E3 2012: Resident Evil 6 Preview
Resident Evil is one of gaming’s more storied horror franchises. The original is one of the earliest titles in the survival horror genre and Resident Evil 4 more or less gave birth to the modern third-person shooter. The latest entry in the series, Resident Evil 6, looks like it’s shaping up to be the biggest entry in the franchise to date.
At E3 Capcom gave us our first look at what they’re calling “Cross Over Co-Op.” Basically what this means is that during certain missions in the story the individual character campaigns will intersect. When this happens, the game will reach out and find a co-op team that’s playing the other end of the mission that you and your co-op partner are playing and bring them into your game to have a four player simultaneous co-op session.
The demo they showed us featured Leon, Helena, Jake and Sherry teaming up to take on the Ustanak, an indestructible monster that seems to be taking some cues from Resident Evil 3 baddie, the Nemesis.
It starts off with the four characters meeting up and filling each other in on their situations, but before long the Ustanak shows up to spoil the party. At this point the game is a full-on four player co-op boss battle where you have to all work together to survive.
This is a great idea in theory, but I’m curious to see how it works once the game is in the wild. Co-Op is usually best played with a like-minded individual who you can work well with. Adding in the element of being matched randomly with people you don’t know and then forced to work together is a gamble at best and a disaster at worst. If it all works out, however, it will be extremely cool. Of course, they did make it a point to say that you have the option to opt out if you so choose. But where’s the fun in that?
I also had a chance to get some hands-on time with the three demos they had on display at the show, here are some thoughts on that…
The first demo starts with a familiar scene from the reveal trailer. During what appears to be fundraiser dinner or a campaign speech, there’s a bioterror attack and the President of the United States gets infected and is turning into a zombie. Leon Kennedy, and his partner Helena Harper, have no choice but to put him down.
After dispatching the commander-in-chief they decide that their best bet is to be anywhere but there. While searching for a way out of the building they’re currently trapped in they run into a somewhat disheveled looking man who is searching for his daughter. He says he knows a way out but isn’t going anywhere until he finds her. Leon and Helena agree to aid him in his search. After poking around a little bit they’re able to locate the girl who, well, let’s just say she isn’t looking very well. The man then says that their best chance to escape is through an elevator that leads down to a parking garage.
When the group hits the elevator, things take a turn for the worse.
The daughter passes away and her father isn’t far behind. Shortly after that the pair turn undead because of course they do. They lunge at Helena and Leon who are able to fight them off. When the elevator reaches the parking garage, the doors open to reveal a hoard of zombies waiting for our heroes.
At that point it’s officially on.
Leon and Helena proceed to fill their undead attackers with hot lead and after a short scuffle are to take them all out. But before they head out Leon sees something on a security monitor that catches his attention, two men who are cornered by a mob of zombies that are closing in fast. Leon is determined to help them, but before he can the men are attacked and killed. Leon still thinks he can help them, but Helena is able to convince him that it would be impossible. The demo ends with Leon and Helena determined to find answers about who is responsible for the outbreak.
The second demo began with Chris Redfield, and his partner Piers Nivans, in a city somewhere in China that is burning all abound them. Their task is to fight their way to a location called “The Ace of Spades.”
This segment is quite a bit more straight forward than the Leon’s, mostly consisting of action sequences with little in the way of story. The enemies Chris and Piers are up against at this point seem similar to the ones from Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, humanoid creatures that, when shot in certain areas, reveal mutations that make them even more dangerous.
This portion of the demo ends with Chris and Piers reaching their destination and having to hold their ground against all kinds of the monsters while waiting for an evac chopper to arrive.
The final demo was primarily an introduction to Jake Muller and Sherry Birkin’s primary antagonist, the aforementioned Ustanak. The Ustanak is a bad dude. He effortlessly cuts down a group of what appear to be infected soldiers before turning his sights on our heroes. Jake seems to hurt the monster temporarily by standing his ground and shooting an exploding canister as he begins the pursuit. This is a short lived victory, however, as when the flames die down the Ustanak rises back to his feet, unharmed.
The Ustanak then charges into an all-out sprint at Jake and Shelly, tearing through anything that’s in his path. After a chase sequence, Jake and Shelly are able to temporarily give him the slip by diving deeper into the enemy facility they’re currently trapped in. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re out of the water just yet.
After narrowly escaping with their lives, they encounter more of the infected soldiers from earlier. As Jake and Sherry try to fight their way through their enemies, the Ustanak shows up again to continue his pursuit. With nowhere left to run, they’re forced to stand and fight against their indestructible foe.
After a boss fight the demo ends with the Ustanak under a collapsed pillar and Jake and Sherry continuing their escape.
These demos do a good job of punctuating the main differences that players can expect out of the three campaigns. While all featuring the same basic gameplay, they all have a distinct feel to them.
Leon’s is very much like classic Resident Evil, high tension, low ammo and tons of atmosphere, it almost feels like a return to the series’ roots. And, of course, for the first time in a long while the return of the series’ most classic enemy, the traditional zombie.
Chris’ demo is more along the lines of Resident Evil 4and Resident Evil 5, with a focus no high octane action. It has lots of enemies, lots of ammo and non-stop in your face shooting.
And finally Jake’s feels like somewhat of a departure from either style. While it does feature action similar to Chris, it has more of an emphasis on fleeing and escaping rather than shooting galleries.
Overall I really liked what I saw of Resident Evil 6 at E3. The controls have finally been updated to being them more in line with modern shooters. You’re a lot more mobile than you have been in past Resident Evil games. Not only are you finally able to move and shoot at the same time, but you’re also able to perform various more stylish moves like combat rolls and dodges. You’re also able to perform regular melee attacks without having to stagger your enemy first, as well. Unlike most modern shooters, however, your aiming reticule isn’t locked in the center of the screen; it still floats around like in the previous third-person shooter entries in the franchise. So, despite all the changes in the controls, it still feels like a Resident Evil game.
Resident Evil 5 was generally considered to be a good game that just slightly missed the mark. In that game in felt like the co-op was thrown in at the last minute because that was the popular thing at the time. Resident Evil 6 on the other hand feels like it was built from the ground up with co-op in mind and it’s all the better for it. With three separate campaigns, each of which Capcom estimates to be around 80% of the length of Resident Evil 5, more modernized controls and the promise of another good old fashioned dose of Resident Evil insanity, Resident Evil 6seems to be coming along very nicely. I can’t wait to see more.
Resident Evil 6 launches on October 2nd for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 with a PC version planned for a later release. For more information, visit the official Resident Evil 6 website.
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