PCPlayStation 3Xbox 360

Resident Evil 6 Hands-On: Tension Through Resource Management


While I’m not terribly familiar with the Resident Evil series, I can’t recall any of the characters being quite as acrobatic as Leon in the demo I played.


Most of my demo was shrouded in darkness, but the game wasn’t particularly scary (although admittedly the busy showfloor of PAX is not the best place to experience horror). Instead, it worked towards building tension through resource management. The stage I played through was pretty straightforward, requiring me to run through a number of shady buildings and a dark courtyard before Leon and Helena found a key that allowed them to escape. However, this demo provided me a great opportunity to play around with the different ways that I could kill zombies and finished on a surprisingly tense note.


The first zombie I came across seemed to appear from out of nowhere, and given its proximity, I decided to try a “quickshot.” Tapping both LT and RT simultaneously had Leon draw his pistol and fire at the zombie in a split-second, but used a unit of my stamina. However, the shot knocked the zombie down, allowing me to run over and stomp on its head with RT.


That wasn’t the only move that used my stamina. Given how poor I am at shooting things in games, I’ve always been a fan of hitting stuff instead, and Resident Evil 6 has context-sensitive melee attacks by the truckload. Considering that I was pitted against a number of slow-moving zombies, the first thing I did was run up behind an unaware one and see what I could do. A single tap of RT had Leon grab the back of the zombie’s head and leap forward, smashing its face into the ground as if he were a professional wrestler.


I then proceeded to run up to a nearby zombie holding a broken bottle, and a couple melee hits later, Leon grabbed the broken bottle and stabbed the jagged end into the creature’s neck, killing it. As cool as all of this stuff was,  each connected melee attack would take a segment off of Leon’s stamina gauge. For the most part, I felt comfortable, but when things got a bit busier, I got into trouble.


The highlight set-piece of my demo was a cramped hallway. As Leon and Helena walked through it, the windows broke and zombies started to pour in. This is where things began to get a little more intense. While at first, I felt comfortable punching my way through the crowd—Leon actually smashed one zombie’s face into a broken-glass-covered windowsill—it wasn’t too long until I started running out of stamina.


I was forced to use my guns. While Resident Evil 6 is pretty much the opposite of the previous games in terms of mobility, the sheer amount of options also make it stand apart from other third-person shooters. For instance, if you hold A to run at an enemy, then press LT, Leon will slide under their legs and draw his pistol (and can then be easily flipped around by tapping back on the left analog stick. He can also dive backwards (A and back while aiming) and roll around the floor with pistols akimbo (tapping Y while aiming will swap between using one and two guns). With all this mobility, you wouldn’t expect a number of slow-moving zombies to be any problem, right?


Wrong. While Leon is very good at killing things with his bare hands, zombies can take a couple bullets before going down. Even shooting a zombie in the head can be dangerous, as I occasionally aimed a bit high and only took off a fragment of its skull. They keep coming after this. Each shot you land results in a sizable hole being put into whatever part of your foe you hit, and can even be used to dismember them, but it takes a couple shots or a decently accurate headshot to take one down.


In a normal shooter, this is no problem, but Resident Evil 6 is pretty sparing with the way it doles out ammo. Sure, an enemy might drop some after it’s dead, but I found myself running out of bullets in the middle of some of the more intense fights. Even balancing my gun use with melee would drain me of bullets and stamina (even though I could regain stamina and some health by using pills made out of green herbs assigned to RT).


By the end, I had no choice but to run away, following the game’s marked path as closely as possible. After completing a sequence where I made Leon look around a car for some car keys as zombies surrounded him, he and Helena drove away and I had completed the demo.


Resident Evil 6 will be released on October 2nd in North America for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A PC release is also scheduled for some point in the future.