Wow. I did not expect this. Resident Evil 6 has to be one of the most divisive games I have seen in quite a while, hell maybe ever. If you love it, or even like it, you have shitty taste in video games and are a Capcom fanboy, and if you hate it you’re a troll who is just talking shit. The topics in any message board are almost entirely people trashing or defending the game, and if you actually ask a question about the game itself it’s often greeted with “Who cares the game sucks.” I question how many people saying that have actually played the game (which according to the Internet makes me a “fanboy fag”), but either way this game has taken a beating far more severe than I think anybody anticipated.
And I really don’t think it deserves it.
I’m definitely a Resident Evil fan. I’ve played all the main games, and I would say at least 80% of the side story games, and I can’t really think of any I flat-out don’t like, with maybe the exception of Resident Evil Zero. I came to grips long ago with the idea that we’ll likely never get an RE in the style of the original, so I’ve just been trying to enjoy what we do get. Despite some claims Capcom made otherwise before the game’s release, RE6 is not in any way a return to RE’s roots. It actually strays further away from them more than ever. Does that bum me out? Sure kind of, but it doesn’t make me want to write the game off completely as it seems to with so many others.
Resident Evil 6 is divided into three campaigns – series veterans Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield, and newcomer Jake….something - each playable in both online and split screen coop. Leon’s campaign is very much in the same vein as Resident Evil 4 and 5, Chris’ campaign is essentially a full blown third person shooter, and Jake’s is a combination of the two more or less. There is also a fourth campaign as Ada Wong after you beat those three, which is maybe supposed to be a secret but it’s the worst kept secret in the history of the world, to the point where it is even mentioned on the back of the box. The stories for each do crossover with one another, and the story as a whole is just as Resident Evil-y as you could want in that it is over the top and completely insane. Limps are popping out of people, Umbrella, Wesker, lots of growly voice acting, you know the drill. I was never that invested in the story here, but will admit it did have a couple of interesting beats and twists.
Leon’s campaign was my personal favourite, as it does the best job of harkening back to RE4, with plenty of atmosphere and the return of good old-fashioned zombies. The opening chapter in and around the university is a highlight, since it actually creates some tension before all hell breaks loose, and it does an excellent job of depicting the chaos once everything goes to shit. It’s the kind of game where you have shot the president in the face within the first minute. Ridiculous, but also kind of awesome.
Chris’ campaign is the closest the series has ever come to just becoming a full blown action game as it focuses almost entirely on covering and shooting. There’s a tense sequence featuring a large snake inside an apartment complex, but for the most part all you’re required to do is run and gun. They even put you inside a jet for a somewhat ill advised, not all that fun to play flying sequence. Thankfully the core shooting in RE6 is still satisfying. I’ve heard many complaints about accuracy issues but I don’t think I ever once had a problem hitting my targets. Landing a well connected headshot and watching a creature’s head explode is about as awesome as it ever was. My biggest issue with Chris’ campaign is that they were clearly going for a more action oriented section, but they still made it tricky to find ammo in true Resident Evil style. You can’t have it both ways guys. I know lack of ammo is supposed to make it more intense but here it’s just frustrating. Though admittedly it was a pretty incredible moment when I beat the final boss of the campaign with my last remaining sniper rifle bullet. Though had he not died after that, I wouldn’t have touched the game again for like a month.
Jake’s campaign is decent but it has a sequence so bad that it’s really the one and only memory I have walked away from it with it. During the second chapter you have to traverse a snowy mountain environment in order to track down three objects. You can make the journey on foot and hope that you don’t get knocked down to the ground by an enemy (which happens almost every single time you get hit by the way), causing you go to sliding back down to the bottom of an icy hill. Or you can drive a snowmobile using some of the worst driving controls in a modern video game. Either way I’m really sorry that you have to go through this. The stuff that surrounds this section is fine, but oh god did that ever kill the momentum for me. And why on earth would they design hospital gowns that split down the middle, allowing for cleavage? You’ll see what I mean.
On a technical level the game is phenomenal. It looks incredible, with each environment rich in detail that you’ll never be able to slowdown and appreciate in some instances. The creature designs are great and some of the best examples of the series, though it does feel the design session for each one of them ended with “and then we give it a gun!” The music maybe isn’t all that memorable but the sound is solid, with plenty of creature screams and zombie moans to keep you relatively on edge.
So while I enjoyed my time in each of the three primary campaigns, and found the shooting mechanics to be solid and satisfying, there are still an abundance of issues that keep the game from being as fun as it has the potential to be. The first is that it does a terrible job of explaining things to you. Usually I wouldn’t care since I’ve used the left stick to move and the right stick to look around so often that it’s starting to become condescending when games feel I need to be taught. But this one adds a bunch of new mechanics such as the ability to slide and shoot on the ground, not to mention dodging, and a completely overhauled inventory system. The game doesn’t feel the need to teach you about any of that so I was still discovering things I could do hours into the experience. I did eventually figure it out and got used to it but the new inventory system is pretty cumbersome, and made all the worse by the fact that you can’t pause while looking through it. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to make things more relentless and nerve wracking but it certainly made it way more aggravating. You also can’t pause the game if you want to change settings such as subtitles, which is just insane. Also there’s occasionally a bizarre issue where the fast 180 turn only turns your character around and not the camera. It didn’t happen often, but it’s worth highlighting.
Peoples’ biggest sticking point seems to be the QTEs, and I can’t really disagree with them. There are a whole hell of a lot of them and it gets old real fast. There are many points where they seem completely unnecessary. Why do I need to hammer the X button to climb across a beam when I can very easily hold the control stick to the right?! It’s pointless and adds nothing to the experience. Also getting through a section of the game only to be killed by an unexpected QTE will almost definitely happen to you at least twice, and it will be infuriating each time. With games like Uncharted often putting you in straight control over sequences that would normally play out via QTE or cut scene, it’s time for RE to step up their game. I won’t say the QTEs ruined the game for me by any means, but they are absolutely the low light of the whole thing.
The boss fights weren’t a highlight here either, though a couple of them such as the aforementioned giant snake are enjoyable. The biggest problem is that because of the crossover between the three campaigns, you will fight the same boss multiple times. Even though you’ll be doing it as a different character, often the experience plays out more or less the same. Of course the RE trope of having the big boss characters continuously come back to life is done here, but so excessively that eventually it becomes a little hilarious. Though it’s less funny when you realize you’re about to fight the same boss again for at least the sixth time.
Those gripes aside, I did enjoy myself with this game quite a bit. By the end I had become accustomed with the inventory system and the controls and was no longer having any issues with them. Yes there are sequences that are a slog to get through but there are many that are fun and a handful that are even a little tense. The game does overstay its welcome (you’re looking at 20-25 hours to get through the four campaigns), but there are plenty of extra modes to spend time with as well, such as the returning Mercenaries, if you need a break from the campaign.
I don’t disagree with a lot of peoples’ criticisms of the game (except for perhaps “OMG Wrst game evar!!!”), but if you can accept that RE is now the equivalent of a blockbuster action movie, and are willing to get adjusted to some pretty clunky design decisions, there’s definitely some fun to be had here.