Capcom seems to be at something of a crossroads with the Resident Evil series. While the company has said time and again that survival horror in its classic form is well and truly dead, it understands that it?s exactly this kind of experience that its legion of hardcore fans really want. So what it?s done with the upcoming Resident Evil 6 is give you multiple experiences in one.
A classic scare-fest with Leon Kennedy, an action-heavy side featuring Chris Redfield, and an... adventure style affair (I guess?) with Jake Muller, son of Albert Wesker. Capcom tells me that each character has their own separate campaign. You won?t be playing through one story and switching between characters. So you?re almost getting three games in one. But which one?s coming out trumps so far?
Well, that?s what we?re here for. Here?s a rundown of each of the three experiences, in order of what you?re likely to enjoy the most. Roll it!
3 - Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin
Jake?s adventure certainly feels the weakest of the three so far, and is without a doubt the wildcard Resident Evil 6
experience. The big draw here is the chase between Jake and Sherry, and the Ustanak - a huge, towering beast that?s reminiscent of the Tyrant from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
We doubt that Jake?s entire side of the game will involve constantly running away from large monsters - the prodigal son looks like he can hold his own in a street brawl - but much of what I played in the demonstration here didn?t amount to anything awe-inspiring.
When Jake and Sherry catch a breath to take in their surroundings, the game turns into a straightforward, zombie-themed version of Uncharted
. Sherry wanders around trying to get to the goal marker, and it?s up to Jake to perform craploads of acrobatics around dilapidated mountainside bunkers.
And every so often a human soldier pops up to cap a few in your ass. Luckily, Jake?s well-versed in mixed martial arts or something, so he can perform an array of melee attacks.
I?m not entirely sure who exactly Capcom is trying to appeal to with this side of the game. At the moment, it feels like padding for the two distinct gameplay styles that Chris and Leon?s stories offer.
2 - Chris Redfield and Piers Niven
Initially I was a bit deflated with Chris Redfield?s area of gameplay too, as to appease the fans of action-heavy Resident Evil 5
(they do exist, it seems) a good chunk of Resident Evil 6
is dedicated to guns, explosions and military banter.
Chris begins this chapter stripped of his BSAA badge after the events that took place in Kijuju, and is feeling rather sorry for himself until he is brought back into the squad by soldier Piers Niven.
Piers acts as Chris? partner for the duration of this segment of the game, and tasks the counter-bioterrorism unit with investigating some sneaky goings on in China. Here, they encounter the J?avo - super-intelligent, gun-toting zombies that get stronger if you shoot them anywhere other than the head. From there-on out, shit drops like a tonne of bricks, Call of Duty
style. Boom, boom, boom shake the room.
But, this is where some issues come into play. Using a control scheme that?s largely intended for slow-paced, survival horror play just doesn?t work when you?re being presented with fast-paced action like this. It was one of the big drawbacks to Resident Evil 5
, in fact. You can?t try to be Gears of War
with a control system lifted from Resident Evil 4
It?s not all bad news though. While I walked away from my gameplay session thinking ?Resident Evil 5.5
?, Capcom showed some brand new footage from Chris? adventure during the San Diego Comic Con. And it looks like some of the horror has been brought back - while exploring a rundown Chinese hotel, Chris and Piers get attacked by an unseen monster.
As they explore the building, the beast keeps tailing them, picking off people from their BSAA unit before smashing both co-op players into different areas of the level. Smart.
This new section should add an extra dimension to the simple ?run, shoot, repeat? nature of the Resident Evil
prequel that inspires Chris Redfield?s gameplay. The execution of it all is still up in the air, but now it?s looking like it could very well be a satisfying chapter in Resident Evil 6
1 - Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper
Of course, the return of Leon Kennedy may make this side of the game win by default, but this suspense-driven scenario definitely feels more exciting and engaging to play in its own right. Leon?s story effortlessly combines elements from the classic Resident Evil
games and the modern innovations introduced in Resident Evil 4.
In this story, Leon is an agent investigating an outbreak of an unknown biochemical. The chaos has caused civil unrest, and the murky fog has turned many of Leon?s allies into brain-chomping zombies - including the President of the United States himself. Fellow agent Helena Harper accompanies him to help get to the bottom of the situation.
And the situation is pretty grim. With a high-profile political party now all but cancelled due to the hysteria of the biochemical attack, Leon and Helena are tasked with exploring every corner of the mansion-like venue to find any survivors. The fact that I played through the majority of Leon?s segment without encountering any zombies - even though I knew they were coming - really helped to add tension and suspense at every turn.
The set-pieces are brilliant too - big dining halls look innocent when you run past them the first time, but then eerily on your return to the same room some of the furniture has been moved. Thunder and lightning from the windows cast mind-bending shadows on inanimate objects. Even opening doors is a throwback to classic Resident Evil
loading screens - with Leon taking his sweet time to peer behind doors before you get to fully see what?s on the other side.
When you do encounter some zombies, you realise that you?re constantly under pressure from certain constraints. Not enough ammo. A claustrophobic space. Civilians to look out for. This is the part of the game where the control mechanics feel the most comfortable (even though there have been some tweaks - herbs can be immediately accessed using the Right Bumper for example).
While too clunky for the kind of action Capcom wants to present in Chris Redfield?s chapter, the button layout and control scheme is still massively tweaked from Resident Evil 4
, and may take some getting used to for traditional players. But, once you start to get in the swing of things, you won?t look back - and it seems that it was all made with Leon in mind.