July 8, 2012

Demo Report – Resident Evil 6

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Jason Westhaver @ 7:43 pm

Demo Report Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 5 was just a God awful game. Terrible plot, terrible characters, illogical progression, rail shooting, a heavy focus on combat with a control system clearly not set up for it and AI so bad that it made your average “Escort Mission” NPC seem like an expert tactician. That’s not even counting the superfluous little details like Chris Redfield being a roid-raging monkey and blonde Jill.

It was a game that offered a giant middle-finger to long-time fans, and an awkward experience to players new to the series. Even if one looks at it objectively as a standalone game and ignores the “Resident Evil” association, it’s still an unpleasant experience if for no reason other than the fact that having to stand still to shoot doesn’t work in an action game. With such an opinion of RE5 I’m sure you can all imagine how I felt about the prospect of having to play through a sixth entry, but after having a chance to play around with the RE6 demo, I can safely say my cold heart has warmed, ever so slightly.

Broken into three parts, the RE6 demo will take you through one portion of a mission in each character’s campaign. No two campaigns play exactly the same, but before I get into the specifics, I’d like to just touch on a few things that pervade all three of them.

As with every other Capcom game of late, RE6 is built upon the in-house developed MT Framework engine; specifically the 2.x version. While this guarantees a certain degree of high quality visuals, it also means the game screen tears like mad. You’d think that after six years they’d be able to find a way to afford enabling V-sync, but alas that’s not the case and it is incredibly distracting. One can hope that this is a demo specific problem that will be resolved before the final release, but history tells us not to get our hopes up. Honestly it’s so distracting and annoying at times that I almost wish Capcom had decided to V-sync to 30 fps, rather than having a higher, wildly fluctuating framerate.

Also new to the series is the concept of moving and shooting; and guess what? It has no impact on the tension at all. That’s right, Shinji Mikami’s argument for preventing players from moving and shooting in RE4 (and by extension RE5) doesn’t actually apply in practice. And I couldn’t be happier because it feels so right. The actual system in use is very similar to the one employed in Shadows of the Damned, where players can move while aiming, but at a relatively slow and methodical speed.

Another major change to the Resident Evil formula comes in the form of regenerating health, though the impact on gameplay is so subtle that I didn’t even know it existed until my editor pointed it out while reviewing the first draft of this article. The long and short is that rather than having one continuous health bar, as in all previous games, you health is now broken into a series of blocks.

Partial damage to a single block will see health within the bar generate on its own, but a completely depleted block will not recover without the use of herbs. It’s a system that has been employed successfully in other games, and having reviewed my video recordings to see how it works here, I’m actually kind of impressed. It seems that damage starts to heal immediately after it has been dealt, so you’re able to shrug off single stray bullets without needing to break the pace of the combat. However, since bullets deal a 1/5th block of damage and large hits will deal multiple blocks worth, you’ll never really feel like you’re invulnerable.

It’s a bit hard to put the concept into words, but it should become clear watching the combat in the Chris video below.

Leon’s Mission

Leon’s mission is by far the closest of the three to the original Resident Evil style. While there were no puzzles in his demo, the overall atmosphere is very dark with a focus on tension building and a lack of adequate lighting keeping the fear of the unknown intact at all times. This sometimes proves to be a problem though as his section is so dark that you may actually have to adjust the brightness just to be able to see where you’re going. There is a head mounted flashlight that is supposed to automatically turn on in scenes of complete blackness, but I found more often than not that it was a little late on the uptake. This was not a huge problem as there was no combat in these areas, but I still think a player controlled light would have felt nicer.

Overall Leon’s story is very slow and methodical, which is fantastic, but unfortunately the demo does feel overloaded with numerous short cutscenes that bring the flow to a halt. There’s only so many times Leon can enter a room and rest his arm against the door jam before it gets old. It does appear this mission is actually from the start of his campaign, though, so a certain degree of educational scenes are to be expected. Only time will tell if this is how his entire campaign plays out.

If you’re a fan of traditional Resident Evil games than this is undoubtedly the mission that will appeal to you. It’s also worth noting that Leon fights actual zombies, not parasites.

Chris’ Mission

Did you like RE5? No? Then don’t expect to like playing as Chris because you’re pretty much playing the same game, only now it’s in a facsimile of Hong Kong. While the gameplay has been significantly tightened up and the ability to move while shooting better fits the high action combat, something still feels off. I think the root of the problem is that Chris’ mission wants to be something like Operation Raccoon City, but it doesn’t have the control scheme to go with it. There really isn’t anything more to say on the matter.

Jake’s Misison

This mission introduces a new character to the Resident Evil mythos, Jake Muller, son of Albert Wesker, as well as seeing the return of Sherry Birkin, from Resident Evil 2. While their overall involvement in the plot is still relatively unclear at this point, the two are written with good screen chemistry that should prove entertaining in the final product.

Like Chris’ Mission, Jake’s is also combat focused, but it’s hard to gauge how combat heavy his campaign will be, as this mission is predominantly a boss encounter with what can best be described as a mechanized parasitic version of Nemesis. That said, there’s certainly some potential here.


Overall the Resident Evil 6 demo shows us that horror is not completely dead. Leon’s mission was quite fun and Jake’s has a great deal of potential. The only downside is that Chris’ action-fest mission feels wickedly out of place with both the rest of the game and the series as a whole. While I understand that Capcom has decided the main series needs to go in an action focused direction, they need to realize that a lot more needs to change than just the number of enemies on screen to make it work. It should be interesting to see how everything ties together when Capcom releases the final version this Fall.

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