The Resident Evil series has explored the possibilities of genetic mutations and provided what argumentatively can be considered one of the most realistic representations of a zombie outbreak. As a small town, it was believable that Raccoon City’s police department would be overwhelmed by a biological threat until the government intervened; the T-virus outbreak remained an isolated incident that was quickly swept under the rug to prevent public panic. Over the passing years, fans of the franchise have seen the events of the past evolve just like creatures they slaughtered. Slowly, the scientific grounds that the series’ seeds were planted in became degraded. Resident Evil 4 redefined the series gameplay wise but broke away from its roots. In Resident Evil 5, Capcom attempted to steer the series back onto the right road with returning to some existing plot holes; though players were disappointed in the recycled gameplay and lack of horror moments. Yet, returning to the classic fix-camera control scheme would spell suicide for the franchise.
Operation Raccoon City attempted to explore the possibility of a squad based action-shooter for the series. Neither critics nor fans bit onto the new flavor leaving the game as a mediocre action game with the Resident Evil name sadly tacked on. As a result, the franchise has found itself in an inauspicious limbo. The gameplay has been improved for the masses only after sacrificing what made the series what it is. If Capcom tries too hard to bring back the old spirit then it might discourage their newly formed fandome. Rather than settling on a direction, they are just going to try throwing everything into the mixing bowl.
In the upcoming Resident Evil 6, players will be able to play through three campaign modes with a set pair of characters in order to keep the co-op option. The stories arc of each campaign overlaps to weave an elaborate story that probably will not be that phenomenal. Literally all I could gather from the bits and pieces of the demo was that shit was going down all over the world in 2013. Each campaign has a distinct gameplay style in order to try to cater to all branches of the fans: horror, shooter, and action.
Campaign One (horror): Leon Kennedy returns with a new partner, Helena Harper. The President has released all the covered up information regarding the Raccoon City incident making him the prime target for a bioterrorist attack. After becoming infected, Leon is left with no choice but to put a bullet in his brain before being sent to discover the origins behind the attack.
Leon and Helena’s campaign tries to focus more heavily on the suspenseful atmosphere of the older titles. However, it does a poor job at capturing the former essence. The environment is dark but it takes more than just lack of light to be considered traditional Resident Evil. Very few cheap scares are scattered throughout the brief ten to fifteen minute demo as things move about in the shadows around you. The first encounter is during a predictable moment that felt like it was baby’s first zombie introduction. There was little tension built up to it and practically no shock.
It tries to focus on some of the old gameplay mechanics as well. Ammo has been greatly reduced to just a single clip in both weapons Leon and Helena. Although with so few enemies, there is no need to even use your gun. Baiting and running is still the best tactic to use in order to survive which is both a good and a bad thing. It is good in the sense of reviving some of the classic feel. However, without much of a threat all sense of panic subsides making the instinctive motivation to survive meaningless. You find yourself taking comfort in the peace thus ruining the horror element which makes the whole scenario feel incredibly dull.
To be honest, the whole level felt very dead in the wrong way. Throughout the whole level, you are expecting zombies to slowly make their way to you but instead, the entire level is almost zombieless. It was not till near the very end that the game started to toss zombies by my way but then it ended giving me absolutely no taste of what to expect other than how they walk.
Campaign Two (shooter): Meanwhile, Chris Redfield is brooding for unannounced reasons. After being tracked down by another BSAA recruit (and playable character), Piers, he leads a team to a fictitious town in China. Bioterrorists have invaded the city; they spread the C-virus throughout the clustered streets and cause their soldiers to mutate into vicious killers similar to the Majini and Kipepoe from Resident Evil 5 that bred with the intelligent zombies from George Romero’s Land of the Dead.
Chris and Piers are suited up for battle and Capcom does not hesitate to hold back in the fight. The whole scenario felt like a scene from Black Hawk Down which has no right to be in a Resident Evil title. In addition to the ability to move and shoot, you can now take cover, dive, and roll. The animations between the moments look fluent but the execution is flawed greatly. Covering is triggered by standing against a wall when aiming; while it works, it is unnecessary just as the rolling. Aiming feels loose when moving as the characters slip and slide over the ground. The only time I felt in control of the character was when I continued to play it with its standard stand-in-place-and-shoot scheme.
The once polished gameplay that was perfected in Resident Evil 4/Resident Evil 5 has been chipped away. Replaced with a watered down scheme, Chris and Piers’ scenario was everything that this game should not be. The thought that this was acceptable and is the future of the Resident Evil name is far more terrifying than Leon and Helena’s whole campaign.
Campaign Three (action): While all of that is happening – on the other other side of the world – Jake Muller, Wesker’s bastard son, is on the run. It is believed that his blood contains the cure of the C-Virus that was responsible of the President’s zombification and is currently infecting parts of China. With him is his protector/watch dog, Sherry Birkin. (Yes, the same Sherry from Resident Evil 2. Yes, she was kidnapped after Code Veronica but that does not matter anymore.) The once scared little girl has grown up into an agent sent to retrieve Jake for the government. The pair work together for survival in a similar fashion that Billy and Rebecca did; the good girl falling for the bad boy. Just now in a horrible game.
What sets this campaign is that it comes off as being a mixture of quick time events and action. The pair is chased throughout the whole scenario by a Nemesis-like creature. During these moments, the player is limited to awkwardly handled running sequences. Your view is limited to either right in front of you or right behind you, giving you little control over where you dash to. The other half plays similar to Chris and Piers’ campaign containing plenty of explosive action, and just like their campaign, the controls are just as slippery.
The one thing that all three stories share in common is the poorly designed camera. It sets too close to the character by default. It does not fully blind the player but it greatly limits the perspective. While aiming is still over the shoulder, the camera has been allowed to drift. You can now get a full view of your environment by moving the right analog stick. While this may sound useful, it works against you for the most vital gameplay mechanic to the franchise has been removed: the 180 turn. Veteran players will find some frustration as they readjust themselves to a new style that removed the bread and butter of Resident Evil combat.
The sense of exploration has also been removed. Perhaps it was just due to it being a demo – all the areas were incredibly claustrophobic to roam through. Paths are very well defined and you are confined strictly to them. Small paths do branch off enough to where the game will let go of your hand and you are allowed to explore a tiny bit. Skill points can be found scattered about and earned through combat which will be used to customize your character in the full version of the game, but other than that, there do not seem to be many more collectibles.
So far the game is not shaping up to be that impressive. It is too confused on how it wants to handle itself. Rather than picking a single gameplay style to perfect, they settle on three mediocre ones. Resident Evil 6 feels more like poorly designed individual games. There are a lot of kinks that need to before it can be considered a solid game when released on October 2nd.
For those of you who purchased Dragon’s Dogma on the XBox360, you can go redeem your early access to the demo now. PS3 owners will sadly need to wait alongside non-Dragon’s Dogma owners and download it when it goes live on September 5th.