Resident Evil 6 will be divided into two camps –  those who will appreciate the Resident Evil franchise moving from survival-horror to a more action-oriented design and those who will complain about the franchise not sticking to its roots despite the fact they enjoy playing the game.

Resident Evil 6 is broken in three distinct, but intersecting stories – each providing a unique perspective to the overall story. While you can experience the individual campaigns solo, couch co-op or online co-op, the places where the stories do intersect (and you’re connected to the internet), the game may place you in the same game as another pair. Meaning if you are playing the Chris and Piers campaign, and you meet up with Jake and Sherry, Jake and Sherry may be played by another group of players so you can experience the story together.

As far as experiencing the story goes, Resident Evil 6 stays with its third-person over-the-shoulder view.  Capcom has improved the ability to custom the camera view and the placement of the HUD (heads-up display) on the screen. Of course, you don’t care about that, you just want to know that yes, you can now move and shoot at the same time, though I seriously do not recommend it. While this does continue the tradition towards more action, RE6 is hardly a run-and-gun shooter.

Visually, Capcom has made the best looking Resident Evil to date. The playable character models look life-like, even in the eyes, an area where Capcom has had problems in the past. They even do some great work with wind and snow effects in a chapter following the Jake and Sherry campaign. Unfortunately, most of this is ruined by their lighting effects, or lack thereof. I don’t know what it is – whether it’s the last team that refuses to give up being a survival-horror game or if they think it helps, but most of the time, you’re walking through darkness or poorly lit areas. To me, it doesn’t really add anything. It isn’t scary and there aren’t monsters jumping out, it’s just annoyingly dark. The only time it was ever used properly was in a cemetery during Leon’s campaign where they used lightning strikes to identify new zombies approaching.

Of the three campaigns, I played the Leon campaign solo and the other two local co-op. While I would definitely suggest playing with a friend either on your couch or across the internet, I must applaud Capcom for investing the time and money into improving the partner AI. Playing solo is no longer a game breaker as the AI is vastly improved. It comes to your aid when necessary, it stays out of your way when you’re fighting and it follows commands.

Sadly, not all of the Resident Evil tropes are improved – specifically the vehicle and chase scenes. Well, maybe not all the vehicle scenes as there is a particular one with Chris and Piers that is pretty fun. No, what I’m talking about is driving a motorcycle. This was exceptionally frustrating as you tried to weave in and out of cars stopped on the highway. Thing is, the motorcycle doesn’t drive like a motorcycle and the parked cars have clipping outside of their actual bodies. It wasn’t until I realized this and began playing the section like I was playing Dodge’Em or Freeway on the Atari 2600 – where the highway was split into lanes that I had to pick the correct lane to continue playing.

My biggest beef though is with the chase scenes. I understand that Capcom wants to give a cinematic feel to the game, but wresting control of the camera away from me and forcing me to dash into the camera, only to quickly wrench the camera behind my character and make me change direction is unforgivable. Let me tell you, if there was a giant bio-organic weapon chasing me, I wouldn’t be looking back, I’d be running like hell. There has to be other ways to make it feel cinematic without forcing me to run into the camera’s eye with no idea whether something is in front of me or not.

Don’t let my last two paragraphs frighten you. The fun Resident Evil 6 brings to the table far outweigh the frustrations you may feel once or so a campaign. The combat feels satisfying (especially using Jake’s hand-to-hand combat), the game’s pacing feels good and the exploration and puzzles provide a nice taste of something different.

Besides the campaigns, there is some extra content worth noting. The Mercenaries returns as a great short side mission where you attempt to survive an onslaught of undead. A new mode called Agent Hunt where you have the ability to join in another person’s game over the internet, and play as one of the infected attempting to take down the agent whose game you are invading. I think it’s a great concept and adds a layer of re-playability to the game.

Overall, Resident Evil 6 hits all the notes fans have come to expect from the franchise and a little more. With plenty of collectibles, skills and content, you have a lot of reasons to return and enjoy the RE universe. Each of the three main campaigns will provide you with six to seven hours of game time leading to a very fulfilling experience. This is definitely a must purchase for fans of the franchise.  While it may not be a complete return to the franchise’s survival-horror roots, Resident Evil 6 is a complete game that knows where it wants to go next.

Resident Evil 6 releases on October 2, 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for $59.99 with a future date for a PC release.  (Resident Evil 6 gameplay captured on the PlayStation 3 by Brian Bentley using the Game Capture HD Pro from Roxio)

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