Resident Evil has had a bit of tumultuous past, that much is without doubt. From a rock solid introduction and critically acclaimed fourth outing, to the letdown that was Resident Evil 5, things for the late-90’s-born franchise don’t seem to be traveling too well. That’s completely neglecting Operation Racoon City, because let’s be honest, who’s really counting that?
Now Capcom are steadily leading us into round six with the aptly titled Resident Evil 6 (see what they did there?). With four main characters heading up four separate campaigns, this is variational spice at its finest. But I’m still not convinced. My ample hands-on time with the game have been less than stellar, fostering that little nagging feeling that plays on my mind like a deadly alphabet-inspired virus. And here’s why:
1It’s no longer survival horror
Running through the streets of a virus stricken China, flipping a car into a crumpled heap and jumping out of a helicopter before either exploding or being savagely mauled by a grotesque monstrosity with a grudge. All of this is achievable and more is achievable within Resident Evil 6, which begs the question, what on earth has happened to survival horror?
With Resident Evil 5’s foray into unadulterated action territory and Operation Racoon City’s complete divergence from the series’ past, it seems as though the very essence of survival horror has become all but zombified.
The closest resemblance to those classic Resident Evil moments is through long haired wonder Leon Kennedy. Yet even amongst the moody setting and haunting atmosphere, you will still be forced into countless run and gun situations, littered with hordes of enemies hell bent on landing a blood soaked pash.
Dead Space 2 may have similarly shifted its focus away from traditional survival horror, but Resident Evil has had such a long lineage spanning over a decade, it’s rather disappointing to see this unwelcome transformation occur before my very eyes.
2Chris Redfield has joined Gears of War?
In case you missed the press release, each campaign within RE6 is designed to be ‘varied’ and ‘cool.’ Yes, we get the hook, but that doesn’t justify the pure third person action that zombie slaying veteran and ex S.T.A.R.S member Chris Redfield partakes in. Environments are often brightly lit, a stream of B.S.S.A. soldiers aid your shooting ways and ammunition is in a complete abundance.
Tension is no longer established via the presence of the newly infected J’avo, but instead due to the sheer quantity of them. Even then you can get out of trouble with a handy spin kick or ten. Simply put, Redfield’s levels are the antithesis of what the Resident Evil franchise once stood for.
Sure, it can be argued that this implementation is merely a continuation and evolution of RE5’s gameplay; but at its core, this latest iteration breaks even further away from the fundamentals of the series’ roots. Games might not be ‘scary’ anymore, especially as gamers mature and the average age increases; but that doesn’t mean the genre should be thrown through the window either.
3Jake’s controls are unnecessarily clunky
Seeing as Leon and Chris might be old hat by now, Jake Muller is the new kid on the un-dead infested block. Brash, quick and filled to the brim with tough guy attitude, Muller has been formulated as be the ultimate middle-man of the other diverse campaigns. As a result, mechanics for the mercenary are a healthy meshing of both Redfield and Kennedy. Movement isn’t as slow and laboured as it is with Leon, but nowhere near as heavy on the shoot outs either. Physical combat will take centre stage, relying on a successful flurry of kicks and punches in place of a heavy trigger finger.
That might sound all well and good, but the success of these mechanics relies on tight controls which sadly, just don’t feel up to scratch yet. For those who need a zany metaphor to sufficiently visualise, it can be likened to a granny hitting the streets in a shopping trolley. It will get you were you need to go, but it’s going to be one rough ride.
Then there are the transitions from fisty-cuffs to weapons that aren’t as seamless as they should be. For a character brimming with testosterone, Jake simply falls to the ground faster than housing estates built by the three little pigs.
4Screen tearing in the Xbox 360 demo
Anybody who got their hands on the Xbox 360 demo can tell you it housed more tears than a pair of hipster jeans. Custscenes, key gameplay sequences and everything in between, the visual stain invaded everything and anything. If people were hedging their bets on this demo, bitter disappointment would inarguably be the overriding emotion.
Official word is that the issue will be addressed by release, but the harsh reality is that it’s an issue that should never have existed in the first place.
I want to like Resident Evil 6, I really do, but I’m worried. Capcom still have a little bit of time to tighten the reins, but a bad first impression and a poor Xbox 360 showing don’t exactly create the most overwhelming sense of confidence. Needless to say, keep that revolver by your bedside; zombies might not be the only thing you’ll need to put down come October.