Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 350 and Windows PC
Normally after making a mistake in daily life we tend to take a step back, analyse what went wrong and try to find a way to mend the situation or circumstance in order to ensure our next move will be productive. Although “Resident Evil 5” was by no means a commercial or financial flop for Capcom, the developers knew from customer feedback and general opinion that “5” really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Capcom wanted to re-re-reinvent their most prized franchise so they decided to crank up their ambitions, gameplay, dynamics and stakes. What they forgot though was that in order to do any of those things they needed to find justification in doing it. I didn’t necessarily hate “Resident Evil 6”, in fact I think I was quite linent to it compared to others, but I felt that Capcom leapt too far too soon without really thinking about their next logical step. Before I go into the negatives, I want to talk about what I genuinely did enjoy about the game.
If anything can be said for “6” is that it tries. Given this game tells four different stories, this really is a first for the series. Leon and Chris return (Leon’s hair still disgustingly shiny and Chris’s biceps surprisingly in proportion this time) as well as Ada Wong and a now grown-up Sherry Birkin. Lots of fans have been awaiting the youngest Birkin and for my money, they really did do her justice. Despite the fact she was involved with a traumatic event and her life after that wasn’t exactly a bowl of cherries, her connections with Leon and Claire gave her standard to strive for and it feels completely natural she does what she does and says what she says. In fact, in terms of theme, I think this game focuses on damnation as well as redemption for each character. While that is definitely not to say this game is an emotionally touching piece, I think “6” offers a generally solid cast in general because each of them has a goal to achieve. In addition to these familiar, angsty faces, we have some newbies in the form of Helena Harper (Leon’s Secret Service partner), Piers Nivens (Chris Redfield’s fellow solider who mirrors a younger version of Redfield) and Jake Muller, the bastard (bastard, bastard, bastard!) son of Albert Wesker. I know, I know but stranger things have happened. Despite the fact Capcom has a very annoying habit of making a barrage of brand new characters, I actually don’t mind these three because at least they contribute something beyond backup (plus I can’t hate on a character who shares my last name). What I also do give credit to Capcom for is making each story applicable to that particular character. Chris and Piers’s is all “Call of Duty” action and shooting, Leon and Helena’s story corresponds more to the traditional formula (with some nods to previous situations in past games and other zombie-related media) Ada’s has her more or less sneaking around behind the backs of others and Sherry and Jake’s resembles that of a action-dramatic-quasi-romcom. The execution lacked quite obviously in major areas, but the fact Capcom took a risk was surprising considering how safe they had played “5” is enough to convince me there were some genuinely good intentions. And yes, the “Mercenaries” mode has it’s charms but it too suffers from what I will soon be saying next.
Now here comes the sad part. For all of its ambition and thinking outside the box, the crucial element everybody forgot to consider was general logic. For all of it’s idiocy, there has to be some notion of grounded thought and the game tried to hide the lack of it with its admittedly nice graphics and bombastic storyline. Although the concept of bioterrorism makes a welcome return, the biggest step in the poop comes from the fact that somehow Umbrella is brought back into it. Yep. Big, bad, DEAD Umbrella has made a return in the form of Neo-Umbrella. Of course you are going to have rabid fan types excitedly jump up and down, but consider this- if you were the head of a terrorist organisation, why on God’s green earth would you name yourself after a failure of a company. Just because you call yourself Neo Umbrella doesn’t automatically mean that people are going to take you seriously. “RE” does not need that corporation anymore since the concept of bioterror has gone global in previous entries. The whole governmental cover-up deal is old news and does not pose as much a threat as it used to. Osmund Saddler’s Illuminados were far scarier because they didn’t answer to a huge shadowy government body. The T-Abyss virus was not spread by a conglomerate, it was a rogue faction of insurgents who wished to send a fatal message to the world. NO. MORE. UMBRELLA. Which brings me to my next major bone of contention- Carla Radames and Derek C. Simmons (or Johnny Drama as a friend of mine calls him). Ever since Wesker’s death, Capcom are no doubt trying to find somebody to fill his stylish snakeskin midnight leather boots, but this sort of thing doesn’t happen over night. It’s understandable that the series requires a steadfast antagonist, but neither of these two fit the bill and neither of their motivations make sense and their personalities are not compelling. Carla Radames could have been a promising villainess until she revealed herself to be yet just another Crazy Cathy hell-bent on taking over the world (in Raul Julia M. Bison tone: of COURSE!). At one point, she reveals to Jake the identity of his father and says he was a “colossal imbecile who tried to destroy the world” and yet what do you know, you find out she wants to make the world descend into chaos. Who’s the colossal imbecile again? On top of that, you have her way too convoluted back story which can only make you laugh and shake your head. No doubt Capcom were trying to give the character some type of sympathy from the audience, but it fails miserably because we just don’t care. If a story isn’t able to make you feel some concern or empathy for a character’s plight no matter what their alignment then it just doesn’t work. Sure, Wesker wasn’t sympathetic, but he had charisma. Carla does not. The same goes for Simmons. At first he is painted to be Mr. I’m Just Playin’ The Game, before it becomes very apparent that he’s just as crazy as Carla is for the most stupidest of reasons.
One final ‘creative’ aspect that just did not work in “6”‘s favor was the very same spirit that haunted the house of “5”: lack of creativity. Out of all of the monsters that our heroes face, only two stand out for the right reasons. First we have the indomitable Ustanak who is Nemesis’s backwater relative, a nightmare composed of flesh and steel, who is on the one-minded mission of capturing Jake. I must admit, he has a definitive presence in Jake’s story and the encounters of him were entertaining and fulfilling. The other creature that got a positive reaction out of me was the disturbing Rasklapange (or the Charlie Brown as I prefer to call it), an oddity that will immediately remind the player of a Regenerator, but for one major difference- reproduction through hunting. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out (don’t worry, it’s not in the way you probably just thought). When I first came across that thing, I was genuinely unnerved because it really is extremely unpleasant to look at and to hear. While it doesn’t roar and bellow like Ustanak, it’s unsteady gait and demonic baby like call was enough to make me stay the heck away from it. These two things seemed to come from the same menagerie as “4” but they were unfortunately the only escapees. I personally don’t find zombies themselves frightening so the ones in Leon’s game really did nothing for me. The J’avo (who are soul relatives to the Ganados and Majini) present somewhat of a challenge at first but ultimately like said Majini, they honestly are of no major threat unless you have no notion about how to deal with them. This game had absolutely no creative drive when it came to enemies and it suffers heavily because of it. What happened, folks? Did the Parent/Teacher Association scare your imaginations away, did your grandmothers slap your hands when you reached for the last cookie? Give us something to FEAR!!!!!
I’m going to branch off from this point now because I feel the absolute need to get this off my chest- in “5” the existence of an Alex Wesker was brought up in the DLC “Lost in Nightmares” in one of the documents written by Spencer. With Albert gone, how wonderful would it be if Alex became the next major Big Bad? He wouldn’t need to be a carbon copy of Albert, Hell, his methods need not show an echo of what his ‘sibling’, but this character could become a highly memorable and highly potent threat in later games. I think somewhere along the line, the developers were considering Alex before they chickened out and created the useless bag of doucheflesh that is Simmons. Uncharismatic, charmless, stupid, boring and long overstays his welcome (his boss battle has like… five phases). I swear, talk about one of the worst boss battles ever. I love a challenge, but constantly fighting Simmons no matter how different the arena bored me as well as made me feel more than a little resentful of the character. This guy could have been Alex Wesker. I guess I can take solace in the possibility that Capcom will get their act together and bless us with a formal introduction to the elusive Alex, but I guess time will tell.
In terms of practicality, the control scheme in this game is not the most easiest to master on principle because it requires a lot of precision and timing. Although having a dodge mechanic is great, the move ‘n’ shoot aspect has returned and FINALLY our characters have the long-absent ability to sprint (that tends to save your life in most cases) the element that brings the potential for replay is the overload of Quick Time Events (QTE’s). I swear, I honestly wasn’t expecting anything from “6” except to get at least half of my money’s worth, but the numerous QTE’s serve absolutely no purpose. And don’t give me that ‘it enhances co-ordination’ schtick. I don’t mind the occasional QTE as long as it serves a purpose, but not the wigglesticks we get here! It took me quite a while before I grew accustomed to this feature, but I don’t blame others who were put off by this one iota. There was absolutely no reason why these things were incorporated- it reminds me of a petulant child who is constantly badgering for your attention by throwing poop on the sheets or sticking a fork into an electrical socket. This game also obviously is not completely finished. In several stages of the game, your character is required to run away from a pursuing enemy and must clear obstacles in their way such as low-hanging bars, boxes and platforms. This wouldn’t have been that big of a problem except the controls are super touchy that if you press one button you shouldn’t or you falter in your step for one second, it costs you dearly with damage or death. Why wasn’t this game quality tested, or if it was, how come nobody thought to clear this up before the game’s release. The developers really should have made sure the game was completely ready for public consumption before blurting out a release date. Considering how much money the company has and how much they just luuuurve to show off their pretty graphics, surely it wouldn’t have hurt the designers and engineers to fix these problems over the course of the developmental process so they could ensure the game was at least technically competent.
I was also somewhat disappointed that “6” doesn’t possess as much additional content as “5” did, but that is just small beans in comparison to what I have discussed.
“Resident Evil 6” was to me a let-down, despite all of its bells and whistles. I really do want to give this game a higher ranking, but all of what I said are not minor points, they are major ones. It makes me long for the creative crew who were behind the superior “Revelations” as well as “4” to take the reins together to tackle the obviously coming “7”, but that is perhaps asking too much. I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer, but “6” missed more marks than ticked them. I hope for Capcom’s sake they take a step back and reassess their goals because right now, the light at the end of the tunnel seems a little further away.
Fun Factor: 6 – This point echoes itself in the Lasting Appeal section, but the only belt you may get out of this game is if you are a relatively patient and skilled player who digs the challenge that “Mercenaries” offers you or if you are going through each campaign with a view to a specific goal.
Graphics: 8 – Yeah, if anything can be said, the visuals in this game do look lush, especially on a HD television. There is some lovely attention to detail here that I tend to make my character stop in my tracks so I can examine my surroundings and the objects within it.
Sound: 6.5 – Although the music in general is hardly offensive, the only memorable track that comes to mind is the one that plays during the final confrontation Jake and Sherry have with Ustanak.
Control: 6 – The reason why it’s higher than 5 is because the sprinting, moving while shooting and combat mechanics do make a difference, but it takes a while before the casual gamer will know what buttons does what and when to do it.
Lasting Appeal: 6 – The multiplayer will perhaps prevent the game lobbies from being permanently empty and while it’s nice to play story mode with a friend, it’s not something you are likely to give two hoots about solo.
Overall: 60% Meh (in general) 62% – Okay (if you know your stuff)