Resident Evil 6: the details you won't find in the trailer
18th Feb 2012 | 16:30
The announcement of Resident Evil 6 didn't go to plan. The game was first shown privately at TGS 2011 - but then the footage leaked. Capcom kept schtum and instead concentrated on creating a teaser site that would lead into the 'official' reveal of the game. Then more leaks: a promotional poster, plot details, even gameplay tidbits. Except, when the trailer hit, none of it mattered anymore. Because Resi 6 wasn't just spectacular - it was a radical change for the blockbuster series.
The headline news is that Chris Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and a mystery mercenary ably assisted by Ashley Graham are the main playable characters, and each has their own campaign that intersects with the others'. The trailer's easy to find online, so we'll skip the blow-by-blow, and instead explain why this is the most ambitious series entry since the genre-defining Resi 4.
It's a legacy Resi 6 confronts head-on. Tall Oaks is the setting for Leon's part of the game, and Ingrid Hunnigan is back on radio duties to tell him there are over 70,000 hostiles. His reply: "It's Raccoon City all over again." Beautiful.
Leon's part of the game is all about old-school survival horror, with a gothic castle and a terrifying trip along a zombie-infested subway tunnel channelling the earlier and more spooky entries in the series. That doesn't mean he won't be getting his hands dirty. These are proper, old school, neck-chomping Resident Evil zombies, and at points there are ten attacking him at once.
Luckily Leon's more capable than ever, delivering roundhouse kicks to clumped groups, sliding past enemies and shooting them from the floor like Max Payne, and smashing fireaxes into a zombie skulls.
Recent entries in the series have all emphasised the role of bioterrorism in Resi's world, but Resi 6 finally shows it: Chris's sections are set in a Chinese city under attack. The feel is more like Cloverfield than anything, with a special forces team running towards what everyone else is running away from (there's a glimpse of a Godzilla-sized beast that's clearly some relation of El Gigante), and bespoke animations as Chris jostles through the crowd and shoves eager journalists aside.
In contrast to Leon's sections, this is a straight-up Gears Of War shootout, complete with a cover system and heavy firepower. Chris and his squad blast through Las Plagas (from Resis 4 and 5), a mutating Regenerator thing called the Navo, and an all-out vehicular assault.
And there's something else. At the end of the trailer Chris grips his head in agony. A soldier flashes into a corpse; the environment turns from normal to post-apocalyptic. A discarded concept from Resi 5 was delusions; working out what's real and what's not. A mental breakdown amid a bio-organic weapon outbreak would give these gun-heavy sections a welcome touch of psychological horror.
REDFIELD OF DREAMS
Chris is sprinting, throwing himself into cover, even diving on the floor in a way that wouldn't be possible with traditional Resi tank controls. At one point when Leon's fighting, he strafes and takes a backwards step while aiming, so expect controls closer to Gears Of War - 360 degree movement combined with an aim that zooms and locks your view, next to an overhauled melee and dodge system.
Which leads to the third, most surprising strand of Resi 6's campaign: that mysterious mercenary, Resi 4's Ashley Graham, and a campaign filled with hand-to-hand melee combat. The merc doesn't come cheap, but his blood is apparently important: crucial for making a serum that can Save The World. They are somewhere in Eastern Europe, being chased around a snowy ghost town by semi-mechanical Tyrants; lucky, then, that our mercenary specialises in punching things to death.
Who is he? Judging by the black gloves, hyper-jujitsu, and need to be injected, this is Alex Wesker; there were seven Wesker clones, of which two survived - Albert and Alex. He's never been seen before, but this lets Capcom keep Wesker and Oswell Spencer (who created the Weskers and co-discovered the first virus) linked to its story.
The combat has echoes of Arkham Asylum in the way maybe-Wesker moves smoothly from target to target, while slowdown and crunching FX emphasise blows. Resi doesn't seem an obvious fit for melee combat, but don't forget Capcom have pedigree in the field of man-punching. There's every reason to be confident that this system will be more than mindless button-mashing, but let's hope they go light on the QTEs.
HITTING FOR SIX
So that's at least three campaigns and three types of game to fill them - survival horror, cover-based shooter, and beat-'em-up - plus an overhauled control system and a story that kicks off with a zombified President. Oh, and co-op.
An official Xbox.com update spilled a few beans, listing offline co-op for two players, online co-op for up to six, and online multiplayer with up to eight players. Co-op with six players? We're betting the story is limited to two, but Mercenaries has big teams and Xbox Live is the perfect home for the new gauntlet-style Raid mode introduced in Resi Revelations on 3DS.
Is Capcom throwing the kitchen sink at Resi 6? Damn right. Resi 4 was a brilliant game that Capcom hasn't been able to top, and while Resi 5 was the best-selling entry in the series, the shuffling of 6's lead creatives suggests Capcom wants more.
They don't just want Resi 6 to sell bucketloads: they want Resi 4's crown back. Since the release of that game the dev has relinquished the top spot in the action and horror genres to upstarts like Platinum and Visceral Games. But no series combines action and horror like Resi at its best, and there's nothing like wounded pride for striking back hard.
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