I haven’t spent a lot of time with the Resident Evil series. I played the first few, dabbled in some of the PS2 games, enjoyed much of Resident Evil 4 and did not at all enjoy Resident Evil 5. The control scheme was poor and the action-packed feel of the game was jarring. Now that Resident Evil 6 is on the horizon, featuring an impressive three separate campaigns, it’s fair to give Capcom the benefit of the doubt and go into the newest 360 demo with an open mind. In spite of myself, I was actually kind of excited to try it out given some of the positive buzz from E3. After putting down the controller, most of that excitement was fairly diminished.
By far the most egregious thing I noticed about the game is the control; it’s what turned me away from Resident Evil 5, and it is still present here. Essentially, most things require a button prompt, including stepping up or down a ledge. It really breaks the flow of the game. Each character feels and controls like a tank, making it difficult to turn on a dime and track some of the strong and agile enemies. Many times I found myself shooting or swinging wildly, and it will take a while to get accustomed to the controls.
That’s not to mention the absolutely horrible cover system. This one works sometimes, but more often your range of aiming is restricted. By that, I mean that you can lean out of cover, but only track to the left or right a certain direction—and quite often, your reticule will stop just before that RPG-wielding baddie pulls the trigger. That’s not to mention that you have to run up to cover, aim, then press A to take cover, then aim again to be able to pop up and use cover. It’s ridiculously complicated. I ended up avoiding the cover system entirely, and it almost ruined the entire experience.
Leon’s campaign is by far the best. It hearkens back to classic Resident Evil with plenty of tension and darkness. It feels like a hybrid of the fourth and second games, and there are some really great moments of tension. My favorite comes at the end of the segment. I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say that the sequence is tense, thrilling, and extremely satisfying. The rest of the level is filled with creepy noises, taut situations, and a neat trick with a body slumping over and not moving, only to leap up and attack Leon when he backtracks. It’s a great little novelty scare, but the fact that it’s recycled ad nauseum in the same area starts to deaden the tension.
Chris’s campaign is a little weak; this is a startlingly generic third-person shooter that, while nice-looking, isn’t particularly memorable. While gamers at E3 have said that this campaign gets better as it goes on, this early segment is slightly boring. It does, however, feature a suitably nasty-looking giant monster. Apart from that, this is quite literally a standard third-person, cover-based shooter that puts Chris at the head of a military group. There’s even the classic, omnipresent “cover me while I arm this bomb” segment that every action game has. Don’t leave home without it! Also, the infected are now apparently smart enough to use flanking maneuvers and carry guns. I must have missed something along the absurdly complex storyline of the series.
Jake’s (Wesker’s offspring) campaign doesn’t seem to carve out the same niche as the other two campaigns, but it does carry a sense of bombast that I found rather endearing. The opening cutscene is downright silly, as Wesker’s son beats the absolute living hell out of an enemy with the help of plenty of slow-motion kung-fu. The actual gameplay, while also somewhat generic like the Chris campaign, is still rather over-the-top, as Jake somehow is able to pull off the same wild melee attacks that Wesker was capable of, sans the teleporting and all of that nonsense. This leads to some rather entertaining moments—ever wanted to roundhouse kick a zombie so hard that his head explodes and his arms fall apart? You got it. Most of Jake’s charm comes from his Dante-esque cockiness, and it makes the segment fun, though the enemies are kind of frustrating. These infected bad guys sprout shields or centipede arms when they get attacked, or sometimes mutate into crazy lizards that really ruin your day. Sadly, the fun of kicking things wears thin pretty quickly.
The game overall does need some glitches ironed out. The most frustrating one was when I initiated the button prompt to boost up an ally, which worked. When I tried to climb up, my character moved into the “boost” position again and I was stuck with enemies attacking me as my ally traveled a set path up two ladders and down a ledge to circle around and recycle the boosting animation. These issues will need to be rectified when the game comes out or it will seriously hamper the fun. Hopefully, the extremely confusing skill system and herb combination system will get some attention and a tutorial, as the demo gave absolutely no feedback or information on either, resulting in a poor showing for both.
I came out of the demo with mixed feelings. While Leon’s campaign seems to be most aligned with what made the series great to begin with, the rest of the game seriously disappointed me and the fourth campaign featuring Ada Wong is MIA. The fact that I found myself somewhat bored after just a few minutes into Jake’s demo is not a good sign at all. This may be due to the fact that I didn’t like the fifth game and have played maybe half of the existing series. But if you want an outsider’s perspective and an unbiased opinion, here it is: this game still needs work, and it’s out in a few weeks.