Most people would agree that Resident Evil: Code Veronica was the last truly scary title in Capcom’s survival-horror series. Ever since the closing credits rolled on that Dreamcast classic way back in 2000, the popular view is that the franchise has been gradually getting more Westernised, and slowly shedding the foundations of the genre that it helped define.
Resident Evil 6 does nothing to alleviate those concerns.
This new entry in the franchise is far more action-oriented than any previous title in the series. The blend of violent gunplay, blockbuster cutscenes, and limited ammunition provide an exhilarating experience – but it won't appeal to everyone.
Once you've gotten through the Hollywood-style prologue, the game is split into three cleverly intertwining sections, each played from the perspective of a different character and their partner. Each of these campaigns provide a mammoth amount of content, and depending on your view of the way things play out when you've got the controller in your hands, that can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
The gameplay has changed significantly, and that’s clearly going to disappoint some people. The biggest change by far (outside of the much-improved cutscenes) comes in terms of the speed of the game itself. There’s very little of the slow, calculated approach that was required in earlier entries, with some sections feeling distinctly more run-and-gun than you’d expect – especially when you consider that the new J’avo class of enemy can use weapons. The change is so great that for the majority of Chris Redfield’s story section, for example, you’ll be convinced that you've taken a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of some sort of Japanese homage to the Call of Duty games. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but with break-neck action, you need a camera that can keep up with the pace – and it’s just not present in Resident Evil 6. For every three times that you’re presented with that dreaded “You are dead” screen, at least once will be because the camera couldn't keep up with your intentions, or decided to spin wildly out of control, causing you to lose focus and give the newly intelligent enemies an opening to attack.
As well as new problems, Resident Evil 6 contains more than its fair share of old ones, too. If you aren't playing through the game with a human team-mate, the AI one that Capcom supplies is woefully bad. With snipers taking suppressive pot-shots at you left and right (if you can get the cover system to stop randomly throwing you into the path of danger, of course), you can call for your buddy to take them out – but more often than not they’ll just pop out of cover and stand in a wide open space, taking bullets to the face. The AI’s path finding seems to be a little on the lacklustre side too, especially when two people are required to open a locked door. With this in mind, co-op is a far more fun way to play, even if you're running through the game with an absolute stranger.
But it isn't all bad – far from it. In fact, if you can get past the unavoidable deaths, the fantastic storyline and glitzy presentation is reason enough to keep playing. There are some minor improvements to common complaints, such as the ability to mix up herbs and store them in a pill box so that they can be accessed quickly in the heat of battle. And these fixes are joined by classic highlights like limited ammunition. The danger of running out of bullets really adds to the tension, and when you combine that with the exemplary soundtrack – which is on hand to ensure that you stay as highly strung as a washing line in the Andes – you've got a game that can excite as much as it infuriates.
It really depends on how you deal with the flaws as to how these opposing experiences balance out. Some of you will get angry and cast your controller aside as an unseen opponent slits your throat for third time in as many minutes, while the rest of you will probably plough through the problems in pursuit of the next jaw-dropping set-piece. It really is a mixed bag.
Resident Evil 6 steers Capcom’s survival-horror series in an even more action-oriented direction – and comes up short in some places as a result. However, if you can forgive the troublesome camera and woeful partner AI, there’s still a lot to like about this third-person shooter.