Resident Evil 6: Enter the Darkness
Some information about Resident Evil 6
The President of the United States is dead. His corpse lies crumpled in the middle of a dimly lit office, blood splattered across the floor and walls. A half-eaten victim sits just feet from where the politician collapsed – shot in the head as he lurched towards the agents sworn to protect him. As blood pools around the president's decayed, rotting flesh, the weight of what has been unleashed rests upon agent Leon S. Kennedy's shoulders – there has been another outbreak. The zombies are back.
As Leon comes to terms with the fact that he has just put a bullet through the skull of the undead president, the agent by his side, HelenaHarper, mutters that this is her fault. She offers to help Leon uncoverthe conspiracy behind this latest bio-organic attack – but first they must make their way across the city.
Darkness envelops Tall Oaks University,creeping down every hall, invading every room. Only the moon, peeking out in the midst of a stormy night, allows the two to make out vague silhouettes in the overwhelming void. What once was some sort of celebration, perhaps a rally for the president, now looks more like a morgue – albeit one without bodies. Balloons and streamers betray their once jovial intent, instead potentially masking terrors in the pitch black of night.
There is no mistake that intendsto return to the bombastic, overwhelming action that has come to define modern Resident Evil games. For nearly a decade, the publisherhas found increasing success in shifting away from the roots of its 15-year-old series.
Resident Evil 5 stands as the best-selling entry in the franchise's history – and it is also the brightest and least frightening of them all. With,however, Capcom is subtly pulling its franchise in a different direction, taking the blockbuster scale and drama of its last couple titles and marrying them with a tone and gritty sense of horror that has scarcely been seen since the series could still find its identity in the survival horror genre.
Capcom has always excelled at crafting textured, storied worlds that feel as twisted and off-center as the creatures that inhabit them. Creating a sense of unease has rarely been the problem. A few mauled animals later and the effect is achieved. What Resident Evil has lacked for years is tension – the kind of breathlessness that comes from what isn't being shown, from what might not even exist.
The imagination runs wild when the unknown is overwhelming. What lurks in that shadow? What happens when this last bullet is fired? Why is it so quiet? Where are all the people?
Resident Evil 6 embraces this concept, at least in its early moments. Leon and Helena's search for a way out moves quickly. Capcom has certainly sped up the movement of its characters, who will seamlessly knock over chairs or raise their hands to shift around narrow corners. Yet despite the increased mobility, the crushing darkness – and accompanying silence - is formidable. Every so often lightning streaks across the sky, and its haunting, blue light fleetingly reveals the contents of a room. Shadows momentarily scatter and ripple off every surface, every object, every solitary, silent object.
A glimpse so haunting that even the brief relief from the darkness proves no more reassuring.Leon and Helena's search bring them across a man. He's not a zombie, buthis isolated presence is unnerving. Why, in a facility clearly designed to accommodate dozens, if not hundreds, is only this man still here? His frantic, desperate behavior reveals his intent – he is looking for his daughter.
Were this any ordinary situation, a person coughing would be no big deal. But in this setting, a common cold seems very uncommon. Making matters worse, it seems that this latest viral outbreak might be the most widespread yet. A fog or gas, perhaps distributed through a few
bloated, monstrous hosts, might carry the C-virus. Its the latest evolution of biological warfare, one that will result in the return of the most iconic Resident Evil enemy of all – the zombie. However, these undead creatures are a little more complex than their slow, shuffling predecessors. These zombies can run, leap and pounce.
Leon and Helena pursue this newfound survivor. Seemingly ignoring his ailment, they intend to help him find his daughter, Liz. Lightning continues to crackle in the night, the accompanying thunder a welcome respite from the haunting echoes of a precious few searching for anyone lucky enough to be alive. For the most part, they are unsuccessful, finding the corpses and remains of the departed.
Suddenly, the man violently seizes up. Again, the affliction is brief. Again, it could easily be explained
under ordinary circumstances. Again, toys with our realization and our understanding of this world and its many evils. Yet the three continue their search for the missing child.
will introduce a number of new elements to its control scheme in the hopes of giving players more options to deal with the bio-organic terrors ahead. Healing is as simple as hitting a
shoulder button (herbs are now mixed into tablets that are instantly available), and a small icon in the corner suggests dual-wielding might be an option in the future. Players will also be able to slide, fire a quick shot without aiming, roll and even drop on their back, allowing them to escape overwhelming forces and dispatch them up to the last second. Considering zombies can now, on occasion, hold weapons, this extra flexibility seems like it's barely staying ahead of the curve.
In the distance, music faintly plays. The two agents and the sickly man make their way to a door, where they see an untouched piano on the other side. More light reveals blood smeared everywhere, from the walls to the floor, and a girl is curled up at the end of the trail. By some miracle, she isn't dead – but she says nothing.
Eventually the girl speaks, bringing her father immense relief. They hold each other up, neither doing very well, yet both intent on escaping this grim, shadowy hell. Leon and Helena determine the garage is the best avenue of escape. A quick search yields an elevator. Maybe they'll make it out alive after all. The girl starts coughing.
Unlike her father, she doesn't stop. She manages to say "Dad" one last time before slipping away into the darkness, her face hidden in the shadows as her father cries out. Suddenly the father is pulled away from Leon and Helena, and savage noises paint a vivid, visceral picture even when nothing can be seen. The girl, her flesh grayed and peeling from her face, leaps at Leon. An interactive cutscene prompts rapid button-pressing to unsheathe a knife followed by a location-based button press in order to stab the zombie. As quickly as she succumbed to the C-virus, Leon S. Kennedy kills the girl with a knife to the brain. His attempt to help has failed – and things will only get worse.
Capcom's demonstration of
become more standard for this series. Yet the bulk of what was shown was anything but familiar. For the first time in a long while, what wasn't happening and what wasn't being shown was emphasized, piling tension on top of anticipation, leading to an incredible opening segment, one that recalls the thrills and scares that Resident Evil used to be known for. continued with a more hectic, chaotic battle amidst cars in the garage. Many of these elements feel familiar, as a more action-heavy tone has
The explosions and chaos will come. We've already seen plenty of that in both trailers. With six lead characters, and three distinct storylines that can be played independently yet weave together, has clearly signaled it intends to keep that part of the equation alive. While Leon and Helena are dealing with the crisis in Tall Oaks, Chris Redfield and his BSAA partner Piers Nivens will be confronting an outbreak in China alongside a brief that takes place six months earlier. In that flashback, Redfield's BSAA unit appears to be decimated by none other than Ada Wong. This tragedy changes Chris's outlook on life, leading to what Capcom describes as a different take on the character – one we are "not accustomed to" according to Capcom producers.
Rounding out the game's lead protagonists are Jake Mueller, the mysterious, jaded, battle-worn mercenary seen in the first trailer, and none other than Sherry Birkin. Mueller has been the subject of much scrutiny, as many speculated he might have connections to iconic Resident Evil villain Albert Wesker. Though some wondered if Mueller might be Alex Wesker, a pseudo-'brother' of Albert's, he is actually the former Umbrella operative's son – a fact he learns throughout the course of the game. Making her first appearance since Resident Evil 2, Birkin is tasked with bringing Jake into her unnamed agency. Given his genetic heritage, it is believed the keys to solving this latest outbreak might be hidden in Mueller's blood.
Despite the vast cast and globe-spanning storyline, Capcom appears to have changed its tone and approach to Resident Evil 6. The tension and restraint of the opening to Leon's ordeals in Tall Oaks are the perfect example of how the developer is still willing to embrace more primal, basic approaches to horror, doing far more with far less.
There will always be a place for pulse-pounding explosions and the types of confrontations that lead to Leon and Chris aiming their guns at each other. But those are made even more pronounced when contrasted with the echoing, sparse halls of Tall Oaks University. The darkness of Resident Evil has been rediscovered, and mixed back into its modern, large-scale approach. Let's hope the entirety of the experience plays as well as looks. If it does, the biggest production in Capcom's history just might be on track to deliver one of its best, most cinematic experiences.