I’m stuck on you Leon

This is not a full Resident Evil 6 review as we had the services of a coded-console and review code for four nights [as zombies sleep during the day, like vampires…yeah]. Being thirty-five, I am definitely an ‘old-school’ Resident Evil fan, so you offer me a campaign that feels like a Resident Evil game of old, and the chances are that I will get a little stuck on it. With limited time to review the game, the logical thing to do would be to sample all the campaigns. Unfortunately I was not wired ‘logically’, and so my four nights were spent, absorbed and delighted with Leon’s campaign. So here’s my in-depth findings on Leon’s campaign and some facts on the rest of the game.

In Short

Resident Evil 6 offers the narratives of three pairs of protagonists, which can be played solo or in co-operative modes, both online or offline. A fourth narrative will be unlocked on completion of the campaign. The narratives look at the different perspectives and the all the stories are interwoven around the main plot.

Resident Evil fan favourites Leon S. Kennedy, Helena Harper and Chris Redfield are joined by new characters to face the bio-terrorist threat. The year is 2013 and the U.S. President, Adam Benford officially reveals the truth behind the 1998 Raccoon City Destruction Incident in hope to constrain bioterrorist activity. Things go drastically wrong and our protagonists are faced with the ever-growing threat of the C-Virus bioterrorism outbreak which threatens the entire globe’s population.

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Distributor: SterKinekor
For fans of: The series, survival horror, action titles
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: Xbox 360, PC

Gameplay and Features

The prologue, before you get to choose which character’s campaign you want to play through, introduces you the ‘survival horror’ theme the series is famed for – the eerie sound-effects; the use of darkness, shadows and light, the streets swarming with the zombies, all working together to create the anxious mood. In no time you are faced with zombie flaccidly stepping towards you [as they do]. You take aim as it nears, fire-off the last of your rounds – but it’s only enough to splatter some of its head. The zombie grabs you at which point you are introduced to the newly included game-mechanics. The action required to free Leon from the zombie’s vice is shaking the thumb-stick vigorously. You need to repeat this, and just when you get into the frantic hacking at the thumb-stick, the required action changes from needing force to needing finesse. The opening stage was designed almost as to validate the game as a proper Resident Evil game, while also showing that the series has moved forward.

You have the ability to shoot zombies [obviously], and you are able to run-and-gun or even shoot from the hip. There’s also a bunch of melee moves to help conserve ammo, whereby you need to hold down a bumper-button to aim or engage the shooting mechanics. If you do not hold down the aim button, the trigger button becomes your melee button. You can perform a variety of strikes which always end in the zombie’s head being splattered. From basic strikes, some wrestling moves, the good old stomping on the head or ramming it into an object, the result is always a satisfying and visceral splat of a head.

Leon’s campaign feels very ‘old-school’ Resident Evil in a shiny modern package. There are plenty of those classic ‘Resident Evil of old’ moments where the zombies will overwhelm you, by either grabbing you or surrounding you. So you need to keep an eye on your partner [by holding down the O, the camera will auto-find the partner] and use RTS like commands to keep your partner helping you and out of too much trouble. The survival theme carries all the way to when you are forced to the ground. Here the gameplay goes into slow motion, and you need to take aim and fire away in hope to survive. So for the skept, who are worried that the true nature of the series might have been dissolved, worry not. The classic series’ gameplay is definitely there in Leon’s campaign; it’s just swathed in a modern, interactive and action-packed package with loads of puzzle bits – think Uncharted meets old Resident Evil. Leon’s campaign is even long enough to validate it as game on its own and I assume the rest of the campaigns are to. We have learned that all the campaigns equate to around 25-30 hours.

The package is bold in every department – the gameplay is so rich, and even the supporting options-menus offer a maze of noteworthy customization options. Your items are neatly categorised and some can be combined, like red and green herbs to make a super-healing aid. To keep with the anxious theme, you even need to ‘ready’ your healing herbs or healing spray. So when you collect them, you still need to equip them for consumption by putting them in a sort of pill box. Only once you have done that, can you consume the herbs. This makes for those great anxious moments – you are in desperate need of healing; you pick one up whilst being surrounded by zombies, but you still need to equip the herb… panic… epic!

Resident Evil 6 features some light RPG elements, best of all being the ‘skill assign’ feature. You will need to collect items along the way and discover secret items which all add to your XP. At the end of the chapter you can use the gained XP to unlock and level-up various skills – from weapon abilities, to melee abilities etc. There’s plenty to unlock and level up. I even loved the slow-progression design. It was hours before I unlocked a new weapon and levelled my character’s skills up to a noteworthy level. You can only assign three skills to the character at one time. The design of these elements rewards you slowly, making you work for it, keeping you wanting.

New to the series is the ‘Mercenaries mode’ – a horde like mode. This mode puts you in various stages and has you and your partner survive hordes of attacks. You can set up a lobby, join one or go it alone in this mode. There is also ‘skill statistics’ which I assume will be an online leader-board of sorts when the game launches. Besides being able to drop-in drop-out of co-op mode, you can also drop into a players game online, but as a creature in ‘Agent Hunt’ mode, or essentially a versus mode. Fortunately if you don’t want people dropping into your campaign whilst online, you can block anyone joining your game.

Sound and Visuals

Capcom actually categorise Resident Evil 6 as a ‘drama-horror’. The narrative, the cinematographic design and the score all compliment that category. The horror is not those cheap thrills type, I mean there are definitely those heart-pounding moments, but it’s more the type of horror that gets under your skin – that constant anxiety, the claustrophobic moments that come so often. It is definitely a horror, but one that with substance, a rich narrative and one that delivers in a stylish cinematic manner.

The sound and visual quality is of the very highest quality, and it is clear that great care was taken in putting together the film-like aesthetics. The eerie scoring is pertinent to the ‘survival horror’ theme – driving and complimenting the mood while setting the atmosphere. Then there’s the extremely good use of lighting, shadowing and texturing, further complimenting the ‘horror’ theme and aiding in creating that anxious mood the series is known for. Not only is the graphics’ quality of the highest standard, but it has to be noted how the brilliant camera-work design adds so much to the frantic action. The camera pans in an out from the third-person view brilliantly, adding to the anxious mood and frantic action.

I often argue how Rockstar Games and their extensive technology are able to reproduce such convincing character animations, selling the characters’ emotions. Rockstar Games’ high production quality in this area makes for an undisputed ability to draw you in to the game and its story. Apparently Capcom can nail it too – Resident Evil 6 is from this extreme calibre when it comes to the production quality. It draws you in, stirring your senses, selling the characters’ emotions, and so you connect with them and their stories.

The voice-acting is of a great standard, played well by their actors; but it’s the sound-effects and the soundtrack quality that need to be noted in the ‘sound’ department. Akihiko Narita returns to compose the orchestral soundtrack for Resident Evil 6, and captures the theme or mood of the game exquisitely. The film-like scoring amplifies the mayhem, the action and the horror. Resident Evil 6 is a very cinematic experience, which was crafted to compliment the narrative. The cinematic-sequences drive the narrative and seamlessly transcend into gameplay.

Closing Comments

Hiroyuki Kobayashi boldly takes Resident Evil 6 in a somewhat different direction while successfully delivering the charms that series’ won fans with in the first place. The production values are of the highest quality, there’s so much on offer and the gameplay’s new tricks work wonderfully. Resident Evil 6 looks to be as an emotive experience as it is an engaging one. From what I experienced, I would highly recommend you keep an eye on this one. And with the different campaigns feeling and offering something different, it has to be a package that will keep you guessing.