Over the course of the last few years, the Resident Evil series has been content to rest on its laurels, with some suggesting that it would only take one truly exciting survival horror title to come along and cast the once groundbreaking series into the annals of history. Each new title from the franchise has been presented with shiny new graphics and new features that have been implemented with varying levels of success, but for many gamers, the series hasn’t turned its impressive previous-generation performances into current-generation success.
With Resident Evil 6 though, Capcom is seeking to move the series – albeit belatedly – into the current generation. Surprisingly not entirely dissimilar to Resident Evil 5, the new game manages to bring the series back to more familiar climes, with darkness apparently being the overall theme. From what we’ve played, this is to the game’s credit – and even though the game is played at a much slower pace than many gamers will expect, that tense, nerve-jangling experience that you once expected is well on the way to making a successful return.
Although some will hate it, quick-time events make a comeback, but the nature of their implementation is enough to stop them from being purely academic. When a zombie gets the better of whichever character you’re playing as, you could be prompted to hit the indicated button at a specific time, waggle an analog stick until you’ve built up enough power to break out, or repeatedly mash a button until the zombie tires and you find your opening. The randomness adds to the excitement, and promises to prevent the action from becoming stale.
On top of this, a new enemy class – the J’avo – cause more problems than your regular zombies. Capcom’s spiel claims that they’re able to plan attacks as a group, and heal themselves when damaged. That proves to be exactly the case, and given that bullets and weaponry are scarce, you’ll find yourself using hand-to-hand and – more often – foot-to-face combat in order to take down stronger foes such as this. As it stands, Resident Evil 6 initially tries to play itself off as an action movie, with a tension-filled prologue section proving to be in equal parts thrilling and annoying, with those quick-time events being pretty much the only control you’ll need. Once complete though, the game opens up immensely, and you can choose to play any of three scenarios, each featuring different starring characters. These three experiences have interconnected stories, and each feature an awful lot of gameplay. Producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi has mentioned that each one contains around 70 to 80 per cent as much content as was contained in the entirety of Resident Evil 5 – and from what we’ve seen, that’s no far-fetched claim.
Whether you decide to play as Leon and Helena in Tall Oaks, take to China with Chris and Piers, or head to Eastern Europe with Jake and Sherry, the gameplay shines through – especially now you’re (finally!) able to move whilst firing a shot. There’s work still to be done to the build we have access to. Some scenes are far, far too dark to even see the undead that are just a foot or two in front of you, despite us setting our screens to the apparently optimal setting. Some will take issue with the inventory management options too, as they don’t really lend themselves to quickfire switching, which can be troublesome when you’re facing down a horde.
But, there’s much to look forward to. When Resident Evil 6 is released, we’re told that it will feature over 35 hours of gameplay, spread across the three scenarios. Scores and records will be managed by Capcom’s new online service – ResidentEvil.net – and if you fancy getting your teamwork on, all of the different story branches (barring the prologue) are playable in online or offline co-op. Even though the engine isn’t necessarily as advanced as other third-person titles of late, the new freedoms offered in this iteration of the series make the experience seem fresh and – most importantly – spine-chilling.
Resident Evil 6 launches on PlayStation 3 2nd October.