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Resident Evil 6: Where’s the “survival horror” bit?

Wednesday, 1st February 2012 08:25 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The Resident Evil 6 reveal may have been seized upon with joy but some, but Brenna Hillier’s struggling to understand the action-tastic fuss.

There are plenty of games out there that let you shoot zombies in the face, but there are almost none with the kind of tense, exploratory aesthetic of the first Resident Evils. One trailer does not reveal a whole game, and there’s certainly hope that Resident Evil 6 will take the latter path at least a little, but I cannot understand what the fuss is about.

On the day the rumours of the Resident Evil 6 reveal exploded, I was still sceptical it was actually going to happen. Although the signs were neon bright and blinking, it just seemed so farfetched that Capcom had yet another Resident Evil game in the wings.

The Mercenaries 3D released in mid-2010; Revelations just launched in Europe; and Racoon City is due in March. That’s a lot of Resident Evil in a relatively short space of time, a lot of commitment to ask of a core fanbase a little disenchanted by the action focus of Resident Evil 5.

“Capcom has gone insane,” I opined to my colleagues.

“Wouldn’t you go mental for its 15th anniversary?” Johnny asked.

This is a fair point, and despite complaints from long-term fans, Resident Evil 5 was a major success, shifting close to 6 million units worldwide. I duly ate my corn chip hat when the trailer hit the web; Resident Evil 6 is really truly a thing, and as bizarre as Capcom’s recent approach seems to me, what was even more bizarre was the reaction.

People I’d been talking to about franchise fatigue and the unfortunate evolution of the core gameplay went into the trailer with cynical smirks, and came out facing in precisely the opposite direction with expressions of slack-faced awe. Behind the scenes at VG247, the world-weary Pat and Johnny started fanboying so hard I had to weigh down all my paperwork or lose it to the resulting gale-force winds.

We’re 11 months from release and already the hype train has built up a head of steam likely to drive it right through the inevitable holiday season road blocks. I just don’t get it. What did you all see in there that I didn’t?

Turn-off

What I certainly didn’t see is the return to the franchise’s roots Capcom has been trumpeting since the reveal. Yes, there are some familiar faces. Yes, we’re returning to the US urban setting which proved so popular in the early games.

Beyond that, everything I saw looks like precisely what turned me off the last few instalments.

“This is Racoon City all over again,” Leon Kennedy growls in the trailer, but that is a bald faced lie exposed in the very next scene – over the shoulder shooting – followed by a rapid montage of explosive action heavy on military imagery and the word “terrorism”.

I’m not going to argue that the shooter-style combat introduced in Resident Evil 4 and then refined in Resident Evil 5 isn’t boatloads better than that of the early games. It most certainly is – for a shooter. In the early Resident Evil games, the characters had to be steered like tanks, and the fixed camera made aiming more of a nightmare than the zombie hordes outside, easily avoided with a bit of evasive action. It wasn’t just the limited ammo, inventory slots and health – combat was a fiddly, frustrating affair better left for emergency situations.

I thought, in my naivety, that this was the point – a deliberate aspect of design. In essence, the early Resident Evil games, which are credited with popularising survival horror, were avoid-’em-ups rather than shoot-’em-ups. Going in guns blazing isn’t scary. Knowing your character is constantly on the brink of death, totally underpowered, required to hoard items against bigger and badder threats, and as likely to shoot their own foot than the hulking beast in front of them – now, that’s damn scary.

Gears of Evil? Resident of War? War of Evil?

The path of evolution trod by later releases – and popular opinion – have me marked down as wrong. Capcom has presumably done some research and found out what people want from a Resident Evil game, and its not survival horror: it’s Horde Mode-style waves of shooting.

People don’t want to creep about struggling with awkward controls – they want to shoot zombies in the face. People don’t want to expose stories of madness, greed and corruption through mind-bending puzzles – they want to watch explosive cutscenes and hear dramatic narration. Before shooting zombies in the face.

And, although I’m speculating based on the trailer, they also want to escort an offensively useless and vapid female AI companion around (something the worst ending cut-scene in gaming history should have taught us is never a good thing) before shooting zombies in the face.

The thing is, there are plenty of games out there that let you shoot zombies in the face, but there are almost none with the kind of tense, exploratory aesthetic of the first Resident Evil games, and that’s a shame. One trailer does not reveal a whole game, and there’s certainly hope that Resident Evil 6 will take the latter path at least a little, but on the strength of one trailer, I cannot understand what the fuss is about.

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34 Comments

  1. Takeshi

    I can still remember being on the verge of dying and limping away to get to the door after facing off with a licker in one of the early RE games. And the worst part is that you do not know what is coming since the early games had those fixed camera positions.

    RE4 was also good, and I even managed to enjoy RE5 although it was quite frustrating at certain points. I guess I am not too hung up on the new RE games being different.

    I think it would be cool though to get a new RE which uses the old mechanics.

    RE is different now, but it’s still relevant to me.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Edo

    It has to appeal to a wider audience,didn’t you get the memo :)?

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Erthazus

    CAPCOM is trying to appeal to a wider casual audience.

    Look at Mass Effect 3 for example. Latest trailers have BRO characters in them with “Shoot That shit bro/Gears Of War vibe” moments.

    The only scary TPS game this generation is Dead Space and even the second game suffered from the “Shoot all this shit” syndrome with a lot of pretty cut scenes, although it’s a good game and that’s important.

    and the only great horror and survival game was Amnesia.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. The_Red

    As someone who considers Resident Evil series dead after the 3rd game, I couldn’t agree more.

    Also, 6-8 player co-op!? Seriously Capcom!? You really, REALLY believe co-op doesn’t destroy the “horror” part!?

    #4 3 years ago
  5. silkvg247

    Hm coincidentlaly I was talking to my OH about res evil and she also (naively) thinks the controls were intentional/part of the survival mechanic.

    No.

    It’s entirely possible to have fear factor in a game without forcing the player to panic because of shit controls.

    I do agree the games have lost their soul somewhat, but to me, keeping what made the originals great (limited ammo, easy death, gripping story, dark atmosphere) but with responsive controls (up is up, down is down, rather than rotate and move forwards/back), and with today’s graphics… Well I think that would be one hell of a game.

    Will never happen I guess. Eternal darkness came close, made me panic a few times but not due to crap controls. Due to things happening in the game that were scary, and me controlling a fairly normal/weak dude. Oh and the game royally messed with your head too, which was awesome. But it became less scary once your characters got powerful, and once you were ready for the mind tricks.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. absolutezero

    Siren : Blood Curse and Fatal Frame 4 are the only Survival Horror games released this generation.

    Resident Evil has not been survival horror since 4 rebooted the entire thing.

    Survival Horror is dead, before its time and its potential was even scratched it was put down because of marketing. How do you sell the average person on vulnerability?

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Erthazus

    “Siren : Blood Curse and Fatal Frame 4 are the only Survival Horror games released this generation.”

    Bullshit.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/21/Penumbra-win-cover.jpg
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/62/Amnesia-The-Dark-Descent-Cover-Art.png

    It’s not dead.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. absolutezero

    Amnesia is not a survival horror its a horror adventure there are some of the archetypes of SH but not enough for it to actually be one, Penumbra is but its not this generation.

    Come on keep up. SH is fucking dead. Its too specific and far too niche to be viable anymore. Its my favourite genre and I adore it. Its dead.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. ManuOtaku

    # 5 “I do agree the games have lost their soul somewhat, but to me, keeping what made the originals great (limited ammo, easy death, gripping story, dark atmosphere) but with responsive controls (up is up, down is down, rather than rotate and move forwards/back), and with today’s graphics… Well I think that would be one hell of a game”.
    I agree 100% with your opinion, and IMHO i think Resident Evil 4 came close to this, it had parts that were scary with limmited ammo and dark atmosphere, i did like a lot Resident Evil 4, Resident evil 5 i enjoy it, but i agree with the notion that co-op made it unscary, i hope this game has a lot more in common with 4 rather than 5, but for the information available at this moment ,its not likely at all, i hope iam wrong and this new game really delivers.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Mike W

    It is was pretty evident with Resident Evil 4 that Capcom was trying to take the survival horror out of the series. Resident Evil 5 was a complete disaster. I don’t want to judge 6 (because I didn’t play it yet) but I think Capcom has no idea what they want to do with the RE series. I think I read somewhere that they want to attract or convince the COD fans to come play RE 6, which in English means, “we want the resident evil series to sell like COD”. So they figure the only way to do that is to put co-op mode into their game, which is ruining the series. But to be fair, it’s not all Capcom’s fault for being stupid, it’s also the new generation of gamers that wants a multiplayer mode in every single freaking game.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. ManuOtaku

    #8 “Come on keep up. SH is fucking dead. Its too specific and far too niche to be viable anymore. Its my favourite genre and I adore it. Its dead”.
    dont lose the faith man, maybe silent hill downpour will be the answer, for what i seem so far i think it will be close to the first two games of this series, which is a good indicator, and a reason to keep the flame alive.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Erthazus

    @absolutezero,
    “Amnesia is not a survival horror ”

    so who is bullshitting me, you or Wikipedia?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amnesia:_The_Dark_Descent

    It’s not an adventure game, it’s a survival horror from start to finish. There are all elements from that genre.

    “Penumbra is but its not this generation.”

    Penumbra Overture launched in 2007 aka the start of current generation.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Lahanas

    Developers dont take PC seriously, it’s as simple as that.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. absolutezero

    oh hey look I just removed the Survival from the first part of that wiki article, guess its not a survival horror anymore seeing as you seem to base your entire opinion around wikifuckingpedia. Jesus Fuck.

    Its not a survival horror its a horror adventure. There are elements from that genre.

    See what I did there, you see that? ohhhh good times.

    @MA Downpour just seems to be further raping the corpse of SH2 and forgetting the rest of the series exists. No one seems to be able to get over that game.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. OrbitMonkey

    Nostalgia is a funny thing. People can play the origional RE’s, with all their quirks and love them, because of the fond memories.

    But if Capcom were to release a new Resi, with the same mechanics, these same people would be upset that the series has not evolved.

    Go figure.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. The_Red

    Silent Hill Downpour is a disaster waiting to be unleashed upon the world. It’s one of the few games IGN did a super negative preview prior to its planned released last year. The same IGN that praises almost anything with these kinds of previews.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. DuckOfDestiny

    “mind-bending puzzles”

    As much as I love the first three Resident Evil games, I’ll be the first to admit the puzzles weren’t very “Mind-bending.” They were about as sophisticated as breaking down a door with your face.

    I’ve had more difficulty solving a child’s puzzle book.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Noodlemanny

    I couldn’t stand the clunky controls of the originals and it was a complete game breaker for me. Although having said this at the time of their release I was a little young to be worrying about insanely violent games and when I was at an age where I cared, I was used to more… superior control systems (TROLOLOLOLOL). But seriously over the shoulder is just simply better, I find that it helps if you can ACTUALLY SEE WHAT YOUR DOING.
    BUT this doesn’t mean that a over shoulder control system can’t be part of a survival horror, as this story seems to imply, it just need to get the right pacing. And don’t say that not being able to control what you can see makes it scary because their are other methods of hiding stuff while not simply removing abilities. Or you could try put the camera in a place that makes actual scene, not in a corner that only shows half the room and is at a completely different angle to what you were seeing before. You shouldn’t have to re-calibrate yourself every time you walk though a fuckin doorway.
    I’m sorry, its true, or maybe thats just me.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. TheBlackHole

    This ‘Res Evil 5 was a disaster’ crap needs to stop. It sold over 5 million copies; it was a huge fucking success. Oh, and the 85 metacritic says ‘hi’.

    Yes, it was too similar to 4 to be called revolutionary, but on its own merits it was a perfectly good game that was verging on great when played co-op. Remember that for 360 owners it might have been their first taste of the new style of gameplay, given that 4 wasn’t released on a MS console.

    Res Evil has been moving away from survival horrot since RE3 – have you all forgotten how tooled up you get within the first 20 minutes of the game? No, I’m sure you’re all still pining over the static camera (which was only there because of graphical contraints – see: Code Veronica, and the slow, awkward control scheme, which was outdated at the time.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. Maximum Payne

    How is Amnezia not Survival horror ? There are enemy’s and you can die.
    Simple ass that

    #20 3 years ago
  21. TheBlackHole

    @20

    That’s the most ridiculous logic I’ve ever heard.

    By that argument, almost every game would be a survival horror…

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Noodlemanny

    @absolutezero
    I’d goning to have to side with Erthazus with this one. What do you do in Amnesia? The fact that you can’t directly fight anything makes it way more about simple survival than the kick of action as an adventure game.
    And its defiantly horror, I don’t think I need to justify to anyone who has played it why that is.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. ManuOtaku

    #16 “It’s one of the few games IGN did a super negative preview prior to its planned released last year. The same IGN that praises almost anything with these kinds of previews”.

    Well i guess that confirm my believes then, because if they gave the “not that good games” great previews that means that good games get bad previews dont you think 8D

    #23 3 years ago
  24. fearmonkey

    When they show the character walking through the city, it reminds me of Deux Ex:HR a bit. I havent been able to get into the lat few resident evils. I’ll try this one, but I miss the survival horror feel that the originals had.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. HighWindXIX

    The last RE I finished was Nemesis. Couldn’t get into 4 and had no desire for 5. I can’t deny that the new trailer was exciting and well done but I seriously doubt the game will be horror at all. Thank god for Dead Space. I just hope the devs don’t head further down the action road the started down in the sequel…

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Bringit

    Just because the trailer was massively action packed, doesn’t mean this game will be. There were a few spooky shadows in Leon’s bits. Chris’ bits looked shooter heavy. The other chap’s bits look hand-to-hand.

    Now, the COD comment that Capcom made was actually in reference to Operation Raccoon City. So go easy.

    But it’s not about the bad controls and action. I personally think RE4 is a survival horror because of the atmosphere. It felt like a world, cut off and isolated.

    RE5 didn’t. It felt like a string of set-pieces linked together. It was an ok game. But lacked the Resident Evil atmosphere.

    The RE6 trailer worried me, too. It did look a lot like RE5. But… But… Revelations gives me hope that Capcom can bring back the fear.

    As I say, RE5 was a slight misstep. I still have faith.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. Maximum Payne

    @21 Can you be little bit more open minded ?
    We established that Amnesia is horror game but those 2 were arguing is is it survivor horror or not.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. Epic Fool

    Just remake 2 already… And make it GC (the last true games console) exclusive again. :D

    I liked 4 but 5 not so much, not sure why, they’re basically the same thing. Won’t be buying 6 at launch in any case.

    #28 3 years ago
  29. YoungZer0

    Capcom obviously has lost the sight of what made the series so appealing.

    Oh, RE5 sold better than any other RE Title before? Maybe its because some 12 year olds could play it without getting scared. I remember that would scare me off from completing RE2.

    Maybe it has to do with the fact that Games in general sell better than ever before.

    RE5 killed the series for me. The gameplay is too fast, too action oriented. One action set-piece after another.

    The dialogs are as embarrassing as ever, with people talking about things like “We’re partners, remember?” and other DEEP Stuff. The writing is still on the same level as some kids cartoon. Its like a shitty Michael Bay movie, really. It even has the same amount of sexism and macho-bullshit you expect from his films.

    Remember how they introduced us to the shitty character of Sheva? The very first scene of her is not her, but her ass. Then we see how some guard molests her and she’s like “No touching, brah.” I bet Capcom wanted to say: “Look what a tough woman she is, she tells people in the face that she doesn’t like to be molested.”

    Maybe hire a fucking writer for once, not some japanese guy who’s not familiar with the english language. I bet he’s just sitting there in his basement, watching 80′s action flicks. “‘I’ll be back’ man, that’s awesome, i gotta write that down.”

    But i digress. I started watching the Trailer for RE6 and though: Oh well, still didn’t figure out how to use proper facial animation, but oh boy, this looks like it’s going in the right direction.

    Don’t like Dante- I mean Leons new design, doesn’t look like him at all. Clothes look stupid too. Again shitty dialogs, bollocks scenarios with the president being a zombie. But its still going into the right direction, yeay!

    Huge cut to Chris, talking bullshit about responsibility. For what? I bet the writer was like: Sounds good, lets put it in there. Fooling people that there might be some depth.

    We see hordes of people, shooting between Chris and some gangs. Switching back and forth between many characters, more drama and people we don’t care about. Explosions.

    Cut. New character. Talking about money. Talking about BOW costing extra, implying that they are no problem for him. Showing us Ashley again. More dumb dialog. Showing Hand to Hand Combat. Chopper. More explosions.

    You know, they should just try to make Outbreak 3 or Remake 2 and let the series die.

    Outbreaks Idea was good, the Online service and gameplay wasn’t. There is so fucking much potential there for a new and successful Resident Evil Outbreak.

    But that’s Capcom in a nutshell: Unused Potential.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. IL DUCE

    The problem here is that you grasp at the shitty mechanics they couldn’t make any better back in the day dude…the fluidity of the game makes it a better game since the controls actually WORK…the original RE’s were just not designed well…there’s plenty of other ways to put the survival horror elements in there besides shitty controls and broken mechanics…

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Gigabomber

    RE5 was a great action game and an amazing co-op experience. I don’t miss the old RE controls in the least as they were always incredibly awkward, and I think the transition to first person as a mode of gaming is a massive improvement. The series never held a candle to Silent hill or Fatal Frame in terms of inducing fear anyway, although it did used to be much more frightening.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Brianvii

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Brianvii

    Wow, I thought I was the only one that started hating Resident Evil after the release of 4. All my friends think i’m crazy because of it.

    Ever since that game I have yet to play through an entire resident evil game. I attempted playing 5, but it was so awful I put about 5 minutes into the game before I snapped the disc in half out of anger.

    What’s the point of turning “resident evil” in a mindless action game? There are plenty of other franchises out there that offer that. They should just rename the series something else if they’re going to continue along this path.

    I’ll have to agree with fellow posters that the mechanics and camera of the old games were horrible. You can still fix things without changing the game entirely into something that doesn’t even resemble what it once was.

    The non-existence of zombies in 4 and 5 turned me off to the game. I simply couldn’t appreciate spanish speaking hordes of “las plagas” They were entirely lame and were only “scary” at points in Resident Evil 4 and ONLY in Resident Evil 4.

    Resident Evil 4 is an excellent game in and of it’s own, but it just wasn’t what had come to know and love about the series.

    Resident evil 5 was a pathetic excuse for a Resident Evil game. I don’t understand how having someone following you throughout the game was ever considered a “good idea”

    If the sixth installment has a girl following you. I most definitely wont be buying it.

    I’m perfectly aware they need to change things to expand their fan-base. Sadly, Fanboys of the originals like myself just don’t exist in large enough numbers to make keeping the game how it was economically feasible :(

    That still doesn’t mean it can’t be “survival horror.”
    Epic fail Capcom, Epic fail

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Da Man

    turning resident evil into a mindless action game
    Because old Resi were so witty. So witty.

    #34 2 years ago

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