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Critical Consensus: Resident Evil 6

Critical Consensus: Resident Evil 6

Tue 02 Oct 2012 12:52pm GMT / 8:52am EDT / 5:52am PDT
PublishingDevelopment

Capcom pitches to the masses with the biggest Resident Evil yet, but quality and quantity aren't comfortable bedfellows

In the year's to come, 2012 may well be regarded as a turning point for Resident Evil. In March, Operation Raccoon City was greeted by a largely indifferent response from the critics, and anticipation for this, the series' sixth canonical release, falls some way short of the hype around Resident Evil 5. Indeed, this unfavourable trajectory arguably began with Resident Evil 4, which felt so inspired that it created and obliterated the way forward with a single stroke.

Resident Evil 6 is an attempt to resolve an identity crisis. Rather than drill down into the approach of one of its previous games, Capcom opted to stitch them all together side-by-side: four intersecting campaigns led by Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Jake Muller and Ada Wong respectively, three of which have a playable co-op character. There are highly-polished chunks of every Resident Evil game scattered across its many, many hours, and a few more gunfights than seasoned fans might expect.

"You might not fault the attempt to be an action game for all, but there's no choice but to speak up when the overall result feels unpolished and scatterbrained"

Joystiq

For IGN.com's Richard George, the "erratic" Resident Evil 6 works best when these disparate elements are drawn together. "Questions aren't necessarily answered until the entire plot emerges through different perspectives," he writes, awarding the game an impressive 7.9 out of 10, "and the realisation that the game's designers deliberately held something back to unleash it during a later campaign makes the effort of pushing through four individual campaigns worth it."

The "remarkable experience" of seeing the various narrative pieces fall into place isn't everything, though. Note George's telling phrase, "makes the effort of pushing through four individual campaigns worth it" - hardly an enthusiastic recommendation, and a nod towards Resident Evil 6's almost glutinous approach to game design. IGN's score is numerically higher than that awarded by many other critics, but the review is just as ready to point out the game's flaws.

Does the refusal to decide still constitute a choice? Joystiq's Ludwig Kietzmann doesn't think so, awarding Resident Evil 6 2.5 stars for never transcending the the numerous games it emulates. Leon's campaign largely succeeds with the "pressure-cooked action" of Resident Evil 4, while Chris Redfield's "militaristic" campaign charges head-first into "aggressive and imprecise" third-person action. But Jake Muller, the game's only new lead character, is saddled with a focus on melee combat that ultimately destroys his "truly dreadful" campaign.

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"His truly dreadful campaign is where all the other ideas go to die: slow-controlling snowmobiles, motorcycles and boats; tedious stealth sections; mind-numbing key hunts; and the most obnoxious case of QTE thumb-stick wiggling - ever. Jake's all over the place. Ironically, that makes him emblematic of Resident Evil 6 as a whole.

"It wants the creeping pace and the hectic shootouts, and the blockbuster set pieces, the vehicle chases, the resource management, the hand-to-hand combat, the online co-op, the drama, and the extravagant boss fights. You might not fault Resident Evil 6 for its attempt to be an action game for all, but there's no choice but to speak up when the overall result feels unpolished and scatterbrained. It's chaos."

Polygon's Phillip Kollar is in full agreement, giving Resident Evil 6 a lowly 4 out of 10. The problem isn't that Capcom decided to do everything instead of something - though that doesn't necessarily help, either - it's that the general standard of execution is so uneven. The pervasive gun combat is undermined by a lack of the precise physical feedback that made the action in Resident Evil 4 and 5 work. This is even more telling in the boss fights, which become confusing and frustrating.

"Resident Evil 6 is an unwieldy tribute to the series' past, an uneven expression of its present and an unwelcome indication of its future"

Eurogamer

"Did I do enough damage on this giant snake creature to trigger the next cut-scene? Did I just survive long enough? I couldn't tell you, and I suspect the answer is different for each fight. This robs actions of any feeling of consequence. Resident Evil 6 is the worst kind of cinematic video game - one where the player's part in the process is an afterthought at best.

"It's so much of an afterthought, in fact, that an alarming number of player actions are relegated to button-mashing quick time events. Resident Evil games have fallen back on waggling the analog stick or quickly tapping a button to escape instant death for a long time, but Resident Evil 6 takes that bad habit to depressing extremes. I lost count of how often a quick time event popped up out of nowhere with split-second timing required, guaranteeing that I failed and died the first time.

"Even worse, some of those already-awful boss fights end with increasingly difficult demands to tap a button over and over. Just when you think you might be finished with a particularly annoying segment, you'll run into and fail a quick time event and find yourself forced to replay the last five minutes."

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Eurogamer's Simon Parkin paints Resident Evil 6 as an encapsulation of the industry's excesses: every idea and every character from the series' past re-explored with sky-high production values by a team that reached around 600 people. "This is Resident Evil on a seemingly infinite budget," he writes in his 6 out of 10 review. "No idea too expensive, no whim beyond scope.

"It's a giant, cumbersome beast - possibly the largest and longest action game in history - and its heft dares you to talk about anything other than the sheer effort that went into its construction. It's an Egyptian pyramid of a game (no doubt with the tired spirits of its builders buried inside)."

But when the "exquisite detail and set-dressing" are taken away, the similarities between Resident Evil 6 and the series' highlights look less convincing. Despite Capcom's effort to make an game for every taste, on a fundamental level the whole experience is a long walk up a narrow corridor, with very little space to the right or the left to poke around and explore. The next checkpoint is never more than a short sprint (while firing) away.

"The game represents a tremendous amount of effort and investment and, for those impressed by such things, Resident Evil 6 may delight," Parkin continues. "But all the effort in the world won't make up for a lack of vision. This game is blind to imagination and focus. Capcom's uncertainty about the series' identity post-Mikami...is hardcoded into its structure: four campaigns offering different, flawed expressions of that potential.

"And the inevitable price for this wavering is a lack of coherence. Resident Evil 6 is an unwieldy tribute to the series' past, an uneven expression of its present and an unwelcome indication of its future."

8 Comments

Hugo Dubs

164 24 0.1
Blablabla... In my opinion they tried to make something really different and complex to do, and CAPCOM should be thank for it. People always say that games lack of innovations but when they see one, they just think about something else they can spit on.

What I saw from the demo was very good, I played both chris and leon chapter and it was very different. Action focus for chris, and horror/suspens/zombie movie codes focus for leon. Which other games are offering various gameplays possibilities at the same time?

Posted:A year ago

#1

Craig Burkey
Software Engineer

148 105 0.7
The problem with RE5 IMO was the pacing was too frantic with CAPCOM throwing wave after wave of respawning enemies, with the AI CO-OP breaking the sense of isolation both in game and during cutscenes, while numerous ammo drops removed the need to conserve it, making players of the franchise break 7+ game old habits seemed wrong. How RE6 ultimately addresses these issues will be what I judge RE6 on.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

968 1,161 1.2
Hated it at E3, and hate it still. Sorry Capcom, but this one's a giant miss for me. At least Revelations was great.

Posted:A year ago

#3
I've been seeing a lot of extremes in terms of review scores. Half of them seem to be very negative, while the other half is positive. Something's going on to cause this wide discrepancy between scores and reviews.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

458 254 0.6
@Hugo

Try Dead Space then repeat your judgement of CapComs efforts. Sadly CapCom dropped the ball on this kind of genre a long time ago. They simply failed to stick to their convictions.

It's not a good thing for a company to try to create a mash-up of genres simply for the sake of trying to find one that sticks. Ultimately they should be trying to make a fun game regardless of whether that is a return to their roots or a completely new concept. If the game is not fun then it doesn't matter how many new ideas it contains!

The sad irony is that the fans told them what needed fixing long before this release. All they wanted was Resident Evil with some of the features from 4 like moving while shooting, a decent camera and maybe a cover system. Everything else would have been fine to take from the old series like puzzles and canned frights/set pieces. Slow build ups and eerily empty corridors that later backtracking reveals are now infested etc. etc. These things worked and worked well. They worked because you became invested in the growth of the character you played. They had a back story and it was simple. Escape from the zombie infested area with your life! Along the way you had to contend with Umbrella's clean up squads trying to cover up their latest mess.

Turning the world into a free for all bio weapons outbreak leaves no room for such subtle things. It forces the game into a fight for survival action game because there's no place left to escape to! They need a simple and in-escapable re-boot of the series.

Posted:A year ago

#5
Like the content of the original post confirms, Capcom have showed a lack of conviction and confidence in their gameplay since (and including Resident Evil 4).

This is such a step away from the original couple of Resident Evil games. Not just in superficial game play terms, but the defining structure that helped to make it one of the most revered game franchises from the late 90s.

I'll admit, I have an extreme amount of prejudice and nostalgia from playing the earlier RE titles, which is why I like to offer other examples of this kind of thing.

Look at Halo Wars. FPS to RTS is about as different as you can get without marketing Halo Kart, right? But now, imagine every game after Halo Wars in the Halo franchise being an RTS. Imagine if Bungie had thought 'Oh, we can take the series this way...'.

The only similarities in gameplay from the originals to the releases post RE4 are the characters and the name. And to be frank, the characters are so uninteresting now that I really couldn't care less about any of it.

It comes down to a simple fact. Resident Evil has no concrete direction as a series anymore. Cheap game mechanics, forgettable characters and a storyline that really is going too far now all contribute to making the series look like the tired comedian who should really move over and let the new guy tell his jokes.

Just my 0.2 worth.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Hugo Dubs

164 24 0.1
@Peter: Thanks for the advice but I did try Dead Space 1 & 2. But this is not really linked to my comment. Im not speaking about genre but innovative content. RE is no more a survival horror and it's very sad (Im among the people who liked RE 1,2,3 much more than the actual 4,5,6 way of playing), but we can't do anything about it. However, we could appreciate the fact that CAPCOM managed to offer several kind of core gameplay lines within the same universe: Leon is an horror/survival campaign, Chriss an action sided, and Jake's campaign is back to the roots with the "Nemesis" running after you all along.

Reviews are good, or very bad about this game so the only way to know the truth was to play it. I did that yesterday with a friend (Split screen mode). We spent 2h on Leon's campaign and the only thing I can say is that it was awesome.
The sad irony is that the fans told them what needed fixing long before this release. All they wanted was Resident Evil with some of the features from 4 like moving while shooting, a decent camera and maybe a cover system. Everything else would have been fine to take from the old series like puzzles and canned frights/set pieces. Slow build ups and eerily empty corridors that later backtracking reveals are now infested etc. etc. These things worked and worked well. They worked because you became invested in the growth of the character you played. They had a back story and it was simple. Escape from the zombie infested area with your life! Along the way you had to contend with Umbrella's clean up squads trying to cover up their latest mess.
You can move while you shoot. / There is a cover system (not very fluid) / Slow build up WITH empty corridors as you described. I only played two hours so I can't say if Im going to get invested in the growth of the characters but all reviews accordingly say that you get into it chapter after chapter.

I won't say it's the best game ever of course, but people are very hard on it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Dubs on 3rd October 2012 2:29pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,203 816 0.7
If your gonna make change, do it for the better. That is not the case here. They just made another game and called it resident evil. I think the job of a good creator is to find ways to overcome challenges. Resdent evil is not a game based on blowing shit up. Its about creating moments and atmosphere. In the past they may have been scripted, but as new technologies emerge so are the possibility to expand game play. I think resident Evil can evolve in many ways while staying true to what it is or was, just in the same way as action and first person games have evolved so too can the survival horror.

Posted:A year ago

#8

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