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Looking Back: Resident Evil 6

Resident Evil 6 is a dramatic-horror third-person shooter developed and published by Capcom. Originally released in 2013, Resident Evil 6 came out for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Capcom later re-released the title for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. At the time of this writing, Resident Evil 6 retails for $19.99.

After beating the rest of the series, I finally decided to give in and play a title I bought recently but never got to. Retailing for under $10 during a PSN sale, Resident Evil 6 was the only numbered title in the series I had not beaten. 

I've beaten every other game, including all versions of RE 1-3 (original releases and remakes), Code Veronica X, and I even beat the first Revelations for 3DS. With Resident Evil 8 around the corner, I felt it was time to beat the last one remaining. I heard bad things about RE6 but I thought it was because it wasn't a true survival horror title. I did not expect the horror awaiting me when I played this game.

Resident Evil 6 takes place in 2013. Featuring the death of the U.S. president, the release of the new C-Virus, and the attempt to create a global pandemic, RE6 contains a largely apocalyptic setting. You're fighting B.O.W.s everywhere while being pursued by the head of National Security and a woman who calls herself Ada Wong.

The title branches out into four paths - Leon, Chris, Jake, and Ada. The initial three feature support from assistant characters, including Sherry Birkin, the little girl you rescued in Resident Evil 2 who's grown into a government agent. All four routes intertwine as you try to uncover the truth, prevent the pandemic, and save the world again.

One thing I dislike from RE6 comes from its cheesy dialogue and cheap one-liners which seem especially prevalent in Leon's campaign. Another involves how you'll watch the same cutscenes you've watched before when you're playing someone else's scenario. You can't even skip these cutscenes. 

But perhaps the single biggest pressing matter is that this game is no longer survival horror. You're not closed up in tight corridors waiting to be ambushed by a monster. Rather, you're engaging in gun-fights with B.O.W.s and fighting out in the open. While Resident Evil 4 began branching from "survival horror," it stayed true to its roots with its use of pressure, tight corridors, and ambushes.

I also found the writing to be woefully pathetic. Chris loses his men so he becomes an alcoholic. His former survivors come to talk him back into it. Chris enters a full rage of revenge which Piers talks him out of it immediately. There is no consequence in this game. Everything happens so fast that you never get to appreciate the weight of Chris' actions.

As a third-person shooter, you have access to medicinal herbs, multiple weapons, ammunition, and more. You can fight B.O.W.s in long-range gunfights as well as fight them in close-quarters. Admittedly, this element is both necessary as well as enjoyable. It feels more likely you will at least try to defend yourself with your bare hands instead of dying the moment a B.O.W. gets too close while you're out of ammo. 

Unfortunately, Capcom wants to take it to the next level by giving the characters wrestling moves for finishers. While it seems practical for Leon to suplex an enemy off the stairs in Resident Evil 4, Capcom went into complete overkill. On one hand, killing enemies and hitting finishing moves is perhaps one of the most satisfying experiences in the game. On the other, it's blatantly unrealistic especially for a series known for its relative sense of realism in combat. All your problems are solved if you can kick them hard enough.

You won't solve puzzles in this game except during Ada's campaign. Everything involves combat and shooting. Plus, you'll encounter escape segments in this game where you must run away and slide. I daresay it's not even dramatic horror and just a knockoff of other third-person shooter games.

Also, you can upgrade your skills, such as Melee and Firepower, in this game. Though it's pointless since you'll almost never get to a Lv.3 skill unless you pour all your points into it. I'm honestly glad this element is long gone from the series as well.

Resident Evil 6 manages to both look gorgeous and silly at the same time. On the one hand, the environments are rendered beautifully as are the character models. On the other, use a voice command to call your partner over and laugh as they sling their arm lifelessly, looking stupid and out of place.

Thankfully, sound design was wonderful in this title. That goes both for the sound effects and the voice acting, not including the crappy one-liners. The music of this game excelled in the case of dramatic feeling. In fact, I would say that the music was the best part of Resident Evil 6. It was perhaps the only part of the game that didn't suck.

The first issue of Resident Evil 6 comes from its atrocious stage design. Escape segments had me falling into the water during Chris' campaign even though it's supposed to guide you and keep you from falling in. You'll repeat segments where you die and you'll listen to the same dialogue over and over again until you get it right. 

The combat itself is not too difficult unless you find yourself getting swarmed by enemies. You'll die a ton when you botch an escape. Resident Evil 6 relies overtly on trial-and-error. Also, I lost count of the number of times I got knocked to the ground. This in itself was another piss-poor and annoying element.

The A.I. for the partner ranges from occasionally protective to downright negligent. I've died trying to open a door because my partner chose to fight monsters when I was right next to them. Speaking of doors, I found it ridiculous that you needed to use two different buttons to open them depending on if one or two people could open it.

This QTE fest compromised otherwise good boss battles and escape segments just to shoe-horn this element into the next level. If I wanted to play a QTE simulator, I would have played Capcom's other title, Asura's Wrath. 

Speaking of boss fights, I have never seen such forcing of boss battles in my life. Every time you think a major enemy dies, they come back. Unfortunately, unlike Tyrant or Nemesis, they long overstay their welcome. They showcase a "true" death scene only to come back right after. It gets extremely old and the enemies themselves aren't even terrifying. Ustanak is not remotely frightening compared to the aforementioned creatures and just feels heavily forced into Jake's campaign.

I honestly wanted to stop playing this game when I was hunting for keys. 3/4 of the scenarios have you finding keys while dodging regenerating monsters. Keep in mind, these are not remotely terrifying like the Regeneradors of Resident Evil 4. I found these segments to be particularly, mind-numbingly repetitive and annoying. What's even worse is you repeat one of them in Ada's campaign that you'd already done in a previous campaign.

While on the subject of Ada's campaign, I found it by far the worst. She does not get a co-op buddy and is left to die if she runs out of health. It was particularly bad all throughout the half-assed stealth segment of her first chapter and it was bad when you're ending the chapter to escape the submarine while mashing Circle to answer questions into a microphone while fighting a swarm of B.O.W.s and repeating the entire segment if you die.

Wall-hugging controls are among the worst I have ever used in a game. You not only take too long to pop out of the wall to shoot but sometimes you intend to pop out and you'll instead leave your cover or enter the wall-hugging mode unintentionally. Wall-hugging controls have been utilized properly since at least Metal Gear Solid 2 which was released in 2001. Capcom would have been better off not emulating these and opting for manual wall cover instead.

Finally, I found the UI to be particularly atrocious in this game. You now have three menus instead of two. The layout seems clean but is in fact quite cluttered. You must tap down in order to use Grenades and you have to re-equip them every time. How they managed to fail worse than Resident Evil 5's item management is well beyond me.

Final Thoughts
If I talk more about the poor design in this game I'm going to run out of room. I find it woefully unacceptable that you must repeat cutscenes, repeat boss fights, entertain bosses that should have died a chapter previously, deal with terrible controls, an awful UI, and unenjoyable boss segments. While it's nice that you can recover all your health after dying, the game's difficulty balance should not be built around that method. It feels artificial.

Honest to God, even if you are a diehard Resident Evil fan, skip this game. If you're looking to fill in the void, relax. You have no reason to do so. Chris and Wesker's story truly concluded in Resident Evil 5. The development of Sherry and Jake was perhaps the highlight of the storytelling. Otherwise, this sorrowful title relies heavily on cheesy B-movie cliches and explosions to tell the story.

Ironically, I found Chris' segment to be the most fun overall. As this game isn't by any means survival or horror, Capcom blatantly went all-in with the shooter scenario in Chris' campaign and it actually felt fun to play save for the one segment I mentioned previously. 

The rest of the game only makes half-hearted attempts to emulate horror and it felt completely off. Sure, Capcom can make cheesy references to the Alien series such as B.O.W.s implanting "aliens" that burst out of your chest. But it's too bad they couldn't stand up using their own horror elements. 

That said, thank God they decided to rework the series in Resident Evil 7. While I was initially afraid it was a series reboot, after Resident Evil 6, I can now see why they needed to revamp everything. If they wanted to implement explosions throughout every chapter, they should have had Michael Bay direct it; would have been written better if you ask me.

Also, I recommend reading this interview with the developers. I found one particular segment to be woefully entitled coming from him. 

Kobayashi: The way I always think of it is that if Resident Evil represents a child, then the fans and us as creators are the two parents. The resulting games are like the children that are born between both of us. And just like real parents, you’re not always going to agree on what is best for raising that child.

I'm sorry that players don't like your game but you do not get to decide what we like. It is on you, the developer, to create a game that will please your fans. Your sense of direction involved stripping the survival horror elements out of a survival horror series.

Final Verdict: Not Recommended
Not only did it fail to capture any sort of the fear the series is known for, but you also released an unpolished mess filled with atrocious design choices that would make anyone roll their eyes in discomfort. Even then, you chose to re-release the title on modern-day consoles only to fix absolutely nothing when you had several years to do so.

If nothing else, the release of Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil 2 Remake proved what fans want. And when you polish a proper title, you get the ratings and sales you ask for. Kobayashi's statement should set an example of how not to treat fans of your games.

Resident Evil 6 was a horribly unpolished mess and not something I would recommend to anyone. This game safely managed to become one of the worst games I have ever played.