Resident Evil 6 Review: So Much Game You’ll Have to Like Something
It’s the gameplay, however, that makes Resident Evil 6 something special. Leon’s campaign is a little more like Resident Evil 4 with overtones of classic RE games, and it even includes zombies. It contains a number of last stand scenarios in which players have to hold out against hordes of enemies until a certain amount of time passes or objectives are met. Chris’s campaign is more like Resident Evil 5, with a much more run-and-gun approach to gameplay. When it comes to Jake, the game leans a little more on hand-to-hand combat and on running away from indestructible enemies, a lot like Resident Evil 3.
This diversity of play is pretty amazing when you really start to experience it. It took me a long time to warm up to certain elements, and there are a number of frustrating design decisions, to be sure. On the whole, however, there’s just an insane amount of content across these four campaigns — it’s realistically around 25 hours of game when played by yourself.
Sometimes the irritations mount, and in those moments Resident Evil 6 can be a really frustrating experience. It took a bit for me to realize that shooting enemies is actually not the preferred method of dispatching them — stunning them briefly and bringing them down with melee attacks is much quicker, more efficient, and ammo-conscious. But the game is still a bit stingy with the ammunition and there are far too many moments when you’ll find yourself wishing you had the bullets to kill the thing killing you; these experiences often amount to a lot of wasted time, an eventual death, and a restart with more resources.
Resident Evil 6 is also chock full of quick-time events. Some of these work fairly well, like when you’re snagged by a zombie, and others really don’t, like the ones that are part of the game’s major set pieces. They come up so often and so quickly that a few just require dying a bunch of times so you can get the lay of what you’ll have to do and in what order. Other sequences give you roughly one second to process what actions are required in order to avoid death, and there are portions when some scripted event will kill you because you’re standing in the wrong place. There are a lot of instant death triggers in the game that you won’t know are fatal traps until they snare you, especially in Leon’s campaign. A lot of this is what drove me to dislike the game early on.
But the conclusion I’ve come to over the length of playing Resident Evil 6 is that much of why I didn’t like it is because so much goes unexplained in terms of gameplay early on. You don’t realize right away all your quick dodge actions, or how the health and healing systems work, or that melee isn’t just for those tense moments but essential to ammo management. It’s a lot of stupid design decisions intermingled with ones that work, and Resident Evil 6 benefits from your experience over time.
And really, the game isn’t designed to be played alone, even though lots of changes have been made to the teammate gameplay since Resident Evil 5. You play the whole game with an AI-controlled partner if you don’t have a live one, and you’re no longer responsible for their weapons, ammo or survival this time around (you still need them to open some doors, however). But it’s still not nearly as fun as playing with another person, and while the frustrations are still there, they’re significantly less pronounced, while the game’s cooperative strengths get highlighted.
And I really can’t get over the abundance of content. There’s the four campaigns, three of which are playable cooperatively. All of those campaigns can be played online in Agent Hunt mode, which means other players can take on the roles of monsters and try to take down the protagonists. And then there’s the arcade style mode known as The Mercenaries, popularized first in Resident Evil 4, which is also available cooperatively. It’s just a huge amount for your money.
So yes, there were points when Resident Evil frustrated me, and there are design decisions, set pieces and elements I really did hate. There’s a fight in Chris’s campaign with an attack helicopter that’s just boring because it mostly ignores or can’t really hurt Chris; that same fight in Jake’s campaign is exceptionally annoying because there’s no hiding from the helicopter. A car chase at one point feels weirdly paced or maybe just out of place; fleeing on a motorcycle in another scene is just goddamn stupid. One mission in Jake’s campaign takes place in a blizzard with a horde of enemies and even just navigating the level requires extensive knowledge of zen meditation techniques to stave off the rage it induces.