Wednesday, November 5, 2014

VGR Resident Evil 6

The Resident Evil series Albert Wesker is dead. But the worldwide virus outbreak continues!

And turns out Wesker left more that a mere legacy behind... (Or so Capcom would like to believe.)

VGR: Resident Evil 6 also known as Biohazard 6 or simply RE6
From Capcom
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PS3 & PC

Type Action/Third Person Shooter 
Year 2012

If anything can be said of 2012 as far as Capcom go is that it was the year of Resident Evil's comeback, right off the series 15th Anniversary in 2011 (maybe a way to excuse themselves from missing to mark the occasion...?). Through the year Capcom released not only three new episodes in the franchise but also two new movies. The film series had another iteration of Paul W.S. Anderson's live-action fanfic, in the form of Resident Evil: Retribution, as well as a new CGi Capcom-produced animated feature film with Resident Evil: Damnation, a nice build up to this following game.

On the gaming side we received three games. Resident Evil Revelations was the long-awaited true return to form for the series (more on this one some other day). Which was itself quickly followed then by Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, this game seemed to offer so much possibilites and only ended in broken promises. What could have been a fantastic addition to the series in the form of the point of view of the most enigmatic and badass characters in the series, Hunk (sorry Ada!), instead turned out to be a fairly boring and generic 3rd person shooter. If anything it offered at least a nice side-game, a way to experiment with a couple of ideas that would found their way in the game I'm reviewing here.

And last but not least, the game that concerns us today, Resident Evil 6. Capcom all-out trying their best possible way to please as many kind of gamers, whatever they connection to the series might be...

This should have been the tagline of the game.

The development of the game quickly began in 2009, following the immediate release of Resident Evil 5. The idea was to return the series to horror, while keeping as much of the same dramatic blockbuster movie tone from the last couple of episodes.

The problem is the game had a pretty rough production behind the scenes.

Originally the game was set to be overseen by Resident Evil 5 producer (and Lost Planet chief producer) Jun Takeuchi. He wanted a complete overall of the game design, a brand new system to reimagine series from the ground up. To bring in as much changes as there was from the classic games to Resident Evil 4, but due to limited time and resources (or the fact the game ended with a rush job perhaps), they had to scrap all these plans. And the production of the game was taken away from him.

To do the above they would have required at least 8 years from Capcom to develop things fresh from the start, and the company wanted it under four years (three as it turned out).

Nonetheless they kept their original objective to bring the series back to its roots as much as possible while still making the experience friendly enough to new fans out there.

With Resident Evil 6 what Capcom wanted from it was it to be the most impressive title in series in both scope and production values. The problem is this was perhaps a task too big to handle.

Resident Evil 6's story aims to be the biggest there ever was, offering 4 separate scenarios from the perspective of the biggest number of playable characters we ever had in the series so far. Four unique characters as a throwback to the entire series, from the games of old to the current latest episodes.

They put the project in the hands of producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi (from Resident Evil 4) back in this role since that was the most popular game in the series to date and series creator Shinji Mikami was long gone from Capcom by now, and they put him in charge of the largest staff to work on a RE game to this day.

They wanted Resident Evil 6 to offer four unique styles of gameplay. A more traditional approach to the horror genre which ended being the one to offer some of the most memorable moments in this game, another action-based third person cover shooter bringing the action to a whole new level, what would become "Jake's" story being closer to some of the older episodes (looking at you, Nemesis!) with an emphasis on QTEs and plot, and finally one last fourth and secret game trying for a more puzzle heavy gameplay and stealth. It was nice features to bring into the game, but as they turned out some of them are quite clunky and badly implement. I doubt they thought about how to make all this much coherent to be honest.

While past games usually featured a second alternate character to play, usually they used the same settings and story. For the first time here other characters would mean different scenarios, weapons and even enemies!

RE6's story takes place nowadays in 2013, jumping a few years ahead in the timeline meaning some of the characters are starting to get older since the original "Raccoon City incident" back in the old games.

It all starts with the little Sherry Birkin from Resident Evil 2, who has definitively grown up since then. She's now part of the DSO, the Division of Security Operations. She was tasked to find this Jake Muller in some fictional Slavic country. He might just have the key for a cure for this new virus in his blood. When suddenly a terrorist attack explodes nearby. There's this all-new C-Virus thats causing a lot of damages.

Around that same time RE5 protagonist Chris Redfield is recontacted by his old team at the BSAA. They need him back. This new guy, a sniper named Piers Nivans, convinces him to join the fight against these dangerous new BOWs. These giant ogre-things are stomping the city Sherry and Jake are trapped in.

It's all part of a new attack on multiple fronts by Neo Umbrella. They are attempting a coup by forcing a war all over the world. And is that... Ada Wong at the head of the attacks!?

Shortly after the start of the war, the US President Adam Benford wants to finally reveal the truth regarding the 1998 Raccoon City incident. But he fails to do so when he's infected before speaking up on stage, and returning RE4 hero Leon S. Kennedy is forced to put him down. Leon return from his absence since part 4, this ex-Raccoon City cop is now working for the US Government and he was assigned the protection of the president since his past adventure along Secret Service Agent Helena Harper. Soon there's this zombie outbreak near the senate. Helena admits having let the president get contaminated, she was forced to do so since they have her sister Deborah. They head for a Cathedral where all this attack's been coming from. They find Ada along the way who reveals who's been blackmailing everyone - National Security Advisor Derek C. Simmons is responsible for all this!

From there the action then heads to Lanshiang, China (a fake Hong Kong). All the scenarios take place concurrently at the same time, so this will happen all four times whoever you decide to go with. The city will be heavily invaded by zombies and a bomb is later dropped to contain the situation.

And some of the protagonists will take the conflict to a nearby oil platform rig for an explosive finale under the water secret, inside the HQs of this Neo Umbrella.

Why's there an Ada Wong doppelgänger and what are Simmons real intentions...?!

The scenarios can be played in any order.

Four connected storylines. Each slightly differently designed in both tone and visuals (including a complete different set of HUDs menus on screen), despite sharing similar controls.

Chris Redfield's offers a direct continuation to RE5 in terms of plot, and is one of the big two main stories of this episode. He is former BSAA who has resigned following his own failures... It's action packed. Maybe too much. There's lots of forced shooting. Chris & Piers' "excellent adventure" mostly battle their way through these mutated creatures and the J'avo, an evolution from the last few game's enemies. Intelligent gun-wielding foes.

The Leon/Helena campaign offers a complementary experience, in the sense that it's the only game that tries to still be a survival horror. It's a throwback to RE4 but also includes elements from the original games (namely the city overrun from RE2). It also contains classic zombies and some well designed original settings only he will explore (such as a cathedral, a cemetery, a subway, etc.). It seems to take place on a smaller scale, which is nice.

Next scenario is Sherry and Jake's. We find out this Jake Muller is apparently the son of Albert Wesker we never met before. Playing with Sherry is pretty close to Leon, but Jake allows to use hand-to-hand combat as well. They're continuously chased by this giant ugly monster called Ustanak, an element bringing their campaign as much closest possible to the tone of Resident Evil 3 and having this invincible foe, Nemesis, after the player. Resident Evil 3... to mixed success honestly. The best moments of this scenario are easily the more story-heavy one such as a passage in the enemies headquarters where you'll have to hide from them and try to get your equipment back. This one also contains the most questionable QTEs...

Finally we have Ada Wong's campaign. Originally when the game was released this was secret bonus scenario you had to unlock once the rest was completed, but since then there's been an update that makes it available from start. It simply offers Ada's point of view as a freelance agent. She's been framed for the bio-terrorist attacks by Neo Umbrella. It helps brings all the other stories in perspective. There's a couple revelations regarding the C-Virus. It was originally meant to be the only forced single player campaign with an emphasis on puzzles and stealth. But a second player can now join in as this random generic soldier, "Agent". An unfinished character that can barely interact with anything, he can't open doors, activate puzzles, etc. It's decent but it could have been so much more. It feels really unpolished. And the puzzles, supposed to be the main feature, feel simpler and weaker than Leon's!

Like RE5 before, the main feature of the game is the tag partner mechanic. It can be controlled by the AI or another player - either local or online (definitively a plus on that regards - thanks Capcom!). While the AI is much better than how broken it was in RE5, being effective and not as dumb and clumsy has before, it's always nicer with another human player instead.

Where the game suffer most issues is that it was specifically designed for the online part. And apparently Capcom was either too lazy or incompetent to offer a different experience offline (despite setting it offline in the options!). As such you have to manage all your items in real time, which can be a pain! And there's no pause as well. It can get really annoying when you're trying to familiarize yourself with the game and learn at first. But since the game is very linear, you just need to backtrack a little if you want to avoid enemies while doing so!

Resident Evil 6 plays like any third person cover shooter out there. On the gameplay side, the game really took advantage to learn from the positives and the mistakes from Operation Raccoon City which acted as a test drive for a couple of new features they wanted to implement in the series. As such, for the very first time a Resident Evil is finally ditching some of the older mechanics that really made more sense in the older tank-controls based installments inherent to the series. Yes. You can finally move while aiming your firearms for the very first time in the RE series! Also it's possible to assign health items (or "tablets" as they're called here) to a button combining herbs as usual (which actually makes less and less sense over the years..). And once down, it's possible to recover with some help from your partner.

Resident Evil 6 features all sorts of enemies from simpler mindless zombies, mostly confined to Leon's scenario, to the more annoying J'avo, which use weapons and interact and heal amongst themselves.

There's a skill points system to upgrade your abilities (such as your defense, etc) and weapons. Each of those skills taking different slots you can customize. It can get complex if you go into details, but you can complete the entire game without doing so.

The controls have been really refined since the last episode. You can dive backwards or slide... and then even shoot while moving with your butt on the ground (??)!

Each character has his own set of weapons and skills. It defines the type of guns you will get from the start and find in the stages, from rifles or handguns to even hand to hand combat.

A couple of times the duos will split up on a couple of occasions for some interesting scenes.

Visually, RE6 looks pretty good. While there is a big variety of type locations you'll visit, some places do get revisited one time to many and it seems you're always in these ruins of an old Eastern Europe village or the streets of China! Too bad since there are some more unusual original locations as well...

It's a fairly long game, all things considered. There is only 5 chapters for each scenario, and some only take about one hour to complete on a first run! But there's also several more annoying segments that will seem to drag on (particularly in Chris' more action-oriented campaign).

And once more there's a return of the survival mode, "the Mercenaries". Albeit in a much simpler form this time (probably to avoid detracting from the Mercenaries standalone game on the 3DS). Still, it's a fun regular addition, if a bit forgettable this time. You also get the fun opportunity to control enemies as well in it and going after other players.

Resident Evil 6 suffers from a lot of copy-pasted recycled elements. You keep encountering the same enemies through the entire game (I would have liked some regular new additions each episode/stage).

You will keep fighting the same few bosses so many times, even across campaigns. And continuing to revisit the same story through all these four characters makes it so redundant... I truly believe less is more.

Leon is easily the best story/campaign of the game, while Ada's really clunky and bad. It had some good ideas and intentions but it just leaves much to be desired (the stealth is awful!).

The much improved controls are definitively a plus, more fluid than before. The doge mechanic is nice and the abilities help a little.

But the game features some awful designs. Great graphics and concepts, but an awful engine and lighting (specially compared to the much older RE5 which really shined through thanks to its sunny locations).

There's also a ton of annoying Quick-time events - which can actually be automatically enabled/deactivated entirely from the option settings, with the "auto action button"  option.

A few DLCs were"released", but they are really dispensable in my eyes. They're mostly more multiplayer modes, additional characters and skins/costumes. And there's also a pretty random crossover Left 4 Dead 2 promotion with Valve (downloadable L4D characters in RE6 and vice-versa).

This time the music was composed by a big variety of Capcom composers, headlined by Akihiko Narita of the Monster Hunter fame. It does its job, it's action-paced popcorn movie-style instrumentals. It does the job but it's also pretty forgettable honestly.

The game would get a mixed reception at the time. Some crittics calling it the best entry in the series to date due to how ambitious it was, trying to offer as many different possible experiences, while some fans found it to be the worse RE ever produced. I, on other hand, am neither for one or the other. Sure, the game really tries a lot, but it has such broken aspects. I can't fault its intentions, but it's not particularly good nor bad. While some of its ideas and controls are much better than what we had in Resident Evil 5, it also suffers from a lot of weaker badly implemented elements.

Overall, Resident Evil 6 it's kind of a mess. But it seems it could have been really better with some more time to polish it. Or if the entire project was put in much better hands.

Leon has a great campaign, the closest we've had the last few years to an actual survival horror Resident Evil game again. With some great well-paced calmer moments along some more creepy scenes. Ada was great in concept, but badly implemented. Jake's decent too even if I'm not a big fan of the first or last chapters. Chris easily shows the worst we had to suffer from the series and the problem there is in turning the RE series into this generic action third person Gears of War clone. And it only highlight how cheesy and terribly cliché the dialogues are.

It makes the game feel like a terribly disjointed experience. And the series need to stop embracing fully this third person shooter experience, we've come so far off the Survival Horror genre (how sad coming from one of the staples of the genre!!)... 

If anything Capcom tried to admit they want to both please as much the older fans and newcomers alike with this. It's not the best entry in the franchise by far, but it's decent. Heck, it's even far from being the best "modern RE" title in any sort of way, but at least it tried something new. It just goes to show you can't please everyone.

It's also the kind of game I won't probably want to go back to any time soon.

The atmosphere was pretty decent for the most part. And it's a logic evolution for the series, sadly. But the problem is that it feels the entire thing is escaping from Capcom's hands over the years. The main issue with the series nowadays is how much on a bigger scale things are now. Getting higher and higher, getting out of hand and taking place on a global scale. The virus is spreading all over the world. And the series has only one choice but getting over-the-top (or rebooting).

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Quacks!


  1. While I do enjoy this game, I will admit that most of its problems are due to poor scripting and lazy level design.

    For example, assume you are playing Dead Space 1, 2, or 3, and you see a Necromorph lying dead on the floor. If you walk up to it, it'll jump up and attack you causing a QTE. BUT, you can shoot the monster dead before any of that happens, even when it's on the floor.

    Now we are playing Resident Evil 6. You see a monster sitting still on the ceiling. If you walk past the chair in the room, you will lose control of your character while the monster slowly slinks down, grabs your character, and initiates a QTE in which you must spin your left analogue stick so fast or you will be pushed into a spinning fan head-first and die. You cannot at any point shoot the monster. You MUST trigger this scene. That's just lazy.

    In short, it's OK to love a game despite its flaws. There are plenty of games I love that have major problems to them. Hell, a lot of games people love have problems to them. Starcraft was shipped with dozens of glitches that caused the game to freeze (try having an SCV repair a unit that's going into a dropship). Soul Calibur 4 doesn't count sword slashes that go through heads as a hit. Part of being a gamer is realising that you can enjoy games based on their merits alone and that just because a game didn't live up to the hype doesn't mean that it's not fun. Just saying.

    1. You got some right in there, but let's be honest - RE6 fails on a lot of aspects simply because it was extremely bland and the production just feels lacking and rushed. With so very little thought put into it.

      All these issues you might have with the plot ("plot" in Resident Evil... ha! and I'm saying this as a long time fan of the series) and the gameplay are principally just because it was extremely rushed. Probably barely tested.

      It's just that it's now just a product. The passion is not there. And with the fact all of their creatives have long left the company (Shinji Mikami, etc.). I mean, I'm never one for continuing a series long after its creators are gone... and that goes for movies, etc. too.