The Resident Evil series has changed a lot. So it should not surprise anyone, disgruntled fans or not, that the franchise is making even more drastic changes within the recently announced Resident Evil 6. I’ve watched the trailer quite a few times now, trying to discover why it is that this feels so different than any Resident Evil game before it, and I think I have a good idea.
Speaking only of the numbered installments of the franchise, the series started out with a fixed camera third person setting with clunky controls and a more effective horrific atmosphere about it. As times began to change, and Resident Evil 4 launched on the Gamecube, the entire series seemed to be thrown for a loop when the title had become an over the shoulder action-horror title. Resident Evil 4 was a smash hit, but to followers of the series, it was that child that was too different to be one of their own, but everyone else seemed to like it. Resident Evil 4 brought the series out into mainstream culture, while simultaneously alienating the fan base that it had built over decades.
The series had evolved. Capcom saw no need to keep to the roots of the past 3 games. High on Resident Evil 4’s success, Capcom took it a step further with Resident Evil 5. I liked Resident Evil 5, for what it was worth, but it was dramatically different from RE4. Co-op, and an even more action-filled storyline had morphed Resident Evil even further, it was no longer focused on fear and horror as it was on the guns. RE5 has a decent balance, to its credit. Nowadays, as a result of Resident Evil 5, the series isn’t taken nearly seriously enough. Resident Evil is now one of those series that Capcom has tied a leash around its throat, and squeezes tighter to choke out what substance it has left. The trailer for Resident Evil was great, and I can tell Capcom is hoping that it will save the series’ reputation, and bring it back to the glorious days of Resident Evil 4. The thing is, watching the trailer over and over again, I can see that it won’t happen. Resident Evil 6 is not going to save the franchise, in fact it will probably hurt its reputation more. That being said, I am legitimately excited.
That sounds a little confusing, even reading it back to myself. What I mean is, Resident Evil 6 will fail as long as it is judged severely under the confines of the series as a whole. When you look at it through the lenses of a dedicated old school Resident Evil fan, or a critic comparing it to Resident Evil 4, you will be vastly disappointed, without a doubt. Resident Evil 6 (and even Operation Raccoon City) has shown me that the series has mutated into a gelatinous blob that is trying to cling onto whatever it can to stop the melting. The frivolous froth has gazed with such envy at the likes of Dead Space and other modern action shooters, which developed off of Resident Evil 4 in their own right. It sees the success of other titles and says “their game is successful, we just need to copy their formulas into Resident Evil!.” The result is something that is no longer Resident Evil at all.
Sprinting, cover-based shooting, 6 person co-operative modes… That doesn’t sound like Resident Evil. That sounds like Gears of War. It sounds like Bulletstorm. When I came to that realization for the first time, I paused the trailer and thought about it. “What the hell is this,” I pondered, stroking my finely grizzled beard, “this looks really cool.” In fact, I wasn’t completely certain that I was even watching a trailer for a Resident Evil game. Had it not been for the suave Leon Kennedy and the outrageously shaped Chris Redfield staring me in the face, this looked like a new IP.
Capcom’s decisions with Resident Evil 6 were bizarre indeed. From a respectably scary Resident Evil 4,to a co-op fixated Resident Evil 5, the series is transforming into a full blown action game; a pure representation of the action/third person shooter genre at large. I can hardly look at this and call it horror anymore, and I’m not particularly bothered.
With the rumor of 6 person co-op being included in the game, I see a great opportunity for friends and I to kick zombie ass with exploding action and solid gunplay. I mean, I loved the co-op of the Gears series (Resident Evil 5 was not even the first thing to come to my mind), so there should be no shortage of fun. Co-op however, completely ruins all horror aspects of a series that originally had so much emphasis on horror. Resident Evil was the first thing that came to mind when one thought about horror games, and now it’s not even in the top 5 (for me anyway). The co-op in Resident Evil 5 is to blame for this. See, it’s extremely difficult to have a game be scary in co-op. Scary becomes funny when you are with friends. Have you ever thought about the difference between sitting through a horror movie alone versus one with friends? It suddenly becomes funny. Co-op is fun, but does not belong in a horror game. With 6 person co-op, what little terror even a 2 person team would get from Resident Evil 5 is completely gone.
The apparent addition of cover based shooting and “chest high walls” also make a difference in how scary the game is. I don’t have to be as proficient at quickly shooting threats while I deal with my slow and vulnerable character. No, I can just hide behind a wall. Cover-based shooting can be fun as well. Uncharted and Gears have both made this system one that many series aim to copy. Cover-based shooting is a key component of an action game, not a horror game.
So after extensively absorbing the trailer of Resident Evil 6 to near toxic amounts, I can say two things for certain: this game is going to be great, and this is going to be a terrible Resident Evil game. It is almost a give-in that fans are livid on boards all across the internet, there are a few fans like myself who are completely indifferent about the entire thing. With Capcom crapping out Revelations, Operation Raccoon City and now this, fans should have nothing to cry about. I love action-games and I love third-person shooters. I’ve already said my goodbyes to the Resident Evil series, because it is now long gone, a shadow of its former self. In its place, a promising action series with an emphasis on combat and co-op. While the fans boycott Capcom for mistakes that many will interpret it has made, I will be cozy in my home, wrapped up this November, enjoying myself some Resident Evil 6, one of the best action games of 2012. Just something I wanted to take a bite out of.