GAME REVIEW | Resident Evil 6
Edged out pretty narrowly by The Legend of Zelda, Resident Evil is one of my favorite video games series. I could talk to you for quite a while about how amazing most of the games in this series are, but I'd like to get a little more specific today. In anticipation of Resident Evil 7 launching in one week, I decided to fill the most glaring gap in my knowledge of the series by finally finishing the infamous sixth entry. Resident Evil 6 was a highly contentious game and as a huge fan, I have many thoughts to share. So, sit down with me as I explore my feelings about Resident Evil 6 long after proper expectations had been set.
Let's make this clear from the outset: Resident Evil 6 is the worst game in the main series. If you've heard anything about RE6, it was likely this and you heard correctly. That being said, I'm not here to beat an undead horse. I do have several nice things to say about this game, but I want to address the elephant in the room and get the negativity out of the way first.
What Went Wrong?
Let's all be honest here, Resident Evil has never been about being completely serious. The entire series is about outbreaks being caused by a virus that can make people into zombies and snakes into... Bigger snakes? The overarching plot, across the years, has gotten more absurd and the viruses effect have become confusing to say the least. One of the later boss battles in Resident Evil 6 has you fighting an infected character that literally turns into a giant mutant t-rex. Then you can get on a panda in a playground as Chris. Don't believe me? I'll throw a completely real picture above as proof.
As one of the series that practically invented survival horror, you would think the concept would have continued through the series. Both fortunately and unfortunately, Resident Evil 4 had a crazier effect on the series as a whole than anyone could have expected. RE4 is an awesome game that I happen to own 3 separate times, don't judge me, but it started the move away from horror that lead to Resident Evil 6. Replacing the atmospheric horror with flashy set-pieces, Resident Evil 6 almost feels more like the movie series and that is not a compliment. Ammo is frequent, enemies soak up bullets and giant explosions are commonplace in this misstep in tone.
There was a period around the early 2010s where it seemed as though every developer strongly believed that multiplayer should be in everything. Effective horror, on the other hand, relies on a certain amount of isolation to properly create tension. Even when you're playing by yourself, the presence of your AI-controlled buddy tagging along breaks this tension in a meaningful way. I played the entirety of Resident Evil 6 by myself, out of respect to my friends, and would have enjoyed it just a bit more if my character had been alone. There is one campaign in the game that does this, but it ends up getting bogged down by the co-op systems already in place.
I could go on and talk about the weird feeling of the controls, the bonkers length of the game, some misguided boss battles or that weird part where Chris Redfield rides on a panda spring thing in a playground again, but I'd like to switch gears at this point and think about what went well. In spite of what I've said thus far, I still wouldn't call Resident Evil 6 an awful game.
What Went Right?
Multiple Characters -
From the beginning of Resident Evil, the series has been about experiencing the survival horror, sorry I couldn't help myself, from multiple perspectives. Every game in the main series allows you to play as more than one character at least at some point. Resident Evil 6 may have gone a bit overboard in this regard with 4 different campaigns and 7 total playable characters, but the spirit is definitely there. It was fun each time you'd see something from a previous campaign in the one you're currently playing. The one that comes to mind right now is kind of a quick one, but when you're playing as any other character and see the plane crashing in China, it was cool to be able to think "I was on that plane earlier." as it went down over your head.
The Return of Zombies -
I remember Capcom talking about this a lot when this game was announced, but it did actually feel like a major return when I played the game. Starting with Resident Evil 4, the series started distancing itself from more traditional zombies. I was never really against this move and the ganados of Resident Evil 4 were an excellent edition to the canon of the series. In Resident Evil 6, there are a wide variety of enemy types, but in Leon and Helena's campaign, you are largely fighting zombies. Since Resident Evil 2 was the thing that got me into zombies in the first place, I was glad to see their return in this game. The idea of the zombies not posing a huge threat on their own, but overwhelming you with their numbers is always a strong one and they did well with that in the campaign in which they were featured.
Fun Set Pieces -
The over the top set piece moments that are all over the place in Resident Evil 6 don't particularly feel at home in the series as a whole. That being said, while I didn't love all of them, some of them were pretty spectacular. My mind goes back to the scene on the plane as you fight through a cramped jet full of infected people and then the whole things crashes. The entire sequence is thrilling and has a bombastic end that I'm not ashamed to say was pretty awesome. Many of the boss fights involve tackling these overly huge and seemingly-invincible creatures, but the ways in which they go down are often grandiose and quite a sight to behold. Traveling through China moments after the virus bomb explodes is also lots of fun as you're typically dealing more with the aftermath than being at ground zero at the time of infection.
At the end of the day, there are some negative things to find in Resident Evil 6, but like most games, there are some positive aspects as well. Truly, Resident Evil 6 is the worst game in the main set of numbered titles. If you are a big enough fan of the series, there is some enjoyment to be found here and they do make good on at least a few of the promises they made like the return of past characters as well as the inclusion of real zombies. The game is longer than it needs to be, but overall I'm glad I made my way through it. There were enough references to the series overall to keep me interested throughout, even if the gameplay has departed significantly from what made me love survival horror in the first place. Don't play Resident Evil 6 expecting a top tier game in the series, but if you must, there are certainly worse games out there.