The thing you need to bear in mind about Resident Evil 6 is that Capcom would be daft not to try and evolve the series.
That’s not to say that every decision it’s made has been the right one. And that’s not to say that fans of Resident Evil should shut up and lump it. But to fail to evolve is to stagnate, and stagnation is the road to ruin.
Resident Evil 6 sticks to the gameplay template that Capcom first embarked upon in RE4 – that is, over-the-shoulder gunplay. There is a significant change, however, in that players can now move and aim simultaneously. Whether you see this as a long-overdue step into the 21st century or a slap in the face to the series’ heritage is down to personal preference.
RE has always used limited controls as a tool of tension. Turning on the spot was always lame, right? But it was the inability to somersault backwards and unload 50 clips into your enemy’s head that makes RE what RE is and not, say, Devil May Cry.
RE6 sticks true to this heritage in some ways, though. Ammo is sparse-ish, aiming is clunky-ish and movement is generally pretty slow. There is a cover system, too, although it’s a tad unreliable.
Where Capcom’s design get particularly interesting is in its decision to split the game into three separate campaigns (with an unlockable fourth) that each boast a very different gameplay style.
Leon’s campaign – which opens the game although you’re soon free to switch to another – is the most traditional. There’s an air of tension not seen in the other campaigns, although scares are thin on the ground. The gunplay is solid though running out of ammo is less of a concern due to your new ability to literally kick the crap out of zombies. Melee combat doesn’t flow, but it’s certainly affective, with a well timed strike able to finish off an opponent in a single blow.
The Chris campaign takes its queues from the Mercenary Modes of past, upping both the weapon count, ammo and zombies for a far more action-heavy experience. Then we have Jake’s campaign, which offers a curious mix of Resident Evil nemesis and Uncharted.
All are QTE heavy, with scripted action frequently interspersing with the corridor shooting. Capcom has clearly recognised the market for Hollywood-style action adventures and has done all it can to make RE6 feel as epic as it can as often as it can.
Capcom also strikes gold in terms of value for money. Of course, we’re not talking Fallout 3 or Skyrim style longevity and depth but there aren’t many action shooters out there who offer as much bang per pound.
There are Resident Evil faithfuls who will snap up RE6 in a flash. And there are some who won’t, feeling that it strays too far from the series’ horror roots for comfort. The test for Capcom will be whether its strides toward the action-mass market attracts a large enough new audience to make the gamble worthwhile.
But make no mistake about it – RE6 is an epic game in every respect and will, regardless of how the critical reception pans out, be one of the most notable releases of 2012.
Resident Evil 6 is released in the UK today (Tuesday October 2nd).