Resident Evil 6 Xbox 360 Review
Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Genre: Action Players: 1-4 Age Rating: 18+
Other console/handheld formats: PS3
Ever since the radical overhaul of the series with Resident Evil 4, the Resident Evil series has been moving further and further from its roots, to the point that it’s largely no longer a Survival Horror game: a genre that it played a big role in creating and is instead a fully fledged action game, where shocks are few and far between. It’s easy to see why many of its original fans have grown disillusioned with the series, and, similarly, Resident Evil 6 is unlikely to wholly satisfy those seeking a return to the franchise’s more sedate pace and scarier beginnings.
Resident Evil 6 features four campaigns, and has the biggest ensemble cast in a Resident Evil game to date. There are seven playable characters, including fan favourites Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield and Ada Wong, and these are joined by the likes of mercenary Jake Muller and Resident Evil 2’s Sherry Birkin.
Each campaign is reasonably sized, so, combined, it’s a substantial and generous game. All four characters stories intertwine from time to time, and it’s rather cleverly assembled and satisfying replaying the same section from contrasting viewpoints, though the structure is a bit odd in the fact that, whilst you can play the campaigns in any order, some major plot revelations related to other campaigns can easily be spoilt, though for all plot points to become completely clear the game must be completed in its entirety.
Resident Evil 6 has even less in common with a B movie than its two predecessors, moving ever more toward the territory of action blockbuster, and the characters abilities have evolved to reflect this. You’re finally able to move and shoot at the same time, whilst you’re able to stylishly dive and slide around to avoid enemy attacks. A true cover system has been implemented and, whilst it’s hardly the best example of the mechanic, it’s functional enough and not always a requirement by any means. There’s a new and invaluable quick shot ability that targets the nearest enemy, whilst melee attacks are far more effective, which means that, providing you keep watch on the stamina meter, even if ammo is completely diminished it’s still often far from a hopeless situation, as it so often was in previous games.
Skill points can also be discovered through killing enemies or opening chests and these can be spent in between missions on skills that enhance your characters in various ways; allowing you to reload your guns more swiftly or to cause enemies to drop more ammo for a favourite gun up on their deaths for instance. The system is initially a bit too limited to truly satisfy, allowing you to merely equip three skills, though completion of one campaign grants you the option of equipping eight sets of skills granting additional depth and possibilities.
The game, whilst undoubtedly still focussed on action, still has glimmers of the series past in its DNA. For many longstanding fans, it’s the two campaigns of Leon and Ada that will resonate most strongly with them, occasionally having a tense and unnerving atmosphere and puzzle solving that recalls the series past. Chris’s portion meanwhile is more of a cover based shooter and, for the most part, is everything that a lot of original fans don’t want from a Resident Evil game, whilst Jake’s campaign is similarly centered on shooting and blowing things up, though he has his own melee attacks that unfortunately require you to un-equip weapons, before you’re able to use them, which means many will just forget about them.
The classic herb system has been overhauled, though not in a particularly good way. Herbs can still be combined in the usual manner; though doing so now transforms them into pills, which you must first put into your case before you’re able to use them, a needlessly protracted process and a case of change just for the sake of change rather than something that was in need of attention.
The creature design is memorable in a fittingly grotesque manner, horrifically writhing and twisted like something straight from the town of Silent Hill, and far outclassing the latest iteration in Konami’s series, Silent Hill: Downpour. Some enemies will regenerate lost limbs, albeit deadlier, mutated variations of them, which means they’re never less than interesting to fight, whilst the bosses are memorable encounters and look as lovely as you’d imagine, which is to say hideously ugly but technically amazing.
The controversial co-op play that was introduced to the series with Resident Evil 5 has been retained. However, whilst playing alongside a fellow human is the best way to play the game, Resident Evil 6 is far more accommodating for solo players than its predecessor was. Unlike Resident Evil 5’s Sheva, your AI companion/s are largely no longer able to die, whilst their ammo never needs to be replenished, which was cheating on Capcom’s part really, but is nevertheless beneficial for those that want to play alone and not have to babysit dim witted AI.
The co-op functions much the same as the previous game, though in a nice twist sections where the paths cross for the primary heroes allow an additional player or two to temporarily intersect with your game. Agent Hunt meanwhile allows you to invade another player’s game as an enemy and attempt to hunt them down, Left 4 Dead style.
The fan favourite Mercenaries mode is unsurprisingly back and it’s much the same as it has been in the past and, consequently, is also as addictive as ever. For the uninitiated, it’s a points based mode that sees you taking on enemies (either alone or accompanied by another player) and by killing them in succession you’ll build combos, allowing for higher scores.
Resident Evil 6 is once again not the same game that many first fell in love with fifteen years ago, which will be disappointing for those that have long been seeking a game that has more in common with its roots. Nevertheless, there’s a strong offering here that embraces the action genre more than ever before, but its executed to a high enough degree for it to be one of the best of its ilk.