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Resident Evil 6 preview: understanding disappointment

by Andrew Yoon, Sep 11, 2012 11:30am PDT

My first look at Resident Evil 6 at E3 was worrisome. Capcom's gorgeous sequel had all the pinnings of a truly remarkable game: it is an epic, global storyline featuring three intersecting co-op campaigns, after all. But I couldn't get over how poorly it controlled, and how it simply didn't feel like a Resident Evil game. After playing through nearly the first half of the game, I'm disappointed to say that the game has not gotten any better. But, at least now I know exactly why the game is so flawed.

The controls are terrible unless you buy an upgrade. At E3, I felt like aiming just didn't feel right. In a preview build provided by Capcom, I discovered that your characters are intentionally handicapped. Where you aim isn't necessary where you'll shoot, as your character's aim will move around slightly. Perhaps it's meant to be "more realistic," but that doesn't explain why you're then able to purchase steady aim using Skill Points. Without the option selected, I found Resident Evil 6 nearly unplayable--and it will take at least a few hours before you have enough Skill Points to fix this rather odd gameplay decision.

The camera is a mess. Perhaps having a terrible camera is part of the game's DNA--the first game was lauded for its use of fixed camera angles, after all. Resident Evil 6 is the first game in the mainline franchise to introduce a fully controllable camera using the right analog stick. Oddly, it doesn't work as well as it should. The camera will get caught around corners, and there will be times where you will fight it to get the right angle. Perhaps most frustrating is when the camera is in front of you, making it impossible to see where you're running towards--something that rarely happened in earlier Resident Evil games. The camera is also much too close to the character when taking cover, which essentially renders that feature moot. If you do decide to use the awkward cover system, you will not be able to see the targets you want to fire at, mostly because your character takes up most of the screen.

It still doesn't feel like a Resident Evil game. None of the three campaigns feel like a Resident Evil game. Chris' campaign takes him to a war-torn town in Eastern Europe fighting armed enemies alongside a military squad. Simply put, it feels more Call of Duty than Resident Evil. Leon's adventure takes him to more appropriate locales (like a cemetery!), but there's a distinct lack of tension and atmosphere. Why? Because the levels are designed as arenas to fight lots and lots of enemies.

Arenas aren't fun to fight in. Whereas earlier Resident Evil games had you exploring the environment, Resident Evil 6 simply features arenas to fight in--and not particularly interesting ones, at that. Remember that scene in Resident Evil 4 when Leon has to survive an ambush in the cabin? That scene is replicated in 6, minus all of the gimmicks that made 4 interesting. Instead of having to kick down ladders and manage two levels of enemy intrusion, you simply run around an endless stream of enemies. Many of the encounters in Resident Evil 6 simply have you running around killing enemies. It's especially frustrating when you discover the spawn points of these enemies and tirelessly wait for the next checkpoint to activate.

The story is terrible and takes itself way too seriously. The Resident Evil franchise has never been known for telling a good tale. Still, it's a franchise that almost revels in silliness--from the "Jill sandwiches" of the first game, to punching boulders in a volcano in Resident Evil 5. Resident Evil 6's story is no less absurd than any other entry in the franchise, but it's presented in such a dry manner, void of any kind of humor, that it's a bit difficult to swallow some of the game's major revelations. Just you wait until you see the "Happy Birthday Ada" video. It is miserable.

There are some moments of greatness sprinkled here and there. The prologue is a genuinely thrilling experience. The updated MT Framework engine is doing some incredible stuff here, especially in terms of lighting. And, the game is going to be a very lengthy affair--I'm guessing well over 24 hours to play through all four campaigns at least once. And that's not even touching any extras, like The Mercenaries.

But while there may be a lot of game, the question is: is it worth playing? I've only played the first 10 hours of the game, but I can honestly say I'm not looking forward to seeing any more.





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