Resident Evil 6 is the latest instalment in the RE saga, but can it live up to the standards of game that we know and love?
While spin-offs Resident Evil: Operation: Raccoon City and Mercenaries massively underwhelmed, Revelations on the Nintendo 3DS was a reminder that when Capcom sticks to what it knows best, there's few better at making a survival horror game even when it’s for the smaller screen surroundings of the Ninty portable.
Resident Evil 5 brought co-op play, online multiplayer action, and was a big graphical improvement from RE 4. While characters and dark mysterious locations remained the same, there was a clear shift to a more action feel in the gameplay, which no doubt would have upset fans of RE 4 and 2 which are still considered the best instalments in the series.
In the quest to please both loyal fans and newcomers to the franchise, Resident Evil 6 spreads itself across three main campaigns which can be played in solo and co-op modes (and a fourth one to unlock) that intertwine both in online and offline realms but offer very different playing experiences of the game.
Resident Evil 6: Features
The on-screen inventory system now means real-time access to weapons and herbs which now have to be combined and placed stored in cases, and is a welcome change from having to constantly pause and jump out of the action.
There’s a new upgrade system that focuses on abilities as opposed to specific weapons, So you’ll be able to increase your body piercing skills and increase chances of a critical shot by saving up skill points that can be collected by defeating enemies or by locating them in boxes and crates which can then be bought between chapters.
Using your ammo wisely is crucial across all campaign modes. Waste rounds and you’ll soon realise that you will have to rely on hand-to-hand combat, your knife and co-op buddy saving your arse until you can find some more ammunition.
While all characters have a range of lethal weapon-less moves, you are now more susceptible to being surrounded and fatally attacked.
Zombies are back and this time they have weapons, and will crawl, leap and jump their way to attack you from all angles. The potency of the new C-Virus means enemies can also mutate which means landing a head shot is not always the solution.
The good news is that you can now shoot on the move, or if hit, aim your weapon as you crawl around the floor in as you wait for the recovery bar to fill back up.
Resident Evil 6 brings more online co-op action, with special sections of the story allowing up to four players to tackle boss fights at once. There’s also the Agent Hunt mode where you can join another person’s online game as one of the creatures and Mercenaries mode which if you played on the 3DS is about defeating as many creatures possible against the clock.
Resident Evil 6: Gameplay
Leon’s campaign is clearly aimed at those who love the dark, slow-paced, suspense associated with Resident Evil 2 and 4 but in the prelude to the opening chapter, Capcom can’t wait to get the first explosions in.
Flanked by US government agent Helena Harper, the action seems to lose some of the eeriness that we first experienced in the E3 2012 hands-on and you’ll soon realise that the puzzle-solving is far from challenging. The real problem though is that it’s just not scary and this is consistent throughout all of the campaigns.
Resident Evil 6: Plot
Chris Redfield leads the second campaign with his BSAA team including co-op partner Piers Nivans across locations in Eastern Europe and China tackling bio-terrorism with a more warfare feel to proceedings.
Our early hands-on with Chris’s campaign didn’t really do the finished version justice and while it initially felt very 'Mercenaries' in its gameplay, there’s some strategy that lies behind the excessive zombie-blasting.
Co-op AI definitely impresses as Piers actually works as much individually as he does under your command which means he will carry on the fight and kill the enemy while you try to locate more ammunition.
Son of Resident Evil 5’s main antagonist Albert Wesker, Jake Muller has the rare blood type that could solve the global virus outbreak and co-op partner Sherry Birkin (Resident Evil 2) needs to make sure he stays alive.
In a kind of halfway house between Chris and Leon’s stories the addition of being chased constantly throughout attempts to add a more thrilling, tense feel to the campaign.
If you manage to complete Leon, Chris and Jake’s campaigns, you’ll unlock Ada Wong’s playable campaign but this time the femme fatale, goes it largely alone.
With the emphasis on stealth and a crossbow and machine gun the weapons at your disposal, the solo mission certainly feels more like the Resident Evil of old and is pleasant addition to a game that Capcom claims has 40 hours to plough through without this added Ada mission.
Resident Evil 6: Verdict
Sometimes when you try so hard to make everyone happy, you can ultimately end up actually pleasing no one at all. All of the campaigns certainly have their positives but there are plenty of negatives to go with it.
The new menu systems, shooting mechanics, improved co-op and zombie AI were necessary and welcome changes and we love the addition of the Ada Wong campaign.
Graphics though seemed to lack a high definition gloss, while the plot and storylines at times are far from engrossing. Crucially though, the game just isn’t scary. The shifting emphasis on cinematic-style action from its survival horror roots, going from complete isolation to reliance on a co-op partner is just so dramatic that it is going to disappoint older RE fans once again.
Other notable issues worth mentioning is that the split screen action is just so difficult to play and the screen brightness even when turned right up still makes it near on impossible not to have to squint through some parts of the game particularly through Leon’s campaign.
This is a Resident Evil experience that is good in parts but disappointing in most. The game has evolved into a very different beast which aims to create the suspense in a very different way, but ultimately will have many hoping Capcom comes good on talk of a Resident Evil 2 HD remake.
Resident Evil 6 release date: 2 October 2012
Resident Evil 6 price: £39.99