Resident Evil 6 (PS3 Review) - User Reviews -
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Resident Evil 6 (PS3 Review)

A solid entry but with some notable setbacks

If Capcom proved anything with Resident Evil 4, it was that mixing traditional survival horror with action-oriented gameplay could be a winning combination. Concerns about its new direction may have been warranted, but thanks to its countless thrills, scares and accessibility, Resident Evil 4 is entrenched as a masterpiece in many gamers' hearts. Now with Resident Evil 6, the action-horror scale has almost completely tipped in favour of the action. It's loud, explosive and unrelenting, but it also stands as the perfect example of bigger isn't always better.

Story-wise you can expect the usual formula albeit on a much grander scale. Trekking across Europe, China and US suburbia, you're tasked with stopping the latest bio-terrorism threat via four campaigns, each of which are headed by separate characters. The two player co-op introduced in Resident Evil 5 is again front-and-centre here: series mainstays Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield make their return with new partners in tow, while Sherry Birkin makes her first playable appearance alongside Jake Mullen (the son of series antagonist Albert Wesker). Ada Wong, ever the lone wolf, makes up the final campaign in a single-player experience more in line with earlier instalments.

If it sounds confusing on paper, rest assured that it's structurally straightforward. Campaigns may be tackled in any order, and each is split into five chapters which provide a sense of achievement with each completion. It's also fun to see what each story brings to the table. Whether you're treading through the catacombs of an ancient crypt or outgunning an avalanche on a snowmobile, all four campaigns showcase spectacular highlights that are definitely worth experiencing at least once.

Capcom has successfully made each of these stories comparatively unique, but your preferences will likely coincide with your place on the aforementioned action-horror scale. Chris' campaign, for example, feels like a deliberate attempt to replicate a modern military shooter; at times you'll be placed in a war zone surrounded by whole companies of soldiers, advancing forward and securing key areas. Segments such as these effectively eliminate any sense of isolation and will be a turn-off for those who lean towards the series' survival-horror roots.

Resident Evil 6's greatest weakness though is its tendency to take control away from the player. The story is simply bursting at the seams with explosive set-pieces but your participation is largely limited to quick-time events. This isn't a problem if implicated well but here it's intrusive and disrupts the overall flow of gameplay. Even during brief sequences the game will constantly shift your perspective and insist you keep the pace by hitting on-screen prompts with small windows for success. Too often I would overcome these cheap deaths through memorisation rather than my own reaction time, ultimately defeating the purpose.

This issue of player-control is not resigned to just frequency, but consistency too. It's strange that I would be required to perform quick-time events for something as mundane as starting up a motorcycle, but then be forced to watch a cut scene moments later as my character negotiates a sharp corner (lasting all of five seconds) when a similar prompt might have sufficed. Because these scenarios are so prevalent you get the sense that the action is never occurring around you naturally but is adhering to a predetermined film script, line for line. 

It seems like a petty argument considering that most of these set-pieces are entertaining in their own way. Capcom obviously wants to immerse the player within the action but then constantly undermines its intentions by insisting on showing you how to play. As the story progressed I'd often feel less like an on-screen character and more like a passive bystander under continuous supervision. 

Regardless of these missteps, Resident Evil 6 makes great strides towards expanding its multiplayer experience which again has been an obvious focus. Given that each campaign comprises an overarching narrative, you can expect characters to cross paths as their individual story threads intersect. If you're playing online, this means players engaged in different campaigns can work together during key points in the story, whether it be providing sniper fire as Ada or taking down the Nemeis-like Ustanak with up to three other players.

It was comical to see numerous members of the game's cast simply stumble upon each other at the most opportune times, but it's an undeniably fun concept that emphasises the scale of the story and reveals the significance of each character's contribution. I found myself burning through chapters as each new perspective began to unravel the larger plot, much like a puzzle gradually nearing completion. Be aware however that when playing with others, one character dying will cause the entire party to fail: a risk you take when your invulnerable AI companion is removed.  

A number of minor improvements and additions also help round out the package. The cumbersome item swapping is gone, allowing you to focus on your own inventory rather than babysitting your partner. New rolls, dodges, quick-shots, a cover system, and the ability to shoot while moving or from a prone position gives the series some long overdue fluidity which will feel second nature after the initial learning curve. Game length has improved considerably too; expect around 25-30 hours on a standard playthough.

The popular Mercenaries mode (which tasks you with chaining together kills within a time limit) makes its return and is still addictive as ever, while the new Agent Hunt mode allows you to invade others players' campaigns as a zombie. It might not have much replay value, but Agent Hunt is a sadistically fun experience and offers a variety of creatures to experiment with. Performing well in both of these modes as well as the main story nets you skill points with you can use to purchase stat-boosting perks to assign to your character.

Resident Evil 6 is one of those games that tries to achieve so much but, in doing so, falls short of carving its own clear identity. It's a definite shame because there's no denying the time and dedication that went into the title. Capcom stated that over 600 staff was involved and the production certainly speaks true to this fact.

Making a game bigger and better than its predecessors often seems like a no-brainer, but the overwhelming scale of Resident Evil 6 demonstrates that the little things that make Resident Evil great have a tendency to get lost. Make no mistake, there's an excellent game here; it's just buried beneath a mountain of frustrating design choices that prevent it from being truly special.


PS3 - Xbox 360

Concept: Bring together a large cast of regulars and newcomers to battle a viral threat across the globe

Graphics: Locations are varied and look spectacular; lighting and new boss designs are particular standouts

Sound: The occasional corny line still features but the dialogue is otherwise well-delivered. A tear-jerker moment in Chris' campaign left me pleasantly surprised.

Entertainment: Easily the biggest and most ambitious Resident Evil yet, but survival-horror purists will be left yearning for earlier times.

Playability: New movement controls make this instalment more playable than ever, though increased fluidity tends to lessen the scare factor.

Replay Value: Moderately high.

  • Best Buy has RE 6 for $20. Guess nows a great time to try it out.