Resident Evil 6 Hands-On Preview

Resident Evil 6

Similar to Dead Space (and so tenderly described by our own Dan Crabtree), Resident Evil has gone down the abrasive road of action in the wake of its pivot-and-aim horror mechanics. Still, the Resident Evil 6 demo has proven the game’s roots are still grasping firmly to the franchise’s core… for better or for worse.

Resident Evil 6 (RE6) is a global effort. Expanding the story over several continents and months, I took control of three different stories involving six different characters. Leon Kennedy (of RE2/RE4 fame) and his partner, Chris Redfield (of RE/RE5/Marvel vs. Capcom 3 fame) and his bro, and newbie Jake Muller.

Resident Evil

With Leon, who is still working closely to the President, the echoes of the earlier Resident Evil games can be heard. After a brief introduction with secret service agent Helena Harper, who ambiguously puts the blame on herself for all the crazy happenings, the two set off into the isolation and silence of Ivy University in Tall Oaks, U.S.A. With all the charm and zombies of Raccoon City, without the nostalgia. Empty study halls are stirred when infected students and professors awake, lurching me. I steady my shot and fire a few rounds. It feels like classic Resident Evil. It’s slower. It’s eerie. There are closed-off hallways, broken windows overrun by hurried, but still sloppy, undead. I’m alone. I feel alone.

Then I boot up Chris’s portion, who is now part of the anti-biowarfare group, BSAA, in the middle of Europe. Like RE5, Chris’s story is more for the trigger-happy. This would be fine if RE6‘s mechanics didn’t fight with me so often. Sprinting to cover, getting into cover, coming out of cover, firing, and ducking back down into cover is a common series of events for games today. It’s a process that should only take five to six seconds to execute. Here, it takes me several playthroughs before I feel comfortable. Hitting X and R1 to dive into cover and then using the analog to lean out is straining. I often end up on the ground rolling around enemies or waiting for my partner, Piers, to deliver the final blow.

The AI appears to have improved since RE5. The atmosphere remains. Chris is in full action-hero mode. I dodge rockets, fight Rancor-like mutants, and Redfield-punch face after face. It’s like switching film genres mid-film, but RE6 appears to fully devote itself to whichever is being played. If the game can maintain this level of commitment without it weakening, having several types of gameplay could be refreshing.

Resident Evil

Most curious is newcomer Jake, who’s introduction seems like leftover scripting from a Devil May Cry scene. As the son of Wesker, Resident Evil’s leather-and-sunglasses bad guy, Jake is gifted with super-human speed, strength, and the ability to make punchy one-liners. U.S. agent Sherry Birkin (who was a child character in RE2 but is now all grown-up), is tasked to protect Jake, as his blood may hold the cure to the virus. After a curious first meeting full of syringes and super-humanoids, I set out with Sherry into the alleys of Edonia, Eastern Europe. Before long, I’m back behind cover, cycling through Jake’s weaponry in an attempt to conserve bullets. The infected enemies harden into cocoons when they die, some mutating into beasts. They’re quick, consistently out-pacing my movements. Jake’s sleek karate moves are nowhere to be found on the controller layout; I can only execute a few kicks and punches that may land if I position myself correctly. And even if I do, the attack is powerless against the nastier foes.

Leon and Chris are expected characters with expected roles. This isn’t a knock against the series or Capcom. It’s nice to have the staples to rely on and see how they grow. With Jake, though, I’m hoping for something more. He and Sherry were the most compelling of the bunch, but their gameplay seemed to be a blend of Leon and Chris. The chance to do some more devilish-may-cry executions is intriguing. If the series is taking the action-y plunge and creating a character to fit the mold, it should expand to the fullest. At the moment, the shooter aspects of RE 6 are invigorating at best and wonky at worst. Jake, along with this fancy karate, has the potential to bring it together.


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Author: Greg Galiffa View all posts by
Greg Galiffa is an Associate Editor at GamerNode. He's also an apologist for the first TMNT film. You can follow him on Twitter @greggaliffa

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