Resident Evil 6 has plenty to keep any zombie killer busy, if only it would get out of its own way and let gamers get on with it.
Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6
PS#, Xbox 360, PC
There's a moment fairly early on in Resident Evil 6 where the leather jacket-wearing lead character Leon turns a corner in a darkened house and says in his rather cheesy gruff voice: "I've got a bad feeling about this." Given that this is the sixth instalment in a zombie-slaughtering franchise that has spawned comics, novels and more films than Milla Jovovich's physio can cope with, and undoubtedly seen an undead genocide greater than any other creation in history, it's hard not to think: "Well, yes." And, sure enough, this "bad feeling" is confirmed just moments later when, astonishingly, another zombie stumbles forward, arms aloft, for you to blow its head off.
But that isn't to say RE6 is a carbon copy of the others before it. Zombies in darkened houses aside, what was once regarded as one of the scariest games around has this time lost much of the horror that made playing it in the dark something only the bravest of individuals would attempt. Instead, we're given action, and plenty of it.
Shoot, move, kick a zombie in the face, move, shoot, open a door, move, shoot another zombie, stomp on a zombie crawling towards you on the ground: that's the general run of the game, set in a story that brings aboard several characters from the previous REs - including Leon S Kennedy (DS4) and the longtime zombie-killer Captain Chris Redmond - across three separate campaigns.
Unfortunately, the action is constantly interrupted with annoying cut scenes. Open a door, cut. Climb some stairs, cut. At almost every turn, up pops a video sequence that, even when just a second or two long, destroys the momentum and makes you feel like you're almost a bystander in the proceedings.
Even when you're in control, it's all extremely guided and not just via the arrow constantly telling you where to go. If there's nobody to shoot, you often can't raise your gun. If you're not expected to run, you can't. It's disappointing restrictions such as these that only underline the linear nature of it all and make it feel basic compared with others on the market.
And the action scenes, which come thick and fast with zombies jumping through windows, floorboards and anything else they fancy, are painfully repetitive after a while. If you're not shooting or kicking, you're simply pressing particular buttons when they tell you to in order to get past a certain obstacle. Get it wrong, and you'll start again from the last checkpoint.
On the plus side, RE6 is rather big and the three campaigns, plus the extra one you receive once these are complete, make for some extensive gameplay that should eat up a good few weeks of play. And it's clear much of the game has been designed for co-op play, with these three main stories seeing two characters take on the challenge. Then there's the Mercenary mode, which drops you in an area with an unlimited number of enemies to kill as a timer ticks down.
But despite its size, RE6 will probably be a disappointment to fans of the original fright-fest. In ditching the spine-chilling horror element, Capcom has transformed what held a regular spot in lists of Most Scary Games into a somewhat average actioner that few would suggest is among the best.
Obviously, shooting a zombie to the floor and then stomping on it as it crawls towards you is something many gamers would consider rather a lot of fun, but even that can get a bit tiresome after a while.