‘Resident Evil 6′ (PlayStation 3)
In 1996, one of the biggest and most popular video game franchises was created in Resident Evil. Telling the story of a zombie outbreak in a mansion near Raccoon City, the game spawned a series of sequels as the disaster perpetrated by the Umbrella Corporation caused zombies to spring up throughout the city, and later, the world. Resident Evil 6 is the latest in the series, and it’s safe to say that things have gone from bad to worse for the world’s population. But have they got worse for Resident Evil?
First and foremost, the important thing to realise is that Resident Evil has changed. In the early days it was all about wandering around seemingly deserted buildings alone, wondering where the next attack would come from and how you would survive and escape. That’s not what’s going on in RE6. The survival horror of the original games has been replaced by action, and it comes thick and fast. Any time a franchise makes such a fundamental change in creative direction, as Resident Evil has over the years, loyalists of the game will be up in arms. But the fact is that Resident Evil has evolved and that is not necessarily a bad thing. After sixteen years, Capcom would be opening themselves up to criticism of complacency or stagnation if the game had not moved with the times. Zombie horror has possibly never been more in vogue than it is right now, with the proliferation of films and games based around the genre, but the traditional shambling zombie has been replaced in popular culture with a more violent, fast-moving entity, a la 28 Days Later and, had Resident Evil failed to move with this development, it would begin to look very dated. So the changes came, and that in itself is enough to shift the focus of the game more in the direction of action, fast and furious, and once you get used to that, it works very well.
The sheer range of enemies you will encounter in Resident Evil 6 is impressive. There are enemies that fling acid at you, enemies that can debilitate you with high-pitched screaming, even zombies that have mastered the use of guns. And that’s before you even come across any of the bosses. And these are bosses in the truest sense of the word. Powerful enemies who will have you screaming “why won’t you just die!” at the screen as you throw everything you have at these behemoths, which makes it all the more satisfying when they finally do drop dead.
The environments you will travel through are fiendishly detailed and look impressive. One criticism that could be fairly aimed at Capcom is the fact that, at times, it is all too obvious where you should be heading. Unlike previous games where you could roam around city streets, police stations, labs and mansions, here you will find yourself in a position where the only way to go is forward. This can be slightly frustrating, and I did find myself missing the old style maps of the areas which allowed me to plan where I was going and how I would get there, but it isn’t a deal breaker in terms of the quality of the game.
Ultimately, what sets Resident Evil 6 apart from previous offerings in the series is the overall cinematic feel of the game. Everything about it looks and feels like an interactive movie. This can be problematic, especially at times when the game is interrupted a little too often by cutscenes, but let’s not split hairs here; games are improving all the time and one of the ways we judge them is how they look. And Resident Evil 6 looks good.
An interesting addition to the game is the multiple story arcs. While this is not strictly speaking new, after all, Resident Evil 2 provided two independent stories featuring two main characters, RE6 has no less than seven main characters and four separate storylines set around the world, although they do intertwine on occasion. This can be a source of frustration, when you are playing as new characters but you have to replay something you did previously, but such criticism is really nothing more than nitpicking. The use of four separate story arcs is, in fact, one of the game’s greatest strengths. Some games lend themselves well to playing them over and over again. By virtue of the storyline nature of games such as Resident Evil, it can be hard to convince a gamer that it’s worth playing more than once. Resident Evil 6 addresses that perfectly. If you only want to play one storyline that’s up to you, but you won’t truly understand what is happening in the game until you play through all of the storylines. And we’re not talking short stories here. Resident Evil 6 effectively packs four full games into one disc. And with the high quality of the game itself, that represents staggering value for money.
Overall, Resident Evil 6 is an ambitious game. It serves up many new ideas for one of gaming’s most popular franchises. Old-school fans may dislike the shift in focus towards action, and that is in some ways understandable, but all in all, this game is a welcome and worthwhile addition to the Resident Evil collection. Much like the enemies that populate the locales you will traverse, evolution is necessary to keep the game fresh and relevant. Does Resident Evil 6 replace the early games as the best in the series? Probably not, but no long-term Resident Evil fan will ever forget their first journey into the dark world of the Spencer mansion and Raccoon City. The game isn’t perfect, but then what game is? Leave your preconceptions about what Resident Evil should be at the door and enjoy RE6 for what it is. If you can do that, you will be a very happy customer.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Certificates: PEGI (18)
Release Dates: October 2nd (Worldwide) / October 4th (Japan) / TBC 2013 (PC – Worldwide)