Over the years, the Resident Evil franchise has changed quite a bit. When “Resident Evil 4” released, it had the series’ traditional survival-horror elements while adding action into the mix. Its successor, “Resident Evil 5,” went down a more action-oriented direction with less horror. While many seemed to enjoy “Resident Evil 5,” long-time fans of the series were not pleased with the new path the game followed.
With “Resident Evil 6,” Capcom aims to please fans of the series’ traditional survival-horror roots while simultaneously appealing to those who fancied the action gameplay from “Resident Evil 5.”
“Resident Evil 6” has four campaigns that each has their own distinct play style with different stories inevitably intertwining with one another and will take roughly five to six hours each.
Leon Kennedy and partner Helena Harper mostly fight through hordes of zombies, which strongly resembles the roots of the series. Chris Redfield and fellow BSAA soldier Piers Nivans have the combat-heavy section where they must battle against the J’avo, mercenaries who carry heavy weaponry and have mutative abilities due to a newly developed injection known as the C-virus.
Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin also fight the J’avo while constantly evading the unstoppable creature known as Ustanak with a few stealth segments. Ada Wong’s campaign, which is unlocked after the other stories are completed, merges all three play styles together where she faces zombies and the J’avo.
With Ada’s story as an exception, each campaign can be played solo or with a friend online or locally. It is interesting to see how each pair of characters crosses paths with one another during their journeys. There were moments where I found myself saying things such as “Oh, so that’s how they got there.”
Since the story is not constructed in a linear fashion, some moments of the story were less thrilling because rather than having that feeling of uncertainty if particular enemies would make a return when they have already been killed once, I knew they would be back for more because of a campaign I had already played through.
Leon’s campaign is by far the best since we not only face traditional zombies for the first time in a while, but it felt like a Resident Evil game because of the fun puzzles, good jump-scares, creepy environments and dark moments parts. Many parts sprung where people desperately needed assistance in fighting against hordes of zombies, but people either died or became infected by the time Leon and Helena reached them. Moments like those gave me chills and made me feel more connected with the hellish situation Leon and Helena are put through.
Chris and Jake’s campaigns were similar to each other with an emphasis on more action and less horror. Sometimes it was hard to remember that it was a Resident Evil game when playing as Chris or Jake mainly because of the J’avo.
The J’avo are able to use guns, drive tanks, and even pilot helicopters like professionals. Sure, previous Resident Evil enemies used guns before, but the game was trying too hard to appeal to action fans rather than blend action with the signature qualities of Resident Evil. Rather than making it fun, the near-constant mix of play styles make the game inconsistent. Still, it is enjoyable to observe how different aspects of the story unfold in each of the campaigns.
Aside from the story, there are two other modes to play. The Mercenaries makes a return along with the fun of trying to kill as many foes as possible to rack up points before the time limit runs out.
A new mode to the series, Agent Hunt, has you join a random player’s game where you assume the role of a creature who tries to kill the humans. It is a neat idea for Resident Evil, but fails due to clunky controls and being extremely easy to kill when playing as the undead.
Playing through the game is further entertaining thanks to game’s visuals. Even though I personally think the graphics are a step down from “Resident Evil 5,” they are still quite beautiful. From the catacombs of underground ruins beneath a church to the downtown streets of a chaotic China, the games environments all look spectacular with equally great lighting, giving each setting its own unique atmosphere. Despite generally great graphics, the games suffers the step down from “Resident Evil 5” with some blurry textures, pixilated shadows and a somewhat choppy frame rate.
Character designs are also some of the best the series has seen. Seeing a zombie’s limbs tear off from bullets, watching a J’avo mutate its body or escaping the horrific looking Ustanak are all sick, but visually detailed treats the designers should be proud of. Adding to game’s the visuals are the new gameplay mechanics.
Throughout the story you will earn skill points, which are used for upgrades toward your character. Upgrades vary from increased damage with firearms to releasing yourself from the grips of an enemy easier. Although only three upgrades can be used at a time, there are seven other slots that can be changed out any time in the game to adapt to whatever pickle you find yourself in.
Instead of waiting for an enemy to assault you in order to counter or dodge them, you can now use physical attacks or dodge at will.
After you dodge, you have the option to lie on your back when you hit the ground and crawl around to shoot. You can also roll to the left or right as you are on the ground. Dodging an enemy attempting to attack you up close or trying to hit you with a projectile for you to get a headshot afterwards is extremely satisfying.
Hitting an enemy with physical attacks will subtract from an endurance meter, so you cannot bash enemies for all of eternity. If the meter depletes, not only do your attacks slow down and weaken, but you are not allowed to sprint. Keeping a close eye on the endurance meter is vital.
Fortunately, the AI partner has been vastly improved since “Resident Evil 5.” You do not have babysit your partner any longer because they have unlimited ammo, cannot die and will actually help you in dire situations. In addition to a better AI is a list of commands for your partner, which proved useful for different scenarios.
Selecting weapons is also much easier with quick presses from the D-pad, but when you switch between weapons, you will stop moving for a split second. This got irritating when trying to escape an oncoming foe.
Herbs are still the primary way to recover health and no longer take up inventory space. They are combined with one another and form pills that go towards a stockpile for you to recover however much health when you want.
If your health runs out, you will stumble to the ground and either fight your way to stand back up or have your partner save you. Often times when I was trying to stand up from recovery I was not given the chance to defend myself from attack, making some parts in the game frustrating.
Quick-time events are present throughout the game and are a mix between fun and angering. Some moments add to the narrative of the game, making it more interesting and engaging while others are pointless and only stall time. Sometimes they happen too fast to the point where there is no time to react.
“Resident Evil 6” is a good game, but flaws in the narrative, inconsistencies in play styles and some of the smaller nuisances in the gameplay prevent it from being a great game. Many of the gameplay changes are welcoming as well as the design of the game’s environments and enemies. With a story that will take 20 to 24 hours to complete on its own, the game packs some serious replay value if you try to 100-percent it.
When he’s not destroying the undead, Robbie Key proudly serves his post in “Reviews and Editorials” for Analog Addiction. He is also Stephen F. Austin State University’s lone gaming journalist, a blogger for IGN, has a passion for those cryptic things known as video games and most importantly, he is American. You can follow his completely relevant Twitter updates and watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos.