Resident Evil 6 journal - entry one

In a similar vein to my Pokémon Black/White and Heart Gold/Soul Silver journals, I will be posting a few short entries on the Resident Evil 6 campaign before I post my review (which will cover both the campaign, Agent Hunt and Mercenaries Mode, etc.) This is both to help better gather my thoughts on the game as well as provide my (spoiler-free) experience with the three main campaigns. As of today, I have completed Leon's storyline and plan to tackle the other two later this weekend and into the following week, as I can't imagine that the game will take me much longer than that to fully take in (also, Pokémon Black 2/White 2 hit store shelves this Sunday, so I will be spending the better portion of this Fall with my DS).

Leon's campaign is in many ways a throwback to previous entries in the series. It does well to blend the action elements of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, while retaining the classic horror thematic of the earliest series on the Resident Evil timeline (i.e. - Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil 2). There are some direct nods, such as a church that bears a striking resemblance to the Los Illuminados' place of worship in RE4, as well as familiar settings like Tall Oaks, a small American college town that becomes engulfed in chaos following a viral outbreak.

The environments are nicely varied, and include such memorable settings as ancient underground ruins, the classrooms of Ivy University, and Chinese market streets. The lighting effects are fantastic and each distinct area is wonderfully realized. Unfortunately, some of the textures look highly dated up close, and blood animations are subpar. Conversely, there are a lot of different zombie types that Leon and Helena take on, including the classic infected, reanimated skeletal remains, screamers, spore carriers, and acid spitters. Probably the best of the bunch are zombies and B.O.W.s seemingly inspired by RE4's Regenerators. The first are zombies that shed their rotting flesh and replace it with a hard glassy shell, leaving their exposed chest as their sole weak point. They are very fast and can lunge at Leon from a fair distance. The second appears to be a B.O.W. with black leathery skin (not unlike Ridley Scott's Alien) that can sever at the torso to strike at Leon's legs, as well as bite off its arms and throw them, allowing them to run about on their fingers and blind the protagonist's field of vision. These enemies have the ability to regenerate, and are both fast and smart, despite having a glaring weak point once the chest and legs have been separated.

While Leon's story begins with him investigating Tall Oaks for signs of where the outbreak began, he crosses paths with the other two protagonists and their partners after traveling to China. Leon also encounters Ada Wong a few times along the way, and their past becomes a prominent plot point during later chapters. While both RE4 and RE5 had human NPCs present, this is the first game to feature citizens in panic in-game, bringing about a better realization of the terror and gravity of the situation at hand. While RE5 posed the question of what might happen if bioterrorism spread across an entire country, RE6 looks at the potential for a worldwide outbreak.

The menu system is not perfect, but it is a decent improvement over the one used in RE5. There is still a cap on the number of items Leon can carry, but it is not a meager nine slots. Health is now divided into sections of a single bar, and being hit by an enemy will deplete one section of that bar. Leon can mix herbs to quickly multiply the number of herbs on hand, and can use these to either heal a single bar at a time or the whole bar (by tapping the bumper repeatedly to use up the appropriate amount). Quick action sequences are not so intrusive as in RE4 or RE5, and are instead blended in as a sort of interactive movie segment that maintains the game's fluidity.

Leon's campaign features some stellar boss fights, as well as a one or two that seem a tad cheesy in the midst of an otherwise solid action-horror story. The main villain of Leon's campaign, however, is rather one-dimensional and his goals seem frankly illogical when compared to the brilliant madmen of yesteryear (Wesker, Marcus, etc.) I have only scratched the surface of Mercenaries mode, and I have yet to touch either Jake's or Chris' campaign. You can expect to see journal entries regarding those within the coming week or two.

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