As the touched up Resident Evil 6 lands on my desk, I am immediately reminded of the scorn it received upon entry into its much beloved franchise. But after five sequels, and around a dozen spinoffs, why should anyone be so hung up on it not being a ‘Resident Evil’ Game?
If the universally agreed upon template was laid out by the original back in 1996, it would only continue in that vein for four more years, when RE: Code Veronica released on the Dreamcast. After this, any new games – RE: 0 aside – would do away with the clunky tank controls, inconvenient inventory system, and the painful loading screens. That was 16 years ago. When a series of 20 years hasn’t acted in certain ways for more than three quarters of that time, it’s reasonably safe to assume that those ways are to be consigned to the past. If you find yourself hankering for those ways, it’s about time to admit something to yourself: you are no longer a fan of Resident Evil.
Whilst it’s perfectly acceptable to crave the glory days of hip-hop, bad-ass trainers, and the Oxford comma, doesn’t it seem a little, well, paradoxical to pine for the olden days of a scene so heavily dominated by technology?
Whilst there are those that cite RE4 as the series’ high point, the game that paved the way for the more action-led modern entries, it’s also worth mentioning that, at time of writing, this was over 11 years ago. A decade, and then some. Whilst it’s perfectly acceptable to crave the glory days of hip-hop, bad-ass trainers, and the Oxford comma, doesn’t it seem a little, well, paradoxical to pine for the olden days of a scene so heavily dominated by technology?
To Resident Evil 6, then. As the most recent entry into the mainline RE series – albeit four years old, now – this is where we’re at. It’s a game of three chunks, still, with fan favourite Leon S. Kennedy making his way through a dark night, the nicely filled-out Chris Redfield ‘roiding about in a broken urban situation, and series newcomer Jake Muller, barely able to contain his illegitimacy as series mainstay Albert Wesker’s son. Each get partnered up with someone of differing abilities – Sherry Birkin’s default stun rod is great fun, for example – so it’s worth mixing it up with the characters played throughout. The game’s a good length, so there’s plenty of opportunity to explore the cast.
it’s counterintuitive to perform either maneouvre. A baffling decision from such an industry heavyweight as Capcom
Still, while there’s no arguing that there’s plenty of playtime here, RE6 could well be accused of bloat. There’s a tight-knit game in here somewhere, but it’s in need of a solid flensing. The interweaving campaigns mean that, say, Jake and Chris will cross paths, only for one of them to have to deal with the same boss with whom the other has already dispensed. For what it’s worth, the bosses on offer here are a fun diversion from the seemingly endless arrow following, but even I might find a fun-filled evening of unreserved lovemaking with Nola Longshadow a bit much – after I’d just had one.
The chapters can be played in pretty much any order – once the tutorial level has been completed – so, with some guidance, they can be coherently fashioned into some kind of enjoyable game. But it’s this sort of having-to-look-elsewhere-to-get-the-most-out-of-the-game that not only rankles but pervades, too. Roll-dodging and ducking into cover are all part of your skillset here but, not only does the game make no effort to point this out to you, it’s counterintuitive to perform either maneouvre. A baffling decision from such an industry heavyweight as Capcom.
Visually, things look up a little, with a solid framerate throughout, and they’ve even gone as far as to increase the field of view since I last played it on the Xbox 360. The practical upshot of this is that, when you manage to fumble your way into a cover position, it allows for a much more accurate onslaught of death to emit from your hands, rather than the sticky first-time-you-have-sex style of gunplay – that is to say, just spraying everywhere and hoping some of it gets in their eyes. Still, it’s quite often one will find themselves lacking in ammo (See? There is some Resident Evil of old in here), necessitating a hop from cover, followed by some lunatic air-kicking next to your foe’s head. The camera can still be quite erratic when it gets busy, so your ice-cold stance of popping them in the head quickly deteriorates back down to first-time-you-have-sex combat.
I’m struggling to recall a genuinely OMG moment from RE6
I had hoped that the intervening years had been kind to RE6, with some hitherto unnoticed brilliance emerging, clearly too ahead of its time for 2012, but I’m left feeling like I’ve done very little over the course of the game. The key to a dazzling – or even halfway decent – Resident Evil is one of a slow build to several mind-blowing and memorable set pieces: William Birkin’s transformation from RE2, or [insert pretty much any moment here] from RE4, for example. Even now, though, with it fresh in my mind, I’m struggling to recall a genuinely OMG moment from this particular instalment – all that comes to mind is Chris Redfield having a fistfight with a boulder, but that was actually from RE5.
It was wondered aloud by the Def Exclusive podcast co-host just why Capcom is remastering REs 4, 5, and 6 in descending order, but the reasoning is sound. Build up to the best moment. Otherwise, it’d be like having an orgasm, and then having to endure 25 minutes of sweaty sex. And who can be arsed with that?