Resident Evil 6: All These Years and Still Rotting
Your pulse is pounding, sweat chilled on burning skin that still prickles from the branches and brambles. It was just a few seconds ago, but your head is miles away. Your mind is trying to protect you from the things you’ve seen, from the snarling of dogs and screaming of the victims that were once your friends and comrades-in-arms.
The emergency call. Your downed chopper. The mad dash through the woods.
The old mansion seemed a godsent protection from the hellhounds. But now the door has slammed shut, snapping off the pandemonium behind you as if someone flipped a switch. And you’re starting to wonder if the dogs weren’t preferable. The foyer is empty. Your calls seem sucked away into the void. No help is coming.
All other doors locked, you check the dining hall. A crackling fire in the hearth at the far end adds a random counterpoint to the monotony of an ancient grandfather clock slicing fine the seconds of your life. A knot of anxiety forms in your gut. The house is dead, but you can feel presences all around. You pace down the length of the old mahogany dining table spanning the room, your flak-heavy tread muffled by years of dust covering the marble tiles.
You redouble your cold, clammy grip on your Beretta at the realization that the crackling fire is covering an all too familiar noise: the guttural crunch and squelching of something feeding. It’s just beyond the high-backed chair heading the table.
A pool of steaming red comes into site as you advance. You take a moment to steel your nerve. You swallow the acid scorching its way up your throat. Then you spin past the chair, gun braced, expecting one of those damned dogs.
And what you behold is a sight that has changed video gaming since 1996.
That was the Resident Evil of my adolescence, my first glimpse of survival horror, and the mix of excitement and dread it engendered in me is just as fresh now as it was more than sixteen years ago.
The Resident Evil franchise (titled Biohazard in Japan) is Capcom’s undead cash calf. Over the years it’s grown to a lumbering cow to encompass 23 game titles, a comic book series, a series of novels, and as many films as Milla Jovovich can knock out while she’s limber enough for kickboxing, wire-work, and the occasional spoken line. Its elements have been refined with each iteration, and like any ongoing story there are always going to be mistakes. Any poor bastard who’s had the misfortune of trying to play Resident Evil 5—with its idiotic companion AI and non-existent inventory system—knows this full well.
The question is whether or not Resident Evil 6 can capture that pinnacle of gaming engineering, that mix of storyline, graphics, functionality, playtime, and that certain je ne sais quoi that made Resident Evil 4 a household title.
The short answer is no. The long, categorical answer is as follows:
The storyline is tighter than previous editions. Its players are reminiscent of a sitcom reunion well after all the actors have aged and gone their separate ways. The franchise usually but not always relies on several conflicting character arcs to advance the story and establish a sense of more grandiose ongoing events. This time around the story is broken into three perspectives which can be played in any particular order, with an extra perspective campaign unlocked after the other three have been completed. This is in addition to the immensely satisfying Mercenary Mode lifted and retooled from Resident Evil 4.