Resident Evil 6: Take the Controls
Following an unpleasant evening spent in
Tall Oaks, special agents Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper score a pair of first
class plane tickets and escape to China, to fight bioterrorism and shoot
foreigners. Thanks to the lax security at Tall Oak’s International Airport, the
pair are able to smuggle aboard their favourite firearms and herbs as a deadly
carry-on; their blatant disregard for luggage regulations pays dividends, as
the plane is eventually overrun by infected passengers and a fat zombie covered
I had decided to play Leon’s campaign first as he has a pretty good track record (RE2 & 4) and I thought it would be the most likely of the bunch to adhere to series convention. The first hour or so did enough to prevent my disappointment from overflowing, but the aeroplane chapter was just too much, magnifying all the issues that had already begun to grate. The offending scene includes a short action sequence which culminates in Leon and Helena storming the cockpit, with our floppy haired hero taking the controls and successfully orchestrating a QTE crash landing. In the space of ten minutes, you are subjected to the very worst of Resident Evil 6.
Making my way through the first class cabin and then into the cockpit, I battled with a camera that is motion-sickness inducing and falls to pieces whenever the action moves to close quarters. It also has a nasty habit of suddenly shifting at the most inopportune moments, leaving you disorientated and either running into a wall or lashing out at thin air. The lack of feedback from shots and punches renders the combat unsatisfying. As I battled through the aisles, I was never quite sure whether or not my bullets had found their target – I can't recall RE ever having a problem with this, even in its earliest incarnations - and Leon's wet kiss of a roundhouse kick did little to convince the final zombie to vacate his position near my next QTE trigger.
Resident Evil 6's biggest problem is its incessant quick time events. Like every other section of the game, Leon's crisis at 35,000 feet is overflowing with QTEs that'll have you stick waggling, button smashing, and praying for a non-interactive cut scene. With the pilot dead and the inflatable replacement nowhere to be found, you must land the plane via a succession of quick time prompts that are as ill-fitting as they are ill-explained. It took three game-overs before I finally understood what was expected of me - search the dashboard for the QTE prompts - having suffered three fail states that did little to reveal the requirements of a safe landing. It would have been easier to fumble my way through had the button presses actually related in some way to the actions that I was expected to perform; it would have made sense to gradually pull back the analogue sticks to bring up the nose of the plane, instead of smashing X until my fingers fell off.
|Happier times in the cockpit|
I'm not quite sure why the RE team(s) is so enamoured with quick time events and so bloody-minded in their implementation. When used sparingly and at the right time, they are a useful method of keeping the player involved in a scene where straight forward controls would complicate matters, but Capcom insists on thrusting them upon events that should have been either completely player lead or cut-scene only. If a quick time event does not make the action more exciting or the scene more involving, then it does not belong.
Leon's struggles in the cockpit are representative of the overall issues that make Resident Evil 6 such a disappointment. I suspect that there may be a good game somewhere behind the rubbish, obscured by the awful camera and ill-advised design choices, one that the December patch may help to uncover, but no amount of fixing is going to rectify the unfortunate stick waggling and button bashing that plagues RE6. Quick time events are a key part of the move to a more action orientated franchise, one that began with Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 5 took it a step further, perhaps a step too far, while RE6 goes above and beyond, while discarding the very essence of traditional RE.
Resident Evil 6 demonstrates no understanding of its own limitations - flying a jet fighter and taking that bloody camera into the narrow holds of a submarine are two examples of developer cluelessness - and the four-pronged narrative quickly becomes repetitious. Although seeing events through the eyes of different protagonists does strengthen the narrative, visiting the same locations and undertaking the same mission from a slightly different perspective is as exciting as it sounds.
While Resident Evil 6 is a thoroughly flawed game, it does have some redeeming qualities. The characters are interesting, especially when you are privy to their history, and the hideous bosses and mental narrative are in keeping with a series that has yet to take itself quite as seriously as other third person shooters, though it has clearly long since rejected the tongue-in-cheek charms of the series debut. High-score chasing in Mercenaries is still fun, co-op looks promising and every now and then the single player campaign strings together an exciting sequence of events, where everything falls into place. Even still, Resident Evil 6 is certainly not the game that I was hoping for. With the latest instalment, this much loved series continues to regress, unsure of its own strengths and too concerned with imitating far superior games. Also, where the hell is Barry?