Resident Evil 6 (PS3) Review – Redundant evil

Posted on Nov 11 2013 - 11:46am by Tim Torres
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Resident Evil 6 is an unfocused blob of uninteresting multi-player modes, downloadable nickel-and-dime nonsense, and plain bad (and bland) game design. Stripped of nearly everything to identify it as a Resident Evil title, there’s no cohesion, no central vision, no real intent on display here. Things just happen, one after another with little purpose or drive behind them and often with little player input. Whereas Resident Evil 4 changed the action game paradigm and Resident Evil 5 wrapped the bow on a long-running story, Resident Evil 6 accomplishes little except to turn a once-admired series into another Call of Duty poser, one plagued with an over reliance on Quick Time Events and thoughtless, linear set pieces. Now a follower rather than a trendsetter, Resident Evil has become Redundant Evil.

The utmost complaint is the game’s brazen disdain for the player. As in the E3 demo, the full game demands you play its way, which is to barely play at all at times. The game will wrest control away from you for “cinematic” purposes. At one point, I opened a door and hero Leon S. Kennedy just stood there while a zombie grabbed onto him. I guess this is supposed to teach the player how to shake enemies off, but it still felt forced and awkward. Then there are the times when Leon (now a dull cipher) slowly trudges through a university or when someone radios Chris (now a bro soldier with amnesia) from HQ. I couldn’t access my inventory, do a melee attack or even aim. I tolerated these moments in Gears of War because they were brief and the accompanying dialogue set up context for Marcus and Dom’s actions. In RE6, everything’s a test of patience. I want to shoot zombies in threatening environments, not go on guided tours that have zero tension or atmosphere. I don’t want to put up with poorly-implemented vehicle segments, Quick Time Events or other assorted mini-games either.

Quick Time Events come around every corner in RE6. Mash the X button to run! Mash the X button to climb! Press R1 at the right time to get the zombie off you! Alternate L1 and R1 to climb! Resident Evil 4 and 5 had these too, but not to the ridiculous degree they’re featured here. RE6 abuses you with QTEs. At least in RE4 and 5, you were penalized for missing them. RE6 is very generous with the timing as I’ve passed QTEs by missing them or by not doing anything at all. So, then, why are they there? It’s like the game doesn’t care whether you play it or not. It would be nice if, for a change of pace, QTEs didn’t show up in a video game. For once. They are a boring and lazy shortcut in lieu of actual gameplay. Any segment where you’re stuck behind a gun turret or in a fighter jet, humvee, snowmobile or helicopter feels just as trite and forced. This game tries to fit as much “extreme” action and as many “extreme” moments as possible, it feels like a parody akin to Team America. Without the fun.

When the game gives you the chance to actually play — aim, shoot, dodge, run, access inventory, heal, etc. — it’s really haphazard. Jake’s scenario may be the most slapdash and random, though that’s a tough call since each character’s campaign is a schizophrenic mess. In Jake’s campaign, you get a sniper rifle in a blizzard, which is useless because you can’t see anything in the swirling snow. Then you go into a cave where you can’t use a gun because, suddenly, the game decides to be a stealth game and you get punished for shooting or making noise. Then you’re shoved into a QTE or vehicle segment, or two or three, where you sit there and hold the fire button until whatever you’re firing at dies — how exciting. And then you’re in a hospital stripped of all your inventory, forced to be stealthy again. Compare all that to the sniper rifle in Resident Evil 4. You get it in the gondola area, where you learn to use it. Then you’re in the castle, a huge open area, where you can hang back and you’re encouraged to snipe bad guys from afar. You’re given the sniper rifle for a reason. The level design complements the abilities of the weapon. There’s purpose and intent there. Not so in RE6.

…Resident Evil 6 accomplishes little except to turn a once-admired series into another Call of Duty poser…

Then there’s the “level design.” Tall Oaks, China, and other areas are as cookie cutter as it gets. Hallway, large room, hallway, hallway, hallway, large room. The few times there are wide open areas, you have to collect pieces of something before you can proceed. Collecting stuff is this game’s idea of a puzzle, though there is the occasional environmental riddle (church bells to shoot, glyphs to decipher) reminiscent of Resident Evil 4. Those were nice.

In RE6, you have parts like in Jake’s scenario where puzzle pieces spawn randomly out of endlessly spawning enemies. I thought it might’ve been a glitch, but I can see it as a way to dummy-proof the game. Why have multiple rooms and maps to explore when you can just have one big area with enemies that cough up keys in droves?

Maybe it’s smarter on higher difficulties, but enemy A.I. doesn’t seem any smarter than back in the PlayStation 1 days — a huge step back from RE4 and RE5, where enemies coordinated attacks, crowded on top of you and even set and climbed up ladders to get to you. In RE6, the deadliest foes are the sniper zombies in Chris’ campaign that hit you with pinpoint accuracy. They are guaranteed a shot at you unless you dodge or kill them first. It feels cheap. So much is scripted, too. It’s one thing to have a Licker burst out of a window in Resident Evil 2. That’s an effective shock scare. In RE6, Leon and Helena walk through a room with corpses laying around. Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen when I walk back that way?

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Shoot. Something.

The inventory system is another drawback. What was a delicious little game of Tetris in RE4 and an easy shorthand in RE5 is now a mess of trying to remember how many clicks away your shotgun is and whether or not it’s reloaded, or flipping through to find an incendiary grenade and accidentally using a first aid spray instead. RE6 could have easily kept the tidy system from RE5 or included the series staple magic box to allow for some choice and customization. Say, leave the weaker handgun behind to focus on the stronger shotgun. The box also would have helped free up the inventory, as mine got stuffed full of ammo so much that there was no room for health herbs in the later parts of each campaign. And I couldn’t use them on the spot since RE6 excised that option, one that RE4 wisely included. RE6 also could have done a much, much better job teaching the player how to play. You only find out through tips in the loading screens that you can easily reload your health sprays without accessing the clumsy inventory by pressing two buttons at once. You won’t find that info in the manual because there isn’t one included.

Graphics are yet another flaw. They look worse than Resident Evil 5 – muddy, less detailed textures with little creative use of color. This is definitely a step down, and it’s not like there’s more going on here. Everything looks much darker. Much darker. I played on three screens — 2 HDTVs and 1 PC monitor — only to find the in-game brightness settings do little to alleviate anything. Capcom made this game to be dark, probably to hide the graphic quality and the noticeable tearing going on all over. Character animations look robotic and stilted. There is nothing as smooth and satisfying as Leon reloading that first sniper rifle in Resident Evil 4.

The camera presents more woes. It’s shoved way in-between the characters’ shoulder blades. With your cramped, narrow field of view, enemies can saunter on up and hit you where you can’t see. Blind spots, if you will. I imagine it’s uncommon for good players, but it happened to me in the opening chapters of the game as I got used to the controls. The camera’s inconsistent, too. In some areas, the view gets pulled way back so you can at least see your character’s legs and ass. When it’s pulled that far back — it happened to me once in the China alleyways as Jake and Sherry — everything looks and feels the way it’s supposed to. You get to see more of your character and your environment, which is, y’know, good. But most of the time it’s nestled right up against your back. This tunnel vision is supposed to get fixed in a patch soon.

The soundtrack is either absent or unmemorable. The main menu music kept me listening for a bit (the main menu itself is as bland as possible — white text in a dull font — not to mention that awful giraffe logo) and a reprise of Ada’s theme music from Resident Evil 2 struck me as odd. She appeared in Resident Evil 4 without that tune, so I don’t know why it’s brought back here besides to pander. It’s not like Ada and Leon consummate their dead horse of a “relationship.” The only other notable standout is a cheesy song that ends Jake and Sherry’s campaign. After that campaign’s moronic finale, which involves a fistfight against the hulking monster that’s been following them (not nearly as entertaining as the one between Milla and Nemesis from schlocky Resident Evil: Apocalypse or as harrowing as the fights against Nemesis in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis), it feels like the clunker of a punchline to one long, unfunny joke.

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Campaigns from “best” to worst: Ada > Chris > Leon > Jake

And Leon. Poor Leon. He’s been neutered. Like Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, he’s been robbed of all personality. No longer does he talk about Bingo or call anyone “Small time.” He’s dull as dishwater. We saw this coming a while ago in the dopey CG film Resident Evil: Degeneration, where he had the same bored expression in every frame. He’s a little more concerned about things this time around, and that’s about the only note he plays. It’s too bad we’re not allowed to have fun characters anymore. Sherry, Jake, and everyone else are about as entertaining. Ada tries too hard to shrug things off and act cool about everything — no variety from her either. Piers has some strong opinions, mostly about what a cock Chris is, which stays interesting the first six times. Chris undergoes the exact same “my partners always die” arc from Resident Evil 5, except with brief selective amnesia now. Hmm. Maybe Chris is the Cloud Strife here. In any case, this is fan fiction-tier writing as indicated by the pointless backpedaling of the exact same story arcs from the previous game and the biggest black holes of creativity you can find in any fictional universe: the son of a major villain and the return of evil company Umbrella, back as — ugh — Neo-Umbrella.

Resident Evil 6′s greatest strength lies in its controls and basic mechanics — I’ve grown to really enjoy and rely on the Gunkata L1+R1 quickshot…

So what are some things I like about Resident Evil 6? Uninteresting as the characters are, the voice acting is pretty natural for a Resident Evil. Although that may steal some of the B-movie charm away, there is something of a feat in a well-acted Resident Evil. And it’s nice to see Sherry Birkin finally make a return in her white-and-blue color scheme from Resident Evil 2.

Despite their painful campaign, it’s cool to see a Birkin and a Wesker work together again — and as good guys this time. If only those two appeared in a better game, perhaps focused entirely on them, as the children of monsters trying to right the wrongs of their parents can be an interesting idea. Or something. I’m just daydreaming.

Game-wise, the Mercenaries mode is the one thing that works here. While the campaign modes are pretty much built for people who hate games and they just drag you around regardless of input, the Mercenaries mode requires reflexes, timing and an understanding of the nuanced controls. Resident Evil 6‘s greatest strength lies in its controls and basic mechanics — I’ve grown to really enjoy and rely on the Gunkata L1+R1 quickshot — yet the only place you can enjoy them is in a bonus game. Sliding, dodging and knowing when to strike with melee attacks and when to crowd control and escape to gain more time makes Mercenaries a satisfying time. It’s too bad you don’t get criticals for dodging and shooting, but sliding between a zombie’s legs, turning around and shotgunning him in the back is damn fun. You’re free to actually PLAY and use the combat to its fullest. You’re not tied to QTEs and vehicle sections. It’s not perfect — I hate how some enemy grab animations get superiority over player movements — but it’s way better than anything the campaign modes offer. However, having only three stages that aren’t DLC is, frankly, bullshit. And Agent Hunt, an online mode where you invade other players’ campaigns as monsters, feels pretty pointless even when you score kills. The network’s been a wreck when I played anyway — disconnections and failed connections abounds.

And hey, wait, didn’t we all play Mercenaries to death in RE4 and RE5 anyway?

So, that’s Resident Evil 6. Capcom’s second attempt to remake RE4 without any understanding of what made that game work. More QTEs, more partners, more action, more “content”! And it must appeal to Japan! And the West! And old fans! And newcomers! While still following current trends! Augh. It’s the kind of cynical, unconfident product we need less of right now. Focus-tested, check-listed, and homogenized to the point where it barely resembles the name in its title. The saddest part is, Resident Evil didn’t have to do any of that. Capcom could have followed its own path, let whoever’s left from the series create their own vision instead of following a rubric and sell a ton of copies based on name alone. That last part worked for Operation Raccoon City and by god, it still works for those Milla movies. Rather, we got a hodgepodge sequel that rivals Metroid: Other M and The 3rd Birthday for Worst Potential Franchise Killer. With three sub-par Resident Evil games in one year it’s probably best for this old zombie to lay low before it’s reanimated.

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Editor-in-chief Tim Torres is a video game geek, a tech nut, a film nerd, and he occasionally picks up a book once in a while. He has written all manner of copy for PCMag, Computer Shopper, The Jersey Journal, Radio One, and Random House. As a video game critic and podcast host, he has written in-depth reviews, attended industry events, conducted interviews and led creative discussions on various topics related to games and the games industry. Before entering the tech world, he attended New York University and worked in education as an art instructor. In his spare time he acts, sketches, eats a lot of sushi and watches a lot of Netflix. He does not hate Final Fantasy VII.

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2 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Terry Torres November 13, 2013 at 1:21 PM - Reply

    Jake’s campaign is like a joke. Not only is it the most heavily beset with sudden gameplay changes like stealth and vehicles and collecting randomly dropped keys, it has the most amount of QTEs that result in Game Overs if you fail.

    The very last sequence has you climbing to get away from something – alternately pressing L1 and R1. But I was playing online at the time, which meant Sherry was controlled by another player. And this other player COULD NOT GET IT RIGHT and kept falling to her death. Which meant every single time SHE failed, we received a Game Over, which meant I had to repeat the sequence TEN TIMES. It actually started to be fun again, because everyone watching took bets on how many times I’d have to do it over because this other person couldn’t follow simple directions.

    Even the most brutal non-online multiplayer games from previous generations would never do something so obtuse and boneheaded as give both players a Game Over for the failures of one.

    That said – I think I prefer RE6 to Assassins Creed 3.

  2. Sky Tyrannosaur November 14, 2013 at 5:54 PM - Reply

    The sniper rifle in the blizzard was when I realized that this was actually a *bad game* and not just a bad Resident Evil game.

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