Iíll just say it up front now; when youíre talking about Resident Evil 6 itís hard to not to mention Resident Evil 4. Itís especially hard for me; as to me, RE4 is a game I judge many action shoot-y type games against. I think itís a true benchmark game and after playing the RE6 demo it shows that Capcom are having trouble living up to it.
I think everyone knows the problems with RE6. Weíll start with Leonís section of the demo. Capcom is reported to have wanted to go back to the seriesí roots with Leonís section of the game. Perhaps even harking back to RE2 where intimidating atmosphere and survival horror are the focus of the experience but you donít really get that, but what you do get is the worst of both RE2ís and RE4ís worlds. You get simple corridor environments with not a lot going on. I know itís hard to build up the required tense atmosphere within the contexts of a demo but with Leon and Helenaís abilities I doubt it would ever get as tense as it needs to be to remain engaging. During the section where you are locked in one particular corridor, waiting for a door to open and hordes of zombies burst through the windows to attack itís supposed to be a desperate fight until you can escape, much like on the original Left 4 Dead while waiting for an elevator to come on No Mercy. But since Leon and Helena have such strong melee attacks then youíre never that tense or scared. Iím actually pretty sure Leon could single-handedly deal with all of the zombies with a simple kick to the face then smash their squishy heads with the Diamond Cutter while staggered. Taking the RE4 Leon, then making him more powerful, then putting him into an even more linear game does not make for much fun.
Then, we move onto Chrisís section of the game, which is basically Gears of Resident Evil. But you know what? If it was good I would have been fine with that. Imagine Gears of War but with a lot more eccentric monsters. Itís already kind of there with the stretchy arm guy that pulls you out of cover. Imagine if they removed enemies with guns and just had mutated freaks with weird abilities. Imagine if Shinji Mikami was still on board of the Resident Evil ship. Iíd be so on board with that even if it isnít anything like a traditional Resident Evil game.
But it isnít any of that. What we have is Gears of War but with none of the intuitivism. I canít get over the gameís cover system. Itís shambolic. What is it you do again? Go next to a chest high wall? Hold the ďpoint gunĒ button? Then press X/A to toggle (yes, toggle) between taking cover and popping up to shoot. Iím not one to want uniform controls over all games in the same genre but that just feels unnaturalÖ maybe youíd get used to it, but itís a needless obstacle.
And of course you have the enemy AI, which on multiple occasions on my play through the gun toting zombies jumped out of cover and lurched across the environments like a duck on a carnival shooting range and let me effortlessly take them out. Itís a disaster.
Iím not even going to go into Jakes part. Itís basically somewhere in the middle of the other two characters play styles and has all the same problems accept itís also really fucking dark. I canít decide whether that makes it better or worse, not being able to see the tragedy
But you know what? None of that is the worst thing.
I sometimes struggle to articulate why Iím not a big fan of Resident Evil 5 (though since RE6, it has gone up in my estimation). I usually just point at the compulsory co-op ruining the horror for me and leaving it at that. The game is, at times, as interestingly designed as RE4 with regards to the environments at least, so why is it that I donít think that highly of it?
Playing RE6 and watching some of the trailers made me see whatís missing from RE6 and RE5.
Itís not funny anymore.
I think Resident Evil 4ís humour is a bigger part of what makes it what it is, and what makes it so special to people, even if they donít realise it. RE4 has a humour that doesnít diminish the horror, it compliments it. Itís incredibly Sam Raimi in tone. RE4 jumps from being chased around a claustrophobic and remote village by a chainsaw wielding bastard to being chased around a castle by monks in elaborate gowns with a ball and chain. In another moment youíre running away from the animated statue of a power hungry midget then panicking in the dark, narrow corridors, figuring out how to deal with the chilling and seemingly indestructible Regenerators. RE4 makes you laugh as much as it gets under your skin, and RE5 didnít do that. RE6 certainly doesnít.
Some of the same elements are there in RE5 and 6, such as the silly melee finishers but there isnít the tonal shift. Itís just all mixed or ill thought out, such as in RE5 with the African guys in grass skirts, or Diamond Cutters where the game wants you to take it more seriously. Ultimately, thatís that problem. RE6 wants you to take it seriously if the cut-scenes are anything to go by; all the shouting and drama, but not the unbounded imagination that its predecessor had.
And I do believe that is the problem with the series now. If it was funny; if it had the Raimi style, the creepy, funny, oddly endearing tone to it I think I would still have liked Resident Evil 6, despite its awful controls and nose dive in the quality of level design. I think I would of still held a candle for it if it stayed funny.