Resident Evil 6 Review: No More Tears


I’d like to start this review with a disclaimer (which I’ve never done before). There are three main campaigns in Resident Evil 6, with a fourth that unlocks upon completion of the rest. I made it a chapter into this fourth campaign, but gave up due to a string of aggravating and inscrutable puzzles. You can say what you will: that I’m not fit to review this game, or that I’m an impatient player. But with this disclaimer, I have at least made my process somewhat transparent. I’ve spent 20 hours with the game, and nothing in the last two to three hours would change my opinion on the whole. If that is unsatisfactory to you as the reader, then feel free to discount my opinion entirely.

I don’t do this often. Even a game I utterly hated, Final Fantasy XIII-2, I saw through to the end. Resident Evil 6 is a very different case. It’s a game that ate away at both me and my co-op partner, daring us to slog through unimaginable excess. When I realized that the fourth campaign was taking place in the same basic environments that I’d repeated two, sometimes three times, I stopped. And I don’t regret it. 

This review is a hard one to write. So let’s break it down as easily as I can muster. Resident Evil 6 is the worst game I’ve played this year. Here’s why.

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1. The three campaigns claim to be differently styled, but all suffer from the same, fundamental issues.

2. The camera, in a pathetic attempt to be cinematic, wobbles and spins and cuts with nauseating frequency.

3. The game refuses to inform you of several useful and basic controls through anything but loading screen tips.

4. Despite it’s new focus on action, ammunition remains hard to come by and easy to dump.

5. Enemies fail to react in any meaningful way to your attacks.

6. Boss battles are confusing and frustrating, and hinge on seemingly random scripted events.

7. The framerate hovers around 20 fps about half of the time.

8. The shooting reticle features a red dot sight that meanders around with no rhyme or reason.

9. Quick-time events are obnoxious and pervasive.

10. In what feels like a cruel joke, the game lasts anywhere from 20-30 hours.

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On second thought… let’s scratch that and start over.

Speechless.

I’m not what you’d call a “Resident Evil purist.” Many will surely be upset by this game’s new focus on action rather than horror, but that fact alone doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is how badly RE6 manages to botch that effort. Fully explaining how the game fails in that regard might take a while. So let me go over each of my ten points above with a fine-toothed comb.

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1. The three campaigns claim to be differently styled, but all suffer from the same, fundamental issues. 

In RE6, you play as three main characters across three campaigns: Leon Kennedy, Chris Redfield, and newcomer Jake Muller, son of Wesker. Each campaign is meant to have a distinct feel. Leon’s feels at times like Resident Evil 4, with a greater focus on horror. Chris’ is action-heavy, like some kind of Gears of War sibling. And Jake’s has an omnipresent, indestructible enemy, much like the Nemesis in Resident Evil 3. These idiosyncrasies are all well and good, until you realize that you’re playing the same game with the same borderline broken mechanics. Leon’s campaign isn’t scary, Chris’ suffers from focusing on unsatisfying and inaccurate gunplay, and Jake’s “Nemesis” equivalent is never as present, nor as imposing as its inspiration.

2. The camera, in a pathetic attempt to be cinematic, wobbles and spins and cuts with nauseating frequency.

There’s not much to clarify here. When surrounded by a group of enemies, you’re encouraged to use a stylish melee attack that swivels the camera to a supposedly optimal view of your cool move. But the result is disorganized and chaotic, resulting in animation loops and unwarranted deaths. In one of many chase sequences, the camera cuts violently, obscuring obstacles and resulting in more of those pesky unwarranted deaths. Even in something as basic as walking through corridors, the camera is swimmy and disorienting.

3. The game refuses to inform you of several useful and basic controls through anything but loading screen tips.

There’s a quick-slot health system in RE6, where your herbs are converted to tablets and mapped to an easy to use button. To convert your herbs into tablets, you must open your inventory. Your inventory, however, does not pause the game. Cue countless instances where you’ve picked up an herb in the heat of battle, and have to leave yourself exposed while you convert them into tablets. I repeated this frustrating process for over ten hours of the game, until I noticed a loading screen tip: “Use RB + X to automatically convert remaining herbs into tablets.” I should also note that the game has no manual.

4. Despite it’s new focus on action, ammunition remains hard to come by and easy to dump/5. Enemies fail to react in any meaningful way to your attacks. 

Although Chris’ campaign is billed as the sole action-heavy segment, all three campaigns aspire to be bombastic, action movie-esque affairs. In some sort of grievous error, ammunition is extremely limited. I spent more time running from enemies than fighting them, because I always knew there would be a mandatory, “eliminate all enemies” segment just around the corner. If I wasted my ammo, I’d have to resort to using melee, or the utterly useless knife. This might be excusable if enemies gave you a clear indication as to when they were close to death. Sometimes, a single shot to the head would kill a zombie. Other times, four shots wouldn’t. As such, dumping ammo into these enemies is a necessity. A clip goes fast when a shot to the head might be as effective as a shot to the chest, depending on the encounter.

…still speechless.

6. Boss battles are confusing and frustrating, and hinge on seemingly random scripted events. 

The lack of reliable feedback is a persistent issue in RE6, from control tips to enemy reactions to boss battles. I followed a specific process for each one of these lengthy encounters: 1) try to think up a strategy, 2) notice the game has given me no way to employ any strategy, 3) unload all of my ammo into the boss, while it doesn’t flinch for a second, 4) witness a jarring transition to a cutscene or scripted event that might involve a quick-time event, 5) wait patiently for the next boss encounter.

7. The framerate hovers around 20 fps about half of the time.

It really does.

8. The shooting reticle features a red dot sight that meanders around with no rhyme or reason. 

In every game, the red dot sight shows precisely where your bullet where land. Not in this one. The red dot sight is wildly inaccurate, in large part because it moves back and forth and up and down within the confines of a larger reticle. I simply cannot fathom how anyone would think this to be a good idea. When you combine the inaccuracy of the gunplay with the constantly moving camera, the lack of enemy feedback, and the ammo shortage, you have a killer, controller-throwing combination.

9. Quick-time events are obnoxious and pervasive.

Within five minutes of starting RE6, you will have run into at least three different quick-time events of varying complexity and length. The game relies on these gimmicks to a degree that is equal parts antiquated and intolerable. Every time an enemy throws himself upon you, you must waggle the left thumb-stick quickly. Almost every time a set-piece takes place, a complementary instant death quick-time event is served right up. It also features the worst QTE I’ve ever seen in a game, which involves climbing a rope. The process is too arcane to detail here.

10. In what feels like a cruel joke, the game lasts anywhere from 20-30 hours.

Yeah, you read that correctly. RE6 isn’t lacking in content, but that fact is more of a curse than a blessing. There are fifteen chapters (twenty if you count the bonus fourth campaign), and each can take anywhere from 1-2 hours. These chapters aren’t broken up into scenes or anything like that, either. The game wears out its welcome after the dreadful prologue, so the prospect of playing twenty hours of the same was more horrifying than any monstrosity in the game. It’s one of the reasons I simply couldn’t bring myself to beat the game outright. Co-op helps reduce the tedium, if only due to the tried and true sentiment, “misery loves company.”

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Resident Evil 6 is shapeless. It’s a game cobbled together from bits and pieces of mechanics and designs and controls. It pains me to say it, because many people obviously put a ton of work into this. The game can be rather striking at times, especially in the lighting department, and the production values are sky high. But the game’s “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach is too cynical, and its gameplay is too boring and shoddy. I can be as academic in my criticism as I please, but at the end of the day, Resident Evil 6 is terrible because it plays terribly and was designed inconsiderately. There are more complaints to list, but at this point, that seems petty.

Nothing can or could have saved Resident Evil 6. Evacuate the premises immediately.