It’s weird to think of the history of Resident Evil, isn’t it?
At one point, we had these slow-building tension fests, with horrible voice acting and neat set-ups. But then the film series happened, and Shinji Mikami must’ve watched the first two movies while snorting 8 pounds of cocaine, because Resident Evil 4, despite being one of the best action games ever created, simply wasn’t a Resident Evil game. Resi 4 would be the best of it however, as Resi 5 & 6 would prove to be death kneels according to the fanbase, with the latter being what we’re covering today.
Resident Evil 6 was an action-“horror” game released in 2012, which could be considered as a “best-of”. You had 3 different campaigns (With a 4th featuring the femme fatale Ada Wong released as DLC), all of them chronicling the intertwining stories of 6 characters from previous Resident Evils. The campaigns themselves were all 8-12 hours long and they featured some of the biggest and dumbest set pieces imaginable, from a series that originally tried to follow the first Alone in The Dark in terms of pacing.
For the CliffNotes version of the story, the T-Virus has stopped infecting imaginary cities like Raccoon, and is now on the prowl around the world, with the most recent victim being Washington D.C. As if that wasn’t enough, every other virus the Umbrella Corporation were concocting just for the kicks has now broken out and ravaged the Earth as well. With shady businessmen, femme fatales, and general dicks haunting these 7 ragamuffins, it’s down to them to save the world, or whatever is left of it.
A question I should answer now is “Why Resident Evil 6? No one cares about 6, why have you chosen this one?” Well, it’s because I believe it doesn’t deserve the reputation that precedes it. While Resi 5 was a general festival of boredom all around, with a tinge of racism, 6 shows a step in the right direction, but not for the series in general. Regardless of what you think, Resident Evil 6 is an objectively good game.
If you haven’t played it, Resi 6 follows the same formula that made 4 such a riveting title. Over the shoulder gameplay, QTEs and a taste for massive boss fights. And for timing’s sake, most of this review will focus on the single player campaign of Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper, who are in the frontlines of it all. It’s definitely the slowest campaign by a mile, and it’s the one that shows the strongest quality, with Chris Redfield’s and Sherry Birkin’s cracking at the seams a bit, which I’ll elaborate on later.
Another reason I’ve chosen Leon’s campaign is because it still shows hallmarks of what made the original Resident Evil so great. It still has that survival horror charm, there’s moments with intensity, and it’s all done without raising the stakes. The first third of the game is this well-paced, well-made love letter to Mikami’s original work. And while there’s still action going on in the background, Leon and Helena aren’t very involved in it.
As the game chugs along, it builds upon itself perfectly. The time progresses, and zombies just keep trickling through, as Leon & Helena becomes parts in other people’s journeys and, admittedly, are also their fellow patrons’ undoing. The duo always seem to join near the end of other survivors’ lives, as danger follows them like stinklines, which is frustrating because they never seem to catch a break.
Resi 6 continues the tradition of 80-stage boss fights in full force, as you can tell from 500 miles away that if there’s a room with a few ammo boxes in it, you’re going to be fighting Hell’s army. What does Hell’s army consist of? Oh, you know, just David Cronenberg’s nightmares and Jeff Goldbum after he turns into The Fly, nothing too bad. And it’s here where most people switched off.
Seriously, the boss fights in this game give Bayonetta a run for her bastard money. These things will take forever to beat, and when you DO beat him, you have to hold your breath, as it’s 40th form is obviously going to come careening around the corner with a smug smile on its disgusting face. They have the modern video game trope of giant glowing yellow spots for weaknesses, but it’s not smart. It’s the same way Dead Space did it, and it wasn’t smart in that either.
As for the context? The story? Who cares really? It seems more like fan-fiction than anything, where everyone’s favourite characters survive and get to be the hero in impossible circumstances. All’s fine and dandy for them until there’s that one dick who joins in as the villain, and their character is nigh-on invincible, which means they can come back even after a goddamn skyscraper and an entire US Army has befell them.
Is it stupid? Yes, without a doubt, this is a betrayal of everything that the first 4 Resident Evils (and maybe 5) set up. Is it annoying when you have to fight the same boss for the 8th time? Of course, it’s simply frustrating at this point. Is it fun? Oh hell yeah. It may not be Resident Evil, but it’s still one of the best action games of its generation.
Let’s face it, Resident Evil was never a smart series. It was dumb, contrived, and around the development of 4, Shinji Mikami just wanted to embrace what everyone thought with nuance and grace. Horror was considered to be on its way out, and the schematics for the original titles seemed stale and forgotten. 6 was a step in the right direction for the wrong series, if you catch my drift.
The combat and gunplay of 6 is a vast improvement over the game-changer that was 4, there was more weight, more stupidity, and the best thing was that it almost followed 4 step by step. There were holdouts, annoying but varied boss fights, fabulous set pieces. It was fun, the same fun 5 left in the dark along with everything else that made 4 work.
Bear in mind that all of this praise goes towards Leon’s campaign, because despite my adoration for 6, the campaigns of Chris Redfield, Ada Wong and Sherry Birkin, while competent, don’t have the same brain that was used for Leon’s. They have the brawn and the balls, but that’s when it comes across as more generic as anything.
On the first hand, you have the Call of Duty-esque story of Chris Redfield, which, while it may have a massive scale, cannot escape the grasp of just looking like the prototype for The Division *shudder*. Sherry’s? Admittedly, I’ve only played through it once and have never felt the urge to go back to it again, due to the fact that Sherry and Jake are such boring people to begin with, making the whole experience forgettable.
Ada Wong’s campaign is the 2nd place holder for me, with her DLC campaign (Added for free to the 2016 remaster) being the biggest change of pace, and therefore turns into a more high-quality playthrough. It’s more stealth-oriented, it’s paced well enough, if a little difficult, and the story is another negligible mess of plot holes and paradoxes. It’s fun! It’s Resident Evil meets Splinter Cell, for lack of better words.
And that’s that. What you get now are 2 fun campaigns, frolicking through a zombie-infested field and a submarine, and 2 dull campaigns that raise the stakes almost immediately, dampening the whole experience. There’s also the multiplayer, consisting of counter co-op wave defence. It’s a blast to play through, but there’s no variety, meaning you’ll lose all joy out of it in a few hours.
In the end, it’s strange to think of Resident Evil 6 after its initial release. What starts off as a betrayal, ends up becoming a good enough game in its own right. A good action game mind you, since as it stands, it is definitely the worst Resident Evil game out there, but one of the best third person shooters of its generation, weirdly enough. However, now that 7 is out and has reinvented the formula AGAIN, what does it matter?
Balls to the wall action which may betray the series' original foundation, but it manages to retain an identity of its own.