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Resident Evil 6 Review

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On 03/16/2013 at 12:00 PM by Daniel Iverson

Capcom's cinematic action experiment is a (shotgun) blast to play.

If you're OK with light horror and heavy action, don't miss Resident Evil 6.

In film, “popcorn flick” often holds a negative connotation, but like any genre it comprises both good and bad works judged by their own set of standards. Resident Evil 6 is a popcorn game and despite a few misguided design choices, it’s a damn good one.

Resident Evil’s continuing focus on action-oriented gameplay is a polarizing issue I’d be remiss to ignore, but don’t intend to dwell on either because doing so would distract from evaluating the game itself. If you oppose where the series is going, or if the tropes of cinematic action don’t appeal to you, I’ll save you the trouble of reading on: This isn’t the right game for you.

Resident Evil 6 initially offers three campaigns: Leon, Chris, and Jake. A fourth, Ada, may be unlocked by finishing all three of the others. Each campaign is split into five chapters which may be played alone, or with a buddy via online co-op. Each campaign is a self contained story unto itself but is also a piece of a bigger puzzle, and only by finishing all four is that picture complete.

The big-picture story follows efforts by series regulars Leon and Chris to stop bioterrorist organization, Neo-Umbrella, from launching a global attack with the C-Virus; the latest strain of McGuffin responsible for creating bioorganic weapons. Meanwhile, U.S. government agent Sherry is working to extract Jake, a mercenary known to carry C-Virus antibodies from which a vaccine may be developed, from the war-ravaged fictional country of Edonia.

The premise is generic, but the exciting scenarios, multi-threaded narrative structure, and personality conflicts of the ensemble cast add enough complexity and drama to hold interest for at least most of the 20-25 hour experience. Veteran fans are likely to get even more from the story, with treats such as Leon and Chris’s first on-screen meeting and Sherry’s first appearance since she was a child.

Unfortunately the narrative structure is at times a weakness.  Several scenarios are repeated, and although they’re experienced from different perspectives and with different gameplay objectives, the occasional déjà vu slows the pacing a bit by the end.

For example, the Chris and Jake campaigns converge with an armored helicopter attack. Chris handles the ground units while Jake is tasked with bringing down the chopper. As the player, you eventually play both roles. And both times, the outcome and a lot of the dialogue is the same.

Each campaign is distinguished both by its own unique story and gameplay style. Leon, most recently associated with Resident Evil 4’s satisfying blend of atmosphere, exploration, and puzzles, revisits those elements with my choice for the best of the four campaigns. Chris, star of the gun-heavy Resident Evil 5, again largely eschews atmosphere for action. Jake, with no precedent, leads a more experimental campaign featuring melee combat and vehicle sequences. Ada, Resident Evil’s perennial spy, is an infiltrator who employs precision and stealth.

For whatever gameplay style each campaign focuses on, all involve shooting. Shooting mechanics are mostly unchanged from Resident Evil 5, but the long-overdue ability to move while aiming is a welcome addition. A wide assortment of weapons is available, and certain ones feature alternative firing modes. Sherry's assault rifle, for example, doubles as a single-round grenade launcher. Additional variety results from the large number of enemy types including an intelligent breed of mutated humans called J'avo, which are capable of shooting back.

J’avo appear to exist only to justify the game’s biggest design misstep: a cover system. Entering and exiting cover to good effect requires more effort than it’s worth, and a lot of enemies don’t even use projectiles at all. Except to try it at the beginning, I completed the whole game without ever using cover and was really no worse off for it.

Supporting characters, controlled by AI while offline or by another player for online co-op, assist each of the campaign protagonists except Ada, who works alone. For Leon, there’s Secret Service agent Helena. For Chris, fellow anti-bioterrorism operative Piers. For Jake, Sherry.

Piers is a snooze, but Helena and Jake are probably the most interesting supporting characters ever to grace the series. Ada’s campaign was surprisingly lonely for me after all the partner dialogue from the other three. Ada occasionally talking to herself is a poor substitute.

The AI versions of the supporting characters are refreshingly low maintenance—especially after I spent the majority of Resident Evil 5 micromanaging my partner’s inventory. Unfortunately they’re also mostly useless except to revive you if you’re about to die, a fact which becomes abundantly clear the first time you’re scrounging for enough ammo to finish off a boss. 

Resident Evil 6 is a long game even without the popular Mercenaries and arcade-style online multiplayer modes, which potentially add hours to the clock. It’s a package whose value is well worth the admission price and wrapped up with excellent visuals, strong voice acting, and well designed menu screens.

For me, Resident Evil 6’s shotgun approach to gameplay provides welcome variety and speaks to how versatile the series is. The slower, horror-oriented sequences are good. The faster, action-oriented ones are good too. The fact the game includes both, cleverly separated by the characters who best represent each style, is a positive. It works because these characters and gameplay styles are so well established. It works because it’s Resident Evil.

That said, I see the game being more of an experiment than a template for the future of the series. A lot like Resident Evil Zero was “the one where you control two characters,” the latest entry may well become “the one where Capcom tried a little bit of everything.” It works now, but the cost is identity. The question is where to go from here.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




03/16/2013 at 01:06 PM

I think is the most accurate review I have read on RE6 and I appreciate you writing from the perspective of what the game acually is instead of basing the score on what the series used to be.  I've said it before, I love this game but I don't call it Resident Evil.  I call it "Uncharted Evil".


03/17/2013 at 02:33 AM

 I agree. It's refreshing to see a site review a game on its own merits these days.


03/16/2013 at 02:03 PM

I only played a few hours into Leon's story, then I guess I just lost interest. I did like it, but I just thought that RE 4 did everything better. I heard that Capcom might reboot the series with the next game. I dunno, I think I'm just ready to let the series ride off into the sunset.


03/16/2013 at 06:02 PM

One thing I liked about RE 6 was it gave me bang for my buck. So many hyped games clock in at just 6 or so hours and when a game is that short it really makes me feel cheated. In my review of RE 6 on amazon I judged it as a good action game but as a poor survival horror game. My opinion still stands.Regardless, thanks for giving a more honest & fair review for RE 6!


03/16/2013 at 08:06 PM

The boss fights are just ridiculous. I mean that in a good way. RE6 and God of War. Ridiculous boss fights.Surprised


03/17/2013 at 06:18 PM

I grew fond of the mutated T-rex "thing" with a giant eyeball in its' mouth. lol. Simmons knows how to get down!

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