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Old 06-05-2013, 08:57 AM   #1
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RE6 - Great ideas; terrible execution

I have been replaying Resident Evil 6 lately. The release of Revelations set me about on a series replay, beginning with Code Veronica X, onto RE4, then Revelations (I timed it so that I finished RE4 the night before Revelations dropped), then RE5, then RE6. I really ultimately wanted to get a stronger sense of the interplay between RE6 and Revelations, since the latter seems to be Capcom's response to the negative reaction to the former. So with all that said, my playthroughs went pretty well. As usual, I didn't have the stomach to finish Code Veronica X, RE4 felt simply brilliant (as usual), Revelations was a very pleasant surprise, and then my replay of 2 of RE6's campaigns - Chris' and Jake's - on Professional mode also ended up being something of a pleasant surprise. I decided to save RE5 for later in the vein of a better juxtaposition of Revelations and RE6.

To be clear: On my first playthrough of RE6, I hated Chris' campaign, loathed and was bored by Jake's, found Leon's to be slightly entertaining, and found Ada's to feel unnecessary. In other words, RE6 never originally "hooked" me. Here's the kicker: I've found shards of brilliance in my latest playthroughs. I still think the game is all over shop as far as it goes, but I also found it to be chock full of great ideas - if they were executed better. I'll give plenty of examples.

I think the biggest one was the decision to make the game focus around 4 different protagonists/play styles. This was a great, ambitious idea - simply executed horribly here. What ended up happening was a huge production of a story that went all over the place, and since each campaign didn't want to spoil the others, no one has any of the story's answers in a clear way. My first playthrough went like this: I played through Jake and cleared it with a lot of questions about what was happening in this story. Then I played through Chris' campaign, and I didn't really get closure on anything from that. I figured Leon's campaign would be the one that finally gave me my answers. I played through it, and I was wrong - most of my questions remained. I unlocked Ada's campaign, figuring it would be like Separate Ways in RE4 and be the game's tell-all. Once again, I was wrong. I finished the game without a clear understanding of who the antagonist was, what ultimately happened in China, and why any of this was happening. The story was too busy keeping itself arranged in 4 branches to focus on one specifically.

The irony is, of course, that RE4 really did something similar in Separate Ways. Arguably, that game had 2 Campaigns and 2 protagonists. It worked really well there, though. Leon's campaign in RE4 was a lengthy, well thought-out experience. It was very self-contained, and yet Ada's very presence and her "Organization" hinted at something bigger. And yet, Leon's campaign had a very clear structure: Saddler was the big bad, and his supporting roles were Mendez and Salazar. The campaign didn't have arbitrary junction points with Ada's campaign that it HAD to be made to fit into. In other words, Capcom focused on one campaign - Leon's - and then built Ada's, a completely separate experience, around Leon's. It worked very neatly. RE4 had stellar pacing and a wide variety of environments, and the story still felt massive after playing Separate Ways.

So, yeah, the multiple protagonist idea CAN work really well, and RE4 is itself an example of this. Where RE6 stumbles is that it tries to give precedence to each individual campaign, instead of focusing on a single one. This decision created 4 very splintered experiences with erratic pacing, and every other issue kind of followed this one.

There was a lot of fat to be trimmed with this story. Leon's campaign - while cool - was almost completely unnecessary. The whole idea of Simmons was almost completely unnecessary, as Carla's havoc could have been explained without giving Simmons an antagonist presence - think Spencer in RE5. Tall Oaks and all of the US shenanigans felt almost entirely like a futile attempt to coax old-style RE fans into playing this game. They really weren't needed, and they could have been cut out to the game's benefit. That said, Ada was absolutely necessary, so they should have found another way to integrate Leon - but forget the Ivy University and Tall Oaks zombie outbreak nonsense. It was cool, but completely out of place in this game.

I would have actually focused the game around Sherry. Like RE4, the game should have focused mainly on one campaigns - Sherry's. And yeah, I'm saying Sherry should have been the protagonist and not Jake. I actually found that campaign a lot more compelling when playing through as Sherry, because I'm already familiar with her character. Jake was a cool addition - I'd like to see more of him - but this should have been Sherry's game. It should also have been set almost exclusively in China. Retrieving Jake in Edonia could have made up the first part of the game. Stumbling into the hands of Neo-Umbrella could have constituted a break in the game's timeline. Rooting around their labs could have constituted the second part of the game. And finally concluding in the China would have been nice. So basically, that campaign like it is - except with a lot more padding a more deliberate pace. See, the pacing thing was a horrible symptom of the multiple-character focus. Where RE4 had stellar pacing and RE5 was really competent, RE6 had no idea where and when it should move its story forward, and it felt really stilted and forced.

After the timeline for Sherry's campaign is established, I would then create and unlockable Campaign in which Leon and Ada are running around hunting Carla and finding all the real answers as to why this stuff is happening. This would create a nice dichotomy - Sherry and Jake would be more focused on getting Jake's blood out of the war zone to stop the disaster - and that alone would be a nice, complete story - while Leon and Ada look for the cause of all of it. Of course some story alterations would have to be made there. And yeah, that would ultimately mean trimming 2 entire Campaigns - Leon's and Chris' - but I really think it would have been to the game's benefit if they executed their multiple-protagonist idea in this way. So there's that. They had a great idea with multiple protagonists, but the way they executed it ultimately ran their story into the ground.

Another example of great ideas and terrible execution is the revamped melee system. The melee system in RE4 and RE5 felt very rigid ultimately, and while Revelations actually ultimately struck a great balance, I also like how theatrical RE6's melee system is. What's not cool is how all over the place it is. Characters move when they melee, making it very easy to miss. That stupid energy gauge cripples the utility of the melee system, but I can't help but wonder if a simple nerf to the melee damage might have done the same thing. Regardless, I love and hate RE6's melee system. I think the ideas are there, but something's just off about how they're integrated. Perhaps it's got something to do with my next topic...

The movement system! Yet another example of great ideas with terrible execution. Let's face something here. RE5 felt archaic. Characters aren't nimble. This is something that just needed some attention. I think the ideas behind the approach are mostly fantastic here - simply integrated wrong. For example, upping the movement speed is ultimately beneficial. However, having the character move like an action adventure hero such as Lara Croft or the Prince of Persia, instead of like Master Chief or Marcus Fenix, was ultimately a poorly-executed choice. Turning around feels weird and unnatural - the old series staple quick-turn felt better. The problem is the free roam camera - in modern RE, the camera should always be sticking behind the player. I really believe there's nothing wrong with the movement speed, the dodging mechanics, or sprinting - most of the issues lie in the fact that the character controls completely with the LS, as the RS controls the camera. This eliminates strafing and encourages really clunky and unintuitive character movement. It should be tightened up, adjusted so the camera is always behind the player, and then tweaked and fine-tuned according to the game's pace.

The game got UI and herb and item management completely and utterly wrong - there are no good ideas there.
100% retail games: King Kong, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Prince of Persia, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Assassin's Creed II, Saw, Mass Effect 2
80%+ retail games: The Orange Box, Tomb Raider: Underworld, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Fallout 3, Fable II, Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5, Mass Effect, Halo Wars, BioShock, BioShock 2
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Old 06-06-2013, 06:45 AM   #2
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Personally, I was fine with the herb crap because I got super used to it and was able to just make tablets while running and not even think about it. The UI and menus were still possibly the actual worst element, though.

I love Resident Evil 6. I'd go as far as saying it's one of my favorites, with RE2, RE4 and Darkside Chronicles (I need to finish Revelations to see how I feel, and I'm still playing the 3DS version).

However, it's one of the most flawed games in the entire series.

The biggest and most obvious problem with RE6 is that it suffers an immense identity crisis and is overly ambitious.

It tries to be too huge and tries to be too many types of games at once and doesn't successfully become any of them and ultimately dampens the experience for most people unwilling to look past that (and obviously, people set in their "IT IS NOT RE, THEREFOR IT IS AWFUL" mindset are going to hate it regardless).

For example: Leon's campaign tries to be a huge throwback. It's full of zombies, but some of the zombies have guns. It's still actiony, and you're given a lot of ammo/health for most of it. I only had problems near the end.

Chris's tried to be like what RE5 was, with a bigger focus on action, but I actually found myself running out of ammo more than I ever did with Leon, and he was NOT the character to be low on ammo/health with since you're spammed with waves of gun enemies.

Jake/Sherry's was actually fine, but there was a lot of unnecessary vehicle action. It was more of a spectacle.

Ada's was probably the most neatly put together, even including puzzles (not enough, but it had them and it was cool), but the last chapter felt like a waste.

I do like your idea of having it focus on Sherry/Jake's campaign and having Leon/Ada as a side one. I liked Leon's, but it WAS unnecessary. Especially Helena. Everything about her and her subplot was unnecessary. She was an unlikeable character who was withholding information for two full chapters and doesn't even get held responsibility for her actions because Leon's an idiot. Simmons was cool, and I thought his boss fights were insane and beautiful, but he really didn't do a whole lot worth exploring.

Meanwhile, Chris's whole campaign was equally unnecessary.

Essentially, Chris only existed to cause tension with Jake (and not even that much) and to have a "LOL CHRIS & LEON" scene, while Leon only existed to play off of Ada and interact with Sherry (as they were both tightly connected with the president). And because they are both fan favorite vets.

The game SHOULD have focused on Jake/Sherry because they were newish (Sherry wasn't, but as an adult, she was) but tied directly to the old cast, and Ada/Carla being the other main focus. It is a great segue into being able to move on from the original characters who are too super to be relateable anymore.

But I bet Capcom was too afraid to make that jump and use less familiar characters. Oh well. Better luck next time.

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Old 06-07-2013, 03:26 AM   #3
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First off, sorry for ending my first post so abruptly. I was typing it after finishing Chris' campaign - it was 4:30 am and I'm actually amazed that my brain pumped out all that information, albeit awkwardly.

I remember reading a review or even a blurb about RE6 in which the commenter said that he couldn't shake the feeling that this game was in a hurry. Why is this game in such a hurry? That was the main thing for me - that idea is the culmination of all of the game's problems, in my opinion. The 4-campaign structure actually undermines any notions of longevity. The development needed to craft all 4 campaigns means ultimately that there was little to no "padding space" (filler, if you will) in any of the campaigns. It all stumbled from plot point to confusing plot point in a huge hurry, and there was seldom an area with the simple objective of passing through. RE4 had a lot of this. There was usually a lot of space between the player and their next objective. The levels were all structured to feel like they were deliberately taking their time. RE5 was the same way, on a smaller scale. RE6 completely dumps the paradigm here, throwing the baby out with the bath water. Creating such a deliberate sense of pacing in the previous 2 games made each new "plot point" that was presented feel that much more rewarding. In RE6, you go into a room and something significant happens. You get into the next room, and something else significant happens. The game wastes no time just letting you smell the roses. It creates an elaborate set and instead of letting you admire the detail and acting, it screams, "Here, look at this huge thing that's happening!!!" incessantly, every time a character lifts their gun.

Of course, that problem is merely a byproduct of the ambitious scale of the game. It had a large volume of content to create, and it DID manage to make lengthy campaigns in consideration of the fact that there are 4 of them. But they still ultimately sacrificed pacing for spectacle, as they didn't have time or resources to develop 4 truly unique and well-paced and well-considered campaigns. I recognize that that wouldn't be possible - which is why I think the ambitious scale was a great idea, but they simply couldn't execute it right.

And yeah, the identity crisis is the game's main problem. Almost everything trickles down from that issue - the unclear story, the erratic pacing, the failure to really flesh out new characters, the "set piece to set piece" structure (as opposed to previous RE games), the brevity of each individual campaign - all this and more was a byproduct of trying to squeeze 4 campaigns of content out of this team.

The sad part is that their efforts really weren't even warranted. The story didn't need Chris in it at all. His campaign could have been excised rather painlessly (very few people enjoyed it anyways), thus giving more attention to the others and simplifying the storyline. The sad part about Leon's campaign is that it was completely pointless, but it definitely felt like the most inspired of the bunch. It almost had a semblance of that deliberate pacing I talked about, almost. The scenery felt more carefully-crafted than any of the other campaigns. Leon is also ten times more interesting than Chris or Jake to me. Yet for all that, he's not included in this game in any meaningful way. This is definitely, irrefutably, meant to be Sherry and Jake's story and game. They should have been given the lion's share of attention.

Giving more consideration to it, I would have given Sherry and Jake a campaign the size and scale of RE5's campaign. I would have started them off in the hands of Neo-Umbrella, and used the carefully-considered design of the facility to act as a tutorial of sorts for the engine's new functions during the pair's escape. Carla would still be their villain - still disguised as Ada Wong - and they would spend their campaign trying to both neutralize Carla and get Jake out of there. Through the campaign, hints would be dropped as to Carla's identity, but it wouldn't be revealed to Sherry and Jake.

Then, as an unlock, Leon and Ada would have their own campaign. They would be working behind the scenes to investigate Carla Radames, and upon discovering her identity, and then being beaten to the punch on killing her, they would pursue her creator - Simmons.

I feel as though this would be a more appropriate and intelligible way to present the game's story.

As far as mechanics go, the UI is definitely horrible and they also needed to stick to a universal one. The herb system isn't horrible by any means, which is to say that it works fine. It's simply, like the game's plot, unnecessarily complicated. Creating an actual pill-popping animation that only heals one health square per pill has led me to death many times. When being revived by my companion, the AI would start a ground-attack animation. I would be revived, push RB to pop an herb pill, but before my character would finish the animation I would be attacked and killed. It's an unnecessary animation delay, and it doesn't feel intuitive at all. It's another thing that I feel Revelations got right - a simple button press and you've used a healing item to heal completely. That's a really streamlined and simple approach, and so it works. If they don't go RE4-style level of complexity and functionality with the health and herbs system (and they really can't since the game can't pause anymore), they might as well go for as simple as possible, as they have with weapon storage and swapping.

I would also just tighten up movement and camera things - stuff I mentioned in my first post - and maybe eliminate that pesky sniper shot downing, and the game would feel so much better.
100% retail games: King Kong, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Prince of Persia, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Assassin's Creed II, Saw, Mass Effect 2
80%+ retail games: The Orange Box, Tomb Raider: Underworld, Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Fallout 3, Fable II, Assassin's Creed, Gears of War, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5, Mass Effect, Halo Wars, BioShock, BioShock 2
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