Resident Evil 6 Demo Impressions: What It Tells Us About The Full Game
Resident Evil 6 is a tricky concept for Capcom. In delivering three separate campaigns – for Leon, Chris and newcomer Jake Muller – this is a game that appeals to fans of every Resident Evil iteration since the series began.
Leon gets the scares of the PSone originals and Resident Evil 4, Chris gets the guns and action of Resident Evil 5 and Jake gets – well, let’s just say we’re not too happy with Jake right now. Read on to find out what the Resident Evil 6 demo tells us about the full game.
Resident Evil 6 goes back to survival horror in Leon’s campaign
It’s no secret that Capcom wants to show it still has the development chops to deliver a true survival horror game, and that’s exactly what you get in Leon’s segment of the Resident Evil 6 demo.
Leon’s and his partner Helena find themselves stranded in the sprawling campus of Ivy University, just moments after executing the zombified U.S President. Together they hatch a plan to flee the city of Tall Oaks before the zombie infection gets them first.
What’s incredible is that you don’t see a zombie for the next ten minutes, as Capcom dips back into the horror playbook to create a sense of slowly mounting tension.
Shadows flicker, lighting strikes pierce the silence without warning and furniture is knocked over by enemies lurking in the darkness. It’s classic Resident Evil, and Capcom’s new visual engine really helps in striking some tense scenes.
The sound direction is also superb as wooden floorboards creak loudly with every step, creating a build up that echoes the opening moments of Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 6 delivers the best gunplay of the series
Once the zombies do appear, they attack with staggering force, swarming on Leon and Helena in an underground car park. In another classic Resident Evil move, both characters don’t have enough ammo to kill off all of their attackers, forcing them to run to the exit instead.
It’s already clear that Capcom wants you to feel like you’re always at a disadvantage against immeasurable odds, and each third of the campaign tackles this in different ways – as we’ll cover shortly.
For now though, Leon and Helena’s campaign is proof that Capcom has carefully designed the opening moments to recapture that old Resident Evil magic, and even if the new combat mechanic echoes most third person shooters today, the tone is at least spot on.
In terms of control, Capcom has delivered the most fluid Resident Evil 6 control scheme to date, with slick aiming and a navigation device similar to Dead Space, ensuring you never lose your way.
If you are unlucky enough to get downed by zombies, you can enter a ‘last stand’ state and unload with your pistol. This helps to keep enemies at bay long enough for your partner to revive you.
Resident Evil 6 is slick, make no mistake, and for retro purists it might feel a little too removed from the clunkiness of old. You’ll quickly get right into it however.
Resident Evil 6 appeases action fans in Chris’s campaign
In Chris’s campaign, Capcom has attempted to appeal to fans of Resident Evil 5’s action-heavy leaning. We’re talking guns, explosions, testosterone, military chatter and zombies with guns. Yeah you read that right – they have guns now.
We first see Chris drowning his sorrows in an Eastern European bar, squabbling with the help and nearly killing a customer in a fit of blind, drunken rage.
He’s cut up about losing his BSAA squad during Resident Evil 5 – and presumably Jill, again – but quickly finds his way back into the unit thanks to his new partner Piers Niven.
The action kicks off in China, as Chris, Piers and the BSAA team storm rooftops under heavy fire from attacking zombies. Well, to be specific, these aren’t your average zombies, they’re J’avo – intelligent infected that can use weapons.
Shoot a J’avo anywhere but their head, and the wounded limb will mutate into something stronger. Shoot an arm, and it’ll regenerate as a muscular battering ram that will sap your health in a few swipes.
They’re tough enemies, but they have more in common with the faceless goons in most shooters, rather than the scary beasts of previous Resident Evil games.
Resident Evil 6 strays dangerously close into military shooter territory
Remember how earlier we mentioned that Resident Evil games often create tension by having your character run out of resources quickly? Well, that doesn’t work so well in Chris’s section, especially when the aim is to shoot everything that moves.
When your bullets run dry -and they will – you’re left with melee attacks so bereft of force that you might as well try to cuddle the J’avo to death.
Navigation is also an issue here, as you still have to press A to vault over every ledge – even if it’s at shin height – in order to climb up it. Doing this at speed while dodging J’avo fire is a real pain – What year is it again?
All of this quickly feels like Capcom is trying to hard to ram as much headache inducing chaos, gunplay and military banter into the mix that you can’t help but compare the madness to existing shooters.
It’s the third person shooting of Gears of War, mixed with the military and set-piece sensory assault of Call of Duty, and Chris’s section pales drastically when compared to both. We just hope there is some true horror in there later on, as this pace simply can’t hold up for the duration.
Resident Evil 6 provides a limp middle ground in Jake’s campaign
Wesker’s son Jake Muller is the problem child of the family. We’re not quite sure who Capcom is catering for with his third of Resident Evil 6, but Ustanak – the large monster seen chasing Jake in Capcom’s trailers – is an attempt to bring back the tension of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
This part of the Resident Evil 6 demo opens with Jake and Resident Evil 2’s Sherry Birkin fleeing from Ustanak. He’s a brutal monster – half organic, half mechanical – capable of gutting our heroes in mere moments if caught.
After a few mad sprints down a flooded corridor, Jake and Sherry escape through the window of a warehouse, leaving Ustanak unable to follow. What you then get is a small section of gameplay that is neither scary nor full of action.
It’s just all a bit dull, even when attacking human troops decide to show up. The gunplay is fine, but bullets are – annoyingly – scarce, leaving you to once again hammer them with weak melee attacks until they topple.
Ustanak quickly hits the scene again and rushes Jake and Sherry, entering you into another one of those “dodge the charging boss at the last minute” boss battles that haven’t felt fresh since 1995.
It’s too early in the game to tell how the rest of Jake’s campaign will play out. Capcom confirmed that Jake will have a selection of big melee attacks to use, but none of them appear in the Resident Evil 6 demo, which is a shame
Resident Evil 6 has a lot to prove by its October release
So far only Leon and Helena’s portion of the demo seems to really strike the right chords, delivering a true sense of horror and tension. Chris and Piers just seem content with humdrum action, while Jake and Sherry do a lot of nothing.
We’re aware that this is a demo and not reflective of the final Resident Evil 6 campaign, but the demo does set out the tone of each portion, and it’s too early to tell if this is a good thing.
It all boils down to which of the previous Resident Evil games you prefer really, but even then we can think of better third person shooters out there at the moment. We’re entirely ready for Capcom to surprise us with something awesome closer to launch however.