SDCC ’12: Resident Evil 6 (Xbox 360) Preview
Due to time constraints, crowds, and lines at E3 earlier this year I was unable to actually get the chance to play Resident Evil 6 this year. But thanks to the folks at Microsoft and Xbox I was able to attend the Xbox 360 party this year complete with demo stations of RE6 I was able to play until my hearts content. So what you should know about this game is that it picks up some time after Resident Evil 6. Umbrella has been gone but now been resurrected as Neo-Umbrella and the entire world is under attack from the threat of bio-terrorism. In the playable demo levels, the zombie apocalypse has basically started and is in full swing as major cities have been brought down from the outbreak of mysterious bio-terrorist attacks. Resident Evil 6 introduces three main separate storyline modes featuring Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, and Jake Muller. The demo let you lay through three different levels featuring each character and their new partners: BSAA soldier Piers Nivans for Chris, Secret Service agent Helena Harper for Leon, and of course Resident Evil 2’s Sherry Birkin for Jake. Sherry is now an adult and field operative trying to combat Neo-Umbrella and the rash of bio-terror attacks. So each level can be played solo or you can play two-player co-op so you can play as the partner character as well online or with a friend. As a huge fan of Resident Evil 4 and how that game revolutionized the franchise and third person shooters in general, I was quite happy with how Resident Evil 6 appears so far.
In the Leon and Helena level are you are stuck in a university campus that has just been hit by a bio-terror virus. The remaining citizens left on campus have become zombies and Leon and Helena have to fight their way out. The setting is classic Resident Evil as well as survival horror and feels like you are playing around in a George Romero movie. The atmosphere is thick and truly frightening as it seems something can jump out the corner at any time. Things get tense as Helena and Leon are trapped in a zombies’ den, and Hunnigan communicates with you to direct you to a building to get a key to escape to a getaway car. Eventually you are trapped in a hallway with zombies busting their way through the windows and doors and you have to make a final stand. The zombies are formidable. Some have weapons and are able to throw bottles and axes which you can shoot away in mid-air. The combat reminds me more of RE4 but it has been suitably amped up. Melee attacks in this game are much stronger and better than in previous RE games, but you also don’t want to overuse them as it can drain your stamina quicker. The action is also a lot quicker and frantic. The game does not allow you a safety net anymore when you are selecting equipment or health items as the game active game continues while you do this. I don’t mind since this makes the gameplay move quicker and it makes the action sequences more intense, aggressive, and suitably chaotic. I also like the game has incorporated QTE’s which were a staple in RE4 when you finally do get to your getaway car while zombies are still attacking. Helena and Leon are able to escape the campus in Tall Oaks, but then they are promptly forced to move further in the sewers, the last place I want to be in the middle of a zombie outbreak. The RE6 panel during the convention showcased more of the sewer level as Helena and Leon try to escape through the subways also filled with zombies. You also have to beware of moving subway train cars.
The Chris/Piers level is basically something new, different, and quite refreshing for the franchise. This level was basically Call of Duty meets Resident Evil. Chris Redfield is leading his heavily armed BSAA team into battle in the fictional Eastern European country of Edonia. The city is under attack from mutant soldiers who Chris and Piers must attack head on. You have to be careful with these guys because who have super strength and reflexes not to mention powerful weapons because if you shoot of an arm or a limb it will mutate in a form similar to Krauser from the fourth game and they become much stronger and harder to kill. Again the level and gameplay sort or resembled something akin to Call of Duty but with a Resident Evil flavor. Eventually you fight a giant monster who chases after you that looks like he has a giant cancer tumor on his back. This is of course his weak spot for this boss battle. Eventually, Chris, Piers, and the rest of their team make their way to a train station and one of Chris’ teammates has to prepare a C4 charge detonation while some mutant soldiers try to flank your position with rocket launchers. At this point in the demo you protect your team members so you can move forward. During the panel we also got to see another tense sequence where Chris and his team breach a building and are stalked by a giant serpent monster that has the ability to cloak itself with the environment. The serpent monster kills Chris’ team one by one until Chris and Piers are able to confront it head on in a slaughterhouse.
The last playable level was one from the Jake/Sherry storyline set in Lanshiang, China. For those who do not know, Jake is the biological son of Wesker. How a guy like Wesker had a son is an absolute mystery to me. Jake is a mercenary who Sherry is trying to recruit because apparently his blood holds the key to making a vaccine. Lanshiang is also under a bio-terror attack and you are threatened by some creepy mutant civilians wearing festival masks. These baddies if you don’t kill them quickly will mutate into slithery, reptilian monsters and will go after you nonstop. The pacing and action in this stage was pretty fast and impressive. This was a good level to test out the controls and combat. It’s very evocative of the fourth game but there is a lot more you can do such as lay back and shoot. The action and gameplay is a lot more visceral and cinematic for this game than in previous installments. I’d say the camera at times was a bit buggy though.
Resident Evil 6 drops on October 2 on PS3 and Xbox 360. It will also later be available on Windows PC.