Saturday, November 10, 2012

Top 5 Reasons Why 'Resident Evil 6' is a Train Wreck

Dear Capcom, You Can't Please Everyone, 
so why not just make a game that appeals to your own fan base and not another genre's?

While it is understandable for a video game company to attempt to create a product that sells to the broadest audience as possible in order to make the most money, what Capcom did with "Resident Evil 6" is a dismal attempt to make a game that panders to several audiences that exist outside of its survival horror niche.

Contrary to what many in the gaming industry may believe, producing a unique game that isn't like all of the currently popular titles on the market is what makes a game title sell so well. That is why the original “Resident Evil” was successful in the first place, and why the franchise is suffering now. Unfortunately, Capcom didn't care about the playability of "Resident Evil 6," they only care that it sells enough units for them to make enough money to appease their share holders. This oversight has caused what has been lauded as the biggest, most epic Resident Evil game ever, to be received with less than glowing reviews from the gaming community.

For a while now, the game industry as a whole has noticed that action games with strong online co-op modes like "Call of Duty" and "Gears of War" are selling like hotcakes, and they want in on that cash cow. So they make their own version of the games and try to present them like they are something new and interesting, which makes the game format even more of a commonplace experience, which in turn spawns a teeming mass of cliches the likes of which the video game world may never recover from.

Such is the case with the Resident Evil franchise. Instead of letting a PR department create ads that gained the interest of the “Call of Duty” and “Gears of War” crowd, Capcom decided to make RE6 like those games, which caused it to stray even further away from its survival horror roots than it already has and stumble drunkenly into the cardboard cutout world of online co-op war games. Yay.

Capcom: "Listen sweetheart you're here to pour drinks and look pretty, so how about you shut your mouth and add the co-op to my horror war campaign? Everyone knows that survival horror is too small of a niche market for this big guy, and this guy needs to make the most money he possibly can. By ripping off 'Call of Duty'."

RE Development Department: Throws drink in Capcom's face. "Do it yourself you jerk."

The depressing thing is that this is the release of the biggest game in Resident Evil history. It had over 600 people working on it, and yet it is unpolished, and lacks uniformity of design and clarity of plot.

Talk about too many chefs in the kitchen. This game clearly suffers because of it.

Me too Leon. Me too. If by fat juicy steak you mean a good Resident Evil game.

There are so many things wrong with "Resident Evil 6," I could write a book about them, but I won't. Instead I've compiled a list the top five reasons why the game is so bad.

5. Shoddy Game Mechanics

"Resident Evil 4" was a near perfect video game. It had the correct balance of action and horror and a combat system that worked like a dream. If you shot a bad guy in the leg, he stumbled or fell down, allowing you to run up and take him out. The game mechanics were so good that they actually allowed the player to plan her attacks and create strategies for killing different bad guys. You could jump over and climb up just about any obstacle you can across. Unfortunately, this aspect of the game, which made it the most fun to play, was ignored by game developers that worked in "Resident Evil 5," and "Resident Evil 6."

In RE6, the game is set up so that when you run up to a table or other waist high obstacle, you can push a button and leap over it. But the command prompt to do so appears at random. It'll flash on the screen when you walk past it, but if you back up to get it to appear again so that you can indeed leap over the obstacle, half the time it doesn't even appear. This isn't the only command prompt that works intermittently. The combat triggers for instant kills and attacks appears only when it feels like it, which is usually not in your favor, but in the monster's.

When you are tackled by a monster, you have to waggle your thumb stick around and around until you break free. If you do manage to break free, you receive damage from the monster.

Add to that an overabundant amount of quick time events and you have one frustrating game on your hands. Any time the camera zoomed in and focused on something in the environment, I began to tense up and wait for the damned prompt to appear. It became a chore, instead of a random, in-your-face holy crap moment during intense action sequences.

Leon's campaign in particular is thoroughly over-saturated with quick time events, to the point where it feels like every single time the camera shows you something, you need to frenetically mash a series of buttons and triggers or you die and have to start the level over again.

The only game mechanic that they got right is the non-player A.I. The non-player character buddies that run along with you on your journey through RE6 are better than the insufferable one from "Resident Evil 5." At least they get out of your way when you raise a weapon and go to shoot something, and they don't steal any item from you when you pick it up. Man is that Sheva selfish!

Speaking of items, why the additional step for the healing green herbs? 

What possibly made the game developers think it's a great idea to make it even more of a hassle to use them by picking them up, going into the inventory, combining them together, and then putting them into "pill" form so that you can shake a container of Tic Tacs into your mouth whenever you're injured? That is something that I'd really like to know.

Oh No! Helena is hurt? Here, have a Tic Tac! It's minty freshness will restore your health bar!

MMMMmmmm... Tic Tacs. 


Yeah, I know, the health restoration system in Resident Evil is far from realistic, and I willingly went along with the whole green herb + red herb = more green herbs that remove poison and restore your health, but health tablets? That is where I draw the line.

4. Stupid Camera

One of the most noticeable things that should've been polished prior to the game's release is the camera. The camera is far too close to the character's shoulders, so much so that you cannot see what is happening directly behind you.

The camera in RE6 creates huge blind spots for the players, such as this one.
Where's Leon's left shoulder? What is standing directly behind him? The world may never know.

The area where the camera really sucks is when you have to run a character up a flight of stairs. Playing the game then becomes a dizzying, nauseating experience that gives me flashbacks of watching "Cloverfield" in the theaters. Half the time when I approach stairs my character decides to turn himself around and head the other way, even though I haven't moved the direction of the control stick is facing, which by the way, was a problem that the original "Resident Evil" title had. And it was something that had long since been fixed.

Now, it could be argued that the game developers were trying to maintain the crappy camera angles that existed in the original titles of the franchise, but I really don't think that is why the camera sucks so much. I think that it's just because it's a crappy camera that wasn't fixed prior to the release of the game. There's no excuse for it, especially with the graphics engines available today, and the sophisticated technology that the current gaming platforms use.

The camera in RE6 is frustrating to work with, and I found myself constantly fighting with it so that I could see what was going on around me in the game. I've been told that this is partially because I play the game like a moron and can't direct the camera properly, which may be true, but I know that I'm not the only one that has that problem because it was announced last month that there will be a patch to fix the camera in "Resident Evil 6" released sometime in December, 2012.

3. What Character Development?

While I did find the idea of old school Resident Evil characters interacting with each other, the cut-scenes were short, with staccato bursts of dialogue that just barely covered what was happening. For instance, during Leon's campaign, when he runs into Chris and Piers, the tension between Leon and Chris is palpable. It's also the only scene where Chris doesn't act like he is emotionally retarded.

Chris' campaign starts with him suffering from memory loss and in a drunken stupor in a bar in God knows where. Even with him starting out as a drunk, Chris' character still comes off as stiff, and bad with communicating his feelings, to the point where he is unable to tell Piers anything, other than the fact that he doesn't remember.

So... Chris, how did you develop amnesia? Did you have an accident? Did your mind purposefully hide the events away from you because they were too painful to deal with as a means to cope with a terrible tragedy? Or, is this yet another flimsy attempt at giving your character more depth? You tell me.

Oh wait, you can't. Because you don't like to talk about your feelings, let alone anything remotely personal that happened to you in the past. Ugh...

While Chris may have lost his men, his persona stake in the game just doesn't feel as urgent, or important (at least from an emotional standpoint of the player) because he isn't out to save anyone. His is more of an internal emotional journey, and unfortunately, this is Chris Redfield we are talking about. Mr. I-Can't-Talk-About-My-Feelings, not even with you Sheva, so leave me alone! Baaaaawww!!

Piers comes off as a Chris fan-boy who gushes over him any chance that he gets. There really isn't much to his character either, other than the fact that he's a B.S.A.A. agent.

Overall, Leon is the most emotive of the characters, and has the most emotional investment in the plot. It's personal to him, he had to shoot his close friend, the President of the United States, to put him out of his misery, and now he's out to help his new partner Helena rescue her sister. His personal investment made me care about what was happening to him, and wondering just how he is going to karate kick his way out of the current mess he is in.

Sherry seems to just be there to do her job. She has a personal history with the B.O.W.s (Her father William Birkin worked for Umbrella as a head scientist and created the G-Virus) and she is a survivor of the Raccoon City Incident. While she does remain loyal to Leon, who helped her escape Raccoon City, their cut-scenes are rushed and she doesn't seem to care overmuch about him and his well being. Either she is as emotionally cold as her mother Annette, or she just wasn't written very well.

Jake too, suffers from thin character development. While he is the brooding son of Albert Wesker (We-e-e-esker!!!), his attitude and amazing Olympic-class acrobatic abilities are not very convincing. He is supposed to be a cold blooded mercenary from the "wrong side of the tracks" working for the bad guys, and all he gets to do is run away from monsters and rescue Sherry a gazillion times. Of course, Sherry really didn't need rescuing because the G-virus mutated her and gave her a healing factor* like Marvel Comics' "Wolverine!"

*er... I mean, her magical "accelerated healing" ability.

A healing factor, seriously? That's the best you could come up with for Sherry? What's wrong with you guys?

Unfortunately, the cut-scenes in the cross-over sections of the campaigns are the best parts of the game.

2. Ridiculous Monsters
Overall, each campaign of RE6 has it's own feel, it's own combat system, and it's own monsters. Many of the monsters that show up in Chris' and Sherry's campaigns seem to be shoddy rip offs of other monsters from "Resident Evil 4," Code Veronica, and "Resident Evil 5." 

Resident Evil has had more than it's fair share of weird monsters, but RE6 seems to completely jump off the bandwagon. Gone are the mutated animals, the hunters, the lickers, the Tyrants. They are replaced with sub-par Bandersnatch rip-offs, Tyrant-cyborgs, and giant monstrosities that are several stories high. It's as though the art department took their inspiration from "Gears of War" and "Dead Space," instead of following the visual aesthetic of the previous games in the series.

Here we see Chris Redfield pre-steroid abuse fighting a Bandersnatch from "Resident Evil: Code Veronica."

Here is Chris during his steroid abuse at the night club.

Here is an alcoholic Chris Redfield post-steroid abuse fighting a long armed J'avo. 
I didn't waste any bullets on the first one that showed up. I cut sliced it to death with my huge knife. Cause I'm old school like that.

Both versions of long armed monsters are ridiculous, and annoying to fight. But they are nothing compared to the pain in the backside that is the Ustanak. 

I mean come on, a cyborg Tyrant? Why does it need to be a cyborg with detachable limbs that can be interchanged with others? Wasn't Mr. X and the Nemesis proof enough that a killing machine could be made by simply mutating someone into a hulking monstrosity? Why does it need a machine arm with a claw hand? Every time I see it I think of the little three-eyed green aliens from "Toy Story."

The Ustanak is a towering monstrosity that chases Jake and Sherry throughout their entire campaign. It's just one endless chase scene broken up by fights with the locals that both outnumber and outgun them. 

The fact that it is an unstoppable killing machine that literally chases Jake and Sherry across Edonia is not just ludicrous, it's annoying. The non-stop Ustanak boss fight with Leon and Sherry, just plain silly.

The worst thing about all of the enemies in "Resident Evil 6" is that they are bullet sinks. It takes far more shots to stagger an enemy, if at all, and usually it takes over 10 bullets just to kill one guy. Talk about overpowered, the enemies in RE6 are far too resilient, which makes combat both tiresome and irksome. The boss fights in general are often far too long, with the boss coming back over and over and over again, to the point where you're left screaming at the TV "Just die already!"

It's like the game developers couldn't figure out the game play pacing and second guessed themselves, which led to them doing the exact opposite of what they should've done. That, combined with a camera that you constantly have to fight with, pop up combat cues that don't always work when they should, and random quick time events that are sorely over-used, and you have a recipe for disaster, or, at the very least,a video game that is a torturous chore to play through, instead of a fun way to pass the time while scaring yourself silly.

1. Lack of Cohesive Plot and Vision

Resident Evil has gone from a slow burn story full of creeping dread and terror where characters had to investigate and solve a mystery to a game with holy-crap-that-was-fast! action sequences that are used as a crutch to hide the fact that there is little to no plot development occurring in the game.

There is also a lack of exploration. There was a time when you could click on just about anything in the environment and the character would comment on it. For such a small thing, this feature truly added depth to a game by providing the character's opinions on things. There are boxes and tables blocking your path that your character should very easily be able to leap over, and doors that are locked that should be simple for experience veterans of Raccoon City.

With all the potential story telling and drama of dealing with biological terrorists, I think that the Resident Evil team really missed the mark with this one. Sure, there are three different campaigns that intersect at certain moments, and we get to see the big names of the franchise talk smack with one another, but over all, there really wasn't much to tell as the game can be summarized as," Hey these terrorists did bad stuff, let's get 'em!" The End.

Capcom seriously needs to take a few lessons from 343, the team behind "Halo 4," and up it's ante by utilizing the back stories of the previous games and CG movies and making a cohesive over-arching plot about a bio-terrorism conspiracy to topple governments in order to create a new world order under the Neo-Umbrella banner.  Or at the very least, give their megalomaniacal bad guys a bit more panache and depth of character. I for one am tired of the vaudeville mustache twirling villains that Capcom keeps throwing at us. Give me a bad guy with a personal stake, one that firmly believes that he is doing the right thing, and that by eliminating world governments and creating a world where death is no longer the end of life, he can make the world a better place. A motivating factor other than greed would be nice too for a change. Just saying.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this article. Also...I enjoyed the game .however my fav part or the game wasn't the campaign. It was the mercenaries and other extras.right now I am playing r.e. HD remake for Xbox one and I do miss all the puzzles and board interactions .