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Resident Evil 6 Review: The Best Use of Established Characters Ever
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Resident Evil has evolved over the years. The first portion of this franchise is revered for being a pioneer in the survival horror genre. The recent end of it has been criticized, beloved, and hated. If anything, the evolution of Resident Evil can be viewed as a one a half decade long journey that Capcom has taken.
Starting in 1996, Resident Evil broke out on the scene as a horrific tale of survival in a lab disguised by a mansion. Since then, the key characters have been through terrible situations and an increasingly deadly string of viruses that manages to get worse and worse every number on the front case of the game. Now in 2012, over 16 years later, the viral outbreak has reached a terrifying peak and is a global phenomenon.
I recently touched on the fan-fueled conflict between the direction of the franchise and its survival horror roots. The thing is, Resident Evil is no longer the isolated cases we saw back in Raccoon City. In fact, the evolution of this game series began with Code Veronica. When Capcom changed from pre-rendered backgrounds to 3D, it gave the player more of an advantage to move about, retaliate, and counter-attack. From there, the series kept adding new gameplay enhancements until we finally reached the realm of freedom and action we see in Resident Evil 6.
Is this your old school Resident Evil? Hell no. Does that mean it isn’t good? Of course not. Those who keep pining for a return to the survival horror front will easily see flaws in this game. Those who enter Resident Evil 6 looking to continue the story of the franchise will have plenty to make them happy.
Raccoon City was just the beginning. The story of these infectious viruses is now a global threat and the only way to contain this kind of outbreak and story progression is to have a four campaign-long game. Resident Evil 6 is a huge game and we’re going to review every aspect of it. However, let’s first talk about the threat we’re handling in this latest game in the franchise.
We’ve come a long way from the outskirts of Raccoon City. In what chronologically started in a facility near the Arklay Mountains and involving the Raccoon City STARS Bravo team, the original outbreak began as a weaponized version of the Progenitor virus strain called the T-Virus.
The T-Virus is what caused the “zombie” outbreak in Raccoon City. Since then, the virus has mutated and evolved into new strains such as the G-Virus, the Las Plagas parasite, the Uroboros virus, the T-Abyss virus, and most recently the C-Virus.
Each virus and parasite has unique properties to them and have given the games each a distinct feel to their gameplay and enemy types. This time around, we are dealing mainly with the C-Virus and even the return of the T-Virus, or at least something that acts like the T-Virus.
The “zombie”-like enemies that the T-Virus normally creates are back and featured mainly in Leon’s campaign while C-Virus enemies can be found in the other three campaigns. Because of this new virus’ effects, an infected can mutate in any area that is inflicted with pain. If you strike an enemy in the legs, a mutation will form to protect that area. The same goes for arms, torso, and head. This really allows for Resident Evil 6’s enemies to be effective no matter what strategy you use. The best way to take out enemies quickly seems to be the brand new melee system. Every character has the ability to combo together melee maneuvers to stagger enemies, trip them up, interrupt them, or decapitate them.
It saves on ammo but you’ll have to take into consideration your character’s stamina bar. When you are severely injured or melee too much, you will run out and your character will not be able to harm anything with melee until a set amount of time has passed. The melee system is great for low ammo moments or those who find the perfect balance between weapon uses and melee combos. If you get a good mix down, you’ll find yourself high on ammo almost all of the time which can be a lifesaver during the points of the game where shooting is just the only viable option.
You are going to find that each campaign will allow you to tackle enemies in different ways. Some campaigns let melee be more of an option due to tight quarters or even some characters’ abilities. Chris’ campaign, for instance, features many tight quarters in which you’ll be surrounded or find the shotgun-melee combo very effective. Jake, on the other hand, has the best melee option out of every playable character. We’ll touch on that in Jake’s section.
Aside from the melee system, movement in Resident Evil 6 is as free as it ever has been in the franchise. Since Resident Evil 4 the series has set aside the old school turn movement in favor of a more over-the-shoulder pivot system. Since RE4, Capcom has been slowly making this better and better. In fact, both Revelations and RE6 seem to show the apex of this movement system for the franchise. Resident Evil 6 itself is the quickest game in the franchise in terms of movement, dodging, and countering. Every character jogs as their normal movement will is just as fast as Chris was back in RE5 except the turning and camera movements are much better. Sprinting is back and sliding is now in.
Over all, Resident Evil 6’s main gameplay systems feature everything Capcom has worked towards since 1996 and although the game itself may not hit the survival horror levels some fans want, there is no denying that this is the most fluid system that the franchise has ever had and it feels great. Even the partner AI is greatly enhanced since we last had an adventure with Chris and Sheva. Everything from the shooting to moving to rummaging through the menus is smooth and you’ll rarely come across issues that could get you killed.
This is Resident Evil at its technical peak. It is quite hard for me to see where Capcom can improve the experience from here.
Before we continue I think the following information is very important for you to know: my play order. You are able to switch between campaigns after every completed chapter. This is how I played:
My Play Order:
- Chris Chapter 1 & 2
- Jake Chapter 1
- Leon Chapter 1 & 2
- Jake Chapter 2
- Leon Chapter 3
- Chris Chapter 3
- Jake Chapter 3 & 4
- Chris Chapter 4
- Leon Chapter 4 & 5
- Jake Chapter 5
- Chris Chapter 5
- Ada Chapter 1-5
Starting out I feel it’s best to talk about our old friend Leon. While Chris was the first male hero of the series, Leon seems to be the fan favorite and as such, Capcom felt it necessary to give his campaign the closest feeling to the franchise’s old school roots. We start this campaign in a town, much like Raccoon City, in which a T-Virus outbreak has been set loose and has infected the President of the United States.
It should be noted that when you first start a new game in Resident Evil 6, you go through the Prologue which shows the introduction of Leon and his brand new partner, Helena Harper. This may make you think that Leon’s campaign should be the first one played. That would be wrong. The Prologue may begin with Leon but that’s for a reason. The issue with the President is what sets off this entire story. It is important for players to see that event first before you head off to the other parts of the world.
Leon’s campaign features the most quick-time events in the game. At least, that’s what it feels like. Resident Evil 6 relies heavily on these QTEs and some of them can be extremely frustrating and poorly placed. Leon suffers from this a lot and he also features perhaps, the least engaging story of them all. After completing all of the campaigns it is hard to really feel satisfied with Leon’s story over any of the others. The way his story unfolds seems unnecessary and rushed. The first two chapters are really back story for Helena. I don’t hate on her because of this, though. Helena is a great new character and a very satisfying partner for Leon. I hope we see more of here but I really do wish that Helena’s back story was introduced in a different game so Leon’s campaign could have had a more meaningful first two chapters. Leon’s story also seems distant from Chris and Jake’s, as well. He and Helena seem either behind or just away from the big goal at the end. It makes sense story-wise as you watch Leon’s campaign unfold but when you see where Chris and Jake end up, you kinda feel like Leon got shafted.
This doesn’t mean that Leon’s part in RE6 is minimal. Far from it, actually. In the grand scheme of the story, Leon is very important to the story thanks to his ties to the integral character, Ada Wong. It just feels like things don’t truly start ramping up in Leon’s story until Chapter 4. Then you realize that you only have that chapter and one last one before his campaign wraps up. It’s disappointing the way this portion of the game unraveled story-wise but it was still a good playthrough.
Which character should you play as? Leon
How long is this campaign? 7 hours on Normal difficulty
Campaign Score: 6.5/10
- Helena’s involvement
- Leon and Ada
- Classic “zombie” enemies
- Story gets rushed after first two chapters
- Ending seems weak compared to Chris and Jake’s
- Final boss is severely annoying
- Always seems distant from the other two campaigns
Forgive that banner’s grammar. The font pack doesn’t do apostrophes it seems.
When the demo for RE6 came out, Chris’ campaign got a ton of flak for what fans were calling “Call of Duty pandering”. Sure, Chris’ campaign features the most action but for damn good reason. Chris’ demo portion is featured in Chapter 1 when Chris and his BSAA squad are fighting a war in Edonia. Edonia is plagued by C-Virus infected “freedom fighters” attempting to control the country through the use of the virus and their backers, Neo Umbrella. Basically, this is a huge field test of Neo Umbrella’s power and influence. So, of course this is going to feel aciton-y. Chris’ story has taken him from hometown hero in Raccoon City to anti-bioterrorist soldier. He is a captain in the BSAA and is expected on the front lines and that is exactly where you start off, chronologically, in this campaign.
Like it or not, Chris has seen this go from a localized incident to a global pandemic and he has also seen how dangerous the virus gets every day. The C-Virus allows the infected to stay intelligent and in control of their bodies. They may mutate, but they can still control them and use their brain. That is extremely bad. Chris is in the midst of this and along with his partner, Piers, they are tasked with ending the takeover and finding out who is causing this.
I’ll have to admit, I seriously recommend playing this campaign with Piers. While for series veterans that may sound like blasphemy, the way the story plays out is best experienced with Piers. I won’t go into details are that would spoil a ton for this campaign but trust me, play as Piers your first time through. You won’t regret it.
Also, I’ll be honest, I found Chris’ campaign to be the most interesting and important. There is no doubt that out of the three originally available campaigns, Chris’ ending is the most important to RE6 and the story overall. That is why I put Chris last in the play order to beat after Leon and Jake. I do feel that thanks to the order I played RE6, I felt very satisfied with Chris’ campaign over the other two. That may sound surprising since the demo pegged it as probably the worst of the campaigns but really, after Edonia, the action gets toned down to RE5 levels and the story really picks up. It is great to watch Chris Redfield’s character progression in this game, especially from the eyes of Piers.
Although Chapter 2 in this campaign is actually a flashback, the way everything unfolds with Chris is very well done and fun to go through. This is where you’ll find the best in terms of story progression and finale in RE6.
Which character should you play as? Piers
How long is this campaign? 6 hours on Normal difficulty
Campaign Score: 9/10
- Pier’s viewpoint
- Most important ending
- Best weapons (Anti-Material Rifle, ftw)
- Final boss can be a tad annoying at first
The newcomer is badass. Let’s just get that out of the way. Jake Muller is an interesting character and the way his demeanor evolves through the campaign is great to watch. Plus, Sherry’s return is surprising and she definitely adds to the story. I wrote in a recent Vita games article that I would like to see Sherry featured in her own game. Mainly because I’d love to see how she got to this point in her life and how she has coped with her father and the virus inside of her.
If that interests you, be prepared for a cool campaign featuring an interesting storyline with a seriously bad ass enemy. You’ll quickly meet up with a boss called Ustanak, who my buddies and I has dubbed Bason. A mix of Bane (Batman) and Jason (Friday the 13th). Bason — ahem, Ustanak — is heavily featured in Jake’s campaign and he never ceases to kick major ass.
The story of Jake unfolds very interestingly. For those who don’t know, and I promise you this isn’t much of a spoiler at all, he is Albert Wesker’s son and the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. Jake is powerful and he uses his strength and accuracy to fight for whoever pays the most. We get introduced to Jake as a mercenary fighting for the Freedom Fighters in Edonia. He soon learns of some surprising news and he doesn’t hesitate to follow Sherry when he pleads for a large sum reward.
The great thing about this campaign is watching the evolution of Jake over the five chapters. When Jake finds out who his father is, that is when he begins to turn around. It is interesting to watch and it really helps that Jake also has the best gameplay out of every playable character. His melee “weapon” allows for unlimited melee strikes without worrying about the stamina bar and it is actually pretty powerful. Thanks to the Wesker bloodline, Jake’s palm strikes, punches, and kicks pack more of an impact and his combos when using the melee “weapon” are very useful for conserving ammo and even closing the gap between enemies with the charged palm strike.
While I have not played as Sherry, she does have an exclusive stun baton which can be helpful to get out of a pinch. If you are playing Co-Op in Jake’s campaign, having Sherry stun enemies while Jake uses the melee combos is a great way to take out small groups of enemies with efficiency and minimal to no ammo use.
Overall I felt satisfied with Jake’s campaign. He and Sherry remain very important to the story and the predicaments they get into keep them in the right spots to stay important, unlike Leon and Helena. While their Chapter 5 might not be as vital to the story as Chris and Pier’s, Jake’s campaign manages to still be better than Leon’s thanks to Jake’s evolution and the areas they are in during the chapters.
Which character should you play as? Jake
How long is this campaign? 5 hours on Normal difficulty
Campaign score: 8/10
- Ustanak (Bason)
- Jake’s evolution as a character
- Jake’s melee “weapon”
- Chapter 2 is actually pretty difficult
- A lot of the campaign features swarms and swarms of enemies
- Sherry’s AI actually seems dumber than the others
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I would just like to say that the "zombies" in Resident Evil 6 are in fact infected with the C-virus. It has similar effects to the T-virus but it is able to become airborne as seen when Carla launches the missile at China. The J'avo are formed from a more refined strain of the C-virus and the Neo-Umbrella J'avo have the most advanced strain.
Otherwise, very well written review which I enjoyed reading.