Capcom revive another fantastic franchise with their latest offering in the Resident Evil series. But will it be a case of breathing new life into an old corpse, or just a jump lead to far for another Frankensteins monster? Let’s have a look in the GamesMediaPro review of Resident Evil 6.
Believe it or not, and we have a bit of a confession to make here, Resident Evil, ( as well as that other Capcom classic franchise that we have just reviewed: Devil May Cry ), have never been our favourite titles. In fact, if anything, they were two games that we completely shied away from during the early console gaming years Why? We aren’t quite sure? Maybe it was the fact that we were up to our ears in goblin innards and orc blood as we battled every RPG and JRPG that we could get our grubby little hands on, or maybe it was the fact that we were blinded by our loathing of load screens back then and so ultimately never truly strayed too far into the console market? Whatever it was we are glad to say that this famine of fantastic franchises ended when we delved deep into Resident Evil 4, and then were dumbfounded at the shenanigans and ground lost in Resident Evil 5. As for Devil May Cry? Stay tuned to learn of our progress there with our DMC review on January 15th.
So, Resident Evil 6. What to do? Do we pass it along to the girls for their scaredy cat opinions, based solely from what they could see out of one eye as they crouched terrified behind the office sofa? Or do we put away our disappointments from Resi Evil 5 and plough on with the true kind of professionalism only found at PS3 Universe? ( sniggers Ed. ) Decisions, decisions.
Well, speaking of the ‘decision’ we faced we are pleased to be able to inform you that not only did we make the correct one, in opting to review Resident Evil 6 ‘for the boys’, but that without a shadow of a doubt that it was also one of the best choices we have made in quite some time, in relation to videogames.
Resident Evil 6 came into the public eye on a wave of negative publicity, but there is no doubt in my mind, that the vast majority of gamers who have sampled the many delights that await you in Capcom’s stunning sequel will agree with us on this one, that as a modern survival horror title Capcom have pulled out all the stops and ticked all of the right boxes in updating their flagship franchise and bringing it screaming into the next millenia like a wailing mutant zombie banshee.
New look visuals, new locations, new storylines and new characters all bring Resident Evil 6 back into the limelight as they combine with a completely overhauled set of game mechanics that grant gamers the kind of freedom to enjoy their survival horror action like the have always wanted too…on the move and with all guns blazing. Naturally the format has not changed so much that die-hard followers of the franchise wouldn’t recognise is as a Resident Evil title, but the new approach to not only the graphics, but also the way the game is played itself, will play a major role in securing new visitors and inhabitants to Raccoon City for many a year to come.
Moving along into the latest storyline and the premise behind the goings on, currently inflicted on the beleaguered residents of this ‘city under siege’, see’s a new kind of destruction and madness being unleashed by a nemesis worthy of taking over the mantle from any one of the usual Umbrella Corporation suits. ‘Simmons’, to give our ‘bad guy’ his title, is a slimy as they come. You know the type? The kind of man you feel you have to wipe your hands on a towel after meeting them for fear of being forever tainted by their oily handshake.
The plot entails any number of interweaving campaigns, in an extremely nice touch by Capcom, that gives gamers excellent value for money right from the outset with four converging stories that are all just begging to be played in what has to be on of the finest examples of Co-oP gaming in recent memory. Of course, single player is there for the asking, but nevertheless co-operative gaming is where the true heart of Resident Evil 6 lies.
Players, even throughout each of the solo campaigns, are tasked with executing their own segments of the convergent mission’s that will see our foursome of deadly duo’s, albeit that there is the only solo expeditionist in the enigmatic figure of the sultry Ada Wong, as they all work towards linking up in the explosive finale. Leon and Helena, Jake and Sherry, Chris and Piers, and Ada Wong have each been granted so much variety to their individual missions that special commendations need to be awarded to each of the development teams separate sections for allowing gamers the vastly differing range of weapons, skills, attributes and even the heads up display’s, that come as part and parcel of each of the quad-core of campaigns that link up to be a single storyline.
Leon and Helena kick things off, as well as the various soft bits of the advancing night crawlers, with their tutorial-cum-introduction to the games weapon format and inventory system. Both of which are incredibly simple to use and even easier to master as you progress throughout the game’s storyline. D-Pad for your weapons, as you scroll silkily through the arsenal of available armaments, whilst the ‘Y’ , ( triangle for PS3 players ), button brings up the list of lovelies that make up your inventory for everything from the familiar green and red herbs, to the more explosive ingredients of hand grenades and heavy weapons ammunition.
In a complete reversal of fortunes for Resi Evil players everywhere, Capcom have managed to totally eradicate the cumbersome clutter that was the outgoing inventory system of previous titles in this best-selling franchise, and have, instead, implemented a new simplified version that will leave players with blister free digits blissfully gliding across the D-Pad with far greater efficiency.
Starting players out with the Helena and Leon mission was something of a genius move, as these two sizzle and crackle with sexual tension in the games’ tangibly dramatic build up, that will leave players on the edge of their seats as they become ever deeper embroiled in this twisting and turning plot that has suspense and style oozing out of ever splintered door that the pair must warily open, or through every shattered window that the duo must peer through as they strive to find their way out of their university starting point and get to grips with the hordes of infected now roaming the streets of an embattled Raccoon City.
Handling is spectacular, especially when compared to its elder sibling Resident Evil 5, and the fact that players may actually do something as basic as ‘move’ when they are shooting the head’s off encroaching undead is somewhat of a revelation. If truth be told this was one of our biggest gripes when faced with playing the earlier editions of this famous franchise, the fact that the inventory made it a chore to select defensive, or even offensive items, items when facing down a constant stream of screaming brain munchers was bad enough, but to be firmly rooted to the spot every time you pulled your pistol from its holster was always asking a bit much of my patience, especially during boss battles with hulking mutated demon-like brutes intent on ripping my head off with their bare…well, claws.
The combat mechanics are a joy to behold, thanks in no small part to the Capcom’s new movement system during the fisticuffs, but whereas the fighting may have been vastly improved the variety of enemies now facing you down across the rubble strewn streets of Raccoon City have been positively blessed.
There are so many new features in Resident Evil 6, so many little surprises and suspenseful shock a minutes, that it is sometimes quite easy to overlook the fact that Capcom have designed a veritable entire zombie army of mutant warriors from scratch, just for your digital enjoyment. Every foe you face is a new demon, and every boss you battle has different moves , different weapons and different murderous skills all aimed at separating your spinal cord from your brain.
This Resident Evil revolution continues throughout the entire campaign regardless of which character you are currently inhabiting, and in an extremely nice touch the handling and the familiarity of the format for the inventory and the weapons carries across to each of the new storylines. Although that is the only thing that is a constant, as everything else about the quad of corking tales is like chalk and cheese.
Moving on through the game takes you now to Jake and Sherry. This pair of unlikely Co-oP partners reveal a continuation of story’s past, as well as a hint to possible stories future, with Jake being the son of Wesker no less, and Sherry being the now womanly figure of the former 12 year-old girl we first saw padding through the means streets in Resident Evil 2.
Back for more, though, Sherry, now a fully fledged operative and DSO agent, joins forces with the spawn of Wesker as the two are tasked with doing their part in bringing an end to the current terror that stalks Raccoon City. Of course, the two also come complete with their own particularly impressive set of acrobatic moves and manoeuvres as they shoot, slash and pound their way across the city in pursuit of their objectives and ultimate goal.
The same can also be said of the third pairing of the game, as Chris Redfield returns complete with new partner in tow in the shape of fresh-faced marine ‘Piers’. This is where Resident Evil flexes its impressive set of rippling muscles and shows off its diversity as it drops players firmly into what is, in effect, a third person shooter. Now, although this is normally the point when the reviewer scathingly claims that this is nothing more than a shameless attempt at appealing to the more Western audience, and subsequently raps Capcom’s knuckles with a ruler for it, much like an irate geography teacher who has just been asked by his 12 year-old nemesis where “Uranus” is, I do not jump on this band wagon, and I do not scold Capcom for this decision. Instead, I do feel that Capcom have managed to offer gamers a title that allows them to sample, pretty much, all of the industry’s latest best-selling genres, and all in the comfort of a single title, in one of the best-selling franchises that videogaming has ever seen.
Condemning Capcom for offering players variety is like slapping the waiter at a Mexican restaurant for bringing you multiple dishes of dip for your tortilla’s. How ‘dare’ he bring you a smorgasboard of the chef’s best-loved samples, how ‘dare’ he serve you choice, as opposed to firmly planting a meagre single portion serving of generic slop. Would that have made you happier?
No. In this reviewer’s humble opinion, and now you will understand better my earlier statement when I said that ‘in a way’ I was glad that I had not been a long time player of the franchise, as it seems to me that Capcom have been caught in that infamous catch 22 situation by their own success, and that is being ‘damned of they do and damned if they don’t.’
Judging from some of the scandalous abuse levelled at Capcom in recent years, regarding their desire to bring in new players to their audience, and attempting to work out just how to implement this whilst at the same time staying true to their original fan base of hard-core gamers, has been somewhat disgusting. The fact of the matter is that times, technology and tastes change. Things mature, things move on, and as we stated in the Devil May Cry review also, if Capcom must learn to adapt to survive and be successful, then why cannot the detractors who still think that the Playstation 2 was the ‘golden age of gaming’ do the same.
Well. lets just look at that for a moment. Imagine, then, if you will, that when this game launched it had done so with NO previous PR or trailers for you to get a taste of what was in store for you, and now take that suspense and return it to launch day and now picture yourself eagerly running home with your new copy of Resident Evil 6 in hand and inserting into your console with bated breath only to discover that the game on-screen is not some technological wonder of cutting edge graphical movement and design, but is instead a single joystick controlled, non-camera operative, bland run through of 16 bit styled graphics with clanking mechanic’s and flickering backdrops. Imagine, then, just how ‘thrilled’ you would have been to have ‘gotten what you wanted’ as Capcom released their latest title in the same vein as the games you wish that they had harkened back to? Now see the ridiculous nature of your argument and get with the 21st Century and all of the wonders it brings with it.
Finally, we come to the solo segment of Ada Wong. This tainted temptress that has more than one trick up her sleeve, and is definitely not afraid to use them. This high-kicking, crossbow hunting hard ass is as awesome as any Jill Valentine, and is as bad to the proverbial bone. Players will soon come to realise that the converging stories still have a surprise or two in store for them as they watch the cut scenes in each of the four ‘campaigns’ as they march ever onward to the storylines conclusion. But, in Ada Wong there is much mystery and intrigue still in store no matter how much information you glean from the myriad of Resident Evil 6’s cinematic moments.
Thankfully, however, Capcom has dispensed with the need to pander to the few as they seek to bring the next level of survival horror action and entertainment to old players and new. Resident Evil, as a franchise, has never looked and never played as good as it does right now, ( and yes, I have since gone back to replay the original games to back up this argument ). Capcom have ironed out all of the creases and smoothed out all of the wrinkles from previous titles and has now introduced its all-new format with this latest outing for the zombie killing king of the hill. This is one franchise that has certainly arose from the dead of its past and risen , much like the red-eyed monsters you are charged with releasing from their unGodly nightmare, and returned Resident Evil back to the top of the tree as it reclaims its rightful position as champion of its genre. 8 out of 10
Resident Evil 6 : PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox360 ( version tested Xbox360 )