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Resident Evil 6: Demo Impressions

Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games of the last twenty years.  Resident Evil 5 upped the ante with an amazing cooperative campaign.  How does Resident Evil 6 hold up?  We dive into the demo for answers.

The first thing you’ll notice when booting up the demo is the slick presentation.  RE5 didn’t have the most intuitive menu system, but the sixth installment gripped me right away.  It’s not much, but a nice, streamlined interface goes a long way towards giving a good first impression, and RE6 doesn’t disappoint.  A nice simple menu and pleasant purple color scheme meet you at the start screen, and it undeniably sets the mood from the get-go.

For the uninitiated, the coop gameplay carries over almost directly from RE5, except there are three separate campaigns this time around.  All three are available to try on the demo, complete with Xbox Live support.  If the actual game handles online play as well as the demo does, and there is no reason to believe it won’t, then we could be in for a treat.  The drop-in/drop-out play worked without a hitch, and coordinating zombie assaults was as fun as ever.

Players will get see the story from the perspective of series mainstays Leon and Chris, and either Starkiller or Cole MacGrath, I think,,,

I like that the three campaigns all offered a different gameplay hook.  Leon and Helena’s story was the one I started with, and it was the most traditional.  There was a lot of cramped corridors and surprise zombies waiting within this first chapter, and I enjoyed experimenting with Helena’s loadout and popping zombie heads off.  It was hard to get a handle on the story (this is a Resident Evil game, after all), but it certainly started out with a bang.  Mostly standard RE fare followed, but it was enjoyable, and the combat was as sharp as ever.

Heading into Chris’s campaign, I was pleased to see that Capcom is at least trying to shake things up.  Instead of my usual strategy of slowly creeping through the game conserving ammo with precise headshots, RE6 drops you into the middle of a warzone with Chris, and provides you with enough ammunition to start a war.  The whole section played out more like a traditional third-person shooter, with ample amounts of cover, and morphing enemies that require you to adapt your strategies on your fly.   Recklessly slinging bullets all over the battlefield felt weird at first, but it worked.  This could result in Resident Evil losing its identity a bit, but who knows?  I thought co-op would do that when it was introduced.  I was wrong.

Jake and Sherry’s campaign reminded me of RE5, with a higher emphasis on team actions.  Multiple times we had to split up to open a path, and the tension of fighting by your self was executed perfectly.  The tough new enemy type introduced was a pain, and highlighted one problem I had with the game:  Getting knocked down.  During the course of my playthrough, I was probably knocked on my ass 50 times.  I’m all for atmospheric gameplay and immersive action, but the annoying knockdown animation quickly became infuriating.

Sherry, WTF. Now is not the time for stretching. You’re supposed to do that BEFORE the zombie apocalypse begins.

As much as I still enjoyed the moment-to-moment gameplay, I did have a few concerns after finishing the demo.  As soon as I booted up the game, I wanted to change the settings.  I would recommend changing the reticule back to the laser pointer, and I found I needed to drop the sensitivity to seven.  After negotiating the needlessly tricky settings screen, I finished Leon’s playthrough and turned my Xbox off.  Later, I started it back up to dive into Chris’s story.  Upon seeing the settings had reverted, I opened the menu to change them, and discovered that the options screen was completely different.  Yep, the options screen, menu and even the HUD are completely different depending on which character you are playing as.  I like that they are giving each of the three stories a unique flavor, but that seems a little much.  I don’t want to have to re-learn the basics every time I switch characters.

Overall, the demo did its job though, and I am even more excited to give the next chapter of the Resident Evil franchise a go.  I’m eager to check out what these skill points I kept collecting are all about, but I’m really pinning my hopes on Capcom providing a coherent story this time.  I have played almost every single game associated with the series, and I still have absolutely no idea what’s going on.  Hopefully that will change come October 2.