Release Date: October 2
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Resident Evil 6 is the follow-up to a release that abandoned the series' traditional survival horror scares in favor of an action-packed, co-operative adventure. Whatever your view of Resident Evil 5, it was far from a scary experience, something which has seen it become one of the most divisive Resident Evil entries to date.
While not abandoning the team-based, action elements of its predecessor, Resident Evil 6 does at least tip its hat to the original releases, at times recapturing the horrors of Raccoon City. The result is a game that while not without its flaws, is sure to go down well with fans.
Taking place over a period of approximately six months, the game is split into three campaigns with a story centred around the deadly C-Virus. After a run-in with the president in the university town of Tall Oaks, Leon S. Kennedy and Helena Harper attempt to uncover the individuals behind the latest bioterrorist attack, all the while escaping the zombie outbreak with their lives.
Driven by a strong cast of heroes and villains, Resident Evil 6 is an entertaining tale, full of all the twists, turns and cheesy scripting we've come to expect from the long-running franchise.
Although we might have preferred one big campaign darting from one character to the next, the decision to separate each story actually makes the plot easier to follow, providing plenty of intrigue when the different sets of characters come into contact. If ever the story does become too hard to follow, cutscenes are viewable in chronological order from the main menu, while files and biographies are unlocked by shooting hidden emblems.
With Resident Evil 6, the development team has attempted to harness three very distinct types of fear, an interesting concept that sometimes proves detrimental to the overall experience. Leon and Helena serve up a traditional slice of survival horror, battling good old-fashioned zombies in graveyards, mansions and dimly-lit corridors.
Continuing on from Resident Evil 5, Chris and his BSAA operatives come under attack from a plentiful supply of highly intelligent and well-armed J'avo, not to mention one or two hulking great beasts. Newcomer Jake Muller's campaign, on the other hand, takes its cue from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, giving players a relentless enemy to avoid.
The result is a gameplay experience that varies from one campaign to the next. Leon's chapters are slower paced, utilising subtle lighting and audio techniques to build suspense, before capping things off with a survival or escape sequence.
In stark contrast, Chris's campaign plays more like Gears of War, throwing an increasing number of enemies at players, as well as vehicular set pieces and huge boss fights. Jake's campaign is a mixture of the two, perhaps leaning a little more towards the all-out action approach.
Resident Evil 6 adopts the same over-the-shoulder approach as the past two releases, which while occasionally playing havoc with the camera, increases the feeling of claustrophobia, especially when users have no more than a flashlight to find their way.
Unfortunately, things begin to go wrong with Chris's campaign. Although not as bad as we first feared, the survival horror set-up is at odds with Chris's jaunt into Gears of War territory. The lack of ammo, dodgy camera and terrible cover system is as frustrating as an enduring itch and an imperishable appetite for human flesh.
The ability to equip skills, such as extra ammo drops and increased firepower, goes some way towards countering the problem, as does the ability to opt for infinite ammo, although we consider this cheating.
The co-operative gameplay of its predecessor also returns, though we're not convinced it really needed to. Fortunately, the co-op element is handled much more competently this time around, actually proving quite useful when the odds are stacked against you.
Barring the odd non-playable character in a tight corridor, computer-controlled cast members rarely get in the way, and no longer use up ammo or equipment. Though lacking in good puzzles, there are some enjoyable two-person set-pieces, in which one character must cover for an exposed partner, or drive while the other shoots and vice-versa.
Co-op really comes into its own in the returning Mercenaries mode, which remains utterly addictive, albeit incredibly difficult. Similar to Horde mode in Gears of War or Zombies in Black Ops, Mercenaries sees players attempt to survive and kill as many enemies as possible within a time limit.
Resident Evil 6 is also packed with a ton of collectables, something which adds even more replay value. Finishing the campaign with one character unlocks Agent Hunt mode, which lets users infiltrate somebody else's campaign as an enemy. It's not likely to keep players coming back time and time again, but it's quite exciting second-guessing the human enemy when you know they're in your game.
Outside of the 25-30 hour main story mode, there's also an Ada Wong campaign to unlock, as well as dog tags, titles, and the aforementioned files. It's a very generous package, offering excellent value for money.
Resident Evil 6 is a very good game let down by a few poor design choices. Leon and Jake's campaigns, in particular, are hugely entertaining, showcasing the survival horror genre at its best. While Chris's campaign might well prove that two's company and three's a crowd, the excellent plot, cast of characters and additional content should ensure that Resident Evil 6 is revisited more times than Tall Oaks' pharmacy.