Resident Evil 6 – a Victim of Expectation?

Resident Evil 6 isn’t a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but by God, it’s certainly not a terrible one either. I’ve seen a lot of 6/10 reviews for RE6, and you know what; that’s fine. Our very own James Hamblin gave Resident Evil 6 that exact same score, and while I didn’t agree with everything he said, I could certainly see where he was coming from on the points in which we didn’t see eye to eye. The thing is, some of the reviews out there, well, they simply lack any kind of objectivity. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when you’re reviewing a videogame, I honestly believe that it’s your duty to be able be able to at least peek beyond your own personal grievances and expectations.

Built almost exclusively from high expectations and their own wishes for the series future, some of the absurdly low scoring reviews have proved just that – absurd. It may not be the Resident Evil you wanted, and yes, it’s quite clearly not in the same league as 2005’s masterful Resident Evil 4 (what is?), but approached on its own merits, you simply can’t go giving this game a 2 or 3 out of 10. It’s nonsense.

I appreciate that personal taste plays an important role in any review, but having a certain degree of objectivity is arguably just as vital. The thing is; videogames, at least in their current form, simply cannot be reviewed in the same way as movies or music. Regardless of your views on the tone and direction, basic mechanics still play a major role in the potential success of any title, and on that basis alone, it’s hard to justify such low scores for RE6. It has a ton of content, fantastic visuals, solid mechanics and universally sky high production values. Yes, none of these guarantee a great videogame, but they do go a long way towards the quality of the overarching experience (certainly more so than they would in the case of a movie anyway).

Then there is that whole genre thing – ok, it may not be survival horror, but boo-bloody-hoo, time to get over it. Resident Evil 6, and yes, The Resident Evil franchise as a whole, is now primarily an action horror franchise – that’s just the way it is.

And anyway, who really wants to go back to the fixed cameras and dodgy controls of yore? A handful of traditionalists may, but hey, I don’t think the majority of modern gamers out there would be nearly as keen. The Resident Evil franchise has moved with the times, often innovating along the way – heck, even Resident Evil 6 managed it.

It may not be to everyone’s tastes, but the control scheme is RE6 is actually a lot more innovative than many are giving it credit for. With the ability to duck, dodge, roll, dive and slide (why do I feel like Patches O’Houlihan?), all via a combination of just two buttons, Capcom has created a third-person control scheme that actually provides the ability to approach combat outside of the stand and roll standard. Additional control inevitably reduces scares, but I think that the potential for panic that has been built into the experience in its place is an underrated aspect of the underlying design and something that is perfectly married to a control scheme that gives you additional control at the price of a reduced field of vision. Knowing that an attack is coming might not be horrifying, but not knowing from what direction certainly creates its own unique sense of fear.

Speaking of horror; I’ve heard a few arguments that Resident Evil 6 isn’t even a horror game anymore – I’m going to go straight ahead and call bullshit on that. I accept that it’s action horror rather than survival horror, but any game in which you witness three zombies eating a young woman alive simply has to go down in the horror genre….zombies feeding on human flesh wasn’t an action genre trope last time I checked. Whichever sub-genre you want to place it in is your call, but horror is certainly a major part of the equation. The emphasis on action inevitably produces a different type of experience, but come on; it’s hardly Twighlight is it. And one other thing – in case you hadn’t noticed; Resident Evil was never all that scary. It may have seemed scarier when you were younger, but please, go back and play any of the original Resident Evil’s now – they are really no scarier than their modern day brethren in my opinion. Yes, they certainly had a better sense of mood and were capable of jump scares, but in terms of creating a true sense of horror, Resident Evil has always lagged a long, long way behind the likes of the infinitely creepier, Silent Hill.

Believe me, I wasn’t blown away by Resident Evil 6 (Chris’ campaign was especially ill conceived), but the fact remains that, as a package, RE6 is still a solid experience and a largely enjoyable videogame. Personally, I think it’s worth it for the Leon campaign alone. Yes, some of the other campaigns aren’t quite as sharp, but you know what; I don’t have to play the other campaigns, but I sure as shit appreciate the option.

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Comments (2)

  1. GledysonFS October 27, 2012
  2. Liam Pritchard November 1, 2012