Resident Evil 6 (Xbox 360) Review

Summary [8.0 out of 10]

Following threads of several interconnected stories, Resident Evil 6 might be the most ambitious entry in the series in terms of both story and execution and it mostly works.

Taking a somewhat unorthodox approach to the series, Resident Evil 6 takes a bit of getting used to as the game goes off in new directions adding long awaited control tweaks and offers up four campaigns that vary in overall story and general game play styles. The game focuses once more on action over the horror that established the series in the beginning but some of those early elements worm their way back in, particularly  Leon’s campaign. The variety of gameplay from both the campaigns and multi-player modes make this an impressive over all package even if the learning curve is a bit steep and the difficulty can be a bit uneven. If you are a fan of the series, there is a lot here to love even if you have to wade through a bit of nonsense to get to it.

What Is It Like?

Resident Evil 4 and 5: Resident Evil 6 is exactly a combination of RE 4 and 5 as the different campaigns place emphasis on different things. Leon’s campaign feels much more like his adventure in RE4 and Chris’s campaign feels quite like his adventure in RE5. There is no real blending of the two which makes this less the best of both worlds and more just a sampling of both worlds. If you liked both of those games then you are in luck as they are both heavily felt here. If you liked one but not the other then the good news is that you will only have to put up with that style for a quarter of the game. If you liked neither then you probably have no business playing this game.

Dead Space: While Dead Space retains the horror elements that Resident Evil has largely abandoned, the element that the two games share is the necessity to be creative with targeting. Like Dead Space, headshots are not the be all end all of combat in RE6. You have to be more creative and look for each enemy’s weak spots in order to put it down. In some cases a headshot makes things a lot worse than they were before. This need for more thorough and thoughtful targeting helps to ratchet up the tension even when the game isn’t concentrating on being scary.

The Great:

Story: Resident Evil 5, for all its good points, really stumbled in the story department. It was essentially just a series of excuses for Chris to shoot a bunch of crazy not zombies. Given this, it is refreshing that Resident Evil 6 returns to not only one interesting and engaging story but four of them that intertwine with one another. There are some fairly cool moments here with long running series characters meeting for the first time and old faces showing up in new and interesting ways. If you are invested at all in the series, there is a lot to take from the storylines running here and there are payoffs that go all the way back to the first and second games. The wheel isn’t reinvented here but the web of deceit and double crosses woven here is an improvement over other installments because a. it makes sense and b. has some decent character growth and meaningful moments that push the overall story forward. I am not sure how much longer they can keep all this going but the stage is set better for the future than it has been in the past.

Gameplay Variety: In addition to the story variety found in RE6, the game also offers impressive variety in the gameplay. Each campaign features different play styles along with the unique characters. Leon’s campaign is combat heavy but it also feels a lot like the game play in RE4 with a bit more tension and scariness involved than just mindless running and gunning. The inclusion of zombies in this campaign also provides a bit of a throwback on a strategy tip to earlier game play in the series from RE1-Code Veronica. This soundly answers criticisms from those who found RE5 to be too much about mindless combat and not nearly enough about survival horror. Leon’s campaign also relies much more heavily on quick time events than other characters’ playthroughs. Chris’s campaign is,as mentioned above, very much like the action in RE5 with relentless enemies that fire back and move very quickly. The ability to strafe is definitely welcome here as maneuverability is key to survival. Chris’s campaign is very straightforward and that is nice in its own way. Leon deals with way more puzzles (although not many) and Chris deals with way more gun violence. Jake’s Campaign plays like a much more maneuverable and high speed version of Resident Evil 3 as he and Sherry Birkin are relentlessly pursued by a monster that would make Nemesis shit his pants. There is also a heavy melee component here as Jake has some impressive hand to hand skills that don’t sap his stamina the way they would Leon or Chris. You throw in some stealth heavy sections and you have a unique play through that doesn’t make you roll your eyes to be going through elements of the story a third time.  It should be mentioned as well that while Jake specializes in melee combat, there is an increased emphasis and effectiveness of melee combat through the game and it is often a necessary strategy to survive.

Replay: Like RE5, this installment allows you to replay missions that you have played in the past to build up skill points and unlock more things through shooting emblems and improving your overall mission grade. This is less helpful than in the previous game because you aren’t buying new weapons or those sorts of upgrades but there is incentive to go back through already completed material. Aside from that, each chapter can be played by either the primary character or their partner character. The partner character has areas only they can access and there are some items and weapons only discoverable and usable by the partners so it is a good idea to go back through as the partners. Seeing different bits of levels and different skills sets go a long way to keep these replays fun and engaging. Then there is the local and online co-op as well as the Mercenary levels. There is a lot of value added here and a lot to unlock so there are several reasons to keep playing this game after you beat the main story.

Partner: Partners have always been a feature of the Resident Evil series but since RE4 we’ve had partner characters foisted on us that we have to either care for or constantly move out of the way of and they have been trying at times. All of the issues with partners in past games have been fixed here. The partners cannot be killed so you don’t have to play nurse maid to them at all and they have their own resource drops that don’t impinge on the player character so you don’t have to micromanage their resources either. The AI this time around is decently intelligent too so they tend not to get in your way or hamper your efforts to do things. They also save you if you go to the ground so that is helpful as well. Definitely the best iteration of partners in the series

The Good:

Graphics: The past couple of Resident Evil games have looked beautiful and for the most part RE6 does too, however occasionally the fidelity takes bizarre hits where the graphics look muddled and almost smudgy. Particularly in scenes with a lot of black in it the images start to look a bit fuzzy and objects sort of blend together in a strange way. Most of the time, however, the game looks pretty incredible. The cut scenes are exciting and well animated and there are moments of absolute beauty here. The opening of Chris’s campaign where he is eating a steak made me crave steak for months after I played through at E3 and it looks just as tasty in the final version. Some of Leon’s scenes, however, just don’t look as sharp. This is kind of a weird imbalance in the graphics but it isn’t enough to ruin the game. It still generally looks very good .

Controls: Finally removing the tank controls featured in other RE games, RE6 allows for more dynamic movement and the ability to strafe and move while firing. This is a welcome addition to the game as you have a lot more options when various B.O.W.s are closing in on you. The implementation of this new move set is fairly well done and button placement is generally intuitive. The changes to the attack scheme helps make melee attacks much easier to pull off while still allowing for ease of firing and targeting. The new movement mechanics generally work well but the sensitivity on sticks might need some adjustment, particularly when the action heats up because the camera will occasionally freak out to compensate for quick action and leaves not having any idea which end is up. The inventory system can be challenging to deal with on the fly but the more you play the quicker you get with that too. Overall the controls work well with the changes and allow you to do what you want to do with out a lot of frustration.

Combat: As mentioned above, there is a greater emphasis on melee combat here and with context sensitive attacks the prospect is much more attractive than it has been in the past. With a stamina meter to watch that will leave you too exhausted to kick or throw a punch you have a lot to think about when you are deciding how best to take on the advancing hoards. A mixture of fisticuffs and gunplay is the way to go here and learning which to implement when is all part of the depth of strategy that you are offered in this game. You are going to fight a lot here and resources can get scarce so it is always in your best interest to know when to hold em and when to drop them with a kick to the head.

Multi-player: As with RE5, RE6 offers robust multi-player options. Unlike RE5 you don’t have to download Mercenaries separately. In addition to the now standard Mercenaries mode and the return of local and online co-op there is an exciting new offering this time around. If you play with your game connected to Live (or PSN if that is your thing) you can have other players come into your game as zombies to try to ruin your shit as best they can. This is happens at strategic moments throughout the game when your characters have to hunker down and defend a position for a certain amount of time. The outside character starts off playing a low level enemy in the scenario but can level up into more formidable foes as they gain more points in the combat. This is not unlike the versus mode in Left 4 Dead or the zombie mode in Resident Evil Outbreak but it is a pretty cool addition to the game and makes those sequences a hell of a lot more challenging when you have real players on your ass all of a sudden.

Characters: When new Resident Evil games are announced the first thing I want to know is who the player characters are going to be. My favorite is Leon hands down but Chris is a badass in his own right. I was really hoping for more Leon this time around and I found myself pretty stoked to find that not only are Leon and Chris in this but also Wesker’s son Jake. The partner characters are all pretty awesome as well particularly Sherry Birkin as she is a legacy character that has a pretty big stake in the series. This is sort of a best of collection and if we would have seen Claire in here I think it might have been the perfect collection. I was worried that with three (really four) campaigns that the characters would get the short shrift and things would feel rushed but everyone got fully formed stories and I was very pleased with how they were handled.

The Bad:

Quick Time Events: I am not a huge fan of QTEs in a general sense but the ones here, particularly in Leon’s campaign, were so irritating that if my controller weren’t C-3PO I would have smashed it on the floor. Some of the QTEs are not so bad with simple and intuitive inputs but if I have to turn the controller on my lap and start hitting the sticks with my palm, something is wrong. That the QTEs are sadistically unforgiving did not help and they could bring the game to a screeching halt. They are meant to allow you to take part in the cutscenes in a more interactive way but really what they do is inform you that you should probably look into stress and anger management counseling.

One Hit Kills: Much like the QTEs, mostly because these tend to be tied with them, there are an ungodly amount of one hit kills in RE6 that seemed to be designed to test the breaking point of otherwise reasonable adults. The timing on some of these moments is so precise that there is almost no margin for error and replaying the same scene over and over again because you are trying to find the sweet spot in the timing is very annoying. That a lot of these moments appear without warning further frustrate because it dooms you to have to replay several scenes just to learn where the spots to avoid are. These don’t happen all the time but they happen enough that they become a major source of frustration.

Uneven Difficulty: The first two bad entries sort of contribute to this one but it goes beyond them so it gets its own point. The difficulty here too often slides out of the sweet spot to be either too easy or too hard and it does so without much warning and often right next to each other. I complained that RE5 was too easy and I guess this is Capcom trying to make adjustments but I find myself feeling like Goldilocks looking for that perfect bowl of porridge.

Conclusion [8.0 out of 10]

There are some areas where Resident Evil 6 stumbles and some elements are clumsily implemented and executed but over all this is a great game and a great suite of different play styles and game types. There is something here for just about everyone  who has ever been a fan of the series (except for the nutbars who want to go back to the tank controls and prerendered backgrounds from the first three installments). The game has a bit of a learning curve but once you plug into the gameplay and get used to its little quirks, there is a ton to love here. If you are into muti-player, this game is a dream with an abundance of fun muti-player options that will keep you going a long time. Give this one a chance and stick with it a bit and you won’t be disappointed.

 

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About J Patrick Ohlde, Reviews Editor

Patrick is the author of Scare-Izona: A Travel Guide to Arizona's Spookiest Spots, Tucson's Most Haunted, Finding Ghosts in Phoenix and another book releasing this year. He also does not care for the Oxford Comma. Patrick holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of Arizona which he uses professionally as a recovery coordinator on a crisis response team. In addition to writing books, Patrick is an avid gamer, artist, musician, actor, martial artist, screenwriter and film buff. He also enjoys writing long winded and self-congratulatory bios of himself. Seriously, look him up on Amazon. That one is even longer than this one.

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