Capcom Tries to Balance its Fandom in Resident Evil 6
Evan Slead / Oct 31st, 2012 3 Comments
Resident Evil 6 reviews are in! Game of the Year worthy?
With the release of the anticipated Resident Evil 6, Capcom had a fair amount of weight upon their shoulders with the game’s release. The success of Resident Evil 4 (RE4) put the series back on the map, which caused the release of number Resident Evil 5 (RE5) to be compared against Capcom’s new version of survival horror set up in RE 4. RE 5 received less than stellar reviews which only created even more agonizing anticipation for what RE 6 could bring.
So what is the verdict? It seems overall that critics and fans are not seeing the fresh and innovative game their zombie driven minds were hoping for, but rather, a step back in the completely wrong direction. From the constant appearance of quick time events to the daunting task of completing three separate campaigns of different genre styles, the negative reviews keep rolling in decrying the game. However, there will always be those select few that view the more recent installments as an evolutionary side effect of the gaming culture. While it may not have the horror brilliance of the original titles, or contain the fresh and amazing gameplay of RE 4, RE 6 creates its own genre while maintaining the virus-ridden heart that is Resident Evil.
Bottom line: everything is fine.
Let’s go back and take a look at what makes Resident Evil tick. The introduction of the series came in 1996 on the PlayStation. Players were introduced to a terrifyingly exciting, and at many times difficult, survival horror game that made players feel paranoid and gleeful all in the same instant. In terms of gameplay, the obvious lack of ammo and healing items, clunky controls, mind-bending puzzles, and constant onslaught of bigger and badder creatures truly stamped the genre of survival horror with the Resident Evil name. The opening credits and voice acting, while terrible, added a beautiful element of a campy horror movie vibe to this already great game. Take one part Evil Dead, add Capcom’s original storyline, blend it all into one disc, and Resident Evil is made. The success did not stop there either. The following titles, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, brought all of the great mechanics of the first installment to the new and larger environment of Raccoon City. All the while, the games introduced players to the protagonists Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, and Claire Redfield. Of course, as with any horror series there had to be some villains to spice things up. The Umbrella Corporation that started the whole T-Virus fiasco was tucked safely into the foundation of the story while using pawns, like Albert Wesker and Ada Wong, as personified antagonists to tango with. The ending of RE 3 brought about an uncertainty though. With the fall of Umbrella, where was the series supposed to go?
Capcom had an answer in the form of Resident Evil: Code Veronica. This was the first side story game released for console systems since the birth of the series. Code Veronica told the events that Claire Redfield experienced while imprisoned on a zombie and B.O.W. infested island. Once again, this installment held true to the core of what made Resident Evil successful from the start. Clearly, Capcom was expecting rave reviews for delivering another hard hitting survival horror game, and fortunately for them, Code Veronica became known as “the best Resident Evil game yet”. Adding in new camera tweaks and better overall graphics shot it to number one in the eyes of survival horror fanatics. It was only a few years later that it all changed.
The year 2005 fleshed out Resident Evil’s new story. However, this time, Capcom chose to do a complete overhaul and surprise those loyal fans with a new way of experiencing the series. Resident Evil 4 brought the modern shooter style to the horror world of Resident Evil. Hailed as an excellent rebirth of the series, it even won game of the year. Some fans were not too pleased with the dropping of the “survival” part from “survival horror”. Fear spread like wildfire when RE 5 and now RE 6 followed suit from the action packed horror of RE 4. At the same time, a completely new and fresh fan base grew from the latest releases.
Today, at this moment in the Resident Evil timeline, there seem to be two different sets of fans. One side hails the original survival horror that birthed the series, while the other sees RE 4 as the beginning of the story. Resident Evil 6 was intended to be the bridge that would connect both sides together by using elements from several games from the Resident Evil universe. A splash of survival horror here, a dash of campy dialogue there, and a pinch of action hero was meant to do the trick. Thankfully, for Capcom, that is exactly what Resident Evil 6 did.
At this stage, the games must be looked at as an evolutionary process. There cannot be one winner because with change comes a mixture of new and old factors. Looking through an old school lens, this new installment would clearly not be enough of the campy classic to appease older fans. By the same token, looking through a new school perspective, those moments of desperate escape and low ammo prove too difficult of a challenge for an action packed game. Neither side is happy.
What Resident Evil 6 did successfully was combine those two perspectives and continue telling the story with the characters that both sides have come to know and love. It has to be viewed with a wide lens. Despite the harsh reviews and backlashes towards the new installment, Resident Evil 6 proved that Capcom knows that fans of the series are divided. This was just a preview of what will come next. As a whole, RE 6 scored in providing a glimpse of new and old styles, which had not been seen in such a distinct fashion so far in the progression of the series. Where the latest reviews get it correctly is the simple fact that the experience in RE 6 is not perfect. Far from it. This is where the testing ground theory applies to the game. RE 6 could have been another action packed game like RE 5, or could have fallen back completely on its roots to the original. Either way there would have been fans lost in the jumble. Providing brief examples of the history of Resident Evil styles in one game gives Capcom a chance to see what works and what does not.
So what is next? Will there be an entire game devoted to the oldies in the gang and one for the new bloods? Predictions point to a more refined and updated mixed style, similar to the one that RE 6 brought to the table for fans. The Resident Evil franchise has continued to evolve over the years and the great solace for fans is that it is learning to grow upon itself, correcting its mistakes. The evolution of the game must look forward. Going back just does not work anymore.
tags: capcom , opinion , ps3 , resident evil , resident evil 6 , Survival-Horror , xbox 360