Red Herb Review - Resident Evil 6 Demo Impressions

Your ulterior motive for buying Dragon’s Dogma paid off today (at least for Xbox 360 owners) as the demo for Resident Evil 6 became available for download.  Each of the three main campaigns have their own respective demos, giving fans a taste of the three primary styles RE6 tries to encompass: survival horror, straight up action, and a fight-or-flight brawler portion.

The shifts in style doesn’t mean one campaign plays significantly different than the other.  No, you won’t find tank controls in one arc and shooter mechanics isolated in another.  RE6 shares a practically static control scheme for all of its characters (although a radically changed one, that’s for damned sure).  What drives a stake in between your experiences with each character are the markedly different situations our hapless duos get themselves into.  Leon and Helena see a slower paced, darkly atmospheric playthrough (reminiscent of roaming mansions of olde) while newly inducted whino Chris and his partner Piers brave a bombastic shooting gallery.  Despite the contrast, the redone controls serve each type well.

Tank controls have been put down, no trace to be found in this installment.  Instead, your movement and camera functions like it did in Dead Space.  You can also move and shoot, but are still required to ready your weapon with the left trigger in order to fire – the attack trigger tasked with melee maneuvers when your gun is holstered.  It’s hard to acclimate to such freedom of motion especially in the, oppressive corridors of Tall Oaks University, but once areas open up a bit more, basic locomotion is smooth.

Not so smooth, however, is your new dodge mechanic.  The actual dodge is useful and very much needed when shit gets hairy, but accomplishing the move is an uncomfortable blend of left trigger+left stick+A.  I have to gripe on the dodge because everything else is designed with such ease-of-use in mind.  Your inventory is expanded onscreen unlike RE5’s awkward minimization of it, but you’re tasked with managing it in real-time.  Easier yet, you can scroll through essential stock like weaponry on the fly with the D-pad.  And once you have a proper mix of herbs (oh, yes, darlin’, red herbs are back), one button takes care of their administering.  And, yeah, dual-wielding is a possibility and the press of a button makes that John Woo staple a reality.

Capcom is hoping this helping of variety will appease all types of fans: longtime horror purists, recent action junkies, and even newcomers familiar with this generation’s third-person shooter setup (which, since we’re on the subject, Resident Evil 4 actually ushered in).  With a serious hard-on for gun-centric (and, now, melee-centric) action, I doubt hardcore fans looking for fixed perspective thrills will swallow this offering happily.  But the developers are on to something here.  Responsive controls, an overhauled inventory system, and more fluid co-op integration will beckon an audience, and if this demo is indicative of the overall package, I’m satisfied in knowing that at the very least, this installment will have no problem besting Resident Evil 5.

[Resident Evil 6 is releasing October 2nd for the PS3 and Xbox 360 with a PC version following soon after.  I’ll be stuck replaying the demo over and over until I start to hate it.  Add me on Xbox Live at KevinApocalpyse if you want to hate it together.]

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