After the early demo reactions to Resident Evil 6, Capcom could have been forgiven for packing up their kit and refusing to release the latest in the sprawling horror game epic that has become a cultural phenomenon thanks to the tide of negativity that met the ill-conceived and under-cooked first demo. But the development team persisted, and what they have released today is a horror/action game with admirably huge scope and ambition, which soars in moments, but which also feels messy and uninspiring in others.
The development team were always facing an uphill battle, thanks to the near venomous fan reaction to the purely action focus of Resident Evil 5, which some saw as a betrayal of the franchise’s creepier heritage, but when the game is good, it’s great. It’s just a shame that Capcom seem to have been so concerned about pleasing as many fans as possible – including those like myself who saw the faster pace of Resident Evils 4 and 5 as a positive development, and those at the other end of the spectrum. The developers clearly saw Resident Evil 6 as an opportunity to fix the franchise – to reannounce one of the biggest properties in modern gaming with a bang.
Unfortunately, that best laid plan has become unraveled by the sheer scope of Capcom’s vision – wanting to please everyone from survival horror aficionados, stealth gamers, cover shooters to pure action heads led the developer to shoe-horning in as many gameplay types as possible and compromising some of the overall success of the game. Every one of the strands works well, but the mix isn’t wholly successful, and you get the feeling that if less is more had been the mantra around the board-rooms of Capcom, we might have been looking at something even better.
The game is split into four campaigns altogether – of which the most Resident Evil-like one, dedicated to Leon, is the most successful overall – and though the scope is rather atypical for any game let alone a high-numbered sequel and the scale of Capcom’s vision impressively shows off how well written, and well-knitted together the narrative strands are. The great production levels, excellent level design and strong atmospherics make those four converging campaigns individually entertaining, but the way the campaigns intertwine does unfortunately mean your frustratingly forced to replay certain sequences for a relatively minor pay-off that comes in a cut-scene. That rather counter-productively seems to suggest that Capcom forgot that gameplay should invariably trump narrative tricks, and it’s a shame because it negatively impacts on a multi-strand narrative approach that was already picking up criticism prior to release.
What doesn’t help is the fact that some of the excellent set-pieces are interspersed with poorly designed and often uninspiring shooter sequences that we’ve all seen before and that add very little to the action other than a cheap reminder that Resident Evil 6 may actually be too big for its own good intentions. It seems at times – like the vehicle-based sequences in particular- like Capcom introduced some gameplay types simply to add some more variation, and in doing so lost some of the focus and purpose that would have tide the game together more successfully.
Click next and read on for the overall verdict and score summary for Resident Evil 6…
We are currently seeking Gaming contributors on WhatCulture. To find out more about the perks of being a Gaming contributor, click here.