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Resident Evil 6 – E3 2012 Hands On Preview

Leon and Jake meeting up

Resident Evil 6 gives you the opportunity to pick between 3 playable characters: Leon, Jake or Chris. Each character has their own distinct storyline.  Leon’s storyline begins with him encountering the President of the States as a zombie.  Chris Redfield, burdened by the weight of the atrocities he has witnessed, is hunkering down in a bar.  I’m not really sure who Jake Muller is —other than that he is Wesker’s son — but he also has his own campaign.

Whats most interesting about these stories is that they intersect.  You can play the entire singleplayer experience through each of these characters eyes and reveal their unique story. However, during critical moments, each characters plot line will come in contact with another.  And these crossovers allow for co-op zombie hunting. In essence, if you are playing the campaign, and the story is at one of these crossover points, RE6 will automatically look for another group of players who are also playing this section and team you up with them. If you aren’t online, these 3 other players will be AI companions.  However, you will have control over whether the game can choose people from your friends list, or from the general online populace. In addition, these co-op encounters can be played at anytime you wish, and will add to each characters’ story.  Most interestingly, when you replay one of these campaigns as a different character, the level will dynamically change and offer different gameplay choices, like a different gun.

During the singleplayer demo, I played the respective first level of Chris and Leon’s’ campaigns.

Leon’s storyline feels very much like Resident Evil games of old.  He plods along, and each every step he took sent shivers down my spine. ‘What was that sound? Is a zombie near?  Please don’t let the lights go out! HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT SOUND?!’

As I explored a mansion, I found a father looking for his daughter.   As we kept moving, looking for the man’s daughter,  I felt extremely moved by this man’s dedication and anxiety over his daughter. Eventually, we found his daughter, and it was quite a frightening experience, as she jumped out of nowhere with a nasty sound effect to go along with her entry. Then I had to escort them to the elevator.  Of course, during the elevator ride, the lights went out and she turned into a zombie, which triggered a QTE.

All in all, I found this campaign to be the most terrifying of them all. There were a lof dark areas and confined spaces. The sound effects were amazing and perfectly placed. I know a couple people watching me must have laughed as I jumped in my seat. I also found the storyline to be really good, and I appreciated the emotional investment of a father looking for his daughter. I hope these meaningful missions are ever-present in RE6.

Nevertheless, I did have some serious quibbles with RE6. For one thing, Leon plods… along… so… freaking… slow.  And… the.. AI… companions… are… even… worse.  At one time, I literally had to wait 30 seconds for my partner to catch up so we could move some junk out of way.  In addition, the controls don’t feel very tight. I had to try a QTE in the elevator about 5 times before I got it right. I would almost finish wiggling the stick, and then it would fail me out at the very last second; I still have no idea why I failed so many times. Its like Leon doesn’t feel comfortable in his own skin or something, as I constantly felt like everything was stiff and awkward.

Chris Redfield’s campaign is much more action oriented.  After being found drunk as skunk in a bar he is convinced to return to the battlefield.  His storyline feels very much like a Call of Duty game, except with zombies. Use ziplines, grab ammo, level up your items and get some head shots.

I had the same problems Chris Redfield though. The controls feel like they are from 2007, and they are incredibly awkward. I kept thinking: “Really, I have to press ‘A’ to jump off a crate after I pressed ‘A’ to hop onto it?”  At least Chris doesn’t creep around like a flippin’ mouse though. Instead of that problem, he has a UI issue.  When you want to change items, you need to pull up an incredibly unintuitive menu. About the half time, I would switch to the wrong item on accident and have to restart the process. I didn’t really have problem in Leon’s storyline with the UI  –each campaign has its own unique art style, UI elements, etc — but I had a devil of time finishing up the Redfield demo.

Nonetheless, if you liked RE5, then you’ll probably feel right at home with Chris Redfield’s plot.