Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil has always been revered for it's use of horror, heck it was one of the titles that brought the term "survival horror" to the table as a genre, and looking now, there is many a title that has followed in their footsteps. But in recent years, Resident Evil looks to have forgotten its routes, what made it such a beloved franchise, and moved more into action. Resident Evil 6 comes into play to "appeal to old and new fans alike" with horror elements and that which would appeal to an ever growing market of action fans. This is where the problems start.

The game splits itself into 3(4 when you beat the first three) campaigns, focusing on everyones favourite, Leon kennedy, back to deal with an outbreak starting in Tall Oaks, Chris Redfield, having lost his memory due to events 6 months prior to where the game focuses, and Jake Muller, a mercenary who turns out to be immune to the C-virus(i like to call his campaign Sherrys mode, since Sherry Birkin feels far more important) and is being safeguarded so an antidote can be made. Everything slowly comes to focus on a city in china where all hell breaks loose, but each feature different styles of play and atmosphere that they still feel a little unique. The stories aren't bad, and do have some pretty interesting and sad moments in them, so it isn't my main concern(though the characters do at times make it more annoying to follow). My main concern, is how each storyline is designed.
Leons campaign tries to bring back the feel of RE2, heck you could say RE in general, and for the first 3 chapters, captures it well. Heck, they stand out to me as the strongest chapters of the game. They capture a decent amount of atmosphere you used to get, and you face zombies(you know, those beasts that RE are famous for) instead of the J'avos in the rest of it. It is lost though later into it, but Leon is easily the best character in this. Helena is ok, but that's about as best a comment you can get. Leon is easily the best campaign of the game.
Chris' mode goes pure action, probably where the "attracting the CoD audience" comment came into play from Capcom, and feels tacked on. It has no feel of RE, bar chris being there. Chris and his partner Piers are bland, uninteresting characters that feel thrown in purely to get a reunion of the originals back in one game and someone to kick chris back into action. They probably tried to capture the idea of it not all being about horror, and now becoming slightly more military-like with it starting to go wide-spread, but maybe they tried that too much. It does have it's moments sometimes, like for example mid-way you have to deal with an invisible snake, no doubt a reference to the original mansion and the snake there, and it killing off chris' squad one by one from the shadows, but outside of that, i struggle to name any other memorable segments.
Jakes(Sherrys) mode is the most experimental, and as such the hardest to really judge. At first, i thought they where trying to go stealthy with it, but by the time you hit the later chapters, you realise, this feels like a movie. It's not bad, but again, it doesn't have any real horror in it. It does have a RE3 throwback in the form of Ustanak though. He refuses to die and has his sights set on Jake throughout. Very Nemesis against Stars-like. Stealth is there too, and it isn't bad, but you can just charge in for the most part too. They both aren't bad characters either, but still lacking a certain...something.

So what's the problem with all this? Instead of trying to focus on one or two things, Capcom tried to do too much. Of the three, you have an attempt at horror, an attempt at action and an attempt at making a movie-like style section. Sure they had a big team to work on this, but it's too much. I feel that, in trying to appeal to so many markets at once, they've shot themselves in the foot and are essentially pushing away more crowds than bringing in. I won't mention much on the 4th campaign, as you do need to unlock it, but it does host the freakiest boss of the entire game. A small consolation prize, you could say.

Ustanak, the Nemesis of RE6

So how is the gameplay? Mostly ok. However it's become yet another title in the "must have QTEs aplenty" concern. It's also linear in a bad way. All resi has been fairly linear, but this hasn't got rooms to the side to look into for extra bits, it's more corridor shooter-like. finish this area, see if there is an emblem(files, which you read in the special features section), move on, rinse repeat. You also have a lot of forced sections, running away, QTEs, you name it. It detracts a lot, and it's something quite obviously no-one has learned from yet. Do not force us into QTEs, or situations. Heck the prologue suffered from the same idiocy as Gaiden 3 did. "press back on the control stick, walk forward, press left, walk forward". Sure, it's a prologue, but let us look about. Removing freedom is not something you should EVER do in a title, period. Controls are reasonable too, though they neglect to mention a lot in the instruction manual. You really need to look online for a lot of the control shortcuts(protip: Hitting RB & X (R1 + square for you PS3 guys)on the 360 controller automatically creates tablets from herbs if you have them available), a bad move overall. But again, the moves feel like they are deliberately trying to make it more action like. You run as normal now, need to tilt the control stick slightly to walk. You now dash instead when you hold A(X). Also, i highly recommend you switch the targeting reticule if you do intend to play RE6, the default is pretty abysmal, change it to laser sight and you should be fine.
There is no weapon upgrades this time, no weapon progression either, something i quite liked from RE4 and 5. Instead, everything focuses on skills. Some are what you'd expect, firepower boosts, defense boosts, more critical damage. Others are aimed at making the game easier(and for a couple, harder) for some, getting tablets when your ally helps you up, better accuracy, or you can remove your targetting reticule as well for a damage boost. It's not a bad setup, all things considered.
For those that enjoy it, the one thing that hasn't really gone and been hit bad at all is Mercenaries. It feels like it used to, you against the clock to kill everything you can(this time with a limit, which makes for some good score attacks) whilst collecting time and bonus multipliers. It's still exactly as it was which i'm glad to see. You can equip a single skill for it as well, which may unbalance it a little i find, but not as badly as i first feared. Time bonuses can give more time, longer bonus multiplier, kind of thing. You can switch between them mid-game, but it does mean you could drop your combo, something you need to watch for.

You will spend a fair bit of time crawling and jumping to the ground

I'm yet to try online, and to be honest, i'm tempted not to try it full stop. If you even set it to consider xbox live or anything, you can't pause the game, even if noone else is in your game. I recommend you set it to offline so you can(why that's not default is anyones guess). Co-op is available in mercs and agent hunter(i'm yet to try) as well both, local and online. Local co-op is horrible, it doesn't even take up a full screen. When my brother and i tried it on the PS3 at home(a 40" TV), it left a lot of black bars/blocks all over the screen and these small wee screens for you playing. Whoever considered this a good option needs to be slapped. There was one other segment which annoyed me. The details you get from the files(unlocked by emblems) is not all there. You need a residentevil.net account linked to your XBL or PSN account to get every detail, and you can only get them on the website. Whatever happened to having everything in the game already?

My opinions here may not seem to suggest it's an entirely bad game, and for the most part, it's not terrible, but it's not good either. What makes Resident Evil.....Resident Evil? This should be obvious. Survival horror. That fear of going up against the unknown, watching your ammo, a dark atmosphere, etc. This doesn't happen here. Sure, there is this more global style fear of things happening...but it doesn't capture anything i remember and loved. Maybe i should approach this as the new way forward as capcom are trying to say it needed to go, but it doesn't work. It doesn't give me what i want from the RE franchise. Why can't they make a game ala Revelations? That captures the fear of another "raccoon city" style even, yet keeps the atmosphere and fear alive? Why do we need the Call of Duty fanbase to help us move forward? The design choices just don't add up for me, and i don't think they ever will. They have taken what resident evil once was, put it into 3 chapters, and made a title that may as well have a different name on it. It might even do better if it did. But because it tries to expand the world of a fan favourite, it has done nothing but hurt itself. Perhaps capcom will take from this and go back to what it once was, or they might try and use this as a way to say "out with the old, in with the new" and move in a direction which will do nothing but push away it's core player-base. All i can say is, if this is a sign for things to come, i fear for the franchise, not because it's going to make bad games, but because it no longer is Resident Evil.

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