Resident Evil 6: Is it as bad as they say? (a review)
2012 was a field day for Resident Evil fans. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Resident Evil 6 were released for video game consoles. Resident Evil Retribution finally gave us a movie featuring Leon Kennedy and Resident Evil Damnation was the latest installment of animated movies.
After the critic-driven flop Operation Raccoon City (to be discussed separately), Resident Evil 6 was one of the highly anticipated video game releases of 2012. There were rumors that players would finally be able to walk and shoot at the same time. RE favorites Leon Kennedy and Chris Redfield would appear in the same game. And there was the long-awaited return of little Sherry Birkin, of RE 2 fame.
Yet when the game was released, it was ripped apart by critics (not all, but most), just as Operation Raccoon City. One would think by the reviews that the game was made by amateurs, instead of the esteemed Capcom. Critics criticized the gameplay, the seemingly fast and disconnected movement of the storyline, extensive cinematics and the new character of Jake Muller. Now there is concern that with the upcoming release of Resident Evil Revelations for major game consoles that it will be another bloodbath…and not just for the zombies. Let’s take a look at these one by one to determine if RE 6 truly was as bad as critics said.
Leon can now walk and kill zombies at the same time
The RE series of game has always somewhat suffered from criticism of gameplay. While other video games were moving onto more interactive environments and the “walk and shoot” functionality, RE attempted to stay true to its original gameplay roots that made it so popular to begin with. Graphics continued to improve and controller usage adapted to the new controllers of PS2 and PS3, but gameplay remained relatively the same. RE 6 moved into the new century by allowing players to be more interactive with the environment with the ability to duck behind cover, knock over tables, and walk and shoot. Yet some critics took the changes as a negative thing. For years they (and players) had yearned for a better gameplay, and when they are given it, Capcom is accused of copying other third person games in style. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways…
The gameplay in RE 6 could stand for small improvements here and there, but overall Capcom made large strides in the gameplay and they will continue to move in that same direction as future titles are released. The changes to the gameplay were huge in themselves, and you can’t move a mountain all at once. The gameplay will keep getting better, but if critics continue to discourage the leaps made by Capcom, then they may just stop trying. We don’t want to take a step backward into RE 2 days, but move forward into bigger and better things. Instead, let’s praise Capcom for finally allowing us to “walk and shoot”.
She's baaack... the mysterious Ada Wong
A large complaint of almost every critical critic was the storyline. The plot was called disjointed, disconnected and too fast moving. RE 6 includes three “missions”. The missions involve Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper, Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans, and Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller. Each of these characters has a different mission in the game and so the game is broken up into three segments. The player can play as any of the six characters, and later on as Ada Wong. That there are three separate storylines sent critics’ heads a-spinning and acted as if Capcom made a game that was played in just three hours.
Yes, there are three separate storylines, but all three storylines intersect at some point in the game to tie them together in plot. That the player can play all of the main characters and Ada Wong makes it an interesting and long-lasting gaming experience that doesn’t stop once the missions are completed the first time. The game appears short at first glance because the lengthy RE game is cut into three separate stories. This makes it feel shorter than it truly is. All three pairs have distinctly separate missions that they follow because they all work for different agencies. Capcom couldn’t suddenly make Leon a BSAA agent nor have Chris work for the President as that would blow the characters to shreds and not make an ounce of sense. The plot in itself is well-done and follows all previous RE storylines…and how can we complain when we get Leon and Chris in the same game?
Cinematics have been a critical part of video games for well over a decade. These short movies give players action sequences that move the game forward in a beautiful way…while giving our tired fingers a momentary rest from the controller. Critics argue that the cinematics in RE 6 were too lengthy and took too much time out of gameplay.
I think that their criticism is somewhat warranted, but slightly misdirected. The cinematics in RE 6 were a little lengthy, but what made them seem longer were the many scenes involving quick-action. For those of you who aren’t familiar, quick-action is where a cinematic occurs and then the game tells the player to press a button or buttons on the controller to make the protagonist perform the next action correctly. Pressing a wrong sequence of buttons can cause the player to start over from the beginning of the scene. I loathe quick-action sequences. Not because I can’t quickly press a button, but if one simple mistake is made the scene starts over. Capcom introduced quick-action with RE 4, and I still shudder when I come across one of those scenes in that game. I am not sure who at Capcom thought it was a good idea to multiply the number of quick-action sequences in RE 6 like bunny rabbits, but let’s give it a rest in the future. Please?
Jake Muller (bottom) with Albert Wekser, aka daddy (top)
Oh, Jake. It’s tough being the new kid on the block, huh? There wasn’t much love for this rugged new guy, the bastard son of the love-to-hate Albert Wesker. Even now, I’m not sure who was harder on Jake: critics or fans.
Jake Muller starts out as one tough cat. He’s not happy to be in the position he’s in with Sherry, but goes along for the ride as he is promised lots and lots of money, which is everything to a mercenary without a cause trying to survive in a zombie-infested world. The money is promised in exchange for his blood, which carries the antibodies that can fight off the C-virus. As the game goes on, there is a real chemistry between Jake and Sherry, and Jake learns to care for more than cash. The character development of Jake throughout the game is impressive. It’s hard enough to make a character grow in the short time that Capcom did, but even more impressive is the chemistry between Jake and Sherry. Actors onscreen can’t always pull off that kind of chemistry that leaves viewers wanting more. Despite the backlash of critics and fans alike, I felt that Jake Muller was one of the most successful RE characters in recent memory and I truly hope that he isn’t a one-trick pony.
RE 6 had numerous positives, but I’ll limit them to just a few. First, the monsters were fantastic. As always, Capcom created new horrors for players to encounter and I found them amazing in stature and ability. From zombie-spider hybrids that crawled on ceilings to Ustank (the latest creature keeping with the tradition of Nemesis and Tyrant), these new creatures were horrific and awesome at the same time. Second, the Ada Wong twists and turns were fun and kept the player guessing. When finally able to play Ada’s mission, the story tied together nicely and showed new sides of the mysterious girl in red. Lastly, Agent Hunt (a side game) is an absolute blast. This game allows the player to play a zombie within another player’s game. Being able to play various types of zombies and attacking other players online is hours of fun.
Overall, Capcom did a fantastic job with this installment. With some room for improvement, I’m sure that the next games will provide RE fans and newcomers alike with great gameplay, awesome zombies, and enough Leon and Chris to last a lifetime.
Additional game reviews
- Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City's trip down memory lane
A review of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
- Tomb Raider: the near-perfect gaming experience
A look at the reboot and reinvention of Lara Croft