In recent years, the Resident Evil franchise has evolved into something very different from where it originated. What was once a series about conserving ammo, low body counts and horrible voice acting has become a series about blasting away with machine guns, high action and, well, the voice acting is still pretty iffy. But it's the shift from survival horror to action that seems to have turned off some fans. Capcom seems focused on continuing the franchise's transformation, though, at least if the Resident Evil 6 is any indication.
At a recent press event, Capcom let members of the press play through three levels of Resident Evil 6. Each level was dedicated to a different playable character. The logic: Letting players see a worldwide outbreak from three perspectives, jumping characters from level to level.
Much of Leon's story will take place in the small, American town, not unlike Raccoon City. He's tasked with the safety of the president, who is in the midst of a reelection campaign. Unfortunately, on the night of the election, an outbreak occurs. Leon is left in a darkened ballroom with his partner, Helena Harper.
Tonally it's clear that Leon's story is meant to be the one that's most reminiscent of the classic Resident Evil games. It's dark and scary. Ammo is limited. There's lightning crashing outside. As Leon, we explored the campaign headquarters, wandering through wrecked banquet halls and mazes made of stacked up chairs. It was a relatively linear experience, leading us to a man scared to death about his missing, college-aged daughter.
So we trekked back through the same campaign headquarters to look for the missing girl. Occasionally something out of sight would make a ruckus, but mostly it was just a tension-building moment. Once again, the linear path brought us to the daughter who was clearly not doing so hot after a bite to the leg. But we take her along anyway because, well, Leon doesn't learn his lesson.
It's only in an enclosed elevator that the girl turns, leaving us with little option but to put her down with a kick to the face. From there the rest of the mission became an escape from a handful of zombies, not thrilled that we took their compatriot down.
Once the action starts we can get a taste of how Leon controls. You can now move and aim at the same time, which picks up the pace considerably. The only thing really holding us back was the number of bullets, a paltry dozen, which was able to kill only three or four zombies before we had to make a run for it. The demo ended pretty abruptly there and we had to jump to the next character.
When we find Chris Redfield, he's drunk in a bar. He thinks it's his fault that his squad of soldiers got killed, so he's drowning his sorrows. No time to weep, Chris! There's bio-terror afoot!
Chris's story takes place in China. A bio-terrorist group has found a way to blend humans with beasts and is trying to spread the plague to all of mankind. Chris and his squad are sent in to ruin their plans.
Control-wise Chris moves just like Leon. The key difference is that Leon's packing far more firepower. He's got a machine gun, grenades and a powerful pistol. In terms of bodycount, throughout the short, 15-minute demo, we were able to off a few dozen mutant soldiers across the rooftops of the fictional Chinese city of Lanshiang. Were it not for the monsters and the third-person perspective, the level would've felt right at home inside the latest Call of Duty.
The Chris mission ended with a standoff, where Redfield and his team had to hold a point as squads of infected soldiers attacked from all angles. Thankfully a few well-placed explosive barrels made short work of the foes.
Jake is the third character in Resident Evil 6. He's actually Albert Wesker's son, but he doesn't seem to have inherited his father's evil tendencies. His story takes place in Eastern Europe, where the worldwide outbreak as reared its head, with a giant mutant creature hot on his trail. It's this creature that'll chase Jake throughout the entirity of the game. His "Nemesis," if you will.
After a brief chase sequence, Jake found himself in a large warehouse filled to the brim with zombies. Jake's equipment seems closer to Leon's weapon loadout, with a focus on pistols and handguns, though that may just be for this particular level.
Once the combat begins, though, there doesn't seem to be a huge difference between Jake's style of play and the two two protagonists.
AN ACTION-FIRST RESIDENT EVIL?
Apart from the different weapon-loadouts and settings for the three protagonists, there was really one major takeaway from this playable demo: Action seems to be the priority. Though there may be sequences which are quieter and scarier, the bulk of the product seems to be moving away from the pace of Resident Evil 4. If anything, Resident Evil 6 feels like a more action-heavy Resident Evil 5. Capcom seems confident that this is the kind of Resident Evil fans are looking for. We'll have to wait until the October 2 release date to find out if they're right.