E3 2012: Resident Evil 6
It has been a while since I have been excited about a Resident Evil game. I honestly want to want to be excited about them, but ever since the series took a turn for an action style of game and lost the survival horror essence, it lost its grip on me. I’m happy to say though that Resident Evil 6 has the promise to bring me back into the series. For one, the game has returned to its horror roots, and for that I am definitely interested.
The demo being shown at E3 was 30 minutes long and featured three different sequences respectively featuring Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and a coop demo with new comers Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin. I only had enough time to play through the Leon section that focused primarily on dark and moody suspense. I was immediately thrown into a scene between Leon, a mysterious woman, and a now zombified President. The woman promised to lead Leon, through questionable methods, to the center of the outbreak where all would be revealed.
I expected to find myself quickly introduced to a hoard of brain hungry zombies shortly after I gained control of the character, but the majority of the demo took me through moody halls and a banquet room with fresh balloons and streamers, trashed and bloodied due to the circumstances that unfolded here. It’s environmental storytelling like this that really helps draw me into the mood and tension of the game.
Leon has a small light clipped to his ear which moved as he looked around. I found it especially creepy that the hall directly in front of me was for brief moments not being lit, anticipating that something could jump out at me from the darkness. During this sequence, there were a few moments of collapsing furniture, ceiling tiles and music surges to keep me on edge.
I spent about 20 minutes of the demo just exploring this abandoned hall. Having these moments of tense exploration was always important to me when playing the classic Resident Evil games. I appreciated that Resident Evil 6 was willing to take that kind of time to set the mood. The characters remained reactive and engaged to the situation around them, and while the acting was quite good the dialogue was a little awkwardly written and redundant at times.
When the zombies finally came upon us I opened fire expecting to be well equipped with ammunition to take down the hoard. I almost instantly ran out of ammo and I quickly realized that there was no way to take them head on, I was going to have to run. It’s situations like this that make me believe the game is making a return to the resource starved, survival horror beginnings that the series did so well. It felt good to have to run without an ammo stash nearby to replenish. I was going to have to run and pray I didn’t run into anything through the next door.
The section overall felt like a mix between the mood of the Resident Evil Gamecube remake and the action controls of something like Resident Evil 4. The controls were free enough that the game felt easy to manage, but not so much that it felt like an FPS or Gears of War type third person game. The RE series always gained some of its suspense from being a little slow to control, making every action count, and Resident Evil 6 finds ways to hit those points without making the controls feel sluggish. One interesting feature is that when Leon was under pressure, his aim would sway a little. There would always be a red sight where he was aiming, but the player would always have to re-adjust to make the shot count. Plus the dot would shift a little between each shot forcing the player to remain on their toes to get those crucial headshots. I got the sense that I was controlling a person in distress.
I really hope that the series can make a return to its glory days. I understand that RE 5 was fun, but it’s difficult for me to accept any game in the series that isn’t based in survival horror as a legitimate chapter in the series. I have hope that Resident Evil 6 is going to have the ability to bring it back around, but we’ll just have to see when it comes out on October 2nd.