Played on Windows.
Also available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3.
Ahh, Resident Evil, one of the most famous series in all of gaming, with so many different games in its history. The original tank based controlled puzzlers, the more action based and silly Resident Evil 4, the even more actiony Resident Evil 5. Now we have the First person horror game Resident Evil 7, which I hope to get to one day. And then there’s Resident Evil 6. This is… Resident Evil 6.
With over five million sales in one of the strongest franchises ever, yet called one of the worst in the series, I had to wonder if what I was hearing was true. Is Resident Evil 6 so bad, or did it not meet the high standards of the fans, who even disliked Resident Evil 5.
The fact is I enjoyed Resident Evil 5, it was not horror, and the co-op took away a lot of the fear from the game, but I enjoyed the story and had fun with the game as it was. So I wondered if the fans were wrong, maybe there was a successful game hidden in a game that a diehard fan had a hard time with.
The game doesn’t waste time and starts with a problem, and while this didn’t shade my impression of the game it’s still ominous. The game helps me set my brightness like it asked me to. It looked alright and then I entered the game. The first thing I noticed was how dark the world was. I adjusted the brightness up in the game (which doesn’t let you pause ever even if you’re playing alone, so this was done on the fly.) I kept adjusting it up until I was almost at maximum brightness. I went from around a 12 to a 23 out of 30 possible points.
Now when I got the brightness adjusted correctly I never touched it again, but it’s strange that the first thing the game instructs me on doing, is something they get so wrong that the next half hour is spent with me tweaking the setting until I feel right with it.
The game also starts with a very linear opening where Leon is with this woman named Helena, a new character. The game doesn’t even attempt to introduce her. Instead, Leon’s on a mission to learn how to use health in the game and take out minor enemies. It’s a good tutorial, but it’s also a tutorial that’s from the end of Leon’s story, rather than the beginning. In fact, it ends with a cliffhanger at the final bosses’ location. Why choose that scene? Why not introduce some characters first, or even place the scene at the beginning of the game? This won’t be the last time I question this game.
So there are four campaigns, and I took them in order. Each Campaign is different in tone and style. The first one involves Leon (who was the President’s secret service until the president turns into the zombie in the first scene, good job dude). He teams up with Helena and she tells him they have to go to the church. That’s all she pretty much says for a chapter, that they have to go to the church, and she can’t tell him why yet. She says this so much that I wondered why Leon didn’t point his gun at her and force her to give him some more information.
Get use to this, she says it a lot.
Yeah, the story here can be a bit of a problem. Now I’ll talk about the gameplay later, but the story is a mixture. Some of these characters have interesting stories, and some of them like Leon’s are just a reason to keep going on. There are good moments, but there are also some “reasons for gameplay” ideas in here also.
So I finished with Leon’s campaign, and then there’s Chris’ campaign. A campaign where Chris has a new backstory where he had a group of men, killed by something in his past. He’s teamed up with a fellow BSAA member Piers, and this is more of a dudebro story and campaign. In fact, Chris doesn’t see any true zombies but fights against J’avos, which are mercenaries who shoot back and can mutate into the same beasts as the zombies.
Well, they’re called J’avos, apparently, the game decided not to tell the player except for a single name drop for over two hours. The entire first chapter of Chris’ campaign is spent fighting unnamed enemies. At the beginning of the second chapter, there’s an explanation of what they are. I still don’t understand why that single paragraph talking about them couldn’t have been done at the beginning of the game to explain what you are fighting so it’s clear to the player.
With Chris’ new backstory (that will upset longtime fans of the series, but you haven’t seen anything yet), there’s an attempt to have a good story, but we come to the first real problem I have with the game.
When playing Leon’s story, Chris and Leon meet up, and Leon stops Chris from killing a specific person. This seems sane as Leon needs to arrest that person as she has intel. The problem is when you play Chris’ story, that scene makes absolutely no sense. Chris has every reason to kill the target, but more so, Piers, the guy who’s gone through everything that Chris has, gets a clean shot and never even attempts to take it, and I don’t see a reason for either one of them to accept what Leon says. In fact, Chris could say one line, and he should be able to change Leon’s mind.
It’s a constant problem with the story in this game. Characters are forced to cross over, but not only are you seeing the same scene twice, it makes less sense when you get the other side of the story.
So on to the third campaign, there is Jake Muller, who we find out might be immune to the C-virus because he’s the son of Albert Wesker. Except he didn’t really know his father. He learns about the story and Albert Wesker from his partner Sherry Birkin, so he doesn’t have the strongest bond with his father.
Yet, later on, he threatens Chris for “killing his dad”. Sigh… again, a single line from any of the people about who Albert Wesker really was may have helped explain it. It’s not that he was close with his father, he found out who his father was and then who killed him, and suddenly blames Chris.
The level of this storytelling is weak, but it matches the game. I think Capcom wanted a game where there was a feeling that you were getting four stories about four (or seven) interesting characters, and the idea could have worked, but the execution and more importantly the stories they chose to tell just don’t work well enough. Even the meshing of the story seems acceptable and then on a different playthrough you realize how poorly they are done.
There is a fourth campaign and it’s unlocked immediately in the current game, but I’ve heard it was once hidden as a surprise, so I won’t spoil who it’s about, but the storytelling there tries to be the most interesting, but unfortunately all the surprises from that story are already obvious because of the three campaigns before it. And the surprise of who it is becomes obvious due to you team up with this person at different points in the game.
The other side of this is that when Chris meets Leon you already know what’s going to happen because you saw Leon’s story. The same is true with any other combination of characters, so really when you start the game if you already have a favorite character, I highly recommend starting with that character so you can properly enjoy their story. I started with Leon and felt Leon got the best story, mostly because I hadn’t already seen spoilers about his character.
The other problem with Resident Evil is the game never tries to be scary. There is a scene where the president appears normal and appears to be a zombie in the next scene, this could be a tense moment but it happens too fast, and it’s so obvious when it’s about to happen. It never has a chance of being a surprise. Even when it tries to get the same feeling as the first game, it’s done in a poor way. At its heart, Resident Evil 6 is not a horror game, it tries four different formulas for gameplay and storytelling and they are all tonally different but it never tries to return to its roots, at least to the point where it’s still a horror franchise.
So moving on to gameplay, the first thing I have to mention before we get into the four campaigns is Resident Evil 6 is a co-op game, at least for the first three campaigns. The fourth campaign is single player. It’s a driving force behind how this game was designed, and while there’s some value there, well … I’ll discuss that further down below.
Going through the campaigns in order again, Leon and Helena’s campaign feels the most like Resident Evil 5. Action, gunplay, and combat. It’s the most like the “Resident Evil” however Leon never really has a lack of items, he’s never at a heavy disadvantage from the enemies, and is able to use melee attacks to increase his ammo efficiency.
The game definitely remembers its roots, and looks great in cutscenes.
A common thread throughout all four campaigns is that at the beginning of the game, the enemies don’t drop much ammo, but by the end of the game almost every kill drops something, whether it be ammo or items. So out of 5 chapters, the first two or three chapters you have to be efficient with the ammo and use melee or avoid enemies, but by chapter 4 there’s enough ammo that you never have to use a melee attack again.
There are a few interesting segments in Leon’s campaign but for the most part, it’s going through the levels as designed. I will say however that Leons is my “favorite” campaign if I can say that. It felt the most like a Resident Evil game, and while it’s still a far way off. if the entire game was like Leon’s. I might have given the game a better evaluation.
Then there’s Chris and Piers’ story, now I honestly don’t know which types of games that Capcom tried to pattern each campaign after. I have no relation to that studio, but I can make some strong guesses. In Chris and Piers’ case, it’s clear they are clearly based on either Call of Duty, or even Gears of War. There’s cover mechanic, every enemy has a long range attack, there are often multiple shooters from multiple angles, they have a very “Dudebro” vibe to their story. If they threw in fist bumping after killing everyone, I feel like we could have another Army of Two on our hands.
Call of Duty games have an odd taste. I admittedly like them in the same way I like rollercoasters. They’re fun for the time you’re on it, but they aren’t going to change your worldview. The problem here is that Chris and Piers are missing one thing that makes a Call of Duty game work, copious amounts of Ammo. Again in the early game (first three chapters), you can’t unload magazines into enemies because you can’t find huge caches of ammo. Even in the late game, ammo is never plentiful enough to really be a “Call of Duty shooter” while the game constantly pushes you towards that mentality of cover-based shooting, and that cover-based shooting is pretty terrible (hitting LT changes the A button from dive over a table to ducking behind the table).
There are moments where they embrace the “Call of Duty shooter” style change of gameplay, where there’s a driving level or a place where Chris flies a plane, but in the driving section it’s co-op and one of the characters is doing almost nothing, until they switch places in the vehicle and then the other player does almost nothing. These are attempting a change of pace, but they change from a slow crawl to a slightly different slow crawl, and it’s a shame because Call of Duty style games can be fun if they are done right, giving the player a chance to go through a number of different and outlandish settings.
The driving sections aren’t even that impressive to look at.
Resident Evil 6 doesn’t get the setting or pacing right. They have good cutscenes, but they don’t have the gameplay that the players who enjoy these types of games will enjoy, nor the ammo surplus needed to get that same effect.
So at this point, I went through two campaigns and honestly, I wasn’t impressed but I thought the game could be enjoyed. Then I played Jake’s campaign that’s where the game started coming off the rails.
Some people claim Jake’s campaign is based on Uncharted. But I like Uncharted, and Uncharted had good enemies and difficulty. Jake has some good cinematic moments of his jumping large gaps but that’s about it. Then, Sherry doesn’t get those same moments she has to either be helped up or walking around awesome set pieces. But more important Jake and Sherry’s campaigns go for the cinematic moments, but also revolve around running away. About half of Jake and Sherry’s campaign feels like it’s running away from the enemies.
For me, I’d probably make the notion of Resident Evil 3, with Nemesis constantly chasing you. And Nemesis is a great character, he’s scary, he’s horrific, and when you hear him say “Stars” you get nervous before he attacks the player. So to recreate that you have the enemy Ustanak. Unfortunately, Ustanak is no Nemesis.
Rather than make his presence known, the game shows him running in through cutscenes and there’s almost no backstory for the character, he’s just an unstoppable force, that chases Jake and Sherry for most of their campaign. Even when you lose him, he still will show up much later and in another country as if by magic.
Then there are other scenes where the two characters traipse through a snow covered area and need a minimap (that barely helps) to find objects. It’s just not compelling gameplay. The idea of running from Ustanak constantly might have made it work, but he only shows up when it’s convenient to the story. Instead, the game throws you into a secret lab, takes your weapons and makes Jake play unarmed, but needing to attack with an overcomplicated melee system. Strange because there was already a melee system and a dedicated button. This could bring the game back to the idea of horror as you don’t have much power, but Jake isn’t weak, he’s able to kill enemies with a single powered up punch. And yet for some reason, Jake doesn’t pick up the gun that the enemies drop when he kills them.
All of this is very uninteresting and ultimately I got very bored with the idea of the game here. I’m not sure if it was Jake’s campaign in particular or the fact I was working on a third campaign, but I pressed on to finish the review. That’s really the only reason I kept playing.
Finally, there’s the fourth campaign, and again I’ll avoid spoiling who it is. However this is the one that attempts to be the most like Resident evil, but it’s more like Resident Evil 4 than the original, and even there, it’s not as strong. Without anything even close to the campiness of Ramon Salazar, and with a gameplay system that doesn’t have that true horror feel as in the original it’s lacking the enjoyment of the classic series. There’s fetch puzzles, at least one good puzzle to solve, and objects you have to collect. The problem with it is the game often tells you where to go get stuff. The one time it didn’t, I got lost in a room because I didn’t realize I could look through an object until I searched the entire room four times and somehow missed the “use this” indicator.
The other puzzles give you locations of what you need to get as keys, and it takes much of the mystery out of it.
On the other hand, you don’t get very powerful weapons in the fourth campaign until the end and the game tries to make you play the game stealthily, and honestly it almost works, except that for the most part, you can also just run past enemies. There’s not much forcing you to fight enemies, or even wait for enemies to attack you. Ignoring enemies in almost any level shows you how easy the game can be.
In addition, the final campaign seems to reuse areas to tell the story. For storytelling this is effective, but the level design is very random and overall not that interesting for the second playthrough.
The thing is by that point you’ve already seen most of the story, and the fourth campaign is intended to tie the story up but if you’ve been paying attention you should have figured it out. Instead, you just rush to the end just to call it a day. It’s also the shortest campaign, where the others took about 8 hours a piece, the final one took just over 5.
Really the biggest problem with the game comes from the last dozen paragraphs. You have four VERY different games here. You have Resident Evil 5, Call of Duty (Gears of War), Uncharted/Resident Evil 3, and Resident Evil 4.
I don’t know many experienced game developers who think putting any two of these four different styles together. I doubt I can find many who think four different game designs would work well and this is not the game to disprove it. There was a time when developers were trying this in the early PlayStation era and even into PlayStation 2 but most companies understand that they should focus on what they understand or know, or gain a new concept.
Resident Evil 6 ignores that and chases the modern trends, trying to make four very different games in one engine, and ends up making four average games at best. It’s a rookie mistake and the only thing I can imagine is the publisher wanted to change Resident Evil to be something different. The end result is the true horror.
Unfortunately, it’s the only horror in the game. While there are some good attempts at horror, I admit running from Ustanak is scary, and there’s a boss in campaign 4 chapter 4 that’s pretty good, the rest of the game doesn’t lend itself to horror. A big piece of that is the game constantly gives you ammo and the weapons to fight. You have the ability to melee attack almost every enemy and when you can’t for some reason, there will be ammo to fight that same enemy, even giving you the magnum entirely too early and if you’re conservative you never run out of that ammo since you never need it.
The other problem is that doesn’t lend itself to horror and ultimately that’s also a problem with all four campaigns. Where Resident evil is supposed to be a scary game, there are odd pieces here but nothing that is frightening unless you hate butterflies or cockroaches. But it’s also the fact the game doesn’t try to be scary, it’s made to appeal to the action fans out there and tries to do that. The problem is there’s a ton of games that appeal to action fans, and what made Resident Evil stand out isn’t in this game.
So I mentioned the Co-op, and there’s a good idea there. In fact, it’s one of the best ideas in the game. There are seven characters in the game, there are also seven unique loadouts. For instance, Leon carries the “Wingshooter” a pistol that can be dual wielded and a knife, Helena carries a Picador which is a different handgun but also carries a Hydra which is a shotgun with an automatic mode. In addition during the campaign, they can find other weapons, but the two characters have different base weapons. The same is true for every character in the campaigns.
In addition, both characters are tasked to do different things at times. Often times the game splits up the two players, but sometimes there’s not a strong reason to split up. Maybe Leon or Jake has to boost Sherry or Helena up to a place they can’t go. However, there are a lot of examples where the characters have asymmetrical co-op.
The thing is, asymmetrical co-op or gameplay is my holy grail of gameplay. I love the idea of two teams or two characters who have different experiences or goals, and for the most part Resident Evil 6 does that, but it doesn’t do that all the time and when it does it usually is a detriment. Often one character has to wait for the partner. This works with the AI because the AI tries to catch up, but with another player, sometimes you don’t have the ability to win until the other player does something special.
Since you aren’t aware of what the other person is doing (unless you have a mic and a partner willing to talk) the brilliance of asymmetrical gameplay doesn’t really work here. You just have two different games, rather than a really smart system.
There’s also a really interesting concept of four-person co-op. At a number of times during each campaign, two groups will meet up. For instance, Leon meets up with Sherry and fights Ustanak. It is a great concept, however, I never saw another person playing the other team, though I did get a number of players to team up for normal co-op. It’s a good concept but needed a much larger and heavily active player base for you to sync up with someone when the game only gives you 60 seconds to make a connection.
Of course, there’s a health meter, and in multiplayer, a partner can revive you, just as an AI might, however, there’s also an idea that every checkpoint allows you to continue from that checkpoint with full health if you restart there. But, in co-op you kind of feel like a jerk to use this trick, I’m not sure why the game didn’t just give you full health at checkpoints to avoid needing this exploit.
Then you can also play as an enemy in another player’s game in a mode called Agent Hunt. As a concept it’s interesting but as an in-game experience, it doesn’t work extremely well. I only saw this once and I don’t know if my AI partner kept killing him or I did, but it was really obvious what monster was played by an AI. They appeared to drop really good items (First aid kits which are full heals) but the experience made me question why to invest the time into this. Then again this goes along with the four campaign modes and more. This is just another feature someone wanted to have and it doesn’t fit with the game. I don’t know if I could ever accept the gameplay behind the Agent Hunt mode in a story driven game, but in this game it doesn’t even work as a concept.
One annoyance I really want to call out is that often when you come out of cutscenes there is an enemy inches from you and I’ve gotten hit immediately after cutscene because of bad planning on the designers part. There’s a specific one at the beginning of campaign four where enemies storm in to attack you. Before the cutscene, you were allowed to move around. If you stand in front of the door, you’re going to take at least one shot if not a couple. If you’re in cover by the door, you’ll easily kill the enemies with no shots taken. It’s infuriating, and most cutscenes don’t even play by those rules, you just end the cutscene where you are supposed to and the enemy gets a free attack. It’s a horrible experience and it’s something that comes up multiple times per campaign.
So we come to the bosses, and really… the bosses are one of the big issues of the game. There are good bosses. Leon’s final boss seems epic. The only problem is the key problem with this game. He doesn’t stop appearing. You kill him one time, and you think that’s it. Then you see him again at the end of the game, and you kill him again, then there’s another scene and you kill him again, and then there’s a final scene where you have to defeat him again.
If he was the only one this wouldn’t be such a huge problem, but on Chris’ version, his final boss keeps coming even though it looks like it’s safe. He has an additional problem that the true final fight seemed to only be doable with a weapon Piers had. I don’t think that Chris alone can’t beat him. The only issue is it was a rare moment in that campaign when I didn’t have a co-op partner and without a partner the AI got dumb. The AI in Resident Evil 6 for the co-op partner is rather solid, but this was a perfect example of just an awful experience for a single player.
Then Jake had Ustanak follow them from the first chapter all the way through and yet never built him up. It’s shocking because Ustanak had the perfect story to keep getting developed but instead they went with almost nothing about him. However, I’ll say that Ustanak IS the proper use of the reappearing boss. He’s never vulnerable, and he just keeps coming. The other enemies who rise from the dead are just annoying, but at least for Ustanak, it’s effective if a bit outlandish.
Finally, the fourth campaign’s ending is depressing, it uses the same boss as Leon’s in the same fight. It does try for three-player co-op but I didn’t find a party so it was just a bore that I had seen before.
There are also enemies who reappear multiple times after killing them, and they serve as mini-bosses, but the idea that you never kill anyone until chapter five is just a depressing problem. It’s also not the only issue with the bosses.
Bosses don’t flinch often enough. There’s no health bar, but some fights will not end, you’re just supposed to survive for a set time. Other bosses are supposed to be killed, but even on bosses you’re supposed to kill some appearances don’t allow you to injure them. You can’t tell when a boss is vulnerable, or when you’re doing the right attack, or if you should just flee. The game doesn’t give you a way to know this until it decided to say a line that helps you figure it out.
Quite a few major enemies look impressive, but they don’t have the best gameplay.
There’s a crossover moment with Ustanak, at that point Jake and Sherry know he’s invincible. It’s about all they know about him. I played through this section as Leon first. So when the big baddie appears I shoot him a few times with my shotgun until Jake says “he’s invincible”. I just wanted to ask “Why didn’t you say so before I wasted my good bullets on him.” This is true about a number of bosses. They get “Plot armor” or at most, they do a minor flinch so using a magnum isn’t worthwhile. Then other battles you’re supposed to kill them. Without health bars or a good flinch animation, I didn’t know which was the “real fight” or when I was doing real damage to the enemy. Thus my best weapons remained unused.
Finally, there are Quick Time Events. Listen… if everything else I’ve said has made you think “I might want to play this game.” Fine. QTEs aren’t going to stop you. But they are bad and overdone. This is just the wrong implementation. Many of them come fast, and a few require perfection but pop up so fast you have little chance to complete them. You might have to hammer A through three appearances and then hit A at the right time twice. If you fail the fourth motion, you’re going to die but have to finish the sequence to see the death. They’re QTEs and they appear entirely too often.
There’s still more, there’s a skill system that I barely dove into, but a lot of the skills require far more kills than they should. There are hints you need 1500 kills with one weapon? I barely hit 1000 shots in a single run with a weapon.
So to conclude, there are games that I have different opinions on. I didn’t like Destiny 2, and I found it weak, but it’s not a bad game, and if someone liked it, I get it. Then there are games like this and I’m amazed this game got a 60 percent on Metacritic. It has a 77 percent on Steam and it is a perfect example of why I became a game reviewer, not that I think people are wrong but I feel that the consumer isn’t getting an honest opinion by people. Someone can look at this game and say it’s “ok”? That it’s better than a hypothetical average? The fact is Resident Evil 6 is one of the reasons I’m a reviewer, because it’s one of the cases where game reviewers have failed the gaming public, and I’m glad I’m taking the attempt to fix that even if I had to play through this game to get there.
Honestly, I’ve presented all the facts here, and thinking about this game depresses me because I just dislike everything about it. But there’s another important fact. The feeling I had when I finished the game. I didn’t feel like I had finished some great journey or learned more about characters I cared about. Instead, I said “Thank fuck that’s over, now I can play something I like.” and I have. I remembered why I like gaming, and I remembered what good games were like, but Resident Evil 6 was a long journey and not one I wish on anyone. Go find something else.
Final thoughts: Easily the worst game out of the entire main series. This is a bad game, not just a bad Resident Evil game. Go play just about anything else instead of spending your time here.
Stats: 26 hours 33/70 achievements
I bought this in a Humble Capcom Rising Bundle. I bought the bundle to flesh out my game library, but did buy the bundle specifically intending to play Resident Evil 6 along with others.