By Steve Wright
Let's put this out there straight away: I'm a Resident Evil fanboy. I have been since I played the first game on PlayStation, and I owe my interest in gaming to Resident Evil 2. I swear I've played through that game (Leon's A and B scenarios AND Claire's too, mind you… plus Hunk, plus Tofu… well, you get the point..) at least twenty times over. That being said, I'm not entirely sure if I love or hate Resident Evil 6.
Capcom's latest action horror – let's face it, it hasn't been survival horror since Resident Evil: Code Veronica – title is all over the shop with so much to do. Straight off the bat, you've got access to one of three different campaigns plus the online Mercenaries mode. Beat any of the aforementioned campaigns, and you'll also get to play in Agent Hunt mode, which puts you in the shoes of a B.O.W. (that’s a baddie, in case you're new to the series). Whilst a seasoned Resident Evil fan will feel at home with all of the choices you're presented with, I'd hate to be new to the franchise. If you are, I'd recommend playing through Chris' campaign first… but as Piers. I won't spoil why, but trust me. Play as Piers.
It's best to get Chris' campaign out of the way first as it's the shootiest of the three… though, that being said, you'll want to start getting good with each character's melee ability pretty darn quickly. Ammo isn't scarce or anything like that, but even on Professional difficulty, it's better to punch than shoot most enemies. On the topic of difficulty, Professional mode isn't NEAR the same level of trouble when compared to Resident Evil 4 or 5, so feel free to tackle that straight off the line.
I found the camera to be a bit too close, and my character's movement – yes, you can move while shooting – to feel a bit weird when I started playing, but I got the hang of it before Chris' campaign was through. By the time I started playing through Jake's campaign – henceforth renamed by yours truly as "Sherry Birkin's campaign" – it felt fluid and natural. And yes, as biased as I am, I understand that it shouldn't take five hours for a game's control scheme to feel right…
Leon's campaign is definitely the best out of the three, taking more of a survival horror feel than the others, and uses classic zombies as baddies instead of the J'avo. It feels the most like Resident Evil even with a greater emphasis on action; its evolved zombie types felt like they actually fit the world which was nice. In short, it felt like Resident Evil 2 with gaming mechanics of today. I saved Leon and Helena for last, and after the action-fest before it, I was very glad I did.
Regardless of the campaign you're in, there are plenty of throwbacks to previous titles and sequences – from mine cart rides, to terror whilst escaping on rail-lines… right down to a homage from the recently-released Resident Evil: Revelations. Plot-wise, the game makes sense after you've played through (all of – spoilery hint, there…) the campaigns, but it's not as polished as I'd like. Chris has a random gap in his memory that's not fleshed out very well, Sherry is completely under-utilised, I question how some of the parentage in the game can really be explained and one character's shocking revelation is so see-through you practically want to shout at your TV (I'm talking about something that occurs in Chris' campaign, Chapter 4, for those playing along… care to guess what I'm talking about?). Though, in true Resident Evil fashion, the franchise's plot – beyond its general themes, that is – has never been all that amazing.
The worst thing about Resident Evil 6 is its shocking quick-time events. Playing as Leon in his first chapter, I kept being killed by a train because I was too busy beating down a zombie and caught in an animation that I couldn't cancel. Playing as Sherry (like I said, it should have been Sherry's campaign, not Jake's), it took me FOREVER to finish her last chapter as I couldn't crawl up a vehicle with any sense of coordination. Thankfully, those sequences are fairly few and far between.
Most of me wishes that the Chris and Jake campaigns played more like Leon's (Sherry and Jake do come close, but they're up against J'avo instead of tried and true zombies). Or, at the very least, I wish that Capcom would have split Resident Evil 6 into three separate titles, fleshing them out and providing suspense, thriller and action fans their own totally separate experiences. That's really the problem here – we get suspense with Leon, a thriller with Jake and action with Chris… but by the time you get into the groove of things, each specific campaign is over. Capcom's tried to do a bit too much with just one title. A move back towards the Leon side of things – puzzles and all – would be greatly appreciated.
All up, Resident Evil 6 is a summer blockbuster. You're curious about it and will pick it up, or you're a Resident Evil fan and you already have it in your collection. My advice is to give the game some time before you entirely write it off (as it seems most reviewers have…). It's not perfect, but it's not without merit. This is one title that will certainly grow on you.