Sunday, March 18, 2012

Six reasons to be apathetic about Resident Evil 6

If Capcom has shown anything to be true, it's that Resident Evil is one of its favourite hallmark franchises.

Having debuted on the original PlayStation in 1996, the Resident Evil series has since released over 30 different games and, with it, garnered legions of fans from around the world, all willing to sacrifice anything to get their hands on the next entry in the series. That next iteration is right around the corner in the form of Resident Evil 6, and I've got six reasons why you might want to think twice about picking it up.

Whilst I do consider myself a fan of the series, Resident Evil reached its pinnacle for me (and the majority of others) during the reign of the beloved Resident Evil 4. Inevitably, though, the fourth couldn't go on forever, and so Capcom was forced to churn out number five, the usurper of the throne. Unfortunately, Resident Evil 5 was too ambitious for its own good, and gave us a bastardisation of what we've all come to expect from such a notable series. Since that hollow day, Capcom has tried desperately to revitalise the golden age brought to us by RE4 with several spin-offs but, alas, all efforts have fallen short.

With the recently announced Resident Evil 6, Capcom is putting itself in a position to either rejuvenate a wounded franchise or dig itself deeper into the proverbial hole. After watching the trailer, it appears that Capcom is taking cues from both sides, and I'm not sure that's such a smart decision. So, without further ado, I give to you six reasons why you shouldn't expect the dawn of a new era in gaming from Resi 6.

6: The Story

Can you explain this? No, neither can I.

If you're coming into Resident Evil 6 with high hopes for an incredibly deep, intuitive story that's both as emotionally captivating as it is interesting, then do I have something to reveal: it's not going to be.

Unless you're some kind of zombie savant, I'm confident in saying that there's no way that the Resi storyline comes together in a coherent manner. This series is all over the place, with evil corporations, apocalyptic viruses, shadowy figures and a slew of other confusing plot points that seem to become more labyrinthine the longer the series goes on. Does anybody even know what's happening at this point? Once you accept that the main story will never be anything more than chaos incarnate, the better off you'll be.

As far as the plot-point for Resi 6 goes? No one can be quite sure yet, but Capcom sets us up with this alarming sentence:

Due to be by the President's side is his personal friend and Raccoon City survivor, Leon S. Kennedy, but when the venue suffers a bioterrorist attack, Leon is forced to face a President transformed beyond recognition and make his hardest ever decision.

Take a minute to soak all that in and, if possible, ignore the awful grammar at the end. Done? With that sentence, (and also in the trailer) Capcom unveils a major event in the game. Spoilers: Leon shoots the president after he becomes a zombie. The sad part is that I almost guarantee that this is going to be one of the focal points for the game, and that entire surprise is now taken away. Maybe I could be wrong, but something tells me I won't be.

It may sound all terribly cynical but after the first game, which set everything up, can you give me an example of a Resident Evil game that has made the plot easier to grasp? Do you even want to understand the game? Right now, we're still trying to figure out if we want to fight against zombies or parasites. Which brings me to my next point...

5: Zombies or parasites? What's the damn deal?!

I get that he's not really a zombie, but... damn.

Resi is perhaps best-known for its gratuitous helpings of walking dead. Zombies coming stealthily from behind and whisking away your last splashes of health is always a terrifying experience, especially if you throw in those damned dogs that break through the glass. Strangely enough, Resi 4, the best game in the series, did away with the undead almost completely and replaced them with parasites that literally transform their hosts into maniacal beasts and bloodthirsty heathens.

That transition never made any sense to me. Somewhere along the way, a new virus was made and people got exposed, yadda, yadda. Regardless of the nonsensical virus, it was a blast to fight against the things and it led to quite the variety of enemies. Resi 5 embraced this parasitic formula, and that's all well and good, but what on earth happened to the zombies?

4: Zombies/parasites who shoot guns

This is what happens to zombies who carry guns.

One of the worst parts of Resident Evil 5 was when the undead chaps started to use guns. Look, Capcom; I understand that you want to be all fancy and such, but if you're bringing zombies back for whatever reason they really, really should not be able to fire a gun.

3: The cast

Come on.

The entourage of Resi guys and gals is rather varied, which is a good thing, and usually makes for interesting dialogue and connections in a game. Unfortunately, though, in Resi the only connection you have to the characters is their physical appeal. Be honest, the only reason you're excited to play as Ada Wong is because she's ridiculously good-looking. Remember those unlockable skins for Sheva in Resi 5? What about Jill, Ashley, or even Chris and Leon? Chris Redfield's biceps are the size of basketballs, which only further realises the stereotypes that Capcom has set in place.

You might learn a thing or two about a character but, once again, we then hit the nonsensical storylines, and within them there's nothing that makes you truly care about that particular character. So what if Jill Valentine was basically brain-washed and gained Super Saiyan abilities? Leon is great friends with the president? What? Ties like these are conveyed in an incredibly weak fashion, so when the time comes for the 'big reveal', all you're really moved to say is, "Oh", before proceeding to the next checkpoint.

We shouldn't be playing a game as notable as this if the characters that appear are too complicated for their own good. This is poor character design and I highly doubt that Resi 6 will change any of that.

2: Multiplayer

Maybe it'll be better on the other side. Eh, probably not.

I truly believe that Resident Evil is a series that can flourish with co-op. Just not the co-op we've been given in the past. Resi 5 allowed us to complete the campaign with two people, which was a nice touch, but with another person the key thing that Resident Evil is known for was diluted: the survival horror aspect.

Its 'Dude-Bro' style of co-op play really took the fun out of Resi 5. The inventory alone was a travesty, but not being afraid or worried about the normal things that make a RE game great was its biggest fault. Resident Evil 6 is undoubtedly going to continue the co-op trend, but let's just hope that the rumoured 6-man co-op turns out to be non-existent. Could you imagine walking through the game with six players all vying for ammo and kills? I shudder to imagine such horrors.

I have my hopes, but I feel that from what we've already seen, Resi 6 is going to embrace both the balls-out combat of Resi 5 and more of the subtle moments of Resi 4. Unfortunately, if this is the case, I fear it will only scramble the franchise's identity yet further.

1: How about some unique boss fights?

Great as it was, it's time to move on.

Boss battles are a core experience of any game and Resident Evil 5 seriously took the easy way out. Basically copying most of the battles from Resi 4, I felt completely underwhelmed when faced with each encounter. If Resident Evil 6 is going to succeed, it's going to have to take the crazy scale and send it into space.

As cool as Del Lago and El Gigante are, I don't want to see those fights in this game again. Will it happen? I sincerely hope not. Capcom is a talented studio and shouldn't be struggling this much to come up with unique and fun fights to progress the game.

I'm all for the continuation of the series, but if Capcom continues down this same path, my hopes for its successful resuscitation are nil. What else can they do to achieve this daunting task? Well, maybe some of the ideas above can help in that process.

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