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Resident Evil 6 review: The series buries its survival horror roots forever

No scares, no surprises, lots and lots of shooting...

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The atmosphere of each campaign is somewhat distinct, though anyone hoping for a survival horror one will be disappointed. Leon S. Kennedy and Helena Harper have the creepiest ride, one infested with zombies and Left 4 Dead-inspired evolved forms, eventually ending up in China, which is where old-hand, Chris Redfield, and new recruit, Piers, begin. The campaigns visit the same places at different times, but each one is a fresh take with new locations, and each pairing's unique enemies - a different basic type, with further evolutions and new monsters.

Combat is somewhat different across the campaigns. Leon's zombies, for example, are generally slower but much more 'clingy' and swarm up-close much more than the J'avo Chris battles. Leon's best fights are in cramped spaces and winding corridors, while the environments for Chris and Jake are more open and their enemies more range-capable. Ada's campaign (single-player only, and unlocked after completing the first three), is the most distinctive - a mix of tough puzzles that isn't afraid to pile on enemies in tight spaces.

ALL OUT OF LOVE

But the differences, though considerable, don't add up to different genres - this is four flavours of zombie shooter, which is a lot of zombie shooting. It does begin to wear after around 20 hours of play, one reason for which is a control scheme that lapses into inelegance. Getting into cover requires much more fiddling than it should - a big black mark - while a two-button dodge ends up rather ruining the challenge: it absolutely confounds everything you face, including bosses. Resident Evil 6's shooting feels and sounds lovely, but the awkward edges mean you never quite fall in love with it.

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You'll see some very pretty things whilst driving, but the vehicles basically handle like boxes on wheels...

A bigger problem is that its plentiful cinematic sequences take control away. During the campaigns you'll pilot various aircraft and vehicles as well as get caught up in all sorts of collapsing/explosive disasters - but your participation is strictly limited. Whether it's pulling shoulder buttons in sequence, hammering X/A, or waggling the sticks, say hello to our old friend Mr QTE and all his bad habits.

Several sequences offer more direct control over vehicles, and we wish we could say they're better. You'll pass the driving sections without dying, and see some very pretty things while doing it, but the vehicles handle like boxes with wheels. These levels feel padded, too, with the second player forced to gun down yawnsome enemy vehicles in long sequences.

When Resi 6 is concentrating on its main game of shooting monsters, things tick along quite nicely. And when it combines this with its cinematic urges, fabulous stuff can happen - relatively early, Leon and Helena are forced underground into a train tunnel. Walking towards a bend, a huge group of zombie silhouettes can be seen on the wall. As the herd begin to swarm, and you're lost in the gunfight, a train clangs by at top speed and takes out anything on the wrong track. It's a gorgeous mix of panic and delirium.

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