Resident Evil – the series once credited for being the true home of survival horror and the start of every other survival horror game seen in the world of gaming today. It just so happens to also be the highest grossing videogame series of all time for publisher and developer Capcom.
The Resident Evil series spans six main series entries as well as a large number of spin off titles contributing to the story and lore of the franchise, but after criticism of the direction in which the games have been headed as of late, Capcom changed their ways and decided to head back to the successful and beloved roots of the franchise with HD remakes. Resident Evil HD and Resident Evil 0 HD released with great praise from fans all over the world, myself included. With that in mind the announcement of HD remasters of the newer titles – Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 – was not expected. However, a remaster is an opportunity to get any mistakes right and so I took a look at how Capcom have done with their latest effort in Resident Evil 6 HD.
Resident Evil 6, which was originally released in 2012, takes a slightly different approach from the more recent titles in the series. The game sees the player take control of some of the series’ favourite characters through four individual and unique campaigns, all with a story woven between them. Each campaign has five chapters within it and each are intentionally different with a vast variety of enemy types throughout.
Resident Evil 6 received mixed praise upon the initial release mainly due to the lack of horror, instead with more focus on action sequences. For any gamer looking for a true horror experience take note – only five minutes into the opening prelude to the game and you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching the latest Michael Bay movie, with explosions and quick time events running the show over more traditional game tutorials.
Everyone likes a pretty game but the campaign is where the story begins. Upon pressing New Game you are greeted with four options. Each campaign labelled by the main protagonist, Leon, Chris, Jake, and Ada, can be played either solo or in co-op, with a lovely selection of settings included for co-op gameplay such as ‘Serious players only’ among others and the option to search regionally or internationally for co-op partners. There is also the option to throw in a private room for just you and a friend. This is a much missed and highly appreciated change from many games today, in which it is all too easy to find yourself wanting to enjoy your favourite title whilst some joker is more intent on victimising each and every enemy with a rage inducing taunt. Or at least attempting to destroy every chance of progress for no reason other than because they can!
After ploughing several hours into the game however I wasn’t so impressed. I found myself embroiled in a very fast paced action adventure that was not showing any real signs of the survival horror mechanics that the series was once built upon, nor any signs of slowing down from the frantic action sequences I had been experiencing nonstop since the prelude. Whilst the enemies were still there and still as horrible looking as ever, it didn’t take long to realise that almost every other enemy would drop enough ammunition to blow apart any monstrosity the game could throw at me. With a fresh set of explosions or a quick time event taking place every time there was even any slight progression, my excitement for Resident Evil 6 very quickly dwindled with each progressive chapter becoming more and more predictable. Unfortunately, the survival horror that I was expecting was completely taken away at the end of even the first chapter as the option to buy a set of skill upgrades is made available. With many to choose from ranging from increased firepower to more ammo drops, and eventually the unlockable infinite ammo option for many of the games weapons, there was no longer anything left to keep the feeling of horror in the game.
The three other campaigns on offer failed further to change much, other than enemies, from the core experience and instead the gameplay is just more of the same. Each have their own explosions aplenty and many more QTE’s every time a cut scene comes along, as well as bosses who require being bested several times throughout each story before accepting the ultimate defeat. What I really wanted was a nice helping of resource management and the survival horror yearned for by the die-hard fans. In fact by the end of the first campaign the game felt more like a generic third person shooter rather than anything else, and I found myself reloading all my weapons when approaching certain doors due to anticipating the boss battle awaiting me the other side.
Aside from the main story there are of course the various multiplayer game modes on offer. Finding enough players to even take part in these proved near impossible, with the only option I was truly able to experience being its Mercenaries game mode.
Mercenaries tasks you and a partner with taking down a set number of enemies whilst waiting for extraction. However, with time increases strewn all over the map for those wanting to ensure every last enemy is downed, it feels very much like even Capcom themselves weren’t really sure what they were trying to achieve. Unfortunately even one round feels tedious and rather pointless and when you mix it with the loud and out of place pop music which accompanies it, I found myself quitting multiplayer and vowing never to return.
Despite the decay of the true horror experience, Resident Evil 6 isn’t in any way an awful game and there are certainly some positives in there to be talked about. The gameplay, despite the flaws, is fluid and responsive and the story is enticing with bite-sized chapters each bringing a couple of hours (depending on the difficulty chosen) of action filled gameplay and sequences that are worthy of the big screen. But this simply isn’t what anyone has wanted or expected from a game series that was once regarded as the pinnacle of horror gaming. The variety of playable characters throughout ensures that each campaign has something different to offer, even if just the backstory and eventual goal are sometimes the only real notable change. Playing through another campaign after witnessing the perspective of one set of protagonists and seeing how everything slots together really gives the story a great depth and with that being the biggest change from previous instalments, it really felt Capcom had made a great change.
Another thing Capcom have got right this time out is the co-op gameplay. Playing with a friend is by far the best way to go about this experience, especially if you are going to try the tougher difficulties, but even the A.I on offer as the respectable number 2 at your side does no bad job at keeping your health topped up, proving useful with a gun in hand as well. It isn’t until the highest difficulties in which the A.I starts to falter and this is due in part to the much quicker gameplay required to best the many boss battles. That is a slight shame as this is where the true enjoyment can be found. However, with a friend on hand to help you up whilst dodging round the sometimes colossal bosses, the experience is truly enjoyable and one not to be missed.
The most notable let down for Resident Evil 6 overall is actually the lack of new content on offer. Sure, there is the addition of all previously released DLC multiplayer modes and plenty within that, but with matchups so empty at the present time it really doesn’t do any justice for what could have been. With nothing else other than the updated visuals making a change from the original release there isn’t really anything notable to drag you in.
The experience this game gives out really lacks identity and sadly feels a lot like it doesn’t belong within the franchise anymore.