In Now Playing PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today, Sam kicks zombies forever in Resident Evil 6.
Floppy-haired ’90s washout Leon is targeted by a sniper on a creaky old bridge somewhere in Eastern Europe. He’s a ten-second sprint away from the gunman but walled-in by a mob of zombies in casualwear, the sort of clothing you can get away with if you’re out shopping but is plainly unacceptable if you’re eating at a restaurant. I headshot one of the goons, then perform a sweeping QTE kick that takes a couple of heads off and clears the mob out the way. I dive roll through the laser sight so the first shot misses, sprint along the bridge into a diving skid before arriving on a knee slide and shotgunning the sniper in the face from a low angle for an instant kill.
This is Resident Evil 6, and that focus on ludicrously colourful action is just one reason the majority of older fans hate this modern entry. I enjoyed Resi back when it was a hard-to-control, genuinely frightening adventure with more puzzles than action, but I have as much affection for the last three mainline entries. There’s sophistication buried in Resi 6’s bloated 30-hour wodge of noisy campaign.
That’s where Mercenaries, Resi’s longrunning horde mode, comes in. Tackle the campaign’s versatile movement, headshot QTEs and wide radius melee attacks in seven-minute bursts against 150 enemies in tailor-made combat arenas, and suddenly the language of this critically savaged game starts to make sense. I’m not sure if Resi 6 Mercenaries is actually good or not, but I seem to have played 20 hours in about two weeks, and the cycle of headshots, melee attacks and choice of movement abilities has seen me shun an array of new releases in favour of watching Chris Redfield pick up a zombie by the crotch and head, before lobbing it into three others and making skulls shatter in tandem.
Each level is intricately laid out, and depending on how well you’re able to control the crowds with shotguns, grenades and timed explosives, the dynamic of the battlefield can change instantly. In the brilliant Sea Fortress, I find myself surrounded by snipers on vantage points while sprinting around a huge naval deck. With three laser sights on me, I hit both triggers to perform a jumping dive backwards, avoiding the gunfire in style. On the ground, I switch to magnum and perform precision one-hit kills on every one of my assailants while rolling out the way out of danger, before getting to my feet and finding cover. If only the game actually explained that you can perform such a wide range of cool manoeuvres and on-the-fly counterattacks.
Just as Mercs was getting a bit easy, I selected the PC-exclusive Mercenaries: No Mercy mode instead, which doubles the number of enemies on-screen while also chucking in the cast of Left 4 Dead 2 for some dodgy promotional reason. With 300 enemies to fend off in total, it’s nearly impossible to move if you back yourself into a room while looking for health items. But god damn it, performing a QTE spinning kick attack and taking off four heads at once feels spectacular. There’s something in the design and violent energy of Resi 6’s combat that I believe is worth championing, even if it makes me sound like a buffoon who’s lost all sense of what counts as not shit.
What if there was a third-person shooter that didn’t feel tired and derivative, but the campaign was too frequently terrible for you to actually notice? That’s how I feel about Resident Evil 6. Am I mad, to enjoy a game that everyone I’ve ever known, without exception, considers the worst in the series? Yes, is the answer. Join me.