Taste Fear in Three Flavors with Resident Evil 6: PREVIEW

Capcom plans to serve up a veritable Neapolitan selection of terror this upcoming October with another main series entry to the popular bioweapon infested, zombie-slaying survival horror series, Resident Evil. The developer is trying out a few new things this time around, allowing more flexibility in gameplay as well as a few new features to get a leg up for a somewhat faltering franchise. It seems they’re hoping to stoke a new sense of fear into players everywhere with some new takes as well as keeping the soul of what makes a Resident Evil game. I had the opportunity late last week to wrap my hands around a controller and sink my teeth into a good chunk of Resident Evil 6. Read on to find out why this might be the series’ next big deal since Leon’s romp in RE4.

Those familiar to Resident Evil already know the score story-wise but if you need a super quick recap just know that there are zombies and they want your tasty brain-meats. Also, an evil corporation called Umbrella is behind a good deal of the chaos. Yadda, yadda, you take down few hundred monsters and eventually you’re at the bottom of a volcano punching a boulder trying to stop the most ultimate of evil. It’s not always so over the top but things tend to get pretty zany in the world of Resident Evil. This time around you’ll fill the shoes of two veteran zombie hunters, Leon and Chris, with a new-comer Jake who is rumored to be the son (or maybe clone of Albert Wesker). Each follows their own story, complete with unique gameplay mechanics.

Speaking of new mechanics, the biggest change is that you’ll FINALLY BE ABLE TO MOVE AND SHOOT AT THE SAME TIME! I never had much of a problem with the stop and pop gameplay and felt it made for a tenser experience overall. It's not exactly the game changer a bunch of you were clamoring for but it's nice to be able to edge backwards while keeping enemies at bay. Additionally, Capcom really wants to emphasize movement as you can also perform several agile rolls, dives, and slides to dodge the zedheads. One of the buttons acts like a catch-all action prompt which you can modify to either dive out of reach or sprint away. You can even sprint and pull back on the stick to quickly roll on your back for a nice follow up shot. It’s all pretty smooth and makes it really nice when you pull off a cool action move. I haven't fully formed my opinion without the final product, but it's a very welcome addition to a notoriously stiff control scheme. Don’t worry though, for you purists there are still plenty of scares to keep you on your toes. You won’t exactly be running and gunning through the game.

When I saw the first trailer I had my suspicions about how merging horror and action would work across two distinct characters.  I was partly right. Think of it like three separate games with three different themes. Going back to my thin ice cream analogy, Leon is the vanilla RE experience, playing up the horror element, methodically skulking through dark corridors and investigating clues about why the undead have returned. His side is the traditional survival horror you all love. Chris comes in hot off the heels of his safari shootout, playing up the high impact, explosive action movie part. He's the chocolate- all guilty pleasure. I’m not sure how/if any boulders you’ll have to punch but expect to face-off against several opponents with heavy weapons along with a few other BSAA jarheads. Wearing out my lame dessert wordplay is Wesker Jr., er…  Jake. His is the curious strawberry flavor; you're not quite sure what it's all about but you'll try it out all the same. He meets in the middle bringing in some of his daddy’s hand to hand combat moves from the Mercenaries. Remember charging up Wesker’s big punch that laid waste to anything in front of him? Jake has a similar ability, able to quickly throw his fists and feet and then follow up with a super strong forward punch. The main driving force in his thread is a big nod to Nemesis in his missions as this creature relentlessly chases him. In a smart move by Capcom, you’ll be able to select any one of the characters first, playing their story form beginning to end. I was told that there will be a few crossover events, where I assume you’ll see a slightly different view of what’s going on.

What's cool about this is that it offers old and new players alike a little bite of everything without over-indulging any one. Fanboys will love slogging it with Leon, conserving precious ammo for that next big battle as newbies raised on big time blowouts will want to try out Chris or Jake to ease into the features of the game while still having tons of fun.

Returning from RE5 is your constant companion, who will be either A.I. controlled or player operated. I didn’t have enough time to see any of the quirks but from the get go they seemed pretty innocuous and didn’t get in the way. Still, I advise playing with a friend for you’re really into the full potential of rolling around with a second character. Also, in those crossover events, it seems you’ll have up to 4 players in a B.O.W. shoot-a-thon, though I suspect these will be mostly relegated to boss fight encounters. Overall, it takes a few cues from Chris’ last mission. On the fly item usage and switching weapons also come back. I didn’t note any attaché Tetris-ing as you have access to all items from a type of radial menu from which you can assign guns, grenades, herbs, etc.  to a quick-slot on the D-pad. It might take a few tries to get used to this but if you’ve played enough of 5 you should feel just fine with it. It's a pretty decent concession merging old with new.

I do feel Capcom is finally taking note about what might make a better overall experience for fans while ushering in fresh players. If if everything pans out, this fall will have a great new adventure for survival horror fans and shooters alike. It's definitely walking a thin line with catering to everyone but for some reason I'm very optimistic about this. The additions Capcom are making are very intelligent, and fit well with keeping hold of the old ways.

Also, if you already have Dragon's Dogma for the Xbox go ahead and jump into the demo right now!

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