Resident Evil 6 Hands On
Developer: Capcom / Publisher: Capcom / Release date: October 2nd, 2012 / Available on: Xbox 360, PS3 / ESRB: Mature
Resident Evil 6 was always going to be big. Three announced campaigns and the cachet of being one of the most revered franchises in videogaming history already cemented that status.
Well, fans, it’s going to be bigger still, with the confirmation of rumors swirling about the ether confirmed of a fourth playable campaign to round out this sweeping story. Joining Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and Jake Muller is another franchise story veteran, Ada Wong. She’s a master spy whose campaign unlocks after you have completed the other three adventures, and in the process reveals elements from the story that may have been missing among the action of the other three.
While those three core campaigns are all designed with a co-op character along for the ride, to help, and as a foil in the banter that rounds out the characters, Ada goes solo, but interacts with the other stars when she visits the same locations for her own yet-to-be-revealed reasons.
That means seven leading characters and four distinct campaigns in the single-player experience. If that’s not enough fodder for Resident Evil universe fans to gorge over, then, well, maybe they’re asking a bit too much. Each star and their cohort plays out with a unique style, as we discovered in our extensive hands-on time with the game.
Leon’s campaign is what you might consider “traditional” Resident Evil, skulking through corridors, getting trapped as zombies pile through windows, and running, even racing away from threats, including in a police car that requires you to look around to find the keys. It’s an interactive moment amidst what’s essentially a cut scene moment, but with deadly consequences if you fail.
Chris Redfield is the consummate bad-ass in what amounts to a much more first-person shooter-style experience (though still in third-person, of course), using cover and heavy weapons while facing down monsters of a scale the Resident Evil universe has rarely ever seen. His campaign also reveals enemies that will use tactical awareness in many situations to flank and attack. That said, they’re still susceptible to a swift slap-down from melee attacks that stun and pummel the enemies before a kill-shot opportunity appears to stomp a head in blood-curdling efficiency, or smash that noggin into an adjacent wall… whatever contextual devastating death-kill the scenery or situation affords.
These characters and their antics may be familiar to Resident Evil stalwarts, but Jake’s campaign provides a fresh take as this newcomer uses his youthful exuberance and bare-fisted menace—along with some agile gymnastic ability—to navigate through city streets while facing down monsters that will morph into devastating new entities after what you might think are a few well-placed shots.
Which brings us to Ada Wong. The fact that her campaign is available after completing the other three establishes a sense of importance to her role. She goes to the same cathedral as Leon and Helena, but with a different motivation, which in itself reveals more background than you may have expected. She also can use a zipline to access platforms or ledges seemingly out of reach, but more importantly wields a crossbow. This awesome weapon has regular arrows, but can also fire explosive-tipped projectiles that can be very effective. Of course, in our playtest we had to stick zombies to the wall by shooting them in the gut (TOP TIP: don’t shoot ‘em in the head if you want to stick ‘em to a wall).
As Leon and Ada say when they meet “What’s going on here?” “It’s complicated, but this is not the time or the place.”
That’s because the place has become home to a stunning, spectacular boss battle as friends are turned into some of the most striking enemies videogames have ever seen. While the orange targets on the tentacles may feel like remnants from Lost Planet, the animation (and boobies) will certainly make you sit up and take notice.
But this situation also mixes the flow between characters, how Leon and Helena interact with Ada, and what this situation means for their campaign progression. It illustrates a detailed, fluctuating storyline that seemingly requires multiple takes on just what the fuck is going on.
While Ada’s story may fill in the blanks created by the meandering tale from the other three campaigns, it still doesn’t account for a new multiplayer mode that could make griefing a new spectator sport.
Agent Hunt requires clarification since it sounds like it’s another campaign headlined by an Agent called Hunt. It’s not. It’s the hunt of agents, if you choose to monster-up and join the bad guys against anyone willing to let you into their game. Make your single-player game accessible and at any point players around the world could join in for the potential of the ultimate grief-fest. When you see the J’avo evolve from regular dude to long-arm grabbing terror, and then into four-legged overgrown porcupine it’s impressive and deadly. Playing as those monsters your abilities shift from slashing with a machete to snagging the heroes with the long arm of the outlaw, to emitting a poisonous gas or firing a cascade of sharp needles. Each option is as cool as it is deadly, and simply experiencing this side of the Resident Evil debate adds a trick that few could imagine.
There are some restrictions to how you access this mode, such as the requirement of the other person to be willing to see their game compromised. You can enter with a friend and technically co-op the monster mauling if you choose, and other players allow.
We also got to witness a few of the refinements made around the campaigns like the different interface for each character, and their individual, circumstantial death blows. It was also cool when low on health or knocked to the ground you have a chance while sat on your arse to target and shoot nearby zombies. (Then your co-op partner would come throw tic-tacs down your throat, and you’d be ready for more exploration).
We also saw some of those elements that are familiar to fans of the Resident Evil series yet still may cause issues: namely the camera and controls which, while more flexible and fluid than in past games are still not perfect, particularly when you’re up close to an enemy and trying to pummel rather than shoot it. With ammunition at a premium in each of the campaign pieces we played it was prudent and effective to get close and punch, kick, and roundhouse the shamblers when you had the space. In tight areas the animation routines meant you could end up shaking off zombies as you went through a motion to hit but were momentarily facing a wall, not an enemy.
Blended with the mix of quick-time events that could trigger in a variety of situations, and weren’t just limited to boss fights, the action and intensity was palpable every step of the way.
Whether Resident Evil 6 will attract newcomers to the franchise is yet to be seen, but you can’t question the commitment to providing a vast array of options for gamers of any flavor. You certainly don’t need to know the background of Chris or Leon or Ada to still find yourself engrossed in their story; and the revelations should satisfy fans of all stripes. Resident Evil 6 is really setting itself up as undeniably the biggest, broadest, most varied and accessible entry in this legendary series. And we’ll start getting all the answers to the questions about the virus, the president, and our various roles in this story come October 2nd. Bring ‘em on.