This edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Capcom's survival-horror sequel Resident Evil 6, which reviewers describe as "a desperate, ugly bid to appeal to as many people as possible." Resident Evil 6 currently earns a score of 67 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.
Tim Turi at Game Informer scores Resident Evil 6 at 8.75 out of 10. "When Resident Evil 2 arrived on the PlayStation back in 1998, the ambitious game astonished me," he recalls. "Protagonists Leon and Claire each had two full scenarios that filled in story gaps in the other, Pulp Fiction-style, resulting in four unique, complementary playthroughs.
"Fast-forward to 2012 and Resident Evil 6 offers three full-length, intersecting, two-player cooperative campaigns along with a slew of bonus modes. The sheer wealth of satisfying gameplay and insane set pieces has me hooked like RE 2 did back then."
Despite the game's focus on story, Turi describes Resident Evil 6's narrative as "a befuddling mess for anyone who hasn't been keeping up with the drama since The Mansion Incident."
However: "For longtime fans like me, it's a treat to see fellow Raccoon City survivors Chris and Leon exchanging blows over the ambiguously evil Ada Wong. It's also fun seeing the children of deceased Umbrella bad guys Albert Wesker and William Birkin battling the evolution of their fathers' monstrous legacies."
Cooperative multiplayer is one of Resident Evil 6's strong points. "Resident Evil 5 is one of the greatest two-player co-op games of this generation, and Resident Evil 6 belongs on that list as well," Turi writes. "Two players can team up via online, split-screen, or system link. Teamwork goes beyond doubling your firepower. Cooperation is necessary to cross chasms, solve puzzles, or shake monsters off your pal. One standout moment involves flying a jet while watching your partner's back with machine gun fire while they plant bombs."
"Over the years, the tone of the Resident Evil series has morphed from a George Romero horror flick to Michael Bay summer blockbuster," Turi notes. "That metamorphosis into insane action is front and center in Resident Evil 6, and bringing a buddy along for the chaos is great fun. The game's minor flaws don't hold back the decadent experience from being an unhinged, flaming rollercoaster ride."
Hollander Cooper at Games Radar gives Resident Evil 63.5 out of 5 stars. "Resident Evil 6's typical enemies, called J'avo, grow tentacle arms, claw hands, and massive moth wings mid-battle as their limbs are blown off," he notes. "They're annoying and remarkable -- and yes, that's about as good an analogy for Resident Evil 6 as you're going to get."
Resident Evil 6's scenarios feature wildly different gameplay styles. "Though all of the campaigns feel similar in terms of their basic components and pacing, they all have their own styles and idiosyncrasies," Cooper explains. "To put it in the plainest terms possible, Leon's plays like an action-heavy Resident Evil, Chris's plays like a Resident Evil military shooter, and Jake's plays like a more cinematic, Uncharted-inspired Resident Evil."
Cooper finds that the approach has mixed results. "Instead of feeling like different chapters of the same story, Resident Evil 6's campaigns feel like stand-alone experiences complemented by the existence of other, related moments," he writes. "That said, it can also create a somewhat uneven game when played straight through, as you'll be met with four introductions, four climaxes, and four conclusions, as well as a fair share of repeated plot points and gameplay mechanics. Some things, like the new skill and experience system, transfer between, but otherwise they're their own beasts."
QTEs are an unwelcome intrusion, however. "Everything from opening a door to punching an enemy has the potential to trigger an event that'll have you slamming random buttons or smacking the analog stick back and forth," Cooper says. "Sometimes they're simply annoying, and other times they're overly difficult. Never, though, are they enjoyable, and it's a shame to see interesting moments that might have served better as cutscenes or fully interactive segments be chained to QTEs."
"So much of Resident Evil 6 is wonderful," Cooper praises. "When you do run into issues, though, they'll be related to the half measures taken in other areas of the gameplay, proving that flat-out abandoning some tropes while clinging on to others doesn't always make for great sequels. Though rough around the edges, Resident Evil 6 is still a remarkable creature, and like the J'avo, it's an interesting transformation, even if it's not necessarily the prettiest one."
Polygon's Philip Kollar rates Resident Evil 6 at 4 out of 10. "Resident Evil 6 is a shape-shifter," he writes. "It's an oversized behemoth. It's a franchise-diminishing disappointment. More than anything, Resident Evil 6 is a compromise -- a desperate, ugly bid to appeal to as many people as possible."
The shooting mechanics are especially weak, according to Kollar. "Despite antiquated elements like aiming in place, Resident Evil 4 and 5 succeeded in making gunplay satisfying in large part because the weapons felt powerful," he recalls. "Resident Evil 6 offers very little feedback. Sometimes a headshot will blow an enemy's head clean off, but more often they won't even slow an enemy down."
"The lack of feedback takes its most frustrating form in Resident Evil 6's frequent boss battles, where it's difficult to tell when or how you're having any impact against bosses," Kollar says. "Did I do enough damage on this giant snake creature to trigger the next cutscene? Did I just survive long enough? I couldn't tell you, and I suspect the answer is different for each fight. This confusion robs actions of any feeling of consequence. Resident Evil 6 is the worst kind of cinematic video game -- one where the player's part in the process is an afterthought at best."
Kollar claims that cooperative gameplay does little to help. "Both in its campaign and in Mercenaries mode, Resident Evil 6 builds on the co-op focus of RE5 with a few meaningful additions," he explains. "If you keep your settings open, you can also hook up with extra players during crossover points in the story or have real players hunting you down as monsters via Agent Hunt mode. These online options connect you to a wider Resident Evil 6 community that has been lacking in the series until now, but they don't salvage the game."
"Resident Evil 6 leaves players with the shell of a blockbuster game," Kollar concludes. "It blusters along with massive explosions and insane plot twists, but it lacks a fundamental understanding of why action games are fun. In the end, Resident Evil 6 resembles one of its grotesque mutations -- bloated, out of control, and recklessly trying to consume everything around it. Capcom has built a real monster here."