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Resident Evil 6 is not a bad game.

October 16, 2012

Oh Leon, you so dreamy

Few games in recent memory have divided opinion like Resident Evil 6. Currently sitting at around the 70% mark on Metacritic, Resi 6 has received a bit of shining praise, more brutal criticism, and plenty of six-out-of-tens. It may not seem that bad, but for a series with as high a profile as Resident Evil, these are some pretty damning scores. The internet has been ablaze, with fans worldwide decrying Resi 6 as a terrible game from a once-great franchise, and plenty of professionals seeming to agree.

Everyone is wrong.

Resident Evil 6 is a fun game that I have had a blast playing through with a pal. Is it great? No. Is it flawed? Absolutely. But it sure as hell isn’t bad, either. I had a little realization earlier, and it made me feel a bit ill.

Resident Evil 6 got worse reviews than Gears of War 3 and Modern Warfare 3.

Gears of War 3 and Modern Warfare 3 are games utterly devoid of inspiration, original thought or anything resembling a soul. They are the same games as their previous iterations, shameless rehashes with a new “story” and a couple of new guns thrown in, sold as a new game for full price. They got 9/10 scores across the board, receiving universal praise.

Resident Evil 6, for all that is wrong with it, cannot be accused of sticking to the same old. The franchise has come a long way since the Playstation glory days, from the claustrophobic menace of those first games via the innovative genius of Resident Evil 4 to the stagnation of 5. RE6 is unrecognizable when compared to the first game of the series, and this seems to be where most criticism stems from. Never that scary in its best days, Resident Evil cannot even claim to be a survival-horror franchise anymore, and 6 is very much a third-person shooter.

Z-Z-Z-Zombies!

This is the sticking point for many reviewers and fans. Everyone is desperate for a return to the old Resident Evil, and dismiss Resi 6 because of what it isn’t, rather than what it is. As a long-time fan of the games, I would love an original-style Resident Evil as much as anyone, but this doesn’t mean that I have to dislike the newer games because of the departures they have made from the original formula. Taken on it’s own merits, Resident Evil 6 is thoroughly enjoyable.

A lot of people took RE6 much too seriously. Complaints about hammy dialogue, one-dimensional characters and a horribly convoluted story were abundant, both in reviews and general internet comments. In response, I have a simple rebuke – have you guys not played the rest of the series? Resident Evil is, or was at least, supposed to be scary, but it has also always been fun. A love-letter to schlocky zombie movies, the first Resident Evil is famous for its terrible dialogue and contrived plot. People might have complained then, but hell, these days “Jill sandwich” and “master of unlocking” are part of every nerd’s standard lexicon. Don’t get mad about it – smile, laugh, and enjoy the cheese.

The characters in RE6 are utterly one-dimensional, yes, but I love them regardless. I’ve been playing these games since I was a young-un and I’ve grown up with these characters. It’s fucking Leon S. Kennedy! And Chris fucking Redfield! Having a goddamn fistfight! That shit is awesome, whatever way you spin it. Also making a return is Sherry Birkin, and man, she grew up right if you know what I mean. Her campaign partner Jake is a good addition to the series, with his carefree, quick-witted Nathan Drake-esque style counteracting nicely with the more serious Leon and Chris. Chris’s partner Piers doesn’t make much of a first impression, but playing as him during the campaign the little bastard grew on me. Indeed, contrary to what most reviewers thought, I found Chris and Piers’s story to be the most interesting. Focusing on the mentor and student relationship between the two, as well as Chris’s survivors guilt, the story has a conclusion that is both hard to predict and a bit emotional – big praise for Resident Evil. Of the new characters, only Leon’s partner Helena fails to make an impact, and their story is the least interesting.

If you don’t think this is the coolest thing ever, we can’t be friends

Before release, there was much talk of each of the three campaigns offering a different style of gameplay. This is pretty much wash – all three (four) play essentially the same. Sure, Chris’s might have a bit more shooting, and Jake can do kung-fu, but these do not constitute dramatic differences. Leon’s feels the closest to the spirit of the original games, thanks largely to the first couple of chapters set in a small American town in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Sound familiar? Shooting zombies in locales that might as well be Raccoon City does stir up a lovely nostalgic feeling, and these early chapters are some of the most enjoyable in the game.

Resident Evil 6 takes place over a number of locations – Tall Oaks (the previously mentioned town), a fictional European country, a Chinese city, an underground lab, a submarine – to Capcom’s credit, each look fantastic and are pleasant to play through. This constant globe-hopping does detract from the atmosphere. The first Resident Evil games were about slowly escaping from a single disaster area, and the locales contributed greatly to the claustrophobic dread that pervaded those games. Now, Leon can escape from a zombie-riddled city in one chapter of a 20-chapter game. I guess it comes with experience.

Resident Evil 6 is a fantastic looking game, and even the incredibly negative reviews had to admit as such. The player character models in particular are simply stunning. Leon, Chris and company have never looked as real as this. I expect Resident Evil 6 to look better than a fair few of the first “next-gen” games. Enemy design is also wonderful, with a constant stream of new disgusting monsters to shoot. The J’avo, who mutate depending on where you shoot them, have a number of inspired variations, and I love the way that bullets eat away at zombies. Shoot a zombie in the chest, and bam, he has a big hole in his chest. It’s a wonderful visual effect and really makes you feel like you are doing some damage. My favourite monster of the lot is probably the lithe bastard with an organic chainsaw for an arm. That guy is nasty. The Resi fanboy in me also appreciates all the incredibly-obvious glowing weak spots on bosses.

“Chainsaw Arm” would be a good name for a death metal band

As far as gameplay goes, RE6 manages to feel familiar whilst making some large changes to the formula of the last couple of games. The big deal is that you can now move and shoot. Some may decry this as the last part of Resi’s evolution into an action-shooter, and hey, they are probably right. It works, though. After a brief acclimatisation period, movement feels fluid, and the rolling-around-on-the-floor shtick is both useful and greatly amusing. There is a cover system that doesn’t quite work, but you never need to use it. Inventory management is essentially dead – you can now carry as many guns as you can find, and although there is a limit on how much ammo and healing items you can lug about, it is rare you will have to get rid of stuff to make room. I give credit to the developers that Resident Evil 6 makes some large changes to how it plays, but still manages to feel familiar, like welcoming back an old friend. Not an easy balancing act.

A major complaint aimed at Resident Evil 6 is that it tries to tick every box at once, and I agree, in part. The game has plenty of little asides from the main action – mainly driving sections. These bits are crap. Proper bollocks. But you know what else? They are also FIVE MINUTES LONG. If a naff five-minute driving section is putting you off a 30-hour game, you need a bit more patience.

One thing that is pretty unforgivable is the total over-load of quick time events. RE4 helped popularize the modern QTE, and people loved them. They loved them because they were used sparingly and cleverly. That is not the case here. There is one in particular that shows up in each campaign, involving pulling and releasing the triggers one at a time whilst holding the other down to climb something. My god. To begin with, my co-op partner and I had no idea what to do, and even when we did it was torture. We couldn’t help but laugh each time we had to do it again – it was a very bad joke.

Zombie nudity? BAN THIS SICK FILTH

I played through RE6 with a friend via the power of the internets, and to be fair, this was a major factor in the enjoyment I was having. I’m not sure I would have had half as much fun alone, without someone to laugh and talk shit with about all the ridiculous things that were happening on our screens. Minor spoilers follow – at one point, a main character is trying to rescue their sister. They catch up to the sister, who has been infected with some virus, and just as all seems well she suddenly bursts into flames. It is all very tragic and moving. My friend and I immediately burst into fits of laughter. That shit was hilarious.

I have long believed that co-op has no place in horror games, as it utterly destroys the sense of helplessness and despair that comes with facing these terrible scenarios in solitude. But like I said, this is no horror game, and playing in co-op is much more fun than alone. This is not a game to play by yourself in the dark, soaking in the terror. This is a game to be played with a pal, joking and laughing all the way.

Resident Evil 6 is not a great game, but it is a fun ride, especially with a friend. It gives you far more for your money than most contemporary shooters, with a lengthy campaign and the always-enjoyable mercenaries mode thrown in for good measure. It amazes me that people can rate this game so poorly whilst heaping praise on one such as Gears of War 3.

That is not to say that I dismiss the opinions of others. Most of the gripes people have with RE6 are entirely justified. I simply feel that many people, wishing for a return to the franchise’s roots, are refusing to enjoy this game for what it is. That just seems like a shame, yknow?

FUCK YEAH LEON KENNEDY

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 18, 2012 2:30 AM

    Heya, this is Jericho Ricardi, a fellow 411 columnist. I wrote the short-lived Walls of Jericho News Report for the Games zone, but it got to be too time consuming. You’ve got one of the better columns on the site and your blog looks promising too. I’ve had a similar blog for about two years now, if you want to check it out and see how I’m doing things. http://www.coronajumper.com

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