How did this happen? No, really – how did this happen? Resident Evil 6, the most recent numbered entry in Capcom's iconic survival horror series, is an unmitigated mess – a real turd of a game that's so downright bad that it beggars belief. You'd think that with the series celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the publisher would have preferred to let this stinker decompose alongside other rotters like Operation Raccoon City and Dead Aim, but that financial hole that the Japanese publisher's found itself in is a deep one, so here's a remastered PlayStation 4 version of one of the worst third-person shooters ever made.
Be fair, Sammy: it's not that bad. Sure, on the scale of TPS atrocities it sits closer to Quantum Theory than Inversion, but it's no Damnation – it's actually got a budget for a start. But this schizophrenic shell of a game encapsulates everything that can be awful about AAA titles: it's predictable, plodding, and – for lack of a better word – pants in practically every department. And y'know what? That wouldn't be so bad if the developer hadn't stretched its paper-thin design practices out over the course of four self-contained campaigns – each more pedestrian and overtly unpleasant than the last.
Let's start with the good stuff: it looks great. Capcom's attempted to disprove the old adage that you can't polish poo by applying a glossy coat of Briwax to this fetid mound of feces. The art direction, a cross between Call of Duty and every anime ever, works bizarrely well for the most part – the self-seriousness of the game's meathead cast balanced by their handsome character designs. In particular, the locations really sing at times: the densely populated streets of China are punctuated by brightly coloured billboards and raging infernos, while Eastern Europe is defined by archaic architecture and bad weather.
It's a fine looking foray that's at its best on the PS4, with the re-release running at a relatively sturdy 60 frames-per-second in 1080p. But, the ever enjoyable Mercenaries mode aside, this is where the positives end, because Resident Evil 6 is a bad game.
What makes it such a mess, though? Oh, where do we even start? The camera's so nauseatingly wayward that we suspect that the programming team spent the bulk of the game's development swigging sake. The writing's so embarrassingly bad that it makes "the master of unlocking" sound like an Oscar winning line. The gunplay's so ineffective that it makes you feel like you're wielding a spud gun – even when you're running amok with a shotgun the size of a small tank. The controls are awful (and poorly explained), the puzzles are rubbish, the incessant QTEs are obnoxious, and it goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on…
But the worst part is that it's just downright lazy. The monster designs are generally pathetic, with gelatinous blobs among the most creative goons that you'll encounter. The irritatingly punctuated J'avo – one of the primary new forms of foe that you'll face off against – are rubbish, rushing about in carbon fibre-lined Carbrini hoodies while antagonising you with AK-47s because apparently zombies learned how to fire guns now. Missions generally involve running down corridors and waiting for the release to throw some generic co-op objective at you, like clearing out the current room or defending a specific area.
Ammunition is never necessarily in short supply, but the game will make you wait for corpses to burn away just so that you can keep your stocks replenished. It's also generally dark, particularly in Leon's campaign, where you can rarely ever see more than a few feet in front of you. This complete lack of lighting fails to create any intended tension, as it merely means that you'll stumble into some unseen trap instead – over and over again. We particularly enjoyed the obligatory church yard section in Leon's campaign, where the cumbersome controls and absent illumination led to us slipping into the same grave a record three times in a row.
Everything about the campaigns is half-arsed. For example, there's one sequence where you need to follow a string of button prompts in order to start a car – but if you happen to have drawn the short straw as player two, you have nothing to do but twiddle your thumbs while your accomplice hammers out the commands. This is meant to be a co-op game – couldn't the developer have come up with a way for you to work together? Puzzles are similarly insipid, as they typically revolve around you splitting up in order to pull levers and flip switches – you get the drift.
It's all bombastically presented, of course – but there's no ebb and flow to the way that the stories play out. Where the exceptional Resident Evil 4 builds to multiple memorable crescendos, its boneheaded successor starts out at eleven – and then merely attempts to maintain the volume throughout. It's boring, and the introduction of increasingly spongey enemy types don't help to alleviate the fatigue factor.
At least the combat's more tolerable in the aforementioned Mercenaries mode, where shorter sessions and a more arcade feel improve proceedings. The Puzzle Fighter-esque Onslaught option is also an alright alternative, as you attempt to combo zombie kills in order to overwhelm online adversaries. But the other multiplayer modes – generally built around the concept of you eventually assuming the role of the undead – fall flat, even if there are some admirable ideas on display. We love, for example, the pitch for Agent Hunt, which sees you invading other peoples' games. The problem is that it's just not much fun in practice.
You can't polish a turd, and Resident Evil 6 is proof. This remaster may look the part at points, but its limp collection of lacklustre campaigns will leave you feeling dead inside. A low price point means that co-op enthusiasts may get some mileage out of the Mercenaries mode, but make no mistake, this is still a quivering corpse of a game. Avoid like the C-Virus plague.