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Resident Evil 6 preview

by Andrew Yoon, shacknews.com, Jun 5, 2012 12:00PM PDT

A lot of fans have already made up their minds on Resident Evil 6. How can it not be awesome? It features both Chris and Leon, it allows you to move and shoot at the same time, and most importantly of all, it features a zombie president. Pre-order secured! Those fans will argue that this upcoming preview is wrong, in spite of my having played nearly an hour of it. Why? Because I'm here to tell you that Resident Evil 6 is terrible.

It's not "disappointing," because that suggests Resident Evil 6 is simply not living up to the lofty expectations placed on it. To call it "disappointing" would undermine the severity of how awful the game is. Simply put, this is the worst Resident Evil game I have ever played.

I was able to try three scenarios in Capcom's upcoming shooter, one for each of the main characters: Leon, Chris, and Jake (Wesker Jr). As someone that loved Resident Evil 4, I couldn't help but choose Leon first. I wanted to see a new adventure starring everyone's favorite floppy haired zombie killer. And yes! The chapter starts with Leon having to shoot the zombified President of the United States. After the ordeal, he checks in with RE4's Hunnigan, and must escape with his new partner, Helena Harper.

The demo is getting off to a great start. MT Framework has never looked better. With more atmospheric lighting, and better facial animation, Resident Evil 6 makes 5 look dated. (An impressive feat, given 5's good looks.) It's difficult not to be impressed while walking through the darkened interior of the house, equipped with only a flashlight. I loved seeing Helena cover her face when you accidentally shine the light her way. It's a subtle touch that shows some great attention to detail.

And then, a chair got in my way. I was walking through an abandoned dining room, and there was a chair that had fallen over. Apparently, Leon couldn't walk over the chair, or push it to the side. It was glued to the floor, and I had to walk back, towards the other end of the lengthy table and make my way down another aisle. Odd, I thought to myself.

The exit door was locked, so we had to find someone with the keys. We eventually made our way to an office, where we found one survivor. He could help us get out--but not unless we stood behind him as he walked slowly--oh so slowly--back where we came from. I couldn't run ahead, because he wouldn't follow. Here, I discovered a game mechanic I hate more than escort missions--escort missions where absolutely nothing happens. Perhaps the zombies have given up, and plan on killing Leon with boredom?

The end of Leon's chapter has him encountering a large group of zombies in a parking garage. It's clear I was outnumbered, so i did what I do in other Resident Evil games--run. And apparently, that's all that I needed to do to finish a spectacularly boring 20 minute slice of Resident Evil 6.

Next, I played as Chris. Leon's portion of the game is meant to harken back to the classic Resident Evil games, while Chris' portion is meant to appeal to action gamers. Equipped with an assault rifle, Chris had to fight off an onslaught of zombies on the roof of a city in China. Unfortunately, this is where Resident Evil 6 really shows off its ugly head.

As enemies surround Chris, the HUD becomes a cluttered mess of icons, with ammo indicators, arrows, and other on-screen nonsense. What happened to a simple orb in the bottom left-hand side of the screen? Navigating through the environment is confusing, made worse by the game's terrible cover system. While it should work like Gears, the level is clearly not designed for cover-shooter gameplay. Enemies spawn behind you, and enemies appear from above, shooting guns at you. (Yes, zombies fire guns too.)

Seeing Resident Evil devolve into a generic third-person cover-based shooter is incredibly disheartening--especially because RE6 doesn't do it well. Other cover shooters have intelligent, interesting enemies to fight. Here, you're shooting at zombies.

Bored by Leon, frustrated by Chris, I had one last character to play in the Resident Evil 6 demo. Jake, as a newcomer to the franchise, should offer a change of pace, right? And thankfully, he does. Jake and Sherry are on the run from a seemingly unstoppable bioweapon. This sequence looks a bit like Uncharted, as the two run from rooftop to rooftop, having to make distance away from a towering beast.

It reminded me of Resident Evil 3's Nemesis, and I was feeling excitement for the first time in this hour-long demo. Unfortunately, that excitement quickly turned into frustration as the game forced me to fight the monster. Direct attacks wouldn't work, of course, so I had to lure him near explosive red barrels to slow him down. That was easier said than done, however, as he seemed to get randomly fixated on my AI partner at times. A constant influx of randomly spawned enemies became a nuisance, as I had to run and waste ammo on the fodder, while constantly running around the environment. What was an exciting game of cat and mouse started to feel like a chore, as I continued to climb up and down ladders, looking for a way to avoid getting insta-killed by the boss.

Once the demo was over, I looked around the room to see all the other exacerbated, frustrated faces on my peers. It's always upsetting when a game demo fails to meet expectations--but I can't think of the last time a game has disappointed me three times in one session. It was a display of how unfocused Resident Evil 6 is: it's a horror game without the horror, an action game with terrible controls, and a sequel that forgets what made the original games so beloved in the first place.

Later that morning, I was also able to get hands-on with Lost Planet 3--a game that worked as a terrific palette cleanser after Resident Evil 6. When asked what I thought about it by a peer, I remember telling him this: "at least there was one great survival horror game in this room."


Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.

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