Resident Evil 6: Preview Trailer Impressions

26 01 2012

Just within this week Capcom has rolled out a trailer for the next numbered entry in the Resident Evil franchise, RE6. After some of the problematic and more criticized aspects of RE5, it seems like a golden opportunity to renew the faith in this enduring franchise. Could a return to Leon, hero of RE4 – the best game in the series to date – be a return to form?

As covered in my video of some of the criticisms of RE5, there were several elements of the previous title that seemed to be out of step with the expectations and traditions of the franchise. The following are my biggest points of contention and how I hope RE6 will address these issues:

Genre Identity Crisis
What put me off about RE5 the most was that it didn’t seem to know what game it was trying to be. It was clear that Capcom was trying to take the game in a much more action-adventure oriented direction but seemed to only go halfway on some aspects and overcompensating in others. Gameplay conventions were adjusted to make the game more akin to an action-saturated first person shooter type experience but were not up to snuff compared to other entries of that genre. There were welcome improvements to the formula of the immensely successful RE4, but nothing seemed to mesh together in RE5. RE4 did certainly have a noticable diversion from the series into more action-based gameplay, but at it’s core it was still firmly based as a survival horror game.
The trailer for RE6 has me very hopeful that there will be a return to form in this entry. The trailer was very atmospheric and from the onset sold the entire package as a decisively “horror” game. The foes were suitably grotesque and unsettling, and there was an overarching sense of panic and dread. And yet at the same time, there was a showcase of breakneck action and John Woo-esque maneuvers that the heros can unleash on the shambling hordes. I think that it is possible for these elements to coexist, as RE4 demonstrated, but having all elements of the game mesh together will be what makes or breaks the experience. Altogether, what I’m hoping for is Capcom to cook up the authentically “Resident Evil” experience I’ve been craving and let the actiony spicyness complement the dish rather than overwhelm it.

Underdeveloped Co-op Gameplay
There were whisperings that the co-operative gameplay of RE5 was shoehorned into development to be in keeping with the then-current trends of action games, which RE5 seemed to so badly want to imitate. The result was a somewhat awkward hybrid of current gaming fads and enduring franchise tropes that did neither a great service. However, after the “experiment” of RE5, the franchise has a chance to step up to the plate once again, older and wiser, to take a swing with the experience of the past beneath it’s belt. Indeed, there have been rumors flying around that RE6 will support not two, but SIX PLAYER cooperative play (I see what you did there Capcom). Whether that represents the entire story mode of the game or a separate game mode remains to be seen, but either way RE6 has a better chance of integrating such elements in a more thoughtful way.

Novelty Setting and Exoticism
Speculation on racism aside, the previous two Resident Evils seemed to want to cash in on the horror derived from the unknown, the unfamiliar; to evoke the mystery of the “other” and the feeling of isolation in a place far away from home. It was also probably no mistake since various action games demand faraway locales for their backdrop of wonder and adventure. However, there were a few pitfalls to the approach that was taken, sometimes it felt forced or arbitrary, other times it seemed accessory to the actual events taking place, and other times it became just a tad bit topical. RE6 seems to break away from that direction and bring things back closer to home. The game appears to take place stateside in the town of Tall Oaks, which is a stand in for urban America. Indeed, some of the most effective tropes of horror are derived from the familiar, but twisted and dehumanized, made into something terrible yet recognizable. To echo Leon in the trailer, “it’s Raccoon City all over again,” and this choice may be just what was needed for the direction of the series seeing that the first 3 games, which set the groundwork for the most enduring tropes of the franchise and survival horror in general, all took place there.

After watching the trailer I am very excited for this new game and I have high hopes that it will vault over the bar set by the prodigious RE4 and be a new standard in survival horror and for Resident Evil as a whole.


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