RESIDENT EVIL 6 is not what I want in a Resident Evil game. Or any video game, really.
But that’s okay. I guess. I’m not the target audience anymore.
Capcom wants that Call of Duty money. They suggested that, heavily, with Operation Raccoon City, a game that got a middling to harsh response from anyone with a frontal lobe, yet won big sales due to name recognition, I can only assume. Oh, Capcom also outright said that survival horror doesn’t sell anymore — don’t know how it knows that considering no one makes those types of games anymore — so they’re focusing on “action” games instead.
Well, the demo of Resident Evil 6 I played puts all lingering doubts aside. This is a guided, robotic experience that barely passes for interactive entertainment. It was passive to a fault, as lumbering and braindead as the corpses Leon, Chris and Jack “Wesker Jr.” have to put down.
The demo offered three choices — Leon, Chris and Jack — to play through. I chose Leon first and saw a lengthy cutscene that had Leon gun down a zombified President of the United States. Nuts. After that Leon and Mariska Hargitay look-alike Helena walked slllooooowwwwlllyyyy through a dark mansion-looking place until they came across an old guy in a suit and glasses. He was missing his daughter. So we set out to slllloowwwlllyyyyy find his daughter.
I tried to run. I tried to shoot my gun. I tried to do all the things I was supposed to be able to do according to the card detailing the controls on the demo set-up in front of me. But the game didn’t allow me to do anything. I was just along for the ride, locked in with nowhere else to go. No other rooms, no items to pick up or look at. All I could do was push the analog stick forward, or left or right once in a while, and watch Leon and Helena slloooowwwwlllyyy walk through the dark house. I was bored out of my mind.
Eventually, we found the daughter. She was clearly going to become a zombie, but I couldn’t shoot her or do anything. At this point I must’ve been ten minutes into the demo. And I did nothing. Why was Leon even here? What’s the point of me even being in control? When the daughter finally zombified and killed her dad, I finally got to shoot her. Once. Then the game took over again and Helena made the killing shot. Again: why is Leon even there? Why is this even a video game?
After more plodding a bunch of zombies showed up for proper dispatching. I tried out the awkward dodging move you saw in the trailers. Leon lunges wherever you point the analog stick and sometimes he stays there prone on the ground if the stick isn’t nudged again. I didn’t see much use for it against a normal horde of zombies. So I just shot ‘em. And when I ran out of bullets, I punched and kicked them. It was cool that I ran out of ammo, but it didn’t really mean anything. Leon is a karate master. His limbs are just as if not more lethal than hot lead.
The controls are sound, for the most part. It’s just the movement. In the rare times the game gave me full control of Leon he felt sluggish, like it took him a while to get moving and when he finally did he still felt slow. Shooting feels off, too. Weightless. Similar to the Umbrella Chronicles games. There’s no impact, and recoil feels over-exaggerated.
There’s a dedicated “Duh, Where do I go now?” button, too, just in case the door-shaped waypoint indicator constantly flashing in your face isn’t enough. It’s a little redundant given how every area is a straight line. Remember how Resident Evil used to have rooms? And keys? And areas to… explore? Maybe Resident Evil 6 has them. Its E3 demo didn’t!
Next I tried Chris’ campaign. Here was where I really started to worry. The graphics were nice, yes — I love the Hong Kong skyline — but not when they chugged along at low framerates as they did from time to time. The camera felt janky too as Chris ran from narrow corridor to corridor, then up and down ladders and across planks. This was the most repetitive and rote part of the demo. Shoot, shoot, run. Climb, climb, shoot. Then just hole up in one area and shoot the same two or three enemies over and over and over. Shoot the exploding barrel. Next.
Jack started with a run-towards-the-camera Crash Bandicoot segment. I wanted to throw the controller through the screen. Can you count the number of times this design decision worked well? …
No. No, you can’t.
The slippery controls made things worse. Jack swerved left and right as I tried to get him away from the Nemesis-looking creature chasing him and his partnet, the returning Resident Evil 2 ingenue Sherry Birkin. Things would’ve helped had I been able to see where I was goddamn going. Odd how in Leon’s and Chris’ scenarios I could manually control the camera, but suddenly, it’s fixed! And I’m running towards it! I died three times, and each time the demo quit out to the main title screen. Press start… wait. Load. Skip cutscene. Run. Die. Repeat. Did anyone test how annoying this is?
Finally, I escaped, activated another cutscene or two then had to fight Nemesis-like in an open-ish area. Jack was noticeably faster than Leon or Chris, but that didn’t stop him from dying again. At that point I was done.
For a game 4-5 months out from release, Resident Evil 6 feels awfully rough. The movement feels sluggish at times. The camera and even the graphics are janky. The game has severe pacing issues, especially in the Leon and Chris segments. Plodding around in the dark with no control over your character beyond walking does not create an atmosphere of horror or tension. It makes me frustrated that you can’t pace your game properly or give me anything interesting to do beyond walking. And shooting guys and climbing ladders, rinse and repeat isn’t exactly the high-octane kind of thrill I’m looking for.
It also feels about as far from its origin as possible despite the return of nearly every fan favorite character. But even they’re not fun anymore. Leon’s a sourpuss, Chris is in boring angry mode, and Sherry might as well be a different character for all the time she’s spent off the grid. The dialogue finally sounds natural, and the editing and camerawork is great, but… playing Resident Evil for the lore at this point feels, well, pointless if the game isn’t engaging. And so far, it’s not.