Castor’s Review of Resident Evil 6

This is hot garbage and not even in the way that Resident Evil normally is.

Resident Evil 6 is a survival horror/action shooter video game that is about 60% quicktime events. It’s also irritatingly not called Resident Evil VI, despite later installment being titled with Roman numerals, which annoys me because there’s such a thing as artistic consistency, you know?

This review will have spoilers for Resident Evil 6, which came out a long time ago and doesn’t have much of a plot to spoil, honestly. Be aware.

The so-called “plot” of the game is that a bunch of people from other (better) Resident Evil games have to deal with a new virus released by Umbrella (in the particularly clever disguise of Neo-Umbrella this time), which, much to everyone’s surprise, turns people into zombies. You play as Leon Kennedy and his new partner Helena Harper, Chris Redfield and his new partner Piers Nivans, and as Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller, the children of William Birkin and Albert Wesker, both iconic Resident Evil villains who should have had sex but didn’t (except in our fanfics, which are better because of this), so at least we’re to be comforted by their kids hooking up I guess. Then you play as one of my favourite characters in the franchise, Ada Wong, in the part of the game that is the worst. All of their storylines have split-screen co-op so you can play with a partner (and should, because the AI that otherwise controls your other character is useless 98% of the time), and the four storylines together turn from four discrete stories that can be enjoyed separately but which form a larger picture when taken together.

(Pause for laughter)

Right, so none of that last stuff is true. Individually, none of the four storylines have enough information in them to make sense as a narrative, and when you read them together, they still don’t have enough information in them to make sense as a narrative. The American National Security Advisor, Derek Simmons, has decided to murder the President and also a few hundred thousand people in China for reasons that are extremely vague and have to do with Ada having been cloned, and Leon and Helena go and fight him for reasons that are also unclear, but have to do with Helena’s sister being turned into a giant moth. Meanwhile, the Ada clone has killed all of Chris’s friends (this is a recurring problem for Chris as the writers desperately try to make him interesting), but Chris (after recovering from some amnesia about his friends dying, which he got in a flashback and then got over when the flashback ended) doesn’t know it’s a clone so he’s just trying to kill the regular Ada (who the player can tell isn’t the clone because they’re wearing different outfits), who isn’t telling anyone anything about what’s going on despite the fact that she literally knows everything that’s going on and also everyone is trying to kill her. Ada is protecting Sherry and Jake, who are working for Simmons to try and recover data about the virus, which Jake’s blood holds the antibodies for, and Ada also works for Simmons despite knowing he’s made an evil clone of her and also knowing that he’s responsible for the catastrophe she’s trying to stop, and also knowing that he’s weirdly obsessed with her and possibly cloned her so he could have sex with her clone. Sherry and Jake also know that Simmons is evil because Leon keeps telling them he is, but they don’t believe him despite Sherry pausing every ten minutes to talk about how Leon is the most trustworthy person she knows. Sherry and Jake get kidnapped a lot so Leon and Chris and Ada can rescue them, and end up fighting a boss on a lava pit, who they explode as they escape from an underwater base where Piers has turned into to electricity zombie so he can save Chris, who is there because Leon asked him to so he could fight Simmons, who has turned into a dinosaur, with Ada.

You might think that all those run-on sentences make understanding the plot harder than necessary, but I promise they make understanding the plot easier than playing the game does.

I’m relatively new to Resident Evil and have only really gotten into it because I love someone who loves it, but I’m assured that this is slightly more of a hot mess than is usual for the games. So we’re just going to set aside the fact that none of it makes any sense, because whatever, the whole franchise makes no fucking sense, and move on from there.

The Leon and Helena story is pretty okay to play through, because you haven’t done any of the other stories and it’s also the more straightforward of the four—they’re expecting you to do it first, so it eases you in to the game. It’s fine overall, if a bit boring and overlong. There are a few small issues in it, including having to redo the prologue in chapter 4, and a few key points where Helena, the second player character, kind of doesn’t do anything in major boss fights because they’re assuming Leon will do all the work, but overall it’s solid. It does have what for me is the worst line in the game, which is when Leon and Chris meet and it’s supposed to be dramatic (it’s not) and they try to kill each other a bit and then Chris fucks off because Leon randomly trusts him to stop trying to kill Ada even though he literally just tried to kill Ada, and Helena asks Leon what the fuck, and Leon says they can trust Chris, because “he’s been in this as long as I have.” And like, what is this? Fighting zombies? Leon and Chris both work for vague governmental agencies that fight zombies at this point, so I guess that is what it means, but that’s just such a stupid way to phrase one’s involvement in an occasional series of covert anti-zombie missions in which cities get blown up and/or their populations turned into zombies, and even eight months later I can’t get the stupidity of that line out of my head. It’s one of those innocuous lines that seems inoffensive, but the more you think about it the more you realize that the writers of this game were just phoning it in.

The Chris and Piers portion, gameplay wise at least, is probably the best part. It’s mostly just shoot-y and fight-y without much exploration or anything, and the nonlinear bits where you go back in time to Vague Eastern European Countryland to have Chris’s flashbacks are a bit poorly handled (in that they’re flashbacks instead of just being a prologue like they are in Sherry and Jake’s parts), but overall I actually enjoyed it the most despite Chris being the worst character in the franchise. Leon is actually kind of worse than him in this game honestly, because he’s gotten all angsty and annoying when he didn’t use to be, which made Chris have to be even more angsty, which is kind of just funny. Chris and Piers also have a lot of pretty awesome homoerotic tension with each other and by the end of the game Piers becomes Chris’s new dead wife, which is pretty solid. All that said, however, the Chris section does have the worst part of the whole game in it, which is the part where you’re running away from a zombie helicopter across a bunch of boats and the game likes to glitch you through the boats and make you die instantly. I think we died about sixty times on that part and the only solution was to turn my controller off and let the AI control Piers for that part so Derek could survive—which fucked over my score in addition to his, but at that point we didn’t care because we’d spent two days trying to get through that part. In the final boss fight, Chris can’t do anything and Piers loses all his guns and has to use his electricity powers to kill the final boss, which is really stupid and takes forever.

The Sherry and Jake part was the part Derek was looking forward to the most because he loves Birkin and Wesker a lot. Needless to say, he was extremely disappointed. I was less disappointed because I had less investment, but it was really badly done. Sherry and Jake’s storyline is mostly just a collage of them meeting the other characters and doesn’t add much to the narrative, and their relationship is okay but not that interesting. Theirs is the worst storyline for boss fights where only one player does anything; both of us in turns kind of just sat there and waited until we could play the game again. I hoarded Sherry’s magnum ammo the whole game and then lost it all in a cutscene because the final boss fight was so easy, and was concluded in a quicktime event. Sherry and Jake’s story also features a lengthy period of time where they fight a tank, which is ridiculous and not in a good way. It’s not even a zombie tank or anything, it’s just a tank that chases you through this mansion for a while that you have to shoot and run away from and it’s followed by a terrible motorcycle part that also really sucks.

Ada’s storyline is the worst. It’s supposed to explain everything but it doesn’t because you already have the minimal information from the other storylines, and it’s also not truly co-op like the others. Ada is alone for her story and if you play two-player she’s given a sidekick called Agent who can help her fight people, but who mostly just causes her to fuck up stealth missions. He also can’t pick up key items or solve puzzles or open doors, and it’s actually so terrible that Derek and I stopped playing and just looked up what happens in her story online. She confronts her evil clone and kills her and then goes to fight Simmons with Leon. It’s not that interesting and doesn’t reveal any new information except that Simmons is creepy in addition to being evil.

The failure of two-player co-op is definitely the wort part of the game (apparently it also has online co-op, which is evidently just as bad). There’s just a constant lack of attention to the fact that there might be two humans playing the game, so the second player just often has nothing to do, and that really blows, honestly. It’s far from the game’s only sin (it’s also got a lot of quicktime events, as one example. A second example would be that it’s fucking terrible), but it’s a big problem for me personally as someone who doesn’t want to play a Resident Evil game alone. There’s way too much of feeling like you’re not really playing a game, especially because so many of the storylines take away all your shit in the final boss fight, which is not how Resident Evil is supposed to work. It’s supposed to reward you for suffering through everything else by letting you unload mag ammo into the final boss, and I never got to do that, which is a problem.

I’m not going to bother criticizing the game’s writing or plot because Resident Evil sucks and everyone knows this. It’s part of what makes it good, except that in the case of this game, it doesn’t make it good, it just makes it bad in the bad way instead of in the good way, which is bad. But what I am going to criticize instead is the game’s misogyny.

No female playable characters except for Ada recur from other Resident Evil games. Jill and Claire are nowhere to be found, and even Sheva from Resident Evil 5 has vanished. The male characters are allowed to get older in these games because they become rugged, but as soon as the female characters aren’t in their twenties anymore they get replaced, and that’s shitty. Ada never seems to age (possibly racist because she’s vaguely Asian), and Sherry was a little girl in her first appearance and is now 18 or whatever. Helena is a new character, so you don’t think much of her being Leon’s second player, but suddenly you get to Sherry’s story and realize that she’s the recurring character, the driving force of the plot, and the one with superpowers. Jake is the new character, and Jake is the first player character, and it’s impossible not to notice that the game has a problem with its female characters once you think about that for two seconds. Ada is a stereotypical evil sexy lady and as much as I love that, the game isn’t really interested in making her much more than a mysterious woman for Leon to pine over because he loves her even though they’ve known each other for a sum total of six hours and she tries to kill him every time they meet, because heterosexuality. Resident Evil hasn’t always been this bad with this issue; it was actually kind of a big deal that the first three games had major playable female characters, and that arguably in all three the female lead was the actual main character. But every game afterwards seems determined to undo that, and it’s really frustrating.

Derek Simmons doesn’t seem to have a valid plan aside from turning everyone into zombies to nebulously help his weird cult, which is the plan of every Resident Evil villain. I know this is hyper-personal, but I really expect more planning and intelligence from a guy named Derek, so his general everything was a miss for me too.

Basically, Resident Evil 6 is an unplayable mess that was supposed to be an epic crossover that brought together beloved characters, but forgot why those characters were beloved and actually just literally ruined the franchise and forced a reboot a few years later. Also the 6 in the logo looks like someone giving a giraffe a blowjob and once you see that you can’t not see it forever, so, enjoy.

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