Since 1996, the Resident Evil goal has been pretty much the same: You traverse a perilous, post-apocalyptic narrative fraught with an inexorable onslaught of mutating, zombie-like opponents. All of these beasties were once human, but thanks to the evil pharmaceutical giant Umbrella Corp. (and its nefarious T-virus mutagen), they're now lumbering, limping atrocities armed with axes, acid-laced bile and razor-sharp teeth.
As the tattered curtain opens on Resident Evil 6, Umbrella Corp. is defunct and an entire city of these unfortunates has been bombed into oblivion. That doesn't, however, mean that the world is out of the zombie-infested woods quite yet. That's because a new bio-terrorist organization called Neo-Umbrella has started injecting people with its C-virus variation.
Different virus. Same results.
And so the stoic stalwarts introduced in past contests must rally together once more to take down the latest undead threat, one that's been "resurrected" from the bioengineered ashes of death … again.
Choose Your Own (Zombie) Adventure
Resident Evil 6's twist is that it invites gamers to play through it with three different groups of heroes following three separate campaigns. Only by pursuing them all, one at a time, do you get the full story. Those campaigns also represent three different styles of gameplay that correlate with the varying approaches to combat that the franchise has employed through the years.
Special agent Leon Kennedy's story, for example, is closest to the survival horror roots of the game as he slowly hacks his way through pitch-black corridors and encounters myriad screeching abominations jumping out of the shadows. Another monster-blasting veteran, Chris Redfield, forges onward through a narrative that has a more straightforward cover-based shooter feel. And then there's newcomer Jake Muller's bloody story arc, which caters to the flip-'em-and-crush-their-skull melee combat crowd. Meanwhile, players who successfully wade through all that carnage are rewarded with a puzzle-heavy bonus segment featuring yet another franchise vet, Ada Wong.
Other than that Ada Wong segment, though, the game demands cooperative tag-team play. You can opt for an AI sidekick or let the game match you up with a random online gaming partner. Either way, you must push through barriers and obstacles together—such as a situation in which one combatant blasts distractingly away at a bloodthirsty brain-dead beastie in a pool of water while his counterpart tries to swim to the next goal.
Now, that summary may make it sound as if Resident Evil 6 has quite a bit to offer. But the truth is, this game tries to deliver way too much—and falls short of doing so. It wants to be a creepy lurcher, a hard-fisted grappler, a feverish run-and-gunner, a jump-in-your-car-and-take-chase racer, a resource-management challenge, a big-production movie and a horrifically hideous boss battler. The result is a game that feels like a fragmented mishmash—and one that's interrupted by too many cutscenes and often hindered by awkward game mechanics.
And that's just the gameplay problems.
A Gloppy, Gushing, Gurgling Goo-Fest
This is an extremely violent game, no matter what section you're playing, no matter what pistol, knife or automatic weapon your character is wielding. Zombie heads turn to mush with a cracking, gushing stereophonic splort. Rotting bodies explode into dismembered piles. Monsters sprout grotesque growths when wounded, whether from a just-obliterated neck stump or disemboweled gut.
And if that grisly-'n'-graphic zombie slaughterhouse imagery isn't problematic enough, players must also contend with quantities of nasty language in the form of f- and s-words, as well as vulgarities such as "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑n" "b‑‑ch" and "b‑‑tard."
We're not done yet: Some exceedingly disturbing, highly sexualized violence gets lobbed into the grinder as well. A female victim, for instance, grows gigantic spider legs out of her back, losing all her clothes in the process. Then she stands menacingly over her prey while rubbing her bare breasts. A lengthy boss battle with the naked female character ensues.
So whether it's deadly characters with their clothes ripped off or skittering nasties with their skin ripped off—grim reminders of why I've tried to keep even my review-triggered visits to the realms of Resident Evil brief through the years—this is indeed a game that thrives on dark bloodlust.