I am finally able to play Resident Evil 6 as it was just released on Steam a few days ago. I was looking forward to it primarily because I prefer Leon to the rest of cast. So far I’ve played the Prelude and Chapter 1 of his campaign. As I haven’t played too far into it (I’ve been busy with other things and just playing a bit here and there) I can’t give any real in-depth thoughts, but I will talk in this entry about my initial reactions.
The first thing to grab me was the stark darkness of the visuals, and the strong lighting elements. Although it’s very cinematic by default via all the cutscenes, the feel of the game itself is visually striking with a distinct artistry to it that I appreciate to such a degree that I think in time I will end up painting fan art of the series for the first time ever due to the effective use of light and other elements to elicit the particular mood. As I haven’t tended towards generating much fan art in the past 6~8 years (Plants vs Zombies REBOOT in the early part of last year and being revived currently is the only fan art in recent history), this is a Big Deal.
The initial settings for the prelude and first chapter of Leon’s story are throwbacks to Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2: a mansion and a city gone mad. The way the enemies move is immediately noticeable as more zombie-like than in Resident Evil 4 or 5, again much more like the first games in the series. Adding the dramatic/cinematic music to this makes the whole thing feel like a chaotic action/horror movie that you get to play through. And indeed, the gameplay has been extremely linear with less room to explore than in 4 or 5. While this isn’t too much of an issue on this first play-through, I can see how the linearity would adversely affect replay value. However, replay is a long way off for me as there are 3 additional campaigns to roll through as well as the Mercenaries, Mercenaries No Mercy, and the other extra modes (Agent Hunt, Onslaught, etc) for me to play with before I even think of starting a campaign over again.
Addressing co-op, Slade just bought the game on Steam. I have co-oped yet, but it will occur in the near future. One thing I will say however is that I am IMMENSELY glad that while the PC version of the game still requires an additional login, it does NOT go through Windows Live the way Resident Evil 5 does. This is always a plus in my book as GFWL is a nightmare. Instead it goes through a specific Capcom login for residentevil.net, a website devoted solely to Resident Evil 6 which has a few things to do and look at: world records; online events (none so far but I think they’re in the works); forums; stat charts; unlockables (costumes for the characters in-game, wallpapers and icons etc for the site); dioramas where you purchase figures and settings and create scenes. The site seems to still be in the works, but has a nice presentation and is fun in and of itself for me to just log in and poke around. The first thing I intend to use my points for will be the pirate costume for Leon.
As regards the gameplay itself, there have been some new additions to the repertoire: you can move while shooting for example. Additionally, there is a whole new set of melee moves that is separate from your weapon (though finishing melee moves change depending on your gun/knife). There are also finishing moves that involve utilizing your surroundings and/or whatever the enemy is carrying or has stuck in its body. You can also become downed yet attack and catch a second wind to revive yourself if your partner can’t come to your aid (although I haven’t done this yet there is an achievement for it). Several of the elements are more strongly co-op survival horror similar to Left 4 Dead.
As to the enemies, there are types of zombies that correlate to Special Infected from L4D2 either in their appearance or function, though thankfully they are not Xerox copies. In either case this of course facilitates the special Steam-only L4D2/Resident Evil 6 mash-up and makes me wonder if such was the plan all along (conspiracy theory style!) or if it was just Capcom borrowing what works from relevant games (the likely answer). Honestly though I can just imagine the crazy conversation between Valve and Capcom once Valve saw that they ripped these tropes from L4D (which rips off Killing Floor, thus the spiral continues)…
“So we totally jacked your Special Infected with slight alterations. U mad, bro? Don’t be, ’cause you can totally cash in too. Howzabout we throw your renders into our game? People will totally buy it and the programming will be cake since we ripped your enemies and all. You can promote your Workshop too and make the FANS create the skins for the main cast of OUR game. Just think of it! Total WIN, bro!”
About the story so far…well, let me first explain some things about my responses to 4 and 5 as I feel that is important to my response about 6.
I enjoyed Resident Evil 4’s story as it was a sort of total derailing and kind of left field in a good way. It introduced Las Plagas and threw its cultivation in with a crazy cult which somehow managed to kidnap the President’s daughter (?! Not sure how that happened but okay, we’ll roll with it). What was awesome about this for me was that the setting was totally different than prior installments (at least until the end segment on the island); the enemies didn’t act like regular zombies and as the game progressed were more advanced and had armor and weapons of their own; the creepy cult was not creepy in a zealous way (i.e. there isn’t some “I WORSHIP THEE OH GOD OF MINE”) but rather just as a front for the testing and so forth; and finally Leon was so sarcastic and entertaining that he amused me more than the other main characters in the series. He more or less just acted like the whole thing was old hat (which it was after the Raccoon City incident) and even went back and forth with Salazar in a playful, retarded fashion the way teenage boys insult each other. While this meant that the game was more light-hearted than it really should have been, it charmed me between the action-style mechanics and the sheer fun of the various enemies, settings and situations. I have to admit that while this installment is a step away from survival horror, I was nonetheless constantly making the D: face and getting creeped out by the enemies. I remember distinctly several moments of “oh sh**—!”: the first time you encounter a chainsaw zombie in town and when you fight Chief Mendez and he turns into a scorpion-like monster for example – those were perhaps the two strongest memories for me.
Resident Evil 5 is even less like survival horror, but is a really fun game to co-op. I must admit that the story was really stupid in my opinion, and furthermore I wasn’t interested in the characters. The character highlight for me was the first fight with Wesker when he constantly condescends to Chris (whom I’m not fond of). I couldn’t really follow how the hell we got to some of the locations (a Mayan-like temple ruin? What is this, Indiana Jones? Tomb Raider?), but all the same it was fun. There were parts particularly in the beginning that were just really fun to play – and even more fun to play sequentially without taking a break. The pacing was great for the first bit in particular. I loved fighting through town only to have a crazy car chase, then to fight El Gigante (where’d he come from?!). The latter half was less interesting to play through but still fun to a degree. The final fight was both irritating (the environment) and then ridiculously easy (actually fighting Wesker). Returning to the story bit, Excella didn’t interest me (why does the head of Tricell look like a Russian Bond girl?), Jill’s return was predictable, and Wesker ranting about becoming a god was rather trite. And who was that weasly blonde guy with the overdone accent and white suit again? He was stupid and served little purpose. Mendez was a better “mid boss” by far, and Salazar had way more personality than Excella. Resident Evil 5 is one of the EXTREMELY rare instances where I don’t care about any of the characters, think the story is stupid yet can still enjoy the game due to the mechanics and pacing. The only part in the whole game that entertained me to any great degree was during the first fight with Wesker: Chris grabs Wesker and says, “I am SICK of your BULLSHIT!” and stabs him in the neck with the serum that will allegedly poison him. I would replay that fight countless more times just to watch/hear that again. I was severely entertained by that one line.
Now as regards Resident Evil 6, with as few expectations about the story as I have at this juncture thanks to the crap I had to sit through during 5’s cinematics, there’s little it can do to screw it up worse as my bar is set very low having just come off of a fresh play-through of 5 with my sister (thanks for sitting through that, sis, at least the co-op was fun if you can ignore the retardation of the story).
The first thing that I noticed when I started it up is Leon’s completely shell-shocked reaction to the situation escalating around him. He’s suffering some strong post-traumatic stress disorder, and while he’s still functional he’s also very sober and weathered. He looks notably older than he did in 4, and has not been sarcastic or cocky at any point during the prelude and first chapter of his campaign. While I know that 6 chronologically is years after 4, I suppose part of what I mean is that he overall has matured further from his last appearance. I really like this aspect though, because he’s been sobered up quite a bit over the course of his two CG movies and now in his current grave situation.
I find the hints of romance with Helena to be pretty entertaining in that “forced romance” facepalm sort of way – I wonder what Ada will think whenever she makes her usual convenient appearance. Ada was after all Leon’s first predestined “I must fall in love with you for no viable reason because the plot demands it” object of affection. At least with Helena you can chalk up the attraction to being pitted against dire circumstances which they must face side by side kind of thing. She doesn’t have a lot of personality to my mind as of this juncture though and thus as much as I’d like to have a female character to identify with, she just hasn’t captured my attention and has been set up as the suffering, formerly sinful heroine. This was already done before in 4 via Luis Sera, but at least Luis had a bit more personality regardless of whether or not you liked that particular character. Perhaps (hopefully) when I play the Jake/Sherry campaign I will take a liking to Sherry, as I’ve never been interested in Ada’s character either.
So far I still can’t see what is going on insofar as the overall plot of 6. That is, everything went to hell but I don’t know who unleashed this particular outbreak. There’s only so many times the same trick will be effective though so I hope that there’s a quasi-interesting plot behind it. However, it’s a Capcom game and in particular a game in this specific series that follows 5’s inanity, so I’m not really hoping for much. It’s a nice visual and aural showing of the Resident Evil line though, and I’m sure the co-op will be a lot of fun when I get the chance. As long as I have those things I will enjoy the game even if there are several other failings. I already know that via my experiences with Resident Evil 5.