Is a successful horror game one that can make me jump in fear not once, but twice, in a room crowded with journalists and PR types? Who knows, but that’s what Resident Evil 6 made me do, evoking the sheer terror I felt when playing the original game many years ago. Thanks, now I feel old.
Anyway, you’ve no doubt heard a lot about this one, what with it being one of the larger gaming franchises around. If not, a quick recap: it’s more Resident Evil! But this time, the scope has broadened out to include three sets of playable characters: Leon and partner, Chris and partner, and Jake and partner.
Let’s start with Leon, because this campaign looks to be my favourite. By coincidence, it’s also the one that conjures up the slow-boiling tension and abandoned corridors of the first few games. Exploring a carnival-type area overrun with zombies, this is where all the scares emanated from for me. It was dark, furniture was scattered everywhere, and I shied away from every window, expecting a giant dog to leap in.
And of course, when I encountered my first body, I knew it was going to shortly begin to get up and shuffle towards me. This didn’t reduce the tension, though, and I was pleased to see that it actually did shuffle: these zombies are kickin’ it old school! Good stuff.
Goodness knows who my partner was, but the whole mechanic seemed as awkward as it did in Resident Evil 5, at least to my mind. If you’re trying to really build up a healthy amount of Atmosphere, try making a character go solo, rather than pairing it with a silly AI who repeats the same phrases over and over again. Conversation with this lady, when not in cutscenes, went like this:
“Thanks for the help!”
“I’m glad you’re around!”
Ah well. Anyway, after a lot of tense corridor-roaming, the areas opened up slightly, and the number of zombies increased, before everything narrowed down again. From what little I saw, it seemed like the pacing of the Leon side of things should be spot-on for old-school RE fans.
Then there were Chris and Jake’s campaigns, which basically take the action-heavy philosophy of Res 5 and bring it to its natural conclusion. Chris started the level in a tank as he and a bunch of troops made their way up a crowded street in a full-on battle against mutated soldiers. And hey, it wasn’t actually that bad as an action game: not the best, but I didn’t feel like the controls were fighting me too often.
These mutated soldiers were, of course, a far cry from Leon’s shuffling undead, but that fits the tone of the campaign. What’s more, the giant boss part-way through was tense and fun, albeit somewhat cliched: hit his glowing red spot for maximum damage!
The campaign that I had the most questions of, and the one that seemed most devoid of character, was Jake’s campaign. This guy’s a mysterious mercenary, and without context, I felt like I was playing a variation of Chris’s level, only with fewer tanks and more dinosaur-like creatures scampering around and spitting darts at me.
Actually, a lack of context infused all three campaigns, which is a shame, because I play the RE games for their atmosphere and cheesy stories. Having said that, it looks like Capcom is confidently crafting three different experiences in an effort to placate all RE fan types at the same time. The difficulty there? They might spread themselves too thin and end up pleasing no one. Seems to be a risk they’re willing to take, though, and we’ll find out if they succeeded come October.
The Good: Scariness returns! Could please all types of fans...
The Bad: ...or please none of them.
The Ugly: The monsters. Duh.