Resident Evil 6 certainly has value on its side.With four full campaigns to play through, charting the adventures of Resi’s daft melodramatic icons, Leon S Kennedy, Chris Redfield and Ada Wong, as well as new guy Jake, the son of the even-dafter bad guy Albert Wesker, this is very much a kitchen sink approach to game design. Pretty much everything we associate with Resident Evil, going back to 2005’s masterful fourth instalment, has filtered down into this massive game. Though not all of it marks a win for the series with so much scope for inconsistency, there are so many superb moments dotted across these ludicrous, action-heavy plot strands that every Resident Evil fan will find something to love in all of this.
Pretty much rendering the ‘Resident’ part of the title meaningless, Resident Evil 6 takes place during a global bioterrorism assault that ties together a few things: the US government’s revelation about what really happened to Raccoon City (you remember that from the original Resident Evil, right?), a fateful encounter with Ada Wong for muscle-bound Chris Redfield and his similarly goliath-like men, plus some nonsense about Wesker’s cocky son carrying blood that could be important to the world’s survival.
Let’s stop this right here: Resident Evil’s story is, and always has been, absolutely knowing gibberish. In the last entry of this series, primary antagonist Albert Wesker was killed after being jammed in a volcano with two rocket launchers (a volcano, we should point out, that he crashed his stealth bomber into). This is just as silly, if not sillier, with dialogue and characterisation that will entertain, rather than engage. In a game like this, it’s actually quite an incentive to play through a story that has the capacity to push you off the logic wagon at any given time for the sake of a set piece, and rather than processing the Resident Evil 6 story you’ll just memorise the most blatantly inane moments – a series highlight of which comes in Chris Redfield laughably hitting the bottom of the bottle, after all his identical meathead mates are wiped out.
The campaigns themselves each have a little twist on gameplay styles: Leon’s is the most obviously survival horror-centric, a Resident Evil 4-esque trek through quieter American locales with a few jumpy moments; by no coincidence, it’s the strongest. Evoking memories of earlier games works in its favour, which is probably why the madly action-oriented world of Chris Redfield pales slightly by comparison.
Chris’s section initially comes across as a bad Gears Of War-clone, especially with the added ability to move and shoot with this instalment (a series first), but this early impression is reversed once you get into the crazy rhythm of the giant-sized set pieces in his levels. Jake’s campaign is also heavy on fighting, but with a renewed focus on melee combat, as he wrestles his way through countless human and not-so-much enemies. Ada’s is the secret one you get when you’ve beaten the other three, falling within the ballpark of Leon’s story. It’s worth noting that there’s not a lot here in terms of actual survival horror – this is primarily an action experience, so if you’re a stickler for retro Resident Evil, you may find yourself disappointed by the endless concessions to contemporary gameplay trends.
There’s a few months worth of stuff here, then, and it is quite beautifully presented – easily the most big-budget Resident Evil, though not the most refined overall. In a series as remarkably strong as this, however, it captures pretty much every element of modern Resident Evil that we enjoyed over the last two games, as well making a considerable jump in terms of the sheer content on the disc. If you’re finance-conscious when it comes to games this Christmas, this might just be worth picking up for that very reason. Capcom still has ambition on its side when it comes to the famous zombie-slaying franchise, and while that hasn’t necessarily yielded perfection in design with Resident Evil 6, it will reignite the passions of fans who doubted the series’ recent form.