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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Necessary Evil? Will Capcom’s latest survival horror entry survive?

Chad Hunter

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Release date: October 2, 2012

Nearly twenty years ago, Capcom took us by the hand, led us into a scary mansion and never let us go.  Since then, the Resident Evil franchise has spawned games, movies, books and more.  But since its inception, horror fans have felt that the series has lost its terror (and zombies.)  With a new game and new directions, is Resident Evil 6 worth the buy or has the undead series finally died?

RE6 picks up where the series left off – Umbrella is gone (sort of) and our heroes have moved on into high ranking positions to protect the world from viral monsters (e.g. zombies.)  Leon Kennedy from RE2 and RE4 fame, is a government agent set to expose Umbrella to the world at the behest of his friend, the President.  However, a virus breaks out and the dead rise.  The next mission features Chris Redfield, down and out but serving as a soldier in a foreign country.  Redfield leads a battalion in battle with mutated mercenaries.  Finally, Jake Mueller is also abroad dealing with a combination of the two previous missions’ enemies.  Mueller himself must contend with the bioweapons while being something more than human himself.  

Visually, RE6 is a good looking game.  Specifically focusing on Kennedy’s mission (the most zombie filled and horror-like), the city falls apart in flame and clawing, rotted flesh.  The zombie models are very distinct and unique allowing for realistic feel.  Cars swerve out of nowhere, blood spatters and rain looks like your very screen is wet.

Any Resident Evil fan is used to B-movie dialogue.  RE6 is not as bad in the wording department as its predecessors.  The other aspect of sound is well done.  Moaning of the shuffling undead echo in the background.  Footsteps resound against cement and the hoarse hiss of corpses sounds right in your ear.  The true survival horror level, the first one, moves fast but when you can catch a breath – you feel the fear and you hear it.

Leon, Chris and Jake all move well.  The stilted controls of previous games have been replaced by the more fluid motions from RE4 and 5.  You will find yourself running into walls and stumbling around.  The controls are not perfect by any means.  But they are not terrible enough to detract from the game.  

There are three gripes about Resident Evil 6 – One: The whole game should be survival horror against the monsters and undead rather than just one of its episodes.  Two: The lack of a true pause screen is a pain in the ass and finally – Three: the save points are annoyingly far from where you could potentially die, causing you to restart much farther than you had hoped.

Zombie Factor / Conclusion
Your standard zombies are everywhere, especially during Leon’s campaign.  Redfield and Jake will see their own variation on the shambling creatures but Kennedy’s is the best and most effective feel of walking dead.  The first episode feels like a true zombie horror film complete with doomed survivors, apocalyptic decisions and hell on earth with carnivorous cadavers abound.  Resident Evil 6 is ambitious and while it may slip up here and there, it is worth the trip.  Let the undead rain, we have an Umbrella.

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