Resident Evil 6: A Quick Analysis | Fanboys Anonymous

Resident Evil 6: A Quick Analysis

Posted by Sean Mitchell Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TL;DR: Resident Evil 6 is, in one word, good. Fans of the old are acknowledged with a game that manages to capture some of the classic survival horror atmosphere, while the game refines the evolving controls. Just don’t put too much weight into the story. It’s as ridiculous as we’ve all come to expect.

Resident Evil is something of a conundrum. The franchise has one of the most fractured of fan bases. Some people, like yours truly, had been playing Resident Evil since RE1, oh so many years ago. Others couldn’t tolerate the controls, which was an issue that wouldn’t be addressed for many years in the form of Resident Evil 4. “So what, is 6 any good or not?” That, my friend, is a complicated matter. And as the franchise continues to build on what came before, understanding the old is the key to interpreting the new.
Resident Evil 4 was a game changer. The franchise had never seen such popularity. Why was that? Well, it was initially released for the Gamecube. The console wasn’t exactly dripping with mature content, and Resident Evil 4 was just the thing for the gore hounds to chew upon. Previous Resident Evil games always appeared to me as a love letter to the zombie film. Awkward camera angles added to the cinematography of the games, at the expense of solid controls. Even to the most veteran Resident Evil players, it wasn’t hard to become disoriented. The advent of RE4 was the change in camera. Now we saw the action from the back of the protagonist’s head. There were no blind corners anymore. Zombies couldn’t attack us off camera. In fact… zombies were written off completely. The new camera angle made it so the player could actually aim their shots, instead of firing into the enemy. Perhaps the slow moving zombie wouldn’t be an able bodied match for the newfound precision. The second big change was ammo. Enemies would drop it. You could find it anywhere. Suddenly, killing every creature that came your way was a legitimate option.

Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield showdown? Maaaaaaybe...
"I see you have a gun too."

This presented problems. While these changes were fun, it no longer felt ‘survival horror’. It had effectively turned the series into an action/adventure/3rd person shooter. Is that a bad thing? Some say yes. A series built around horror now just… wasn’t scary. It had an occasional moment or two, but for the most part the magic of the first four were gone.

“So what, how does 6 stack up?”
Surprisingly well, in fact.
Game play:
The control scheme that began in 4 has been refined in 5, and even more so in 6. The controls have a hint of squad based shooter about them. This makes perfect sense in a series that has shifted focus to being about a war on bioterror. Chris Redfield’s campaign demonstrates this best, but the mechanic works well through each of the intertwining storylines. The biggest drawback is that occasionally getting behind cover can be messy. In addition to that cover system, your characters now have the ability to dodge attacks, and the system works wonderfully. Healing has been streamlined into a single button press. This allows you to stay in the fight without having to open a menu or otherwise take yourself out of the action. And the game forces you to be smart about your ammo usage. Creatures still drop ammo occasionally, but it is in much shorter supply than in 4 and 5. If you’re overly wasteful you will easily find yourself having to knife your way out of some bad situations. The need to get up close and personal with the enemy is very nice, and goes a long way to infuse some of that classic survival horror atmosphere.
Each character has five chapters in total. I played through on Veteran (hard) and each character only took me about 5 to 7 hours. The game encourages you to replay chapters, and does so moderately well. Each chapter has four serpent emblems hidden within. Finding, and shooting, these emblems unlock files and character models to read and look at when in the main menu. Enemies occasionally drop skill points, which can be used to purchase various skills for use in game. These skills run the gamut from a steadier hand while shooting, greater damage with handguns, to infinite ammo for a certain class of weapons.
The Mercenaries bonus mode is back in RE6, and is better than ever. The stages feel larger and more organic. While the Mercenaries honestly isn’t my thing, this is easily the best incarnation of the mini game I’ve played thus far.

Some zombies have delusions of NBA superstardom.

The story is… well… ridiculous. If you’ve been following the events thus far, the writers have kept things interesting, but you won’t be finding anything very special here. People are trying to end the world because of some reason or another. We’ve heard it before, and we’ll definitely hear it again. The only way you’ll find any real value here is if you’ve been following the characters from the olden days. That’s not to say the story is bad. It’s just rather bland.

Where it succeeds:
·         The online play is brilliant. I cannot urge you enough to play online with real people if you’re able. The storylines intersect, and at every point our main characters cross paths your console will look for someone playing the other characters to intersect with. For the most part it is an absolute joy. My only lament about this is that, more often than not, it seems no one is out there to connect with. During these sequences, I’ve experienced no problems in lag whatsoever. Well done Capcom. It’s absolutely astounding.
·         The atmosphere is (partially) back! No. This game never really finds itself firmly in the survival horror category. But Resident Evil 6 does manage to create some hair raising moments. (Especially if you’re playing on the recommended brightness settings. Don’t brighten things up. It’s much better when the darkness is actually dark.)
·         Agent Hunt! Once you beat any character’s campaign mode you unlock Agent Hunt. This spawns you into someone else’s game as a zombie, or J’avo and encourages you to brutally murder your host player. This mode doesn’t net you skill points, and so won’t really help your main game at all, but it feels so good giving other players a hard time in areas where you yourself had trouble.
·         The skill system. It manages to be very helpful, and yet balanced. You’ll never get to feel overpowered until you earn unlocking those infinite ammo bonuses.
·         The difficulty settings are fantastic. Veteran managed to be challenging, but never felt like it was impossible.
Where it fails:
·         There are moments where the game forces you to take damage. You know that zombie is going to attack, he’s killed you before. But armed with that knowledge, he still manages to grab you 9 times out of 10.
·         The menu system. Personally, Resident Evil 4 had it best. Menu Tetris encouraged you to be mindful of which weapons you carried, and to make sure you had room for key items. The new menu system is easy to fill up, and the only way to clear space is to toss items.
·         Gun customization is gone, and missed.
·         The autosave system isn’t kind. And there is no alternative to using it. No manual saving in Resident Evil 6, and sometimes the game will lie. I’ve had moments where it has told me it was saving, only to reload at the beginning of the chapter.
·         There is a complete lack of puzzles with the exception of one character’s chapter.
The final verdict?

Resident Evil 6 is a solid entry in the series. Old Resident Evil is dead and gone. It’s unfair to hate 6 just because the game has undergone as much a mutation as the creatures contained therein. And lovers of the old and new will both find something to enjoy here. The game is flawed at times, but nothing that keeps the experience from being fun.
Do you like Resident Evil? This is likely a buy. Are you still on the fence? Well, then maybe wait for the price to drop a bit. While you’re waiting I’ll be eating people as a zombie in Agent Hunt, and having a blast doing it.

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