Platform Reviewed: PC via Steam / Price: £19.99 / Time Played: 10+ hours
As much as I liked Resident Evil 6 when it came to consoles last year, it wasn’t great.
The series still arguably suffers from setting itself an impossible yardstick in the form of Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition, a game that was witty and biting whilst also moving the genre onwards. In the time between then and now, many games have taken the groundwork that Capcom started and built upon it – leaving little in the way of space for Capcom to do their own build. This was the gist of the problem I had with RE6 when it was released last year; Capcom simply took every idea it had ever had and worked it into the game with little regard for continuity and consequence. Which meant whilst there are some truly awesome and brilliant sequences, like a tight-knit fight in a helicopter, they were followed later with truly awful and terrible sequences, like the snow-sled chase – a sequence that handled with all the response of a man with his hand in a powered-on food blender. I gave it a five because it wasn’t terrible – certainly not to the level many claim it was. But to ignore its deep flaws would be to do other, much better games a disservice.
Fortunately, the PC version does turn out to be the strongest, cleanest and most forgiving entrant into the series. But many of its foibles remain intact, and that bothers me no end.
We’re back with Leon, Chris and Sherry with the Ada campaign unlocked from the start. All the plots intertwine as always, spread across the world in some sort of pseudo-mockery of a conspiracy theorists journal of the war on terror. Chris still acts like a twat, Leon still has the intelligence quotient of a goldfish on LSD and Sherry Birkin, oddly, is alright. Yes, Sherry Birkin comes across as an interesting character and that might just be that her design reminds me a lot of Heather Mason from Silent Hill 3, only less moody and more three-dimensional. Sherry and Jake’s campaign is often where the game tests out its crazier, wackier stuff and it’s hard after playing all three main campaigns (sans Ada Wong) to avoid that niggling doubt in the back of your head that it’s probably the one they did first, the one they perhaps wanted to do from the start before someone thought of throwing in lots of other characters. Even if Sherry’s segment does contain that shockingly awful sled segment, it’s swiftly followed by a slower, more intelligent stealth-esque section that just about makes up for the frustration of constantly being murdered by an avalanche. Sherry’s segment also contains the most nods to the past, which becomes a “Spot the Resident Evil Reference” competition which is nice, if not particularly brilliant.
Gameplay-wise, the title is still confused as to what it wants to be. Resident Evil 6 really is still a perfect example design-wise of “The Kitchen Sink Approach”, going from shooting baddies in a Resident Evil 5 way (although thankfully, this is so much more tolerable on the PC than it ever was on consoles!) to a chase sequence that has little room for error and will see you die needlessly a few times – something the game likes to penalise you for in the scoring at the end of each segment, which is a supreme dickmove that deserves nothing but our contempt – and more. There are turret sections, where you just shoot stuff from a turret. Racing segments, with guns, like a darker version of Mario Kart without any of the sparkle. There’s a flying segment as well. All liberally peppered with huge mutants and bosses that are designed to give you the impression that the virus changes from place to place, except it’s never much more than an irritation in the path of an indecipherable plot. Your first selection of character doesn’t matter as you won’t get the full force of the story until you’ve played all the campaigns, and replayed them to get a feel for what happens why and when.
Of course, the PC is the prettiest version of Resident Evil 6. This goes without saying. In terms of visual quality, Capcom have in recent years become quite adept at squeezing the juice from the PC crowd – even if their DRM practices have let them down along the way. On Steam, there is no Games for Windows Live requirement – immediately improving things no end – and it gives rise to a little collaboration between Capcom and Valve, with a crossover partnership between Resident Evil 6 and Left4Dead 2. The Mercenaries: No Mercy is a nice, safe addition and I am still waiting for Capcom to do a decent Mercenaries stand-alone game, as the 3DS version was not it. The Mercenaries mode is much more immediate and enjoyable on the PC as well, in much the same way as Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition gave us the better version of the game. You see, controls matter and a mouse control allows for more accuracy and precision than console controllers do. It’s hardly revolutionary to say this; but in every way Resident Evil 6 on the PC is the best version of the game. Some things have been tidied up, it’s prettier and handles better.
Except that all of this doesn’t disguise that Resident Evil 6 was only ever “okay”.
It’s a game with a design ethos that doesn’t make sense. I don’t want to get into a debate over what constitutes Survival Horror, but for those hurting over the series lack of scares, this isn’t suddenly going to change their minds. In all their attempts to tie up some character arcs, they exposed themselves to new characters who will in future likely need to be tied off as well. Many of its failing segments return, and slightly nicer controls cannot mask the awful fact that these bits just are not fun at all; Leon’s Subway is twitchy as hell and always was, Chris’ Dockside Chase still had little signposting to let you know where to go and Sherry’s snowsled segment is still terrible. Even if Mercenaries Mode is better – it still shouldn’t excuse a single player that doesn’t feel like they rejected anything. It’s like they asked for ideas to be put into a hat in the office and rather than pick a few out, they just opened the lot and did everything. “Everyone is a winner here HOORAY!”. Yeah, everyone except the game, which really could have done with Capcom and its developers showing a little restraint in parts.
I also miss the wit. There are jokes, but they fall flat. Resident Evil for me has always had wit and charm, a sense that it can laugh at itself. Resident Evil 4 was the epitome of this; the game was well-designed, and didn’t take itself seriously. It knew it, we knew it, everyone was in on the joke and we had fun along the way. Resident Evil 6 is… well, it’s too serious. It seems to have convinced itself that it is a serious series, and wants us to forget “Jill Sandwiches”, morbid Chiefs of Police, mutants thrusting their tentacles down peoples throats, Jill Valentine and Nemesis, Jill’s outfit in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis being the fashion equivalent of an a la carte menu, Barry Burton, Rebecca Chambers, old men becoming young men and choosing to dress in a dress and with make-up inspired by the early-80’s New Romantics movement and not to mention the brilliant, utterly astounding character that was Alfred Ashford (mental, weird but utterly brilliant!). Except I can’t. It’s a sequel in a series that has been mostly very reliant on its tongue-in-cheek humour and now it wants us to take it seriously? I’m sorry, it’s just… I can’t. Without the charm and humour, the game just lacks soul. It’s another game, only in this case, it’s not even a terribly well-crafted game either.
It’s easily the best version and yes, I think the pricing is silly – $10 more in the US, but £10 cheaper in the UK than console versions (go figure!). Everything is silly and not in the nice way that I found myself smiling and chuckling along with The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. It’s too serious, too flat, too dull in segments. It’s an action game that copies rather than innovates, so desperate is it to conclude the arcs of some of the series main (and not-so-main) protagonists that it forgets that creating new characters to do that only creates more work down the road. The Mercenaries is definitely the star; and your longevity might depend solely on that, although I still maintain that I prefer and would still prefer a stand-alone Mercenaries mode, blended with the superb Raid Mode from Resident Evil: Revelations. To me, that would be a whole game on its own. One Capcom could make lots of money from by just bring total fanservice.
And I think they’re going to need it, because the fans are fed up. If you’re ever interested Capcom in my ideas for such a fanservice game, email me!
It’s about time you paid attention to what the fans wanted, anyway…
- Achingly pretty.
- Keyboard and Mouse. You know, this might catch on someday…
- Sherry Birkin still officially awesome.
- The Mercenaries Mode still great, and it’s got new stuff too!
- Single player still has sections that are borderline satanic!
- Slow Sleds. Stop it. Destroy them all!
- The plot is all over the shop even when you know what is going on!
- It’s just… not very well designed at all.
- So, there’s a C-Virus and an alternate strain that clones and one that enslaves and what in the who and why now?
- I know stories need coincidences, but Resident Evil 6 really relies on them too much.
- I want to punch Chris Redfield in the face, hard and repeatedly, with a chainsaw.
- Still just “a game”. It doesn’t feel like Resident Evil anymore…
OVERALL CONCLUSION – Oh what a surprise! (5 out of 10)
Same score. Look, Mercenaries Mode is still the main reason I come to these games and that’s not something to be ashamed of. But the single player has for a while just been devolving into generic clichés and tropes that do nothing but irritate. It’s not terrible – just terribly average, and perhaps that’s the hardest thing to forgive in the end…