Resident Evil 6 is not nearly as bad as you’ve heard.
Resident Evil 6 is also not nearly as good as you’ve heard.
This latest entry in the series has a problem many games at this point in their franchise lifecycle do: That gamers have stuck with it not just because they like shooting things, but because the story is so superbly written that they just have to know what happens next.
This creates a conundrum: The story isn’t compelling enough to make up for the gameplay, but the gameplay isn’t compelling enough to make up for the story.
It’s especially odd because you can’t fault this game for ambition. Capcom threw 600 people at making a game more than twice as long as the previous entry in the series with a wide variety of gameplay. There’s a lot that went right here, but what does it in is the fact that it’s not willing to innovate and more than happy to fall back on bad habits.
Let’s start with the praise: This game is enormous, beautiful and plays pretty well. While some annoying traditions, like clunky controls, persist, this is clearly a game inspired heavily by Western third-person shooters. If you like shooting things, or punching things in many cases, you can do so smoothly and easily. For the first couple of hours, at least, this game is a lot of fun and if you just want mindless zombie killing, this will fit the bill.
And there is a lot of variety here; Leon’s campaign is more about resource management and tries to be more of an old-school RE game, Chris is straight up action, and Wesker’s bratty son is more focused on melee and running away from enemies. You can upgrade your skills, of course, although honestly it’s mostly about upping your damage and health. Taking control of your companions leads to more variety in gameplay, as well; it takes a while to warm up but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty fun.
There’s also some entertainingly vivid and gross creature design on display, as well as the occasional moment of humor. Sticking a zombie hand in a microwave is even more fun than it sounds.
And it must be said there are ideas here that can be absolutely a blast. I wound up finishing the campaigns not because I wanted to see what happens next, but because I wanted to unlock Agent Hunt mode, which is, quite literally, you jumping into other player’s games and trying to kill them. I probably spent more time playing this mode than I did anything else; grabbing Leon by the throat and savaging him is way more fun than it should be.
Yet, odd problems remain. The game is excessively linear for what doesn’t seem to be any particular reason other than Capcom didn’t feel like opening up the level. Gentle slope or sheer cliff, it’s the same thing to these characters. It’s especially frustrating because this is the company that put out Dragon’s Dogma, probably one of the better applications of an open world this year.
Equally frustrating are the quick-time events, which are numerous, repetitive, and annoying. I’m not entirely opposed to quick-time events but it feels like there’s one every five minutes, usually built around some pointless setpiece or some story beat you couldn’t care less about. It’s just a hoop the game makes you jump through to get back to the actual fun.
Finally, there’s just the fact that there’s nothing new here, and there’s a hell of a lot of it. The result is a game that’s a bit generic and mindless. You could call this Japanese Zombie Third-Person Shooter and, well, that would work.
It’s not a bad game, but considering it comes sandwiched between titles like Sleeping Dogs, Borderlands 2, Dishonored, Assassin’s Creed III, and Hitman: Absolution, it’s hard to say it’s worth rushing out and getting. Ultimately I think it’s a game worth paying for and a game worth playing, especially if there’s not much coming you want to play. But it’s no classic, either, and a lesser entry in a popular franchise.