The Resident Evil Retrospective: Part Eight

Since the original Resident Evil was released in 1996, the series has focused on many different characters as they try to survive various threats and uncover the reasons for why such threats came to be. The early games also allowed the player to see the story unfold through two different scenarios, each following a different protagonist. For Resident Evil 6, this idea was brought back, with the game following seven different playable characters over four different campaigns, each one interweaving with the others to create a larger story. This led to Resident Evil 6 being the largest game in the series to date, and the most expensive to produce.

RESIDENT EVIL 6 – 2012resi-6

Early work on Resident Evil 6 began shortly after the release of its predecessor, Resident Evil 5, and was intended to introduce a new style of gameplay different from the recent releases in the series. Resident Evil 5 producer Jun Takeuchi was set to return in the same role, but later ruled out any involvement in the sequel. He was replaced by Hiroyuki Kobayashi, whom Capcom stated was aiming to “deliver the most impressive Resident Evil title ever both in terms of scope and production values”. Kobayashi was also instrumental in bringing back the series’ staple enemy, zombies, as he felt their popularity with fans of the series was an important factor, with many having expressed their wish to see their return, whilst retaining the gameplay established in Resident Evil 4.

Zombies make their long-awaited return to the series

The game was directed by Eiichiro Sasaki, who had previously directed both titles in the spin-off game Resident Evil Outbreak, and its sequel. Originally intended to return to its survival horror roots, Capcom eventually claimed that the market for such games was too small to make Resident Evil 6 profitable, so gameplay was shifted to fit with the more popular action genre of gaming. However, the game would go on to feature a more horror-inspired scenario with Leon’s campaign.

As the franchise grew, the number of characters increased. The overall storyline of the series was beginning to become convoluted, and the decision was made to incorporate multiple scenarios into Resident Evil 6 in an effort to include a greater number of features and characters without confusing the player with a constantly changing focus during the plot. Each scenario would follow two main protagonists, both of whom are playable and can be completed with another player in co-operative mode, as introduced in Resident Evil 5. Each scenario would tell its own story, and occasionally crossed over with another scenario in the game, so the player would see some situations from different points of view. Three of these scenarios were available at any stage to the player, with the option to quit after each chapter and change to another character. One scenario, focusing on Ada Wong, was only unlocked after all three original scenarios were completed, but an update to the game released later allowed players to select this story from the start.

Helena Harper, Leon Kennedy, Jake Muller, Sherry Birkin, Chris Redfield and Piers Nivans

One scenario focused on DSO agent Leon Kennedy, the protagonist of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4, and new character Helena Harper, the personal bodyguard to the President of the United States, Adam Benford, who is also a close friend of Leon’s. President Benford is preparing to reveal the truth about Raccoon City to the world, but is turned into a zombie after a bioterrorism attack unleashes a new virus, named the C-Virus. Leon is forced to shoot the President, and he and Helena attempt to escape the zombie-infested city. Along the way, Helena reveals she allowed the attack on Benford to happen, as she was being blackmailed by National Security Advisor Derek Simmons, who has kidnapped her sister, Deborah. They discover Deborah, but she has been infected with the C-Virus and mutates into an insect-like creature. With the help of Ada Wong, Leon and Helena eventually defeat her, with Helena vowing revenge on Simmons.

Helena, Ada and Leon fight a mutated Deborah Harper

The pair then make their way to China in pursuit of Simmons, but another attack by an organisation known as Neo-Umbrella causes their passenger plane to crash-land. They encounter fellow Raccoon City survivor Sherry Birkin and her companion, Jake Muller. Sherry gives them Simmons’ location, as they too are on their way to meet him, as Sherry works for Simmons. Along the way, they find Ada again, but she is acting strangely and attempts to kill them. As they give chase, they also cross paths with Chris Redfield and his partner, Piers Nivans, who are attempting to kill Ada in revenge for the deaths of their fellow BSAA soldiers, whom they believe Ada murdered. Ada escapes, and the two go their separate ways.

Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy meet face to face for the first time in the franchise

Leon and Helena eventually find Simmons, who orders Sherry and Jake to be captured. However, he is suddenly attacked and infected with the C-Virus. He attacks Leon and Helena, but they seemingly destroy him. Believing their ordeal to be over, they receive a message from Redfield warning them about a missile approaching the city. They watch helplessly as the missile detonates, spreading the virus through the streets and infecting the population. They inform Chris of Sherry’s location, and then begin their escape from the city. They eventually encounter Simmons again, but with the help of Ada manage to kill him for good, and escape the city via helicopter. Ada had left them information proving Simmons’ involvement in the attack in America, clearing Leon and Helena’s names, as they were to be scapegoats for the death of the President.

Simmons, after absorbing a lot of zombies, somehow becomes a giant spider-thing

Chris Redfield’s scenario sees him with a new BSAA partner, Piers Niven, and begins 6 months before the attacks on America and China. Set in an Eastern European location known as Edonia, the BSAA are fighting a new form of bioweapons known as J’avo, who were people infected with the C-Virus.

Chris and Piers fighting monsters in Edonia

After helping Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller escape Edonia, they encounter a woman who claims to be Ada Wong, who is revealed to be the leader of Neo-Umbrella, and she mutates the entire team of BSAA soldiers besides Chris and Piers. Chris sustains head injuries, and this coupled with the trauma of losing his men causes him to suffer from post-traumatic amnesia, and he goes into exile. Piers finds him six months later, and Chris returns to the BSAA as they head to China, where Neo-Umbrella have begun an attack. Regaining his memories, Chris is determined to hunt down Ada and avenge his men, but his methods are questioned by Piers, who is worried about the kind of man Chris has become. Eventually, he realises that Ada needs to be captured rather than killed thanks to Piers and Leon Kennedy, and they chase her to an aircraft carrier just outside the city. They reach Ada, but she is assassinated before their eyes by an unknown assailant working for Simmons. They learn of a missile preparing to launch, which would cause the C-Virus to infect the city, but are too late to stop it. Leon Kennedy informs them of the captured Sherry and Jake’s location, an oil-rig just off-shore leading to an underwater facility, and reveals that Jake’s blood holds the key to creating a cure to the C-Virus because he is the son of Redfield’s old nemesis, Albert Wesker. Chris and Piers rescue them, and Chris informs Jake that it was him who killed his father. Jake almost kills Chris in revenge, but chooses not to. They begin to escape the facility, but are separated by an enormous creature capable of infecting the planet with the C-Virus. Chris and Piers attempt to destroy it, but Piers is mortally wounded in the process, losing an arm. He voluntarily infects himself with the virus, and uses his new mutations to hold off the giant creature. Chris attempts to escape with Piers, but as they reach an escape pod Piers shuts Chris inside it alone, and sacrifices himself to destroy the creature as Chris escapes.

Chris versus the giant-baby-monster-thing from Tomb Raider and Half-Life

Sherry Birkin’s scenario involves her arriving in Edonia under orders of her boss, Derek Simmons. She is tasked with finding mercenary Jake Muller, whose blood is key to finding a cure to the C-Virus. They escape with help from the BSAA, courtesy of Chris Redfield, whose sister Claire helped Sherry escape Raccoon City when she was a child. However, they are attacked by a monster with a giant mechanical arm, and their helicopter crashes into the mountains.

Jake and Sherry running from trouble

It is revealed that Sherry has the ability to heal her wounds at a vastly accelerated rate, thanks to being exposed to the G-Virus at an early age. They are captured by Neo-Umbrella, and Jake discovers he is the son of Albert Wesker. Six months later, the two manage to escape their confinement, and discover they are in China. Sherry contacts Simmons, who is also in the same city, and orders her to bring Jake to him. After an encounter with Leon Kennedy, Sherry is told that Simmons is the man behind the bio-terrorist attack in America. She and Jake are again captured, and taken to an underwater facility offshore. They are rescued by Chris Redfield, who tells Jake that he killed his father, but Jake decides against taking revenge, determined not to be like Wesker, and instead vows to save the world. He and Sherry are attacked by the creature from Edonia, but manage to destroy it as they escape the exploding facility. Jake’s blood is used to create a cure for the C-Virus, and Jake later is seen fighting bioweapons in an unknown location.

Jake confronts his father’s killer

The last scenario was originally only playable upon completion of the other three, but an update to the game allowed it to be played alongside the rest of the game. This scenario focused on Ada Wong, who is shown to work alone, unlike the other characters. Co-operative play was still available thanks to the game update, with an unnamed agent the second character, but he is not shown in any cut scenes and has no in-game dialogue.

Ada Wong

Ada is informed of the location of a submarine by Derek Simmons, stating that there was something on board she would be interested in seeing. She makes her way through the submarine, and discovers a mission was taken by her six months ago in Edonia. However, Ada has never been on such a mission, and she makes her way to Tall Oaks, America to uncover the truth. She helps Leon Kennedy and Helena Harper defeat Helena’s infected sister before leaving them. She finds a recording showing the birth of a doppelgänger of herself, created by Simmons, from the body of former government researcher and creator of the C-Virus Carla Radames. This doppelgänger is the one responsible for the death of Chris Redfield’s men, and is also the head of Neo-Umbrella. Ada travels to China to face her, aiding Sherry Birkin and Jake Muller from a distance. Ada infiltrates Carla’s ship in the harbour, and finds herself pursued by Chris Redfield and Piers Niven, who believe she was responsible for the earlier attacks. She escapes them, and witnesses Carla being shot and her deadly fall. Ada approaches Carla’s body, but Carla has injected herself with a powerful strain of the C-Virus, and her body mutates. Carla starts engulfing the ship in an attempt to kill Ada in a fit of jealousy, but is eventually destroyed.

Ada’s clone turns into a giant wall at one point, I can’t really explain it any better than that

Ada escapes the ship via helicopter, and uses it to aid Leon and Helena. She leaves the helicopter on the roof of the tower Simmons is chasing Leon in, and she teams with Leon to defeat Simmons. She then finds the lab where Carla was mutated into her doppelgänger, and destroys everything inside the lab, before receiving a call and accepting another job.

As you can imagine, the story for Resident Evil 6 is the biggest in the franchise. However, this does unfortunately lead to a lot of confusing elements, such as motives for antagonists being somewhat unclear, and some sections being repeated, such as a long elevator ascension featured in two different scenarios. However, being able to see sections of the game seen in one scenario from another perspective is interesting, most notably during Ada’s campaign. This format also can’t be blamed on the convoluted story, as the idea of an Ada clone isn’t fleshed out particularly well, and Neo-Umbrella is under-utilised. It is also unclear what links this new faction has to the original Umbrella, and comes across as a lazy way to re-introduce the corporation behind the original viral outbreaks after their demise preceding Resident Evil 4.

Each scenario has a different feel to it, with Leon’s being the closest to the original horror-orientated gameplay of the original games. The reintroduction of zombies helps this, and it feels very much like a sequel to Resident Evil 2 in terms of style and appearance. Chris’s scenario is much more action-orientated, with a lot of gunplay and firing from cover similar to Gears of War. This fits with his story, as he is a soldier for the BSAA, and the gameplay is very similar to Resident Evil 5, which also starred Chris Redfield. The J’avo enemies are also reminiscent of the Ganado and Majini seen in the previous two games. Jake’s scenario is similar to Chris’s, but with the incorporation of a melee combat system that doesn’t quite work, and more over-the-top action set pieces, including escaping an avalanche on a snow-mobile. Ada’s scenario includes some puzzles reminiscent of the ones seen in the original games, and also incorporates stealth elements, but like the melee combat it’s pretty bad.

Leon’s campaign features scenes and elements that manage to evoke similar feelings as those found in Resident Evil 2

Released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Resident Evil 6 received mixed reviews upon release, and fans of the series (myself included) were unhappy with the direction Capcom seemed to be taking the Resident Evil franchise. Whilst Leon’s campaign was received positively for returning to the horror roots the series was known for, the other campaigns were seen as a step back, especially Jake’s campaign. This reaction from the critics and consumers saw the franchise be put on hold, as Capcom realised the next game in the franchise would need to offer something different in order to keep the series fresh. Resident Evil 6 was re-released on current generation consoles with upgraded visuals, alongside Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, so is available to those who may have decided to avoid the game upon release. On a personal note, I only played a part of the game originally before dropping it, but upon replaying it for this article, found the game to be a lot better than I remembered. It has its problems, but is no less playable than Resident Evil 5 and some of the spin-off titles, but is nowhere near the quality of Resident Evil 4, and still lacking the elements that made the original games stand out.

Like the “boulder incident” from the previous game, scenes like this don’t scream Resident Evil to me

With the next game in the series, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard yet to be released, you may think that’s it for this series. However, the sheer number of spin-off titles available in the Resident Evil franchise means we’ve only just begun.