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Video game review: Resident Evil 6 is not what franchise fans expected

BY SAM STEWART | OCTOBER 18, 2012 6:30 AM

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I don’t know what Resident Evil 6 is trying to be. As with its monstrous creatures, this new entry in the once-venerable Resident Evil series has mutated beyond recognition, becoming a lifeless shell of what it once was. It mindlessly shambles forward, seemingly content to fall in line with the pack of soulless shooters that have flooded the gaming market. If you are a Resident Evil fan hoping that your once-beloved series will return to its former glory, you should heed the warning on the back of the case: No Hope Left.

Longtime followers of Resident Evil know the story has become quite a mess, and Resident Evil 6 makes things worse. Once again we follow our heroes as they attempt to stop a bioterrorist from spreading a zombie virus across the world. It sounds like a simple story, but it quickly becomes incomprehensible. Characters are cloned, everyone is double-crossed, and villains won’t stay dead.

The story is told through four campaigns, each from a different character’s perspective. After finishing all four, I still didn’t have a good grasp on what had happened. The game tries to drive its plot forward by raising a million questions about what is going on, but in the end only answers a handful of them.

Making things worse is the terrible character development and interaction. The game wants me to care about the protagonist’s squad members, but I can’t when I don’t even have time to learn who they are before they are killed off.

Play in Resident Evil 6 is best described as functional but boring. The game uses a third-person, over-the-shoulder view similar to Resident Evil 5, but the “big” difference this time around is the ability to move while shooting, something that most Resident Evil games forbid to ramp up tension.

This might be new to Resident Evil but not to anybody who has played a third-person shooter before. You can roll to dodge and take cover, but both are badly implemented and overly complex.

Luckily, enemies are simple and rarely require any strategy to defeat. They will either fire from afar or run at you and swing their weapons wildly. When shot, enemies might mutate and grow a new limb, such as a blade arm. Seeing these mutations was cool, but even stronger mutated enemies won’t require any extra finesse to defeat, just more bullets.

However, using your gun is ill-advised because of the game’s baffling approach to guns and ammo. True to its survival-horror roots, the game often limits your ammo by giving you limited inventory space, which is also shared by herbs and other items. This creates a third-person shooter in which the player is hesitant to use her or his gun, which hurts the game immensely.

Guns are now found randomly during the story and can’t be upgraded. Instead, there is a skill shop in which you can use skill points earned from enemies to upgrade your characters stats such as defense and firepower. These upgrades affect all of your characters, so you can’t customize skills on a per-character basis. Being forced to use a preset group of weapons is par for the course in third-person shooters, but it is a step back from the weapon systems in previous Resident Evil games.

Fortunately, the game gives you an alternative to old in the form of the new melee system, which allows you to perform powerful numerous-hit combos with a single button. Few moments in the game are more satisfying than dropping kicking a zombie, then smashing his head into a nearby table. There are rare moments when the game shines, but a majority of the time, it is a series of boring firefights. The game tries to mix up the play with vehicle sections, but these are usually tedious and can be completed by simply pressing forward.

The past few Resident Evil games have all looked very good, and Resident Evil 6 is no exception. In fact, it is one of the best-looking games in recent memory. Character models look realistic and detailed, environments are varied and appropriately devastated, and enemies are grotesque. Cut scenes look great as well but are used too frequently.

The game can be played cooperatively, and this feature is one of its saving graces. Having a friend with you helps relieve some of the frustration and boredom, but don’t be afraid of playing solo.

Unlike Resident Evil 5, the AI in this game actually works very well. I never struggled with getting my computer partner to do what it needed to, such as pressing a switch. Better yet, computer partners are invincible and can only be killed in certain scenarios. This was a very smart decision, and I was able to play through most of the game solo without any problem.

I’m not sure who the intended audience for this game is. If you are a Resident Evil fan, this is not the game you wanted, and if you are a shooter fan, this will feel like a cheap experience. The series seems to be suffering an identity crisis. It no longer wants to be survival horror, but it doesn’t want to commit to being an action game, either. Never in my life have I played a game that felt so out of touch with what its fans want.

Rating: 6/10
Resident Evil 6
Released: Oct. 2
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Cost: $59.99
ESRB Rating: M for Mature


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