Why Is Resident Evil 6 So Polarizing?

If you’ve been on the gaming side if the internet over the last week you probably know how divisive Resident Evil 6 has been. After playing all the campaign content in the game, I’d say that the reason reviews and general reception have been so uneven is because the game itself is uneven. RE6’s level of quality is like a rollercoaster.

In my opinion, RE6 at its core is a really good game that’s held back by some serious flaws in its design, probably due to the enormous amount of content Capcom decided to develop in roughly just two years. Some of those flaws seem placed to immediately do grave damage to a player’s perception of the game.

I think the first problem is a lack of communication about what exactly the game is. RE6 completely gives up any pretense of “survival horror.” It’s an action shooter with horror monsters in it. I guess people can call the game out on abandoning the franchise’s identity, but you’d have to call out the last two main RE games in the same breath. On the flipside, when played properly, RE6 is nothing like Gears or Call of Duty.

The game does a pretty terrible job of explaining the mechanics that set it apart from other third person shooters. Its basic controls are like other shooters, but RE6 actually gives players some nice tools and abilities that make for a really fun and unique combat system at the game’s base.

How many people playing RE6 know that you can perform an instant shot to daze enemies? Or that you can fire while sliding? Or instantly mix herbs by simultaneously pressing the heal and reload buttons? Or perform instant-kill melee attacks with counters and specifically positioned shots?

The game clicked for me when I threw a flashbang to stun a group of enemies, then equipped my remote mines, sprinted towards the dazed enemies, and placed a mine at their feet mid-slide. I hadn’t noticed many of RE6’s important combat mechanics until I was very far into the game, and what I did learn came from loading screen hints and reading forum posts.

When Official Xbox Magazine asked RE6’s designers what aspects of the game they wished they had more time on, a major one was the tutorial system. “As far as things that I’d like to [tweak] if I’d had more time, [one of them would be] creating an environment [where] players can have no trouble getting into, so that they really understand combat with the different types of enemies in the game.” The game looks like a Gears clone at first glance but really isn’t one, and people who try to play it like that probably run into problems.

Outside of that though, RE6 is just littered with some boneheaded design oversights, both in terms of the mechanics and level design.

There were many times throughout the game where enemies would remain active during cut scenes, which would lead to me finding myself swamped with them upon regaining control of my character. There were also too many times where I would go into critical state and have zero chance of recovery. Little things like that throughout the mechanics as well as RE6’s often imbalanced ammo economy, spoil the fun (and there is fun there) too often.

There are also too many sections of the game that are annoying, boring, and just unnecessary. If it were up to me all of the vehicle sections would’ve been cut. Not only is the game not suited to them, but neither is its graphics engine – all the environments in those parts look markedly worse than the rest of the game. Jake’s campaign is probably the best example of RE6’s uneven quality: the first two chapters are just plain bland, complete with chase sequences, vehicles, and a ridiculous stealth section. Yet, I could see that campaign improve almost instantly around its halfway point when the combat heated up. On top of things like this are all the QTEs and badly done scripted events for which reviewers have criticized RE6.

Everything about this game, to me, says that it just didn’t get the amount of polish that it needed. It either should have been slimmed down, or delayed into 2013.

On one hand I’d say that Capcom could’ve made a positively great 10-hour game instead of a mediocre 20-hour game with RE6. On the other hand though, RE4 was a 20-hour game that was polished to near perfection with continually smart set pieces. I guess that just shows how masterful an achievement that game was.

BULLETS:

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Stephanie Carmichael

Freelance writer and copyeditor / games journalist / blogger extraordinaire

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