Stay calm, place your shots.
The first game I ever played on the original Playstation was Resident Evil and it quickly became one of our favorite series with many late night sessions over the years. Love them or hate them, Resident Evil has gone through many changes over the last 16 years and is always highly criticized by its loyal fan base. With Resident Evil 6, Capcom are trying to find the balance between the action found in Resident Evil 5 and the survival horror of the early games.
The demo, which landed on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 this week, allows you to play a small portion of each of the three campaigns in the game, picking between Leon, Chris and newcomer Jake. You can play each campaign solo, or jump online and play them with a friend, which is always a nice treat in a demo. I’m not going to go over all of the story details and spoil your experience but rather talk about the changes to the game and what I think works and what doesn’t.
The first thing that you’ll notice is that for the first time in the series you can now walk around while aiming and shooting. It’s something a lot of people, including myself, have wanted for a long time so it’s nice to finally see it included. Even better is that you can also roll and dodge while aiming and then land on your back while still in an aiming position. This is definitely an addition that I am happy with and wish it hadn’t taken them so long to include it.
Zombies make their return in Resident Evil 6, but not exactly as you remember them. They can now run, jump and some of them can even use weapons. The new enemy, the J’avo, will use guns before they mutate, and some classic zombies will just have melee weapons. The mobility of zombies is something that is heavily debated in all forms of entertainment, not just video games and I don’t see these ones being any different. I personally don’t mind it, and it’s not like every zombie jumps in your face at full speed or anything. To be honest, I’m just glad zombies are back, whether they are a little more spry or not.
One of the things that I didn’t like from the demo is the melee combat. Doing spinning back-elbows, roundhouse kicks and face stomps sounds like a good time, but it doesn’t work very well, at least not in the demo. Kicks could either go right through an enemy or sometimes they would connect but not do any noticeable damage with the zombie still coming at me in full force. Most of the time when I would go to stomp on an enemy’s head it would land and cause their head to explode, but there were plenty of times where my character would move and stomp on their stomach instead, allowing the zombie to get right back up. Hopefully these issues are addressed before the final version ships.
Just like the recent Operation Raccoon City spin-off, Resident Evil 6 includes a cover system, which for the most part works pretty good, but I didn’t really like how you had to press an extra button to enter cover depending on whether was full or partial cover. It’s not something that I used very much in Leon’s campaign, but it was a lifesaver with Chris and Jake as their campaigns were much more action packed and full of gunfights.
The last thing to mention is that instead of collecting money like in recent games, you will find Skill points from either broken crates or fallen enemies. These are used to upgrade your character but sadly the demo didn’t feature a spot to use them to see how it worked. Capcom have said that the upgrades will include faster reload speed, improved firepower, increasing your health and many more. I just wish we could have seen it in action.
Although not included in the demo, Resident Evil 6 will also include a single player Campaign featuring Ada Wong, Mercenaries mode and an all new online mode called Agent Hunt. From what we know so far, Agent Hunt mode will allow you to join another players Campaign as an enemy and hunt them down. If you kill the player, your game will end and you can join another game. If they kill you, you can respawn as another enemy and try again. It sounds interesting, but only time will tell how good this really is.
As far as the balance between Action and Survival Horror goes, Capcom are trying to play both sides with Leon’s campaign being darker and more like the early days of the series and Chris and Jake’s being action heavy. The demo was pretty short so it’s hard to tell how well they keep this balance throughout the game but I’m more optimistic now than I was before. We don’t have long to wait before we can find out for sure, with only 12 more days until it’s released. It may not be a true, old school Resident Evil through and through, but I’m still excited to play it.
Check out the video below to see some of Jake’s campaign in action.