This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Resident Evil 6.
The core Resident Evil series doesn't seem to do subheadings. It wasn't Resident Evil 2 colon There's Still A Bit Of Evil Hanging Around; it's mostly just clinical numbering which, come to think of it, also sums up its approach to box art lately. But my unofficial subtitle for Resident Evil 4 is The Only Good One 'cause that was the only one that seemed to 100% aware of how fucking stupid the central premise is, which is that unleashing giant feral slime monsters in populated areas is considered a flawless all-purpose assassination/terrorism/home security solution to the point that inexplicably wealthy Saturday morning cartoon villains are queuing up to invest.
I want to go to the world of Resident Evil and introduce everyone to the concept of a really big bomb. No cleaning up piles of snot, no plucky survivors to follow your retarded evil schemes, no getting eaten by close friends and family members you mutated against their will 'cause you needed a test subject and have some kind of blind spot for homeless people; you just drop it and everyone dies! I'd make a fucking packet!
Resident Evil 6 returns to something of series tradition by having multiple simultaneous story campaigns: outspoken misogynist and former Boyzone member Leon S. Kennedy kicks it off with a nice traditional zombie killing, Chris "Fuck Boulders" Redfield fights mutant terrorists in a more tactical shootery sort of way, some new cunt called Jake fends off the lovechild of Ivan Drago and a piece of industrial farming equipment, and there's a fourth one that only unlocks after you've done the other three at six p.m. on Saturday afternoon just when you think you're comfortably within deadline for once. And the plot involves - wait for it - an inexplicably wealthy Saturday morning cartoon villain unleashing monsters upon both China and the United States so at least they're not being racist again.
In his first scene, Leon has somehow forgotten what a zombie is as he attempts to reason with one that is advancing towards him smacking his chops and wearing a brain-patterned barbecue apron, while in the three years since RE5, Chris has somehow acquired an entirely new backstory in which he lost his men and became an embittered drunk. So they could have replaced the two recurring protagonists with Laurel and fucking Hardy and it would have meant precisely as much!
The big problem with Resident Evil is that it has completely undermined itself. It was about fighting the Umbrella Corporation, who were kind of an anomaly in being a pharmaceutical corps that just happens to be run by Satan who was devoting all of their resources to destroying the world because he's a prick like that. And by now, Umbrella is supposed to be gone and CEO Albert "Satan's hairdresser" Wesker was pretty thoroughly Redfielded at the end of RE5, so what now? Oh, with this and Rerevelations, we now learn that the world has an inexhaustible supply of cartoonishly evil dipshits in inexplicably lofty positions of power who regard zombie apocalypses as the sanest way to avoid potential intelligence leak and no-one's learnt a fucking thing!
And doesn't this render all the hardships and struggles of the previous games completely pointless? If I were Chris Redfield, I'd fucking give up. "Well," I'd say. "Guess the human race is just determined to wipe itself out. Let's gather up every other Resident Evil protagonist and found our own city on the moon!" But you just know Leon will insist on bringing his dumb friend Keith who forgets to file his tax return one year and tries to cover it up by causing a zombie apocalypse.
Speaking of pointless struggle, when I defeat a boss monster, I wish my character would make a habit of maybe jumping up and down on the corpse a few times before leaving the room 'cause after a while, they have no right to be surprised when it comes back for more two minutes later. I swear we have to go through this charade seven or eight times with every boss, and you can't just keep pulling that shit without devaluing it!
See, I know Capcom games are never well written. Somewhere at Capcom, there's a copy of the big book of dialogue cliches with a very heavily weathered spine, but this gets as boring as a playground fight where your opponent keeps making up new shit so he doesn't lose until you want to take him behind the sheds and see how much good his everything-proof shield does him when you're knocking his teeth out with a bicycle chain. And in a game were ammo is eternally scarce, it would be nice to know if this is a "boss fight" boss fight or if I'm supposed to run away or hold out for ten seconds before the next cutscene 'cause if that's the case, I won't waste my three precious Magnum bullets on it! Its horribly inorganic design and the interminable unfair quick-time events add what they always add: the same thing that landmines add to a romantic stroll by the river.
Now then, co-op. Resident Evil 6 is a fussy suburban mother insisting you invite that weird dribbling kid to your birthday party. So every now and again on the loading screen, the nom-de-shithead of some tosser who's playing the same bit at the same time appears to explain why you're not going to enjoy the next few levels very much, and thank goodness it does because otherwise I might have thought my faithful AI partner had had some kind of stroke that makes them run around smashing crates while I'm waiting at the level exit fending off monsters that look like they were made of sausage and onion gravy.
Broad philosophical question: What is the point of multiplayer? Socializing with other humans (correct, that's why I hate it), but also having two intelligences on hand to assist with the game's challenges. Well, when you can't communicate with your random stranger assistant beyond a generic praise emote that nobody uses because it's fucking faffy and the extent of the challenge is directing bullets skullwards and pulling a lever at the same time you do, then what benefit does a human partner have over an AI one? Besides forcing you to restart when they die which I am forced to count as a benefit because of mirror universe political correctness. Fortunately this is all opt out, and if you've got any sense, you'll opt so hard that your fingertips snap off.
But another online gameplay mode I kind of liked involves taking control of a monster in someone else's game, which provides great opportunity to avenge those fingertips. I got a little satisfaction from knifing to death some stranger who might not have deserved it, but that was one out of ten attempts. The rest either didn't connect or I'd join five seconds before the guy got killed by a regular non-self aware monster. It's disheartening to know your job could be done equally as well by a pixel-brained bleep-bloop non-controlled twat.
Which, come to think of it, might as well be the motto of Resident Evil 6. It doesn't want a player, this linear, quick-time-event-speckled parade of meaningless twaddle, it wants a little ducky it can drag along on a piece of string. Show it a bunch of sparkly lights and then smack it when it doesn't seem impressed. Resident Evil 6 is not the bold fresh continuation needed by a series that hasn't so much worn out its welcome as spent most of its visit shuffling about on its arse, leaving an elongated brown smear along the hallway carpet.
Relevant weasel: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
I have a feeling that the S in Leon S. Kennedy stands for "Sinead"
I approach most problems by founding my own city on the moon
Extra: Jam and Mogworld Audiobook
My second novel, Jam, is now out! You can order it now from your preferred literature distribution facility and while you're waiting, why not download the audiobook version of Mogworld from iTunes or audible. Now you can listen to me talk for thirteen hours without the expense of getting me coked up!