Alright, two things before I go into my review of CAPCOM’s latest game. One, I read somewhere that the 6 on the cover of the game looked like a giraffe enjoying some quality time with a manatee and now I can never unsee it. For two, this is my first Resident Evil game so I have no fan bias one way or another about the game except for maybe the fact that I normally enjoy a good shooting game where brainless zombies try to eat my face. That being said, the term “zombies” was rarely used in the game, and they certainly weren’t brainless if you play any other campaign other than the Leon-Helena one. In fact, this game’s got arguably better/clever enemies than Battlefield’s or Call of Duty’s AI depending on which campaign you play. The game consists of three initial paths and a hidden fourth one if you beat the others. Now, the game doesn’t qualify it this way, but each of the campaigns has a distinctly different feel to it as well as slightly different play styles.
The tutorial/prelude has you play Leon. So, naturally, I picked his story as my first experience. What I think CAPCOM was going for here was the “traditional” zombie experience with a couple of disgusting mutations to satisfy the level of gross that I presume the fanbase has come to expect. Before I continue, I want to mention that playing this campaign made me want to put the game down and never play it again, let alone try the other storylines, though I discovered later they were worth it. Leon and Helena share some of the most wooden dialogue together and, after a few chapters, I finally understood that the two of them together form one intelligent human being. People will be in the process of becoming a zombie buffet and Leon will announce to Helena that they need to go save them, which just makes no sense because he just watched them get their limbs torn off. Helena, thankfully plays Captain Obvious for a moment and reigns him back in to the task at hand. A few zombie attacks later and Helena spends an entire boss fight refusing to shoot an actively mutating monstrosity because she’s too busy crying. It takes like ten active trigger events with Leon yelling the entire time for Helena to get over herself and shoot to reel her back in. Speaking of active triggers, this is also the button mash campaign.
Sadly, this is also the most predictable horror game I’ve played. Ever. It’s almost completely the fault of the game mechanics too. The game will decide to just take over certain aspects of your character at any given time which gives away too much and allows the player to ready themselves for a possible scary encounter. They might’ve thought that this would build suspense, but the level of irritation I got when I am randomly unable to run or move in any other way other than a slow walk with my gun down by my waist completely breaks the illusion of immersion. It goes as far as to even disallow the firing of the character’s gun for sections of story at a time. The game tries SO hard to forcibly immerse you in the plot that it physically hurts you in the process. Irritation and frustration build instead of suspense and adrenaline and before you know it you just want to throw the controller.
The game does have some very satisfactory melee takedowns and finishing moves that actually do distract from the awful gameplay mechanics for some time. This lasts until you realize that the death animations for the zombie you just roundhouse kicked in the teeth has the head free floating in place as the body falls to the floor with a giant pulled texture of skin still linking the two. This is particularly frustrating when the body just jumped up off the floor and your only choice was to kick it in the face leaving this giant flap of skin obscuring your vision allowing for even more zombies to get the drop on you.
When you get tired of being jumped constantly, you may decide you want to try playing with a little precaution. What do you do if you see a body lying on its side or sitting in a chair with blood all over it? Shoot it, right? Nope. You can’t shoot bodies preemptively in Resident Evil 6. Not allowed. So, whether you see it coming or not, you have no choice but to trigger the zombie’s predictable lunge at your knees. Eventually you’ll get tired and, out of shear boredom, you’ll end up holding the B button ( Xbox360 controller), or you’ll be lucky enough to have a tip show up on a loading screen that informs you that you can actually interact with Helena. By “interact” I mean you can “Praise” her, “Thank” her, tell her to follow (which she does anyway), tell her to stay (good dog!), or tell her to move up. This doesn’t really work though because any time you tell your partner to move up or take the lead they give you the professional F— you. Helena will say, “Not right now”, because “right now” is just not the time to listen to orders in the apocalypse. My favorite is, “Can’t it wait?“, because you clearly didn’t tell her that for any reason. You’re just wasting her time, right? I’m really not even sure why it was made into a button because the only function it serves is to distract you while a zombie eats your brains.
On that line of thought though, let’s talk about buttons that should exist. In the zombie apocalypse, one might think it an intelligent idea to be able to jump. But wait! The game didn’t say it was ok to jump over THAT table, only the one next to it. You also cannot jump over dead bodies lying on the floor. You CAN trip over them, however. Yes, CAPCOM has seen fit to include a trip animation, and not a jump button. The end of the world is also clearly not the time to open a door any other way than gently caressing the door with one hand and leaning face first into the dark unexplored room. Never mind locking the door behind you or barricading it to prevent attacks from behind.
You have no choice but to experience EXACTLY what the game wants you to, and if you had other plans, too bad because this train is going nowhere but where the railway track tells it to at exactly the predetermined speed coded in. The level design in Leon and Helena’s campaign is utterly unimaginative, linear, predictable, boring, and lazy. There’s even a part where you’re looking down at a foggy road and they just flat out left the road black thinking that some heavy fog would cover it up.
The first time I died in this game was via an ambulance crashing through a pile of cars and splatters you against the side of a gas station while you’re paralyzed by a zombie whose sole job is to scream loudly in your face. I’m sorry CAPCOM for standing where your linearly designed map tells me to go to as you freeze me in position just so that an ambulance can run me over. It’s not even a scripted injury. It’s an actual death that counts against you in your final score after the Chapter is over. Oh, yeah, by the way the game’s been scoring you this whole time, which nobody decided to tell the player. What exactly are you getting scored on? Accuracy, deaths, kills, etc. Hopefully you didn’t decide to test fire any new guns you picked up along the way, because it will prevent you from picking up anything useful when it comes time to buy some skills. Yes, the game has been dropping random chess pieces all over the place with “point” values assigned to them, so I don’t really know how I possibly could have misunderstood. Clearly the currency of the survivors of the apocalypse is…gem encrusted chess pieces? I really have no idea where that came from. Perhaps it was something from a previous game I didn’t play and it was explained there, but I felt pretty dumb cramming studded pawns and knights in my pockets while I ran from hordes of screaming zombies.
Once I was finished nursing my wrist from all the hardcore hand holding going on in the Leon-Helena campaign, I ventured a trial run of the other two campaigns and found very different experiences. The Jake-Sherry campaign was heavy on the maze and environmental mechanics (explosive barrels, etc.), while the Chris-Piers combo focused on what added up to be super-human modern warfare against bio-weapons. What confused me with this campaign was that you get an entirely new graphic user interface. Both of the other storylines had basic GUI, but now that you’ve joined the BSAA you get perks.
You are also thrown into open combat with seriously intelligent “BOWs” as they’re called. I never quite heard what the acronym stands for. Anyway, these Infected are creative, intelligent, and utilize better team tactics than Veteran mode Call of Duty AI. I really can’t even call them zombies anymore. These guys use machine guns, snipers, camouflage, group tactics, and more. The time I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore was when someone in my squad said, “They’re rolling up a tiger tank”, and, as a hint, my reaction involved a LOT of profanity. If you ignore the mutations, the game is honestly a fun modern warfare experience, but that’s hard when the enemies turn into human-scorpion hybrids which carry uninfected civilians on their backs as cover. Finally I could give the game some credit for innovation. Playing through the entire Leon-Helena campaign, I’d come to think that the only innovation CAPCOM was going to come up with was the trip animation and the fact that you can click down your joystick to choose whether or not you want to make your character left or right handed. The game still wasn’t scary by any means, but at least the Chris-Piers campaign wasn’t anywhere as linear as the Leon-Helena one. Jake and Sherry even had some clever and funny dialogue going back and forth for a while. For the first time in thirty hours I actually enjoyed the gameplay and even dared to immerse myself in the story. Yeah, the same texture pulling glitches were there, there still wasn’t a jump button, and my steroid pumping main character still looked like a damn fool tripping over bodies left and right, but it was enjoyable. I really just think CAPCOM tried too hard to add too much content and it backfired on them. If they had just stuck with one storyline, really ironed out the glitches in the art department, and spiced up the Design aspects of the game, I think everyone would have been a lot happier, but they didn’t and I’m forced to say that this game is really just not worth the play.