Rest in Peace, Resident Evil

Rest in Peace, Resident Evil

As hyped as I might have been before E3 for Resident Evil 6, the recent gameplay shown at the gaming industry’s biggest trade show has all but killed my excitement for Capcom’s latest iteration of the popular RE franchise. The Resident Evil series has always been known and loved for its survival horror roots, but after the release of Resident Evil 5, Capcom has opted for a more mainstream-friendly, action-packed vibe in its most well-regarded franchise. If RE5 was a departure from the tried-and-true theme of Resident Evil, then Resident Evil 6 is a complete and total 180.

In the gameplay footage on display at this year’s E3, series stalwart Leon Kennedy was shown rolling and diving around to kill the shambling zombie horde. Not only did these new features seem rough and completely unnecessary, but they also looked overdramatic, even for a Resident Evil game. The trademark over-the-shoulder shooting mechanic was still intact, albeit now with the ability to move while unleashing hot lead on the brain-eating bastards. This is all well and good, and to see a more mobile Resident Evil game isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What concerns me most about RE6 has nothing to do with the faster clip of the game, but rather the complete and utter lack of tension or fear anywhere in the game.

You might have noticed the abundance of quick-time events in RE6, and while this is certainly nothing new for the franchise, the frequency and usage of them is. In previous RE games, you couldn’t just walk up to a zombie initiate a QTE, and kill them instantly. You either had to choose between getting up close and risking some valuable damage while saving ammo, or unload a few strategically-placed rounds into the baddies as they hurried towards you. Capcom seems to have completely forgotten that tense dynamic from earlier titles, and although the atmosphere of RE5 might not have been the most conducive to the provocation of fear, the tension of combat was still mostly there. Resident Evil 6 looks to follow the popular trend of reducing enemies to cannon fodder with little threat posed to the player.

The thing that made previous RE games so enjoyable was the fact that every enemy had a unique AI pattern that forced players to constantly think about how to approach every encounter. Prioritize the ranged baddies first, or clear out the encroachers before focusing down the others? And then there were the different monsters and enemy types to keep players fresh on their toes, and with RE6, it looks as if an ordinary zombie encounter will be a one-hit kill so long as you rush them down. This, in and of itself, can kill the delicate balance of survival and aggression that older Resident Evil games had down to a “T”, and without such a dynamic, Resident Evil 6 will ultimately boil down to a melodramatic and Michael Bay-esque explosion-fest without any of the gameplay qualities that redeemed the generally cheesy storytelling.

Resident Evil 5 eschewed many of the traditional elements that made Resident Evil 4 a masterpiece, including the stress-inducing ammo management and stiff, yet not quite limiting, movement style. While the more action-driven experience was still enjoyable, the lack of scare-factor left the impact of the game’s campaign decidedly less poignant. Unfortunately, Resident Evil 6 looks to maintain this thematic direction, and despite the darker settings and environment, the over-the-top action and complete lack of concern for the amount of ammo in reserve undo any of the fearful elements that might have been present otherwise. Capcom seems to think that being a badass is what every gamer wants from the Resident Evil franchise, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Time will certainly tell if the other elements of Resident Evil 6 retain the franchise’s survival horror roots, but with rumors stating that one of the game’s other campaigns features regenerating health and the recent gameplay being dubbed the “slower” parts of the game, my hopes aren’t exactly high. That’s a shame, too, considering that Resident Evil 6 has the potential to bring the survival and the horror back into the franchise, but as it stands, it looks as if that particular duty now rests solely on Dead Space’s shoulders.

What do you think? Are you disappointed by the latest Resident Evil 6 footage? Or could you not be happier about the new direction? Sound off in the comments!

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