Long ago, a strikingly gorgeous woman referred to as Resident Evil 4 was wed to fellow by the name of Resident Evil 5. Resident Evil 5‘s lack of a identifiable personality set him behind his beautiful, universally loved wife, but his ability to work well with other people allowed him to make many friends across the globe despite his glaring flaws. Marital issues arose, resulting in an ugly, confused divorce, leaving RE4 in charge of the kids and RE5 with the cash.
In a drunken rage, RE5, driving home from the bar, slammed head first into RE4 (coming back from her new makeover) on the freeway, mutilating both bodies leaving each to die by the hands of their creators.
Paramedics arrived hastily at the scene and did their best to reconstruct the pieces and form a new being, as these patients had the royal name. Body parts were mixed, matched, thrown out, and some were even donations, but, after going through the hands of over 600 doctors, they finally breathed life into this desiccated husk after what seemed like years of confusion. This Frankenstein-like abomination is Resident Evil 6 and feels like the bastardized mix-up of all the wrong ideas executed in almost the worst way imaginable.
Rather than stretching out this story through a single, fluid narrative, Resident Evil 6 opts to weave in a singular story with each of the four campaigns having a slightly different view on the current events. Such events feel like strange retreads of past topics since the subject matter hasn’t really changed. Yes, there are viruses and an Umbrella equivalent. Rather than carving a new path, they chose to open old wounds and nearly retcon everything RE5 had solved.
Understanding what is going on is dependent on how many campaigns you actually finish. Completing all four sections finally beat into my head what was happening, which is a process that could have been streamlined if the package wasn’t so bloated. A singular more coherent campaign would have been a simpler way to convey the same ideas. Instead you have to experience a lot of the same events a few times, which seems lazy and a petty way to relay the increasingly familiar scenarios.
Just because the same overarching plot encompasses each section doesn’t mean they all are treated equally. Leon’s story feels completely slapped together and totally unnecessary to the story at large. Helena, his forced-in partner, is completely forgettable and pushes Leon into doing her bidding just because she says so. Her sub-plot is so weak and detached that it feels as though her story should have been an unsatisfying optional DLC chapter. Even my man crush on Leon couldn’t even salvage his chunk of the plot.
Our favorite steroid advocate Chris Redfield’s adventure feels just barely more vital to the overarching story, but execution is where it falters. Because RE6 absolutely has to have a partner present at all times, Chris’ buddy Piers somehow made the final cut and joins the BSAA squad in their journey for vengeance. Piers, like Helena, is a new, completely forgettable jarhead who barely makes a distinguishable impression besides “boring military white dude” and you’ll soon be begging him to shut his whiny mouth. This aesthetic matches the flat gameplay of this section of the game and even though the ending has a thoughtful, somewhat emotional twist, the bland “hoorah” journey there overshadows whatever glimmer of goodwill the game displays near the credits.
Jake Muller’s installment is strangely the strongest because Sherry Birkin, his cohort, and himself are actually remarkable characters. Sherry’s sweet attitude meshed with Jake’s brash demeanor is a nice contrast and seeing them care for each other demonstrates a dynamic that the other duos don’t even come close to matching. Jake and Sherry’s personal story also holds some of better reveals and motivating factors, making it the quarter of the game that should have been focused on.
Of course, everything positive said about each subdivision is all relative within itself because RE6‘s story overall suffers from the worst pacing I’ve ever witnessed. In a slapdash effort to keep the player engaged, breakneck action happens non-stop for the entire length of each campaign, becoming extremely tiresome within the first hour. Leaving no time to catch your breath, RE6 makes it extremely hard to care about anything currently going on because it never has the valleys to appreciate the peaks. Because of this, it all just becomes silly because the game is pathetically trying to top itself with each turn. How many times can we really be surprised by the next big X-Virus outbreak and everlasting line of world-ending events?
Explosions, helicopters, massive battles, snow mobiles, chase sequences, stealth sequences, punishing quick time events, endless waves of zombies, mini-bosses, big bosses, tank chases, motorcycle chases, and just about everything else short of dinosaur ninja is slovenly flung in to give the player a constant, wearying sense of urgency. When the game checks off one action sequence, it just slaps on another without any assemblance of pacing and feels like blatant disrespect towards the player’s attention span.
Nothing makes this more apparent than boss fights (which are unpolished and terrible in their own right), none of which actually stay dead. Finishing blows are never what they seem, since the virus-laden mutants always return multiple times in a long, incredibly drawn out encounter. Since Capcom can’t ignore the urge to have something massive on-screen at every bloody second, they need to revive the bosses multiple times just to give the player something to shoot or mash buttons at. It’s downright pathetic.
Abysmal pacing plagues the moment-to-moment gameplay in a similarly disgusting manner. Rather than carefully placing in enemies that were expertly tested for an optimal experience, every encounter feels like the designers dropped in as many zombies as they could to, again, create a constant false pretense of pressure. The days of carefully placing shots to add nuance have been scrapped in order to make way for everyone’s favorite enemy disposal method: just straight dumping clips. Hordes upon hordes of the braindead undead will swarm at an alarming rate, forcing your hand into mindlessly wasting ammo into moving being. Technically, you still can stop-and-pop, but it would only waste your time since very little care went into making the encounters manageable for that style of play.
Ada’s campaign actually tries to emulate the series’ slower, more methodical past in the second chapter. Combat finally started to click and feel like RE games of old while retaining a modern feel. Predictably, it didn’t take long for it to relapse back to the tiring non-stop adrenaline rush of the other sections. Conserving ammo, solving puzzles, and carefully placing shots in chapter two of Ada’s story was the only time where new and old collided at least somewhat appropriately. Going back to “intense” shootouts and wasting ammo just felt wrong but par for the course in RE6‘s defective rulebook.
Even when you eventually start dispensing ammo, the game hardly even comfortably supports the more aggressive style of play. Besides the clunky, busted cover system, ammunition is oddly sparse, making some battles (even more) frustrating. Instead of shooting bullets, you’ll be tediously scouring the battlefield for them. You’ll often completely screw yourself, as I did in one of the final fights, which made the already bad skirmish stretch on for far too long since ammo was at a premium.
To run into that problem less often, you could just run away but not in the traditional Resident Evil sense. Melee and weapon combat is simply monotonous and lacks any sort of impact despite how many times your protagonist falls over after a few shots. Since the aforementioned lack of ammo and pacing ruins any combat scenario, running away saves frustration and just gets you to next checkpoint. When running past enemies is a more viable plan than, you know, actually shooting them, something drastic has happened.
High tailing it out of the kill zone can even be faulty because of the needlessly crammed in co-op. Regardless of the situation, you always have someone, AI or human, by your side. Thankfully they can’t traditionally die but their sluggishness can cut your escape plan short when you get blindsided waiting for them to meet you at one of the million cooperative doors. Needing the AI’s approval to progress is still needlessly contrived.
In both a narrative and gameplay sense, co-op feels ultimately forced in. Three out of the four campaigns have completely forgettable companions injected into the narrative just because they needed some pile of flesh to justify the business-driven order of implementing co-op. Gameplay reasons feel similarly shoddy because every “co-op action” is rudimentary in its execution. Co-op ladders, gaps, and doors in need two people just don’t justify another person present. Moments even arise that leave one player completely void of anything to do. One member of this miserable co-op party can be mashing buttons or completing another equally annoying activity while the other just watches. Actions like this feel unnatural and blatantly showcase the co-op’s forced inclusion.
Not like RE6 even hints at it, but building tension is nearly impossible when someone else is always by your side. But that, of course, would mean Resident Evil 6 makes any gesture towards the horror genre.
Excising the superfluous co-op would still leave plenty of room for the most insulting, fundamentally broken design seen in a big budget game. I almost don’t even know where to start pointing my finger.
Resident Evil 6‘s many cutscenes don’t even let you get away unscathed. In what seems like a cruel joke by the designers, you can get hit instantly after a cutscene with no way to foresee the attack and dodge, doubly so given how unreliable the horrendous dodge mechanic is. Other segments force you to mash buttons, wiggle sticks, or hit quick prompts, something the game abuses far too often. Quick time events have their place in games, but when they flare up too often and are this poorly displayed, it stops being a way to stay engaged and becomes an easy way to get enraged. I’m shocked that my left analog stick didn’t just snap off.
The many, many vehicle sections are also complete disasters. Stumble off course just slightly and one of the many one-hit kills will be sure to seek you out and destroy you, with most kill states being poorly shown to the player. All set pieces all astonishingly underwhelming because of some oversight or bad move, and while it may outnumber every other game on the market, none of them feel they should be in any final shipped product.
Equally bewildering is how the game handles item drops. Milking your ammunition reserve dry is bad enough, but doing the same to your health is more damning. RE6 only hands out herbs if you’ve cleaned your room, walked the dog, and maintained a 4.0 GPA in school, otherwise it’s up to pure blind luck whether you can grab an herb or not. Once you do, and this may seem small, you need to add it to your pill container and then press another button to use it. Why is this simple system given another arbitrary step? What does this achieve?
When you exhaust your herb supply, you can basically kiss your ass goodbye. Once your heath runs out, you’ll be knocked on the ground with only the ability to crawl and shoot. If anyone hits you in this vulnerable state, it’s an instant game over. As unfair as that seems, getting up almost seems worse. In this near-death state, any hit will instantly kill you, which is twice as likely since your movement is impaired enough to make you an easy target. Once again, it’s downright puzzling how this made it into the final game.
Positive talking points, such as the mostly slick visuals, traditional Mercenaries mode, well-captured cutscenes, and neat monster designs, can each be met with dozens upon dozens of complaints that more than unbalance previous qualities. Nearly every facet is so poorly designed that anything not completely broken deserves merit by comparison. I try not to repeat myself but I need to at least make one thing clear: it’s infinitely shocking how something this poorly constructed made it out the door without having the words “Alpha build” slapped on it.
Capcom can throw all of the money and raw manpower behind Resident Evil 6, but without the soul, focus, and actual quality, it devolves into a gelatinous mass of poorly executed homogenized filth that drags on for far too long. And that’s more or less what this game is. It’s painstaking obvious how much Capcom tried to make RE6 fit in to a well-worn mold instead of finding its own personal niche, one the series carved out long ago. Losing a focus isn’t instantly a fatal move, but because its guilty of that and the rancid design leaves the foulest impression possible. A certain train wreck appeal hovers next to RE6, which could be the only reason to ever touch such a putrid title. Resident Evil 6 is infected with the B-for-Busted Virus and the only vaccination is to not play this sad piece of directionless, vile garbage.
+Strong visuals and well-acted, if silly, cutscenes
Piers’ stupid face:
-Mindless, boring, downright bad shooting that feels sloppily tossed together with little care or pacing
-Absolutely repulsive, unfriendly, and downright broken design that is littered with extremely cheap deaths and bonehead decisions throughout
-Poorly told story feels like it has been stretching the lore out far too long
-Awful, punishing quick time events invade the game far too often
Final Score: 3/10