Resident Evil 6 – PC
Release Date: Mar 22, 2013
Genre: Action, Adventure, Survival Horror
Reviewed by Mark Smith
Review Score: 4 of 5
I’ve been a longtime fan of the Resident Evil series, ever since the first game on the original PlayStation and including all the movies in theaters and animated Blu-ray. I’ve played them on the GameCube, Wii, 3DS, PlayStation and Xbox and for the most part I have loved them all. I even managed to find some enjoyment in the critically panned Operation Raccoon City released in 2012, so I was extremely excited to play and review Resident Evil 6 when it finally arrived on the PC.
This latest chapter in the apocalyptic zombie saga is Capcom’s most ambitious title to date, both conceptually and in sheer content. The designers have created a hodgepodge of genres, blurring what seems to be their favorite elements from over a dozen other action titles already out there, so the end result doesn’t always feel like Resident Evil, as much as it does, Kane and Lynch or Army of Two set in a world of zombies. But that is only gameplay. As far as story and presentation, the game is totally and authentically Resident Evil with the return of Leon, Chris, and Jake in their own separate sagas, and each with their own sidekick that can be played by a human in online or split-screen co-op or by the computer if no one else is able to assist.
In all, there are four unique campaign stories and seven lead characters you’ll need to complete to finish this 30+ hour epic quest. The odd thing is that these stories are presented as completely standalone, even to the point of having their own closing credits, despite having serious plot connections. Honestly, after finishing Leon’s set of story missions I was completely satisfied and ready to move on to a new game, but alas, there were two more equally long chapters waiting for me. The further you get down the chapter and mission list the more the plot threads start to weave themselves into something that resembles a coherent and quite engaging storyline.
The fact you can play these chapters in any order and not spoil the narrative is a testament to the designers’ ability to creatively string these threads throughout the game. Obviously, the game is intended to be played in top-to-bottom order, and the game even warns that starting a new character’s chapter will overwrite your soft-save checkpoint, although you are free to return to previous characters and replay from the start of any individual mission within their story. Despite the open-ended structure of the menus, you aren’t meant to jump around.
I dare say the story in Resident Evil 6 comes dangerously close to the non-linear complexity of LOST, and thankfully, the game is presented in such a dramatic and cinematic style that all of the key moments you are required to remember are impossible to forget. Even the tone of the various chapters changes dramatically. The first mission with Leon and Helena takes place in dark creepy corridors often lit with only a flashlight and the occasional flash of lightning. Even when you move outside and venture into the city you are still on edge as ammo is scarce and zombies are not. But then when you go into Chris Redfield’s chapter you are totally decked out with automatic weapons and grenades that give you a false sense of security, especially when the chapter starts off like a mission from Ghost Recon.
There are a few nagging issues. For those who despise QTE’s, you might never make it to the title screen as the opening tutorial is nothing more than an interactive cinematic that has you wiggling your stick and making timed button presses to match the onscreen prompts for acts as simple as prying open a door. While these QTE’s thin out as the game continues, they will pop-up during various situations and can often lead to a premature demise if you aren’t ready for them. And despite the so-called tutorial there are several things that are never explained. It was only after an hour of playing that I accidentally stumbled on the cover system that allows you to stick to walls and lean around door frames. The weapons selection can be a hassle as is navigating your inventory, all of which takes place in real-time, so trying to mix your red and green herbs while a pack of zombies are charging at you can be a bit tense…and yes, the zombies are MUCH faster in this game.
Prior to starting you game you can setup a few options as well as choose between co-op and solo gameplay. For those looking for a more arcade-like experience you can turn on unlimited ammo and cut down the zombie hordes with infinite firepower. The AI for your solo partner can be good and bad. It helps they have unlimited ammo and they never seem to die, so they aren’t scarfing all your pick-ups. Sadly, AI will often ignore your orders, get stuck on the environment, or choose to fight while you are waiting to complete one of the several co-op moments in the game like opening a door or clearing a passage.
Human partners take off a bit of the emotional edge as you can now heal each other provided you can reach them in time. You also need to be more aware of your partner’s needs when it comes to item collection. Skill points are shared; health and ammo are not, although you can share your inventory items, but oddly it’s an all or nothing proposition. My partner needed 9mm ammo and I had 60+ rounds, but I couldn’t just give him half – I had to give him all. Resident Evil 6 is an awesome co-op experience that will have you working tightly as a team with one person kicking down a door while the other has their gun ready, or one person watching the window while another guards the door. And with most encounters usually taking place in kill box scenarios, the Left 4 Dead vibe is unmistakable.
At startup you can choose to make your game private or online-aware. If you go with the latter other random players can jump into your game taking on the role of an enemy. You’ll be notified when this happens by a pop-up text box. Likewise, you can play Agent Hunt Mode and invade other people’s games or check out the Mercenaries Mode where you play various score and time-based modes to earn skill points used to upgrade various elements of the game.
Having already played and reviewed the Xbox 360 version last October I knew what to expect as far as gameplay, so I was looking forward to some awesome graphics and hopefully smoother framerate. Resident Evil 6 looks amazing, often with seamless transitions between cutscenes and gameplay, which makes the entire experience very cinematic. Environments are complex and loaded with detail and the lighting is delightfully sinister with creepy shadows concealing horrors that you’ll likely hear long before you see thanks to a fantastic Dolby Digital surround mix that will have home theater owners looking over their shoulder. The sheer tension and atmosphere of terror has never been stronger despite having a buddy to rely on and weapons more powerful than any other Resident Evil game to come before.
Resident Evil 6 offers full Big Picture and controller support if you have your PC running off your HDTV. Other PC exclusives include the new Mercenaries No Mercy mode that expands upon the console version packing in twice the enemies. Additionally, the seven DLC levels from the console version are included in the core purchase now but you will need to unlock them. Other PC perks include a cool Left4Dead 2 Crossover patch that lets you play Mercenaries No Mercy with characters and infected enemies from that game. And finally, the PC version is fully compatible with all console updates as well as RE.NET for the biggest and most complete Resident Evil 6 experience possible.
I have to admit I was a bit surprised when Resident Evil 6 didn’t end after the Leon chapter. That series of missions took nearly 8 hours, which is the going rate for action games these days. Capcom could have easily milked the franchise by offering the other chapters as DLC, but thankfully they didn’t, but having all of this story and content available from the start can also be a bit overwhelming. Nobody was expecting a 30+ hour Resident Evil game, and when several chapters and missions start to overlap and force you to replay portions of the game over, you can’t help but feel Capcom is padding the experience a bit. Even so, this is easily the best Resident Evil game since Code Veronica and a game zombie-lovers shouldn’t miss.