Hey you. Happy post-Independence Day. Feel free to set off some fireworks in the workplace if you haven’t already, because no one can fire you for celebrating our fair nation’s freedom. If you don’t live in the America then that’s all right. You undoubtedly have a sexy accent, wherever you are. So the Resident Evil 6 demo became available to those who purchased Dragon’s Dogma on the Xbox 360. If you don’t have it, fear not, as I went out and bought the game so I could tell you all about it.
The demo is a buffet, if you will, as it brings with it a small, bite-sized chunk from each of the game’s three (or potentially four) campaigns. You get a taste of each of the campaigns, and to my surprise, I loved them all equally.
There’s a prevailing theme I’ve noticed with Resident Evil 6 and that’s a very strong sense of maturity in the story and its characters. This doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing some cheesy lines, because let’s be honest, without those this wouldn’t truly be a Resident Evil game. But overall, the characters feel more real, and the things you see happen are pretty dark.
We’ve already seen plenty of Leon’s story at this point, so let’s skip that and start off with Chris’ campaign, since that actually ended up surprising me the most.
For starters, Chris is actually a bit of a dick. You get a bit of his back story in the opening cinematic; apparently, something terrible happened to his squad, pushing him toward alcoholism and a fondness for telling bartenders to shut their mouths and pour him a drink. Thankfully, his partner, Piers, saves him and soon reveals that Chris is in the middle of the most elaborate episode of Intervention ever.
Then, finally, you get to jump into the action. It seems Capcom has learned quite a bit from other third person action games, as they’ve expanded your arsenal of moves and abilities pretty substantially.
You can switch perspectives to the left or right–a la Uncharted–and this moves the HUD (the health, ammo, weapon indicators) to the other side. The melee moves are no longer contextual, so you always have the option of getting up close and personal unleash a can of Leon/Helena/Chris/Piers/Jake/Sherry branded whoopass. A stamina meter was added to keep you from abusing your melee powers, so this won’t be a full on brawler just yet.
The gunplay feels a little loose, and I mean that in a good way, and that could be partially because of the lack of a laser sight. You have the red dot, but it’s not like previous games in the series where you could follow the beam to your opponent. It takes a little getting used to, but I liked it.
Divergent paths make a triumphant return, giving you the opportunity to escape your partner, albeit briefly, to beat down hordes of infected solo. One section had Chris and Piers falling off a collapsing roof, with Piers landing safely on a lower level and Chris hanging precariously on a pipe. Piers then had to cover Chris as he used his impressive upper body strength to get to safety. I hope there’s a lot of this.
Anyone who played Resident Evil 5 is fully aware of the abomination that it dubbed a “cover system.” It was not a cover system, but this time around, you can make full use of cover. I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to take cover on waist high obstacles, but other than that, peeking out of cover and vaulting over the smaller objects matches Gears of War in its simplicity. There is, however, some weird blurring that covers the screen when you’re in cover. I get it, your character isn’t looking out there so why would they have a clear view? It makes sense, but it looks bad and is a little too blurry. Tone that down a bit and I’ll be happy.
My time with Jake and Sherry was equally as impressive, and it’s nice to see how much Sherry has grown up since her last appearance in Resident Evil 2. Their campaign revolves around them running from the Ustanak, a terrifying monster that would very likely make Nemesis soil his tight leather threads. There’s a point in the mission where the duo is stuck in a room with the creature; you can’t hide from it because it can crash through the various walls and pillars that are scattered about the room, and if you think you’re far enough away from the thing, just wait until it extends its metal arm and grabs your unsuspecting ass from across the room.
Jake and Sherry’s campaign feels a lot like Resident Evil 3. Jill was hunted by the Nemesis, a powerful bioweapon she couldn’t kill, and the Ustanak definitely brings back some of those memories. Only the Ustanak doesn’t try to penetrate you with his hand tentacle, no way, that’s far too easy a death for his prey. Instead he grabs you, reels you in, and while you’re squirming and screaming for your mommy, starts stabbing you over and over again with the half dozen needles he has on his arm.
The fight with the Ustanak helped me appreciate the changes to the health system, which hasn’t changed too drastically over the years. Your health regenerates, and I’m not sure how I feel about that just yet, and the herbs can now be combined into pills you can easily pop in the heat of battle. I like the pills, so long as my Valium doesn’t get mixed in with my remedies. It doesn’t make me too tired, but I sure as fuck can’t operate heavy machinery while I’m on them, and there’s sure to be a little of that in this game.
Some minor quibbles I had with it that don’t really have a place anywhere else including an inordinate number of loading screens (this could be fixed in the final game), it’s a little difficult switching weapons during a gunfight, and I wish that when you equipped your knife and used the melee button that it’d use the knife instead of the punches and kicks.
Unsurprisingly, Resident Evil 6 is a beautiful game. There’s a miraculous attention to detail here that makes it incredibly easy on the eyes, and the lighting is a visual treat as well. Shooting an enemy in the arm and watching its arm mutate right in front of you is very cool, and I hope there’s a lot more of that–as well as a lot more random mutations–in the final game.
I was worried Capcom was investing too much effort into turning Resident Evil into Call of Duty. They said it themselves that they’re interested in taking a slice of that explosive pie, but after spending a good amount of time with the demo, some of my worries have been soothed away. Don’t kid yourself, this is definitely an action game, but it’s also a more mature, and in its own way, more terrifying Resident Evil that we haven’t seen from the series so far.
If the rest of the game is this fun, I can happily say that I can relocate the worries I’ve had about this game to Dude Space 3. Seriously, what’s going on there?