The lights are on
Some E3 demos last as little as five minutes, while others can go on for up to a half hour. That’s why it was a special treat to sit down and truck through a full hour of Resident Evil 6. I got to play through sections of Leon’s, Chris’, and Jake Wesker’s campaigns. From spooky dining halls to intense rooftop shootouts, I experienced a wide variety of the action Resident Evil 6 has to offer.
I started things off playing as Leon, while my coworker Ben Reeves assumed the role of Helena Harper. Capcom says players will be able to select any of the three teams from the beginning, and each offers a vastly different experience even if some areas are revisited. Each scenario is roughly 70% of the size of Resident Evil 5. Multiply that by three and you have one massive game.
Leon and Helena’s scenario begins with them putting a hole in the president’s recently zombified brain. While the transformation was a surprise bio-weapon attack, Helena seems to know something about the awful turn of events. Helena hints that she may have played some part in letting the attack happen, and says she’ll help Leon with more info if they make it to a nearby Cathedral.
Leon and Helena slowly creep through the huge, dark building as a storm rages outside. Lighting flashes through the tall windows and the crack of thunder visibly startles the onscreen heroes. A strong breeze causes chandeliers to sway and ominous shadows play across the cluttered dining hall. Haunting, atmospheric environments like this hark back to Resident Evil’s early days, and fans of the old school chills should be pleased.
Sneaking through the dark and blasting away at zombies isn’t quite as horrifying as the early games, but it certainly gets intense. My favorite moment from Leon’s scenario involves being holed up in small elevator with a father and his recently bitten daughter. The daughter eventually succumbs to the disease while her dad weeps over her corpse. Then the lights go out. When they turn on again we see the father being eaten by his former daughter. What follows is a close-ranged, skin of your teeth struggle in which Helena and Leon barely scrape by alive. This section of Leon’s campaign concludes with a frenzied stand-off against a gang of zombies in a parking garage.
Resident Evil 6 offers more mobility than any other game in the main series. At first, the aiming mechanics and controls feel slightly looser than Resident Evil 4 and 5. One minor but noticeable change is the lack of an intact laser sight for your weapons. Using the unbroken beam to line up shots has been a part of the series since RE 4, but in RE 6 the laser dot simple appears within the reticules. The increased looseness of the controls allows you to take aim on targets outside your periphery more quickly. Being able to move and shoot, while a first for a numbered RE title, didn’t strike me as a huge change, which is probably because every other shooter allows it at this point. I love being able strafe and line up shots on zombies’ heads, but we should’ve been able to do it all along. I tinkered around with the new dodge/roll mechanic, but didn’t find a lot of practical applications for it. In one instance I was knocked down to the ground by a bad guy, and was able to shoot while lying on the ground. Little touches like these make the game more dynamic, and I can’t wait to get better acquainted with it.
Picking off walking corpses in Tall Oaks as Leon is good fun, but the real action picks up in Chris’ scenario weeks before Leon shoots the president. We see Chris Redfield wasting away in a bar in Eastern Europe. Something has happened to the series icon, and he’s spending most of his time at the bottom of booze bottles and getting drinks splashed in his face by bartenders. A BSAA agent named Piers and a handful of other agents approach Chris and manage to bring him back to the anti-bio-terror agency.
Later in Chris’ scenario, he and Piers navigate rooftops while dispatching strange enemies wearing clownish face paint. These bad guys are called J’avos, and enter the battlefield as humanoid creatures touting AK-47s. Players can now take cover next to waist-high objects or around corners, making firefights with these foes more manageable. I didn’t like how the background blurred out when Chris entered cover, but it’s an early demo so maybe the effect will be toned down in the future. J’avos mutate based off where you hit them, and I found myself avoiding their legs at all costs. Blowing off a J’avos’ legs presents the risk of it sprouting wings and taking flight. An upside-down torso still clutching a gun while being suspended in the air by a pair of insectoid wings is an unsettling sight. Even worse, it’s hard to shoot at. Another tricky J’avo mutation involves the enemy’s blown off arms being replaced with burly, bullet-deflecting arms. These beefy appendages can wipe you out and leave you reeling on the ground. Enemy encounters can start as guns-a-blazing stand-offs and end as close-quarters melee battles with twisted abominations, which should keep players on their toes.
At one point in Chris and Piers’ rooftop rumble, the duo tries to slide to a lower building by using a connecting pipe like a zipline. An enemy RPG cuts their traverse short, and the two get separated. Chris dangles helplessly from the hanging pipe as he tries to shimmy over to a nearby ledge. It’s up to the second player to protect Chris during this situation. Thankfully, Piers is an expert sniper and his rifle is the perfect tool to provide cover fire with. I loved these divergent paths in RE 5, and RE 6 looks like it will have even more of them.
Speaking of divergent paths, RE 6 includes an exciting cross-over functionality. Certain chapters in the plot involve characters crossing paths. If you’re playing online you can get randomly matched up with another set of players who are at the same point in the game. That’s right, four-player co-op is accessible during certain parts of the game. Capcom presented us the example of Leon, Helena, Jake, and Sherry running into each other just before a tough boss battle. The huge, hulking beast, called Ustanak, can snatch up players with its mechanical arm. Other players must rush to free the apprehended ally from the boss’ grasp. Ustanak also carries a cage on his back, which he can trap characters within. During one point of this four-player affair, Leon and Sherry get separated from the group, leaving the old Raccoon City survivors together. Capcom looks forward to mixing up teams like this during cross over situations. Hopefully these sections end up being worthwhile, and won’t just serve to make everyone wish the whole game were four-player.
Speaking of Ustanak, Jake and Sherry’s scenario revolves around fleeing the bulky beast. Players must use the new dash button to sprint down hallways away from the charging Ustanak. I died several times here before I realized how helpful the dash button is, but after I got used to sprinting I was leaping over crates and evading the enemy easily. Sherry and Jake fall through scaffolding and eventually crash through a window, landing them in an abandoned warehouse. Jake Wesker is full of eye-rolling one-liners, making some quip about calling a building inspector. Sherry and Jake explore the warehouse together, kicking open boxes to find loot and help each other reach new locations. RE 6 eliminates co-op players bickering over loot drops, as every piece of ammo, grenade, etc. is independent to each player. Sherry discovers a big magnum in the warehouse and Jake finds some remote bombs before trying the exit to the warehouse. Just then, the Ustanak busts in through the ceiling.
Facing off with the Nemesis-like foe is a harrowing ordeal. Sherry swears that the monster won’t get its hands on Jake’s blood (hinted to be the cure to a disease ravaging the globe). Sherry takes pot shots with the magnum as the boss clomps after Jake. Meanwhile, Jake places remote bombs which he detonates as the creature approaches. This well-oiled teamwork eventually leads to the creatures defeat, and the end of my extensive hands-on time with RE 6.
Resident Evil 6 feels uncomfortably different from other games in the series at first, but after an hour the changes start to feel natural, and even. Weapon and grenade selection has been simplified, simply mapped to the d-pad. Health pills can be popped with the press of a button. These pills are created by combining green and red herbs, a callback to old school Resident Evil titles. Some weapons even include multiple firing options, such as a pistol that can be switched between full and semiautomatic fire. Melee attacks and finishers are strong as ever, but characters become fatigued after delivering too many blows to J’avos and zombies. I’m happy to report that the AI has been vastly improved. My short time with the single-player mode resulted in zero problems with partner incompetence.
I’ve been eager to get my hands on Resident Evil 6 since it was announced earlier this year. An hour with the game is more than a fan could ever ask for so shortly after the game’s revealing, and I’m pleased with how it’s coming along. The next entry in the Resident Evil series will give players more freedom than ever. Overhauled controls, occasional four-player co-op, and three separate storylines will keep gamers busy for weeks after the game’s release on PC, 360, and PS3 October 2.
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Lucky you. The game sounds good,and the screenshots are great
This sounds great. The additions of being able to move while firing, firing on your back (which sounds like it can be both fun and intense as an enemy stands over you), and the simplified weapon and health selections sound like they really streamlined some of the problems with 5.
This all sounds really cool. It sounds interesting that at certain parts, you'll join up with 2 other players for 4 player co-op. I wonder how chaotic that would be.
This game is looking very good. I'll be getting this at launch.
Yes! It's going to be good.
only played RE4 but i loved it. need to play more of these games.
I would give you a hundred hours of my life for this one. Deal?
"RE 6 eliminates co-op players bickering over loot drops, as every piece of ammo, grenade, etc. is independent to each player." - AWESOME!!!
Wow, the cross-over online functionality sounds awesome. Plus, there are 3 campaigns...SCORE!