Resident Evil 6 strikes new audience
Lots of people have been talking about the latest zombie apocalypse game from Capcom. As the most recent chapter in a storied franchise, Resident Evil 6 deserves the attention. Capcom might wish more of the attention was positive, but the developers made a decision to change aspects of how the game played, and for better or worse they’re finding out what fans think of the modifications.
So many gamers have a history with Resident Evil. I’ve been known to complain about the controls in some recent games, believing them to be a throwback to a time when control schemes were limited by the processing power of the gaming hardware. In my short time with the game, I’ve seen the influence of Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising games in that the environments are more expansive, the number of enemies on screen at any given time much greater than with previous Resident Evil games.
There are also more action sequences when all players need to do is click the correct button at the correct time. In these moments, players have little control over the action of their characters and no choice in the decisions being made.
We can assume that new, younger gamers have different expectations. And the developers of RE6 are on the record as saying that they wanted to make changes to the franchise so it would appeal to a broader audience than the 30-year-old and older fans of the classic game Resident Evil, released in 1996 for the PlayStation, and 2005’s Resident Evil 4.
So, leaving aside the mostly negative reviews—a couple of balanced articles include Scott Jones’s on in the Gameological Society and Evan Narcisse’s on Kotaku—I wanted to find out what a player with no history with the franchise would think of the latest game in the series.
So I found a play tester to help me. Liam is a 12-year-old who has an Xbox 360 and is very familiar with the PS3 and Wii consoles.
I asked Liam’s parents for permission to introduce him to RE6 in a two-hour session. The game is rated mature, for adults only, but as with many kids his age, he’s already playing many M-rated games. The ESRB ratings are to guide parental decisions; Liam’s parents believe him to be sophisticated enough—and after spending some time with him, I agree—that he can play some games with violent imagery.
Lately, Liam has been playing Borderlands 2 and Skyrim. He’s played Fallout 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and horror games like Dead Island and the shooter series F.E.A.R. He’s also plays sports games like FIFA and NHL, and considers the Lego games to be favourites.
He was clearly familiar with Resident Evil as a franchise, even if he hadn’t played a game in the series before. When asked about his expectations for RE6, he said it would be a game in which his character would be trying to find a cure for a zombie apocalypse, helping other people to survive. He also said that he figured he’d be playing a shooter.
Liam’s expectations indicated his inexperience with the Resident Evil games. Previously, they haven’t been shooters, where ammunition is plentiful and the objective is to shoot as much as possible. Resident Evil games have been about inventory management and squandering supplies. Player movement and perspective has been restricted. These are among the things that have been changed in RE6.
As with most 12-year-olds with lots of gaming experience, Liam had no trouble figuring out the basic controls and getting through the initial tutorial section of the game. He also figured out how to combine items in his inventory, something that is important in the Resident Evil games. I assumed Liam found this instinctive because of his experience playing Skyrim, which allows for a similar kind of item combination.
But at first, Liam was not exploring the environment searching for essential ammunition or health-boosting herbs. At the end of the session, he explained that he hadn’t thought there was a need to explore. But when he ran out of ammunition for his weapons, he changed his tactics.
Overall, RE6 was a “cool game, with lots of twists and turns”, said Liam. “The flashbacks are cool for people who don’t know the game, to get more of the story.”
Combat, said Liam, was moderately difficult. He found the melee combat to be “glitchy and hard” but enjoyed playing the game, giving it a 9 out of 10. “If they make a RE7 I’ll probably buy it,” he said.
Despite some of the criticisms, it seems, Capcom’s desire to find a new audience for its Resident Evil franchise may not be so far off the mark.