A great multiplayer game with some identity issues
A true guilty pleasure
With Resident Evil 6 (2012) Capcom departed from the franchise’s survival/horror roots in an attempt to attract as big an audience as it could possibly get, angering many of the series’ long-time fans in the process. With its strong multiplayer focus, the game swapped puzzles and claustrophobic corridors, with a never-ending onslaught of enemies. A bold move that turns out to be a phenomenal multiplayer experiences, once you get used to the controls.
As this is a Capcom game, the PC optimizations are flawless. You can pretty much customize everything from camera angle while shooting, to Head-Up Display (HUD), and it has a pretty advanced combo system. Players of the PC port can choose between playing with a gamepad of their choosing or the typical keyboard / mouse combo; but just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Keyboard controls are a great hindrance in the many running sequences where protagonists have to sprint from peril to safety. During my initial playthrough, I didn’t have a gamepad and things got messy whenever characters had to run away. In these sequences the free range camera suddenly switches to a fixed one, that frequently changes its angles and inverts controls.
The situation became aggravatingly difficult during the final boss fight in Chris Redfield’s and Piers Nivan’s campaign. There, the two have to sprint up a tower, jump over, or slide underneath obstacles, and also dodge enemy attacks while the fixed camera changes its position every couple of seconds. This portion in chapter five is easy to play with a gamepad, but tedious on a keyboard; In the end it took me a solid three hours and forty minutes to beat a stage that can be dealt with in about an hour if one has a gamepad. The changing of weapons also takes some getting used to.
In Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil Revelations, and Resident Evil Revelations 2, players can assign weapons to the number keys on their keyboard, but in RE 6, the inventory cannot be customized, and the mouse wheel is the only means to change what the characters are holding in their hand. With that in mind, as the inventory expands whenever one gets a new weapon, items get automatically relocated to another position in the inventory. Players of the game will all too often stop dead in their track to search for the right weapon.
RE 6 takes the series’ over-the-top premise of a scientifically engineered zombie apocalypse and ludicrous villainy villains to its logical climax – Monsters no longer hide in dark alley ways but take over entire cities while the seasoned heroes from previous entries take them head on. Once accustomed to the idea of playing a Resident Evil themed action shooter, players will find that RE 6’s four interwoven story arcs – each taking several hours to beat – make full use of the multiplayer functionality. Alongside single-player, the game also offers online and split screen co-op., additionally, all stories have cross sections where one will be randomly teamed up with other players to fight boss enemies. If no other players are available, the AI will control the other characters. Aside from that, it’s also possible to play as a zombie and infiltrate other people’s games.
As for the story arcs, the four campaigns have strong differences in tone. The first campaign surrounding Leon Kennedy (RE 2, RE 4) and his new partner, Helena Harper, is very much like a crossover between Valve’s Left 4 Dead (2008) and a telenovela. Each chapter has groups of people trying to survive an endless barrage of enemies, while the two protagonists try to find out who turned the president of the United States into a member of the undead and caused the zombie outbreak in North America. During the course of it, players learn that the motivation behind these shenanigans make no sense whatsoever, yet the characters all keep a straight face – turning the drama into a parody of Resident Evil‘s lore, as it spirals into more and more extremes with more explosions, bigger monsters that ultimately become as huge as a house. Although this is the campaign I replayed the most often on all difficulty settings, I do find that it was a mistake to put this campaign first as the first chapter gives the wrong impression and can easily put players off of this title.
The second campaign is a manly, manly military shooter with two champions brooding over comradery, sacrifice, revenge, and guns. Captain Chris Redfield (RE 1, RE 5, RE Revelations) – a former BSAA soldier – suffers from posttraumatic stress disorder, but is brought back into action by his former subordinate, Piers Nivans, whose only character trait seems to be to reaffirm his captain. After bioterrorists strike in Edonia (a fictional Eastern European nation), followed by an attack in China, both Chris and Piers lead a personal vendetta against the people behind the scenes.
The story in this campaign is not its strongest point as Chris tries to avenge the death of his men by… completely ignoring protocol and causing the deaths of more of his men. It’s the story of a grieving man digging himself into his own sorrow. What the plot doesn’t have in brains or humor, it makes up for in action. Players will control military vehicles, infiltrate an airplane carrier, and fight giant monsters. Assuming you are playing with a controller, the final boss fight too will be quite enjoyable.
After the first two stories, the game suddenly turns around by 180° and hands players a full-blown action comedy in the third campaign – complete with cheesy one-liners, snarky remarks, and two polar opposites as heroes. Mercenary Jake Müller and U.S. government agent Sherry Birkin (Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles) both developed antibodies against different mutations of the zombie virus and try to escape Edonia to help create a vaccine against the growing zombie threat. But not only in the story and banter departments is this story fun to play, seeing Jake German suplex his opponents while Sherry uses her stick fighting techniques is very satisfying. I would honestly love to see either Jake or Sherry in future Resident Evil titles or a new RE Revelations as I’m sure that that would be phenomenal.
The final campaign is the only one with both gameplay and narrative problems. Ada Wong (Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 4) is a Chinese spy trying to learn more about the backgrounds of the global zombie epidemic; sadly her entire campaign lacks cohesion and agency and her co-op partner was only later on patched into the game after players requested to play her story with a partner. Ada is supposed to be this emotionally disconnected spy, but the way she and her campaign are written, she ends up being literally disconnected… from the other characters. During some of her cross sections you’ll find her far away from the action, either on top of a crane, inside a ventilation shaft, or hovering above other players in a helicopter, which is really underwhelming for the big finale. She does not even get a final boss of her own.
Further, as the developers didn’t intend for her to have a co-op partner, she keeps on talking to herself to explain her train of thought to the audience, making her seem like a Spider-Man (1962-ongoing) reference with her red clothes, never-ending soliloquies, and her hookshot that she uses to swing from rooftop to rooftop. Her campaign also starts off with stealth and typical RE-like puzzles only to then drop both of them in the subsequent stage in exchange for action only to bring stealth back again for a brief moment. I wanted to like the character as she looked extremely cool and because spy stories always seem engaging, and I think that if her story would have been tweaked and made more captivating, or gave her more agency, it could have been amazing.
Camera and Quick Time Events (QTEs)
The developers tried very hard to emulate the camera work of big budget block buster action movies. Sadly in doing so they may have accidentally overshot their goal. Players will regularly encounter fixed camera angles that look great but are horrible to play in, or situations where they lose all control over the protagonists to make way for Hollywood style camera shots. During these sequences, they’ll usually have to deal with Quick Time Events in order to progress, something that can drastically reduce the fun.
After negative reactions by fans, the developing team at Capcom patched an option in to deactivate a great amount of the QTEs, although many of them are still left in the game. Every time an enemy grabs you or a crank needs to be opened, a QTE shows up. This might take some getting used to, but it ultimately adds to the game whenever you’re trying to shake somebody off of you. However, even though I love Jake and Sherry’s campaign for their engaging humor, their second chapter ends with a boss fight that consists of players just wiggling their analog stick or hammering the W,A, S, D keys on their keyboard. This section in particular can be somewhat problematic for some computers to handle on both the Veteran or No Hope difficulty setting.
If in your opinion Resident Evil 6 does not have enough multiplayer components to it, then let me assure you that has several multiplayer DLC. Sadly, since I am playing the PC version of the title, it is very difficult to find players for them. Especially completionists will find this problematic as several achievements are tied to these DLC. Nevertheless, if you can round-up a couple of friends, then these DLC are definitely worth it and loads of fun to play.
Resident Evil Net
Just like Resident Evil Remaster, Resident Evil Revelations, and Resident Evil Revelations 2, when playing Resident Evil 6, players have the option to link it to the Resident Evil Net homepage. And while the unlockable perks for the other games are not as impressive, hooking RE 6 up to the website lets players unlock additional Raid Mode outfits for their characters, which helped a lot in getting used to this game’s Raid Mode.
Capcom tried to garner the largest audience possible with RE 6, yet in doing so occasionally lost sight of what they wanted the game to be. The characters, monsters, and stages look splendid, the controls – though awkward at first – are very deep, and the multiplayer ideas are just stupendous. The base game is littered with tons and tons of single player and multiplayer content that will easily keep you busy for weeks and I love how extreme this game gets. They went all-out in the fun explosions department, but the change of tone from one campaign to the next turned out to be problematic in the end. The many situations where there were suddenly fixed camera angles and QTEs are less of a problem when players have a controller, but those that play with a keyboard are in for a bumpy ride. Nevertheless, I commend the Capcom for listening to the feedback of its fans, the many patches, and ongoing support for the product and its players.
My advise is to take this game at face value. Resident Evil 6 is a game that you need to be on board with to enjoy; I myself have a lot of fun with it and if you take it with a smile, I’m sure you will too. Ada’s campaign was a let-down, and I miss that there were no documents inside the stages to describe the occurrences that let up to the disaster. This and RE Revelations 2 are the two games that I replayed the most and still enjoy after having gone through them more than once, yet the score is due to Ada’s campaign and keyboard controls. I really do hope to see more adventures starring Helena, Jake, and Sherry in the future. In many aspects this is an incredible game with some questionable game mechanical choices. It’s mixed reputation garners from long-time fans of the franchise who did not see their Resident Evil in this. Thankfully, to appease them Capcom released RE Revelations 2, RE 1 HD Remaster and the RE 0 HD Remaster after this.
On a sidenote, if you are playing on PC, but don’t have a controller, yet are looking to play an action-filled Resident Evil with online co-op during the story campaign, I suggest RE 5.
The game is an 8 explosions out of 10
Where to get
Resident Evil 6 is available at a retailer near you for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC. It is also purchaseable through online stores like amazon, as well as available as digital downloads on various online platforms like the PlayStation Store, Xbox Marketplace, Origin, or Steam for $29.99 USD or your local equivalent.
Feel free to visit my Steam curator page for other reviews:
All screenshots taken by me during my playthrough and recorded using the Steam Overlay feature.