With all the many delays plaguing 2012 year’s fourth quarter release schedule, there were very few big names on the agenda. The inevitable Call of Duty and equally so Halo aside, gamers would mostly have to line their stockings with b-list releases. While that’s no bad thing in itself, it certainly would make things easier if there was another AAA franchise we could rely on. Much like today’s post-Covid slowdown, big hitters are few-and-far between. And even those which don’t live up to expectation can be welcomed with open arms. Looking at Resident Evil 6 10 years on, it certainly capitalised on this window of opportunity.
A demo build of Resident Evil 6 launched for Xbox 360 playing Dragon’s Dogma owners prior to the game arriving, many got a taste of what was to come ahead of release. However, there was plenty of content in Resident Evil 6, so many would forgo apprehension and still invest in the full game. The videogame features three campaigns – simply known as Leon, Chris and Jake – each of which offer two playable characters. Obviously a set-up for co-operative gameplay, even when playing alone you may choose which of the partners you wish to experience. Each does offer a slightly different experience. There’s not enough variety to suggest Resident Evil 6 effectively offers six campaigns, but you won’t resent a second run through with a new co-operative partner when playing as the character that was previously your opposite number.
Resident Evil 6 – Heavy on Character, Light on Scares
The first of the three campaigns offers the closest thing to a ‘traditional’ Resident Evil experience that you’re ever likely to get from the series. That is to say, it’s a modern take on the Resident Evil 4 formula in the same way Resident Evil 4 itself was a modern take on the original Resident Evil formula. Times have moved on and videogames are less constrained by technology than ever before, and looking at Resident Evil 6 10 years on, it’s easy to see this back in 2012. It’s possible to build tension without tying the player down to some unnecessarily forceful mechanics. Visual and sound design have now evolved to the point where it’s no longer necessary to leave some blanks for the player’s mind to fill.
That being said, the game revolves around this tension and combat, opposed to any genuine horror. Playing as either Leon or newcomer Helena, players will tread the deserted halls of an Ivy League college in the US, after having taken down the president in the most unflattering manner. He has become a zombie, and so now his skull and its contents lie buried in the carpet. Of course, if the virus has reached the president of the United States, there will be others. Many others, in fact. As the player(s) explores the corridors and dining areas of the college new objectives can spring out of nowhere. Just as with any good adventure videogame, a path which appears to be coming to an end can just as easily become the start of a new challenge.
After several moments of tension and horrors-that-could’ve-been, Resident Evil 6 does decide to let fly with the zombies. And when we say ‘zombies,’ we mean real zombies. Leon’s new found ability to move and shoot comes into play as you attempt to fight your way out of a parking garage. It’s not an easy challenge, but any gamers with a little experience of third-person headshots will find themselves on the other side practically unscathed, and ready for the next event.
Chris is Back, Back Again
Chris’ campaign is significantly different to Leon’s, and is very much an action-orientated affair. A very Hollywoodised introductory sequence sees Chris depicted as a washed-up alcoholic version of his former bicep rippling self. His new partner, Piers, confronts him and forcibly demands he sober up and return to the frontline for some reason which is never truly evident.
Cut to a rooftop battle in a cityscape, taking the bullets to masked enemies, mutants that have huge growths in the form of powerful limbs and even some with wings. In terms of the action gameplay Resident Evil 6 is lightyears ahead of Resident Evil 5. Capcom has obviously taken into account the gulf between the likes of Gears of War 3 and the oft underappreciated Spec Ops: The Line, and that of the wishy-washy ‘is it, isn’t it’ design of Resident Evil 5‘s action gameplay. Intelligent cover mechanics, supportive AI teammates and custom melee animations that see enemies knocked over railings; here it’s all about running-and-gunning, and it’s all the better for it.
Resident Evil 6 Doesn’t do Halves… or Does it?
The third and final campaign appears to blend aspects of the two previous. It’s a tense action experience where, playing as either Jake or Sherry, you must outrun a huge beast by the name of Usmack, who has more than a passing resemblance to Resident Evil 3‘s Nemesis in the way he behaves. Once having made your way into an open space, under powered and overwhelmed, it’s going to take more than just quick legs and a tasty aim to take Usmack down. In the best Resident Evil tradition, it’s going to take brains.
While each of the three campaigns offers their own unique experiences, there are some common flaws prevalent throughout all three. The collision detection is a little off, with objects blocking your path despite a visible six inch clearance, and the enemy AI is a wobbly, to say the least. It was undoubtedly a brave move for Capcom to invest in developing three unique campaigns. A bold experiment not just for the Resident Evil franchise, but for videogames in general.
When taking the different play styles of all three into account you could almost consider Resident Evil 6 a modern Die Hard Trilogy; a videogame that ultimately delivered a combination of tired and half-finished experiences in a package that was commended for even attempting to present three unique outings. Looking back at Resident Evil 6 10 years on, it was doing the same in a much more difficult period of videogame development. That it failed to live-up to the demands of the fans is no surprise.