Resident Evil 6 Review

Survival Isn't the Greatest Horror When It Comes to This Game

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Resident Evil has come a long way from the days where "master of unlocking" was deemed acceptable as serious dialogue. Since its first shattered hallway window, the series has steadily been changing. But as its aesthetics and voice acting rapidly improve, other areas take noticeable hits. Whether it's the cautious crawl of survival horror being pried away from the series' later incarnations or the abandonment of any real sense of fleeting terror one might feel when faced with a seemingly innumerable amount of ravenous undead, the Resident Evil of this generation is a completely different beast.

Having exchanged the silent macabre for boisterous action-packed encounters and me-too shooter mechanics, fans have been forced to accept the survival horror classic Resident Evil is a thing of the past, while being asked to fully embrace its new direction. With Resident Evil 4 and 5 having valiantly forged a path to what the series is capable of in this day and age, Resident Evil 6 must be an amalgam of old and new that hits the elusive sweet spot for fans from from all entry points, right?

Frustratingly, no. Resident Evil 6 is ambitious in all the right ways, going so far as to serve up four distinct campaigns, savory blood and gore,  and a dazzling thrill ride through the undead-laden streets, but wanting to succeed and actually making it are two different things. There's the feeling that this isn't the best the series is capable of. There are shining red-letter moments that drive the bullet into the dilapidated undead skull -- this is Resident Evil, the moments proclaim, but for the sixth entry to the venerable zombie apocalypse simulator, this outing feels a lot more like what we imagined Operation: Raccoon City should have been.

And for all the vitriol spewn at the squad-based shooter, it managed to properly compartmentalize combat, item management, and cooperative play not riddled with quick-time events or awkward item consumption. Resident Evil 6, in all its grotesque glory, is plagued by problems it should be better than.

That said, however, it's still playable. It's simply not optimal. No matter whose campaign you choose -- Leon, Chris, Sherry, or Ada, the game has a decidedly pro-cooperative play lilt to it that seems like a flippant, one-off addition. The stage is set for one player to fight off the scads of brain-munchers while the partner is rarely necessary for more than two-person door breaches or laughably simple switch puzzles that only serve to enervate rather than enhance normal play, which usually consists of following the new objective marker to the next destination, pumping the advancing hordes full of lead until they eventually bubble away to nothing.

This is a shaky, nervous Resident Evil that's more than a little unsure of itself, from its meandering target reticle to its bizarre run-then-walk control scheme. The game feels the need to decide when and where you may sprint in many cases, as if to artificially regulate when the player will be able to advance to the next checkpoint. Scripted events will occur at a set pace in any video game, but forcing players to submit to whims on the subject of plot exposition is frustrating.

It seems even the game is confused as to its place within the Resident Evil saga as well-- despite it seemingly having been built from the ground up as a shooter, it rarely provides players with enough ammunition for close encounters, let alone crowd control.

Be ready to spam melee roundhouse kicks and other physical assaults once your well runs dry, which usually begins a chain of being grabbed by a zombie, having to wiggle the stick to free yourself, and then starting the cycle all over again.

It's a shame, too, as some pieces shine, particularly the way enemies react to taking hits and the cinematic feel to the scripted events -- even though the QTEs leave much to be desired, the way they unfold is at the very least a treat for the eyes. Reuniting with fan-favorite characters is a great touch as well, despite the circumstances you meet up with them under.

Resident Evil 6 upholds the illusion of a proficient game, with slick movie-like cut scenes, improved character models, and the glimmer of a Hollywood blockbuster, but like so many A-listers, it's hollow inside. Here's to hoping for a swift return to (new) form should a seventh installment see the light of day.