Resident Evil 6 Hands-on Preview -- You Can't Go Wrong with Ada WongBy Kevin Kelly - Posted Aug 01, 2012
Resident Evil 6 continues to shamble slowly towards our consoles, and Capcom is still trickling out new features and modes for the eagerly awaited next installment in their flagship horror franchise. The Japanese developer recently opened their hallowed doors in Osaka to G4, and we were able to take an inside look at the game with the development team as they showed off two new features. Afterwards, there was some quality hands-on time with both the new stuff, and the demos that were created specifically for Comic-Con last month.
So what’s new? Capcom pulled back the curtain on the fourth and final campaign in the game: Ada’s Story. You’ll play through this campaign as Ada Wong, and her story overlaps with all three of the other campaigns. You’ll encounter the other characters from the game, and even team up with them in crossover moments that bring all of them together. However, you can only unlock Ada’s campaign after completing all of the other campaigns.
Also brand-new to the series is the Agent Hunt mode, which actually lets you step into the shoes of an enemy in the series, and play in other players' campaigns online, but only after you’ve completed those campaigns yourself. There’s a menu choice that allows you to turn this mode on or off if you just want to face your standard baddies, but if you choose to leave it on, random players can and will try to take you down. You’ll play as one of several different enemies in the series, beginning as the mask-wearing, sword-bearing J’avo, and then chagning into the different forms they can mutate into.
You can have four players playing simultaneously in Agent Hunt mode, with two players co-opping through the standard campaigns, and you and a cohort playing as the enemies. It’s a nice twist on griefing, as you’ll actually be given the same tools that the game would normally use to try and take down another player. It only works within Jake, Chris, and Leon’s campaigns, but it’s a nice twist to the series, and will be familiar to players of Left 4 Dead.
Ada’s campaign is meant to be a different way to see the game, as you are playing inside of the other campaigns. You won’t be following exactly the same storylines, as Ada had missions of her own, but you do encounter the other characters and in some cases work in tandem with them.
We were shown Ada’s Story inside of Leon’s campaign, which makes sense given that the two of them have had such strong ties together over the course of the series. In fact, when Leon first sees Ada, she remarks, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
But before they have their face to face, Ada has to solve several puzzles. Her campaign is much more of a “Horror/Spy” story, according to producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, which is reflected through her usage of multiple tools, like her grapple and her crossbow, which is outfitted with different types of arrows. Her HUD looks like a holographic cube, befitting a secret agent, and grants her the ability to change her sight from a dot, to the classic Resident Evil laser sight. She can even change the laser's color to stay at the height of zombie-killing fashion.
Clad in tight leather pants and a red top, Ada’s gameplay consists mainly of solving puzzles, although there are times when she’ll have to stand and fight. Her crossbow’s standard arrows can pin an enemy to the wall, which you’ll need to do for some puzzles, while the pipe bomb arrows are good for thinning out zombie group situations. She’s fairly agile and able to use her zipline in order to reach certain places, although it’s contextual, so you can’t grapple whenever you want.
She is able to carry an arsenal of weapons besides her crossbow, such as an assault rifle, a handgun, a sniper rifle, and a shotgun, and you’ll need those in close quarters combat, as it takes far too long to reload your crossbow. She’s a bit of a lone wolf, with no partner to help her along, but she does have crossover moments in each campaign, and this one puts her in an awkward situation with Leon and Helena.
Of course, it probably isn’t helping matters that Ada has just fired a (SPOILER WARNING) crossbow bolt directly through the forehead of Helena’s sister Debra, but in Ada’s defense, Helena was in the process of mutating into something hideous. In fact, Ada’s bolt does little to stop that from happening. Debra erupts into a multi-armed creature before crashing through the floor, separating Leon and Helena. This is where Leon and Ada help each other get down to the ground, aided by Helena from across the chasm left by the collapsing floor.
Our time with Ada was brief, working through one large puzzle which consisted of several smaller puzzles, and then the battle with Debra, who is fairly hard to beat. We’d love to know how she works with Chris and Jake in their campaigns, but so far she’s a smart-assed spy who is fun to play.
The three other demos that Capcom had on-hand for Resident Evil 6 were the builds they had prepared for Comic-Con 2012, and we played through all three of them. Capcom has gone a long way towards making each campaign feel different and unique, down to each character having their own HUD: Leon’s is a cellphone interface, Jake’s is a holo-cube similar to Ada’s, and Chris’ is a radial wheel that feels straight out of an FPS.
But, each character has their own style of play, and they are equipped with a partner to help them get through hairy situations and to drive the story along dramatically.
- Leon: trapped inside Ivy University and framed for the murder of the president, Leon and Helena have to battle their way to a nearby cathedral in search of answers. In the demo, you’re armed with a wide array of weapons, but in the actual game you’ll have to pick them up as you progress. Leon’s handgun comes in handy (pun intended) in the university corridors full of standard zombies who spring to life when certain events are triggered. Thankfully, there are fire extinguishers sprinkled liberally around this environment, which provide a smokescreen and cover when shot.
- Chris: Armed to the teeth and fighting a brand-new type of enemy that can wield weapons and use strategy to try and flank you, Chris and his BSAA partner Piers fight through in a standard shooter scenario, armed with multiple types of weapons and grenades. Near the end, you’re tasked with taking down a gargantuan opponent with only one weak spot, and that will require multiple clips of ammunition.
- Jake: In Jake’s demo, you and Sherry Birkin face the J’avo, an enemy who can mutate when fired upon and change into different, disfigured creatures. These include an enemy with one massive arm that can reach out and pull you in or slam you to the ground, and one reptilian-looking creature that can spit needles at you and emit poison clouds. If that’s not enough to deal with, the standard J’avo are armed with machetes and guns as well.
While all three demos have the similar goal of clearing the level of enemies and moving forward, each plays very differently. Leon and Helena move slowly through Ivy University, facing spooking sounds and dark hallways. Chris and Piers run and gun through a war-torn setting, facing enemies armed with rocket launchers and automatic weapons. Jake and Sherry clamber through a neon-punctuated urban environment, facing waves of oncoming J’avo.
While it’s exciting to see Resident Evil back, especially in a game that is bigger than Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 combined, it doesn’t feel entirely perfect. The controls feel wonky, especially given the fact that you have to be zoomed in by holding the left trigger in order to trigger a dodge or a roll by hitting the A button. Ada also has to be in aiming mode in order to change the type of arrow she has equipped by pressing the Y button while holding down the left trigger.
Although it’s nice to see the green herbs turned into pills you can easily swallow, popped out from what looks like a Tic Tac box, you have to hold down RB and then press X in order to refill your pill dispenser, and it’s often hard to tell how many doses are left in that dispenser, meaning that if you try to refill it when it’s not empty, you’ll end up popping a pill.
With a cadre of shooter games coming before it, things like weapon and item selection in Resident Evil feel outdated and overly complicated. When all you want to do is equip a new weapon and shoot zombies, RE6 can frustrate you when you aren’t instantly rewarded with a fresh clip and a new firearm. But from what we've seen so far, the game manages to hold onto its survival horror pedigree with the storyline and the multiple campaigns, and we’re still excited to square off against the full game in October.