If I’m being completely honest, 2009 was a bit of a let-down, and not just because it followed the staggering heights of 2007 and 2008, or that so many high-profile titles eventually slid to a 2010 release. Case in point – Resident Evil 5 was my #1 title, purely by default, right up until August. …
Do I? Or don’t I?
My rental copy of Resident Evil 6 arrives either today or tomorrow, and I’m legitimately torn between sending it right back unopened, and actually giving it a go and seeing how far I can sit with it.
I have no great allegiance to the franchise. I think I talked about this when I talked about the demo last week, but to recap: I never owned a PS1, but I played a little bit of RE2 on my friend’s console – definitely jumped off the couch when the dog jumped through the window, but the controls never felt quite right in my hands. I bought Code Veronica for the Dreamcast, and I remember sort of enjoying it, though I never finished it. When I finally bought the Wii, RE4 was one of the first games I bought for it, and I hated it. I fumbled around in the first chapter for 20-30 minutes, fighting the controls, and finally gave up. RE5, on the other hand? Loved the hell out of it. It was goofy, silly, and not at all scary; but it was also gorgeous, and the controls made sense, and it did more to encourage multiple playthroughs than almost any other game I could think of – there were so many cool things to collect and unlock and upgrade.
To say that RE6‘s reviews have been mixed is to put it incredibly kindly. Looking only at the scores and pull quotes, you would think that the reviewers were sent completely different sets of code, from completely different builds. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a discrepancy in scores in such a high-profile game. I don’t know what to believe. (Though the arguments I’ve heard against playing the game sound pretty goddamned persuasive.)
Here’s my deal: I’m not really playing anything at the moment. I’m sorta doing a second playthrough of Borderlands 2 in True Vault Hunter mode*, and at some point I want to give Torchlight 2 another try, and I’ll be devouring XCOM next week. But if RE6 were to arrive today, it wouldn’t be displacing anything in my agenda.
And yet… I’m not in the mood to have my time wasted. Like I’ve said before – RE4 was universally loved, but I hated it. RE5 was met with relatively solid and respectful reviews, but I ended up loving the hell out of it. The reviewers are all over the place on RE6, but the reviewers I generally trust all seem to be in agreement that it’s a massive disappointment… even though they also agree that the game has an astounding amount of content (which scratches that same itch that RE5 satisfied so thoroughly). I’ve heard that it’s at least as long as one playthrough of Borderlands 2, which is, what, 40 hours? Jesus.
Like I said last week (or whenever it was) – I played the demo with no preconceptions and no expectations, and even though I only played one campaign (of the available 3) for around 10 minutes, I wasn’t really all that impressed with what I saw. It was hard to know how much of that was due to the state of the code (the demo does say that it’s not based on a final build), and how much was due to it being actually shitty. And I don’t know how much shittiness I’m willing to put up with, especially when it comes to a franchise that I have no real strong feelings towards.
A lot of my waffling here is partly because I had too much caffeine this morning and needed something to write about; I’m not, like, agonizing over this. But it’s also because I’m torn between (1) wanting to be part of the conversation and (2) being aware that I’m not a professional game journalist and thus the conversation is really just a soliloquy. You’re not going to be missing out on anything here if I don’t end up writing about it.
And yet… I’m just so goddamned curious. RE6 appears to be one of the highest-profile flops of the last few years, perhaps even of this entire console generation. But even with its control issues and weak story and everything else that’s wrong with it, there’s also a lot of stuff in it that sounds quite interesting (at least in theory). That mode where you can jump into a stranger’s game as an enemy? That sounds inspired. (Even if it’s inspired by Dark Souls.)
As it happens, the rest of this week and the upcoming weekend is going to be incredibly busy for me anyway, so I’m not sure I’d get all that much time with it before XCOM starts pre-loading. Which ultimately leads me to ask… why bother?
* In case you don’t know, True Vault Hunter Mode is basically New Game +. You keep your current inventory, your level, and your badass perks, and then you start all over again with enemies that are also levelled up. I’ve played it for around an hour or so, and have already looted an amazing shield, shotgun, and sniper rifle. (Still looking for a better assault rifle, though; it’s my default weapon and I’ve been using the same one for the last 6 hours of playtime.)