I am a huge Resident Evil fan and have been ever since the first title released on the original PlayStation back in 1996. As of late however new entries in the series have lacked that scare factor the franchise was once known for, instead taking a more action focused route. Some have liked this new approach while others have felt exactly the opposite especially after the frantic fifth instalment and awful Raccoon City. Well rather than catering to just the one crowd, it seems Capcom have instead opted to provide three very different experiences that should hopefully please all-comers whether you’re looking for horror or all out action.
At E3 I was given the chance to finally try out all three campaigns previously announced. Leon Kennedy was my first choice putting me smack bang in the very tense situation you’ve probably seen previously in a trailer for the game that ended with a zombified president and a bullet between his head. What then followed was a much slower paced Resident Evil experience with Leon and his co-op partner, Helena Harper wondering the deserted rooms of an abandoned building helping a local man find his missing daughter. Eventually locating her, let’s just say things don’t work out too well for the reunited duo. Then before I knew it the stage was over and in all I had fired about two bullets. This was clearly not about the action but rather building tension (old school Resident Evil style) with things like lightning strikes and items falling over keeping you alert at all times. Sure my gun may have only come into play for but a brief moment during my playthrough, but that didn’t matter. I enjoyed nervously wondering the halls hoping the next room I enter didn’t contain a swarm of the undead. I enjoyed the atmosphere. This felt like Resident Evil and I can’t wait to see more of Leon’s campaign.
Chris Redfield and his mission on the other hand was all the about the action. Balls to the wall action. Running around the rooftops of a fictional Chinese town with his partner, fellow B.S.A.A. member Piers Nivans, spraying bullets and using over the top muscular melee attacks was the aim of the day here and things couldn’t be more frantic. With enemies armed with machine guns you had to be quick on your feet and even quicker on the trigger especially during the moments where foes would spontaneously mutate a monstrous but deadly arm.
Chris felt a little clunky to control perhaps highlighted due to the fast paced nature of this campaign type but it was definitely an improvement from the tank style controls we’ve had to put up with in the past. Actually being able to move and shoot at the same time is also a well appreciated addition in all three campaigns. Dodges and dives were possible at the press of a button and melee attacks too were easy to perform (also present for Leon and Jake too) becoming especially handy when ammo was depleted or being swarmed. The action though scripted at points looked fantastic and if you enjoyed the fifth Resident it seems this will deliver the over the top moments in abundance.
Finally newcomer Jake Muller and his campaign mission saw Sherry Berkin and himself making a desperate escape from a giant beast (the name slips me) before finally ending in a typical Resident Evil boss style encounter complete with exploding barrels and much shooting at the head. Sure it was exciting, but at times it felt like I was simply holding forward on the analogue and nothing more especially during the running sequences. I’m left curious to see just how Jake’s sections will play out, especially since we probably know least about them when compared to Leon and Chris. Judging from this demo though it definitely showed potential and the idea of a focus on hand to hand combat could be an interesting one.
The game will offer skill points (found in the environment) that can be used to upgrade your characters giving them increased firepower for example or quicker reload times. Also mentioned was not only two player on and offline co-op but also the chance to play with up to four players when characters’ stories crossover. The game will prompt the player when said moments occur allow you to either head online and find other gamers or simply have the computer take over. An example demonstrated had Leon, Jake, Sherry and Helena teaming together to take down a fearsome B.O.W.
Visually Resident Evil 6 is believe it or not an improvement on the already great looking fifth game. Little touches such as Leon brushing past corners of walls or knocking over chairs as he knocks them really show the attention to detail in the game. The illumination when lightning struck was a real highlight giving a real moody atmosphere to the surroundings. Even though I was in a noisy hall, the voice acting sounded decent and the audio of gunfire and explosions during gameplay was also impressive.
You have to admire Capcom for trying to please all its fans with the game’s three different campaigns in Resident Evil 6 but one has to wonder if this is a case of trying too much all at once. Personally I would have been happy with just the one deep campaign featuring Leon ‘s tense gameplay style as this was the highlight for me. Don’t get me wrong playing as Chris was good fun and Jake showed promise, but with the release getting closer and closer, Capcom need to polish the latter two to bring it all nicely together. Here’s hoping we get another Resi 4 and not a Raccoon City.