face off. Our survivors have picked up some newfound acrobatic abilities, too, diving backwards Max Payne-style to avoid zombie grapples and pumping bullets into enemies while lying on their backs - the third-person shooting position du jour.

Resident Evil 6: Enemies

Speaking of zombies, they'll be what's mostly on the receiving end of Resi 6's litany of machine guns, shotguns and sniper rifles.

Say goodbye the mind-controlling Las Plagas parasites that have been the staple villains of the last two Resident Evil games; the enemies in Resident Evil 6 are straight up walking dead, brought shambling back to life by the 'C Virus' - the latest ill-conceived product of the Umbrella corporation's Friday afternoon board meetings.

Of course, it wouldn't be Resident Evil without some gruesome, tentacle-wiggling mutations, and in Six, certain enemies infected with C Virus will mutate depending on where on their bodies they take damage.

Plug certain zombies in the arm, for instance, and they can sprout a replacement tentacle to grapple you with; blow their legs off and they might grow a pair of wings and attack from above.

It's an interesting twist on the old "why won't you die?!" bread and butter of Resi games, and should make engaging enemies a more tactical process than the shoot-them-in-the-head-kick-them-to-the-ground technique that could see cool-headed players almost unharmed through large portions of Resident Evils 4 and 5.

Resident Evil 6: Storyline

Resident Evil 6 throws you into three overlapping storylines, each with its own hero. On the one hand, you've got franchise stalwart Leon Kennedy, who's got himself trapped on a university campus with a student body that's gone a bit, er, corpse-y.

Ex-STARS member and current special forces beefcake Chris Redfield is off in China battling a parallel outbreak on the streets of a city modelled on Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, series newcomer Jake Muller - son of former Bowie-voiced uber-baddie Albert Wesker - is stuck battling Umbrella's bioweapons in the fictional Eastern European country of Edonia, with a grown-up Sherry Birkin from Resident Evil 2.

All the characters will be chasing after Ada Wong, the closest thing Resident Evil has to a femme fatale, who may or may not be responsible for this latest plague of undead.

Confused yet? Like all games in the Resident Evil series, the backstory sounds complex, silly, and ultimately a non-issue for anyone only just now getting in on the series.

If you care about whatever dastardly business the newly-renamed 'Neo Umbrella' is getting up to this time, doubtless there'll be plenty of ham-voiced exposition, treachery and secrets to uncover. If you don't, you can just waltz around blowing up crowds of zombies with hand grenades.

Resident Evil 6: Co-op

Each character in the three storylines is supported by an AI or co-op sidekick.

They didn't get a good showing at E3, but we're hoping they've managed to sort out the crippling problems that playing with the AI threw up in Resident Evil 5 (in which your companion, Sheva, would chase around after you diligently picking up the landmines you'd laid and try to spritz you with valuable First Aid Sprays if you so much as chipped a toenail).

Resident Evil 6 will also feature online co-op, with special sections of story allowing up to four players to tackle boss fights at once.

Resident Evil 6: Release Date

With so many triple-A titles being pushed back from the Christmas release period to 2013 (we're looking at you, Bioshock Infinte, Tomb Raider and South Park), Resident Evil has actually pushed its release date forward, from November to October 2nd.

Hopefully this doesn't mean that Capcom are skimping on any content (they caught flak over hiding DLC on the disk of Resident Evil 5 and charging players extra to unlock it - tut tut), but from everything that's been on show so far, Resident Evil 6 is shaping up to be a gory blend of the old and the new - only this time mercifully devoid of any spear-chucking, grass-skirt wearing African tribesmen.

Want more? Check out the Resident Evil 6 trailer below.