I’ve been a fan of the Resident Evil franchise for well over a decade, though I have to admit in recent years I’ve cared less and less about the series’ overarching plot (starting sometime around Code Veronica, a game in which one of the antagonists is an upper class cross dresser who seemingly wants to do the nasty with his sister) and focused more on what a makes a Resident Evil game fun. That is, shooting zombies in the face.
Resident Evil 4 was the highpoint of the series, the plot was utterly stupid but it was like everyone involved in development knew how convoluted the whole thing was and strived to just have fun with the whole thing. The result? A game where you could be blasting zombie heads off with a shotgun one moment, hunting for treasure in the next and then round things off by having a verbal spat with what can only be described as a Spanish Napoleon with height issues.
It’s fair to say that Resident Evil 5 was nowhere near as good as the previous game. Whereas RE4 was a good bit of fun campy nonsense RE5 seemed to be taking its story far too seriously and the few gameplay additions brought in were poorly thought out (machine gun wielding enemies, turning whole sections into Gears of War mediocrity) or just plain unnecessary (the inventory system, in which a single grenade took up the same amount of space as a minigun).
You may have noticed that I’m now four paragraphs into this essay and I haven’t even talked about RE6 yet. There’s a good reason for this: It’s shit.
Plot wise the game is instantly forgettable – RE6 doesn’t so much as pick up where RE5 left off as it does just ignore the ending of the previous game completely. I’d assumed that this game was going to be a full reboot as RE5’s ending seemed to indicate that it was wrapping things up for good by thoroughly killing its main antagonist to death with a lava and rocket launcher sandwich. What we get is a multi campaigned monstrosity which revolves around the usual Resident Evil nonsense of viral outbreaks, monsters and arseholes who think that causing one viral outbreak to cover up a previous one is a good idea. The main problem is that it suffers from the same issues that RE5 did in that it’s all just poorly written, melodramatic nonsense that tries too hard to be taken seriously and as a result I found myself sighing throughout the cutscenes and wishing I was playing a different, better game.
The game contains 4 different campaigns, Leon S Kennedy returns to battle zombies and it’s here the game comes closest to resembling the previous games, it’s easily the most tolerable campaign of the game although that really isn’t saying much. Chris Redfield’s campaign seeks to replicate the Gears of War bits from RE5 whilst newcomer Jake teams up with Sherry (from RE2 although her appearance in this game reeks of “let’s put something in to cater for the hardcore fans”) as they attempt to find some sort of cure. There’s a fourth campaign featuring Ada Wong which attempts to provide a mixture of the previous three campaigns which just turns into a bit of a disjointed mess. I suppose I should just be glad that it’s unlocked right away in the PC version, Christ knows how I would’ve felt if I’d played this on console, gotten to the end and found out there was more of this dross to play through.
The gameplay is riddled with issues, there’s an abundance of QTEs which often only give you a fraction of a second to react so I found myself getting killed repeatedly through not having the foresight of knowing when the game was going to throw a button matching exercise at me, leading to a situation where I found myself getting more and more tense throughout the cutscenes than I did throughout the actual gameplay. The healing items have also changed, now instead of simply using herbs to replenish health you have to collect herbs, use them to create tablets, then store them in a tablet case and then and only then can you replenish your health. What was wrong with the old system!?
Bosses are a pain in the arse as well as you’ll often battle the same boss multiple times to the point where it becomes very unclear if you’re actually in a fight to the death or just waiting for enough time to pass so you can move onto the next sequence. This lead to me hardly ever using some of my more powerful weapons as I was too frightened to risk wasting ammo on a fight in case it turned out to be one that I was never supposed to win in the first place. Even worse are the moments when the campaigns converge and I ended up going the same boss battles that I’d already done earlier. The game just feels bloated and padded to a degree that’s just laughable and it’s no surprise given that 600 people worked on this game.
In fact, the combat as a whole feels rather stiff, even for a Resident Evil game. Previous titles at least featured enemies that reacted to gunfire in order to let you know that you could get up close to give them a punch in the face or a spinning kick to the legs. The lack of feedback enemies give you in this game meant that I found myself wondering throughout if my weapons were actually doing any damage. The same cannot be said for the player character though, as a single shot from an enemy weapon will cause you to collapse completely, and I often found myself getting back up just in time to take another bullet like a really annoying version of Whac-A-Mole.
I’ll admit that there were a few points when I was able to get to grips with the combat long enough to start enjoying it but those moments were few and far between and considering the game is over 20 hours in length that’s just not good enough. There’s also a load of little issues, like how pressing the escape key doesn’t pause the game, the way corpses lie on the floor until the script tells them to get up and how you can’t just shoot them until the game decides to wake them up. The game is just full of annoyances that all add up to provide an experience that at times just feels completely broken.
There’s a couple of extra modes, including The Mercenaries and a few new ones called Siege and No Mercy but the truth is I didn’t check them out as after I’d finished the campaigns I just couldn’t be bothered. Overall Resident Evil 6 is just a bad game and I don’t recommend you get it, even when it inevitably comes down in price during a Steam sale.