Resident Evil 6 PS3 review – zombie return tries hard to please

Resident Evil 6 ps3 screens
Let’s pretend this isn’t called Resident Evil 6 for a minute. Let’s call it Evil In Residence. Or Steve. Steve’s good. Now, the thing about Steve is he doesn’t have to worry about comparisons to previous Resident Evils. No snap judgements based on fond memories. He’s just a game that can be assessed without anyone saying, “But he’s not old Steve”.

Resident Evil 6 PS3 review

So how does he do? Steve was alright. I had fun, there were a few late nights, and when it was all over Steve had satisfied me. I probably should’ve gone with a girl’s name. Get past the whole ‘it’s not Resi’ thing and there is a good game here. Just about. Maybe not great – and containing a confused mix of elements assembled with a faint whiff of desperation – but it’s an entertaining experience overall.

One thing you can’t fault is the sheer volume of content. There are three separate campaigns that can be played in co-op, each around the seven or eight-hour mark, plus a fourth unlockable singleplayer mission clocking in at about six hours. Then there’s the score-chasing Mercenaries mode, plus Agent Hunt – which lets you drop into other people’s games and mess things up as a monster.

The different campaigns follow three pairs made up of a classic Resident Evil character and a newbie. So there’s Leon S Kennedy and Helena Harper, Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans, and finally Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller. (The unlockable extra sees you playing alone as Ada Wong in a series of missions that thread through everything.)

The large ensemble is brought together by a new C-virus that’s wreaking havoc in a whole host of made-up places like Edonia, an American town called Twin Oaks and Lanshiang in China. The new virus brings a fresh enemy: the J’avo. They’re more intelligent, wield guns and boast the ability to mutate damaged limbs. That last bit creates an interesting threat, as blasting away carelessly creates more powerful enemies with things like giant tentacle arms or massive mandible heads. They can also form a chrysalis, from which they emerge as even more powerful creatures. Basically, huge pain in the ass.

Of the three stories, Leon and Helena’s is the best, full of atmosphere and confidence. It follows the two from an initial outbreak – that kills the President – as they track down the cause. It is, if we must make comparisons, the most like old Resident Evil, with traditional zombies and starting with a very Resi 2 zombie outbreak in a city – all flaming cars and trigger-happy survivors holed up in shops. Later it progresses to sinister labs and a Resi 4-style mixture of spooky graveyards and puzzles.

Of the three campaigns, this has the most space to breathe as you creep through dark corridors or confront shuffling, grey-skinned people who want big, bitey hugs. One downside is that potential scares are lessened when you realise the precisely triggered way things are set off. Inert dead bodies litter levels, only to come to un-life once you’ve collected a key item or finished a cut-scene.

A close second is Jake and Sherry’s campaign. This follows Sherry Birkin from Resident Evil 2 as she tries to bring in Jake Muller, Albert Wesker’s son, so they can engineer a cure to the C-virus from his blood. There’s more action here, with things starting in a Eastern European war where Jake’s working as a mercenary. As the two pair up it then moves through city streets, snowy mountains, more laboratories and finally a secret underground base.

If Leon’s missions do the spooky stuff and Chris’ is the shooty campaign (more on which in a moment), this is the experimental offering. There’s a puzzle-like stealth bit, snowmobile driving, tanks and helicopters to outrun and the ever-present Ustanak, a Nemesis-esque pursuer that’s after the pair. It’s probably the most satisfying section, because it offers the most variety and balance.

That just leaves Chris Redfield. Poor old Chris. From his mutant bicep rebirth in Resident Evil 5 to this: a moody, unpleasant growl of man who’s meant to be all damaged and suffering after a botched mission killed his men. Trouble is, all his “I’m so ANGRY I could PUNCH THIS WALL!” fury makes him massively un-likeable. As his story progresses – fighting the C-virus outbreak in China and then going on a revenge-fuelled rampage after Ada Wong – he becomes obnoxious to the point where it’s hard to believe someone doesn’t just say “Chris, you’re being a dick”.