The Resident Evil series is one of gaming's most revered franchises. Originally released in 1996, it will always be known for popularising survival horror games, with its tense atmosphere and dogs-crashing-out-of-the-windows type of scares.
Come Resident Evil 4, Capcom decided to change things a bit by giving the game an action-movie feel. Hardcore fans protested, but generally the game was loved by many and was a massive success.
The relationship between Capcom and the die-hard fans did not improve with Resident Evil 5, with Capcom providing an even more action-orientated game, with less horror as a result, but it proved to be their most successful title yet.
Now Capcom brings you their most ambitious game ever - in both the history of the franchise and the company in general - with four distinctive campaigns. Yes, Resident Evil 6 has arrived.
As mentioned before, Resident Evil 6 is divided into four different campaigns, with three of the four playable in any order.
As a letter to the fans, Resident Evil 6 allows you to play as fan favourites Leon S. Kennedy, Chris Redfield and series newcomer Jake Muller. Ada Wong is also playable in the fourth campaign, which is only available once all the other campaigns are completed.
Capcom has tried to make each campaign feel different in an attempt to please everybody. So let us take a closer look at the campaigns, shall we?
In Leon's campaign, as fans will know since the events of Resident Evil 4, Leon has been in the employ of the United States President as a special agent. The town they're in is attacked by bio-terrorists, with the settlement being overrun with zombies as a result. The president gets infected with the zombie virus and Leon has no choice but to kill him.
Aided by fellow agent Helena Harper, Leon has to escape the zombie-infested town and find the people responsible for the attack. Of all the campaigns, Leon's feels the most like the old school Resident Evil games, with a tense atmosphere and well-scripted scares. It feels good to be scared again and you'll also conserve ammo like your life depended on it.
The campaign itself is of a high quality and really made me want to stick around to see what’s going to happen. At times it felt like I was playing an episode of the Walking Dead TV series. It was just that good.
The use of traditional zombies here is welcome as opposed to the intelligent Las Plagas and Javo enemy types. Like the Los Plagas and Javo, these zombies can use weapons too, but it feels more natural, like zombified riot police accidentally shooting their guns or a zombie throwing an aimless axe. There is also a nice variety in zombie enemy types (reminiscent of games like Left for Dead and Dead Island) that keeps things fresh.
Meanwhile, Chris Redfield is drinking his sorrows away in a bar when fellow Bio-terrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA.) agent Piers Nivens asks him to join the BSAA. on a new mission involving a bio-terrorism attack in China.
Reluctant to accept the mission due to having post-traumatic amnesia from a previous mission in the Eastern European city of Edonia, he eventually agrees to the mission.
Of all the campaigns, Chris' is the biggest departure from the Resident Evil formula. Gone is the survival horror and in its place we have Capcom's version of Gears of War. Cover-based shooting is the order of the day, albeit with convoluted controls.
The whole "jarhead" culture of the BSAA also rears its ugly head, with Chris and Piers exchanging some really cheesy bro-mance dialogue. I just wanted to scream "HOORAH SOLDIER!" the whole time I was playing.
Being predominantly a shooter-based campaign, I did not hesitate to run straight into the thick of things, with enemies being mere obstacles in my way and not the formidable beasts that they should be. Ammunition (normally a scarcity in Resident Evil games) was also in abundance and I never really felt like my life was in danger. Not really Resident Evil now then, is it?
Next up we have Jake Muller, who unbeknownst to himself, is the son of series antagonist, Albert Wesker. Jake is a mercenary for the South-Slavic Edonian Liberation Army, who flees from the BSAA during a bio-terrorism attack in Edonia.
He meets up with Sherry Birkin (last seen as a survivor in Resident Evil 2), who is now a DSO agent, who believes that Jake's blood could be the cure to the new C-Virus that the bio-terrorists are using to turn humans into the Javo, a bio-weapon that retains its human intelligence when transformed.
Jake's campaign is interesting in the sense that a lot of emphasis is placed on his melee attacks. Jake can perform some devastating combos using his hands and feet alone. Normally in Resident Evil games, melee attacks should be the last resort, which is not the case with Jake.
While not that different to Leon's campaign, Jake's campaign does involve chase sequences that are littered with annoying quick time events. That aside, it's quite entertaining.
As for the rest of the content, you have Ada Wong's campaign, Mercenaries and Agent Hunt mode.
I won't say anything about Ada's campaign as it contains spoilers - it's supposed to be a secret campaign after all.
Mercenaries mode returns and is as fun as ever. For the uninitiated, its a horde-style game mode where you fight waves of enemies alone or with a friend, but against the clock.
Agent Hunt allows you to go into another player's online game as an enemy, similar to the mechanic found in Dark Souls. Agent Hunt is not as good as it sounds and feels like an afterthought. All three main campaigns can also be played cooperatively with another player, either online or offline.
Capcom has really done it this time. Whilst Resident Evil 6 boasts amazing production values and lots of generous content, the game really disappoints with its strange design choices.
Controls have generally improved since Resident Evil 5 (no more tank controls) but the convoluted cover mechanics boggle the mind. The game has awesome visuals, but hinders you with a terrible camera that is too close to your character and severely limits your field of vision (making off-screen attacks from enemies inevitable). Interweaving story-lines from the four different campaigns are cool, but why make gamers play certain sections over again as different characters?
Leon's campaign is clearly the highlight and is worth the price of admission alone. Chris' campaign is a huge disappointment, but it's playable and it's recommended that you play it first to get it out of the way. Jake's is interesting, but slightly let down by the annoying chase sequences. Each campaign should last about eight hours each, which equates to about 30 hours of gameplay.
Visually, Resident Evil 6 features phenomenal graphics and it's easily one of the best-looking games on home consoles, with just a few low resolution textures here and there. Music is also excellent, but voice work lags behind, with some cheesy dialogue thrown in here and there (a homage to the first Resident Evil perhaps?).
As a Resident Evil fan, I really enjoyed what the game has to offer (with a few disappointments though) and would recommend it to other fans too, as they will find something to enjoy about it. If you wait until December though, Capcom is releasing an update to fix the camera and other issues.
The update will also allow you to play Ada's campaign cooperatively with another player, which is not possible at the moment. Also, a warning. If you play the game while signed in to the PSN or Xbox Live, the game will treat your session as a multiplayer session and you will be not be able to pause your game, even if you are not playing online.
To everyone else, if you are looking for a good survival horror game, you'd be better off with superior games such as Dead Space 2 or Condemned 2. If you want a semi-decent action game with a bit of survival horror thrown in, and don't want a six to eight hour game, get Resident Evil 6.
Score: 6 out of 10 (7 if you are a RE fan)