Resident Evil 6 HD Review
If you don’t know anything about Resident Evil, then you must be trying really, really hard to not know anything about Resident Evil. There have been so many ports, sequels, re-releases, spin-offs, movies, toys, pants, etc. etc. that the franchise has become as ubiquitous as a zombie pandemic, in a tortured analogy kind of a way. Capcom have recently made a concerted effort to ensure that all the main entries in the series are available to PS4 and Xbox One gamers in one form or another, and this HD version of Resident Evil 6 marks the appearance of the most recent “proper” game on new-gen machines. Resident Evil 7 reveal this year, perhaps?
RE6 first came out about four years ago, so let’s start with what’s new. Well not a lot at the heart of it, as this is more a re-release than anything else. One thing that will jump out at you straight away, though, is just how successfully prettified it’s been. It was already a nice-looking game to start with, but now it could easily pass for a game built for one of the more powerful consoles from the ground up. It also, as you would hope, includes all DLC from the initial release (all online-oriented; no extra story).
There’s been a tweak to how the story content is distributed, too. This is something of a celebration of Resident Evil’s history, in that there are a total of seven playable characters spread across four different campaigns. Of those characters, four are big figures from previous games – Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Sherry Birkin, and Ada Wong – and one of the new ones is Wesker’s son. From the main menu you can now choose to start whichever of the four campaigns you wish, even Ada’s (which previously had to be unlocked by completing the rest of the game). You can get off on the Wong foot if you like, so to speak.
Campaign selection is a little odd, though. Each chapter is generally split into 4-5 stages, and at the beginning of the game you can choose to jump into any stage you like of any of the first chapters. Now here’s the thing: you can, if you wish, go straight to the final leg of a chapter and do the least work possible to unlock the next one. Then you can go to the end of that chapter to quickly unlock the next, and so on. This was perhaps offered as an olive branch to counter the fact that you can only have one save on the go at a time.
This isn’t necessarily much of an option if you’re playing on a high difficulty, though. If Resident Evil 4 tore up the rulebook and Resident Evil 5 burned it, Resident Evil 6 crushed the remains into ashes and flushed them down the toilet. This is why – and there’s no point tiptoeing around the issue – a lot of long-time Resi fans hate this game. That’s not entirely fair really but, that said, it’s easy to see how a fan expecting a continuation of the early games would be bitterly disappointed. As far as skipping huge chunks of the game in the aforementioned manner goes, this will be made difficult for some by the game’s heavy reliance on equippable, upgradeable skills and perks. This ordinarily doesn’t get in the way of gameplay, but choosing to miss out on hours worth of play where you can nab ‘skill points’ from fallen enemies has the potential for easily foreseeable problems.
Love it or hate it, the fact is that the shackles of the series’ trademark unwieldy controls have been shattered. There’s a familiar third-person twin stick movement & aiming system at play here, and it works. Indeed, the emphasis here is most definitely on action, but each campaign approaches this from a different angle. Leon’s campaign has plenty of things blowing up (including people and zombies), but the atmosphere here is closest to that of the original games. Chris’s campaign is by far the most action-heavy, with your tasks rarely any more cerebral than ‘shoot all the things’. Sherry’s is somewhere between the previous two, while Ada’s – single-player only, in keeping with her lone wolf character – encourages stealth.
“Single-player only?” you may ask yourself, if you’re in the habit of answering the voice in your head. Well yes indeedy, because Resident Evil 6 – like 5 before it – has online multiplayer. Each campaign (except Ada’s) has two characters, sometimes briefly separated. You can choose which you wish to play as, with your partner either AI or somebody miles away from you present via the magic of the interweb. Should your internet partner lose connection/rage quit in the middle of an important fight or just before a checkpoint, fear not! AI will leap to the rescue, and no progress will be lost.
In fact, Resident Evil 6 embraces online in a way that no previous game (apart from that online-dedicated one nobody remembers now) has. As well as co-op, Mercenaries returns, the score-chasing survival mode that’s approximately 245% more fun when somebody else joins in. There’s also something similar where you and another player compete, separated, for the highest score (chaining kills is extremely important here, as is at least a half-decent skill loadout). Also – and this is surely something that some Resident Evil fans had dreamt of before it was made possible – you can invade another player’s game via ‘Agent Hunt’ mode. This sees you take control of standard enemies in the game one by one, able to respawn as many times as you like until you score a kill (very difficult, but immensely satisfying) or, more likely, the other player/s complete the section. You can be a zombie, and you don’t even have to die or anything. Neat, right?
Approached without prejudice, Resident Evil 6 is a lovely-looking action game with a generous amount of content. It may not sustain an unsettling atmosphere in the way that the early games did, but what it does it does with vigour. And any game with a hero that looks so much like H from Steps is surely worthy of your attention.
Thanks to Xbox for the review code!
Review by Luke Kemp.