The Generation of the Remaster continues, as companies rush to upscale some textures and slap on some new price tags before getting those rehashes out to stores. Yes, plenty of beloved classics have found new homes on the Xbox One and PS4 thanks to HD remasters. And, uh, Resident Evil 6 has now done the same as well with Resident Evil 6 Remastered. I don’t think we’d call that a beloved classic, but there you have it.
Look, Popzara’s managing editor takes hilarious issue with the fact that I don’t think this game is a complete wash. “It ruined the series,” he once said – but did it really? For my money the death of Resident Evil came about when Capcom itself released Resident Evil 4 back in 2005, while the series was buried even further with the release of Dead Rising a year later. The latter basically took the entire zombie apocalypse concept and made it fun again, but the former? Well…
Let’s be real for a change: up until Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil was about running around dodging zombies while managing inventory spaces so you can pick up the spade key to open the spade door and get the falcon medal to put into a statue that’ll earn you the heart of fire plaque. You’d do all this while doing your best to avoid actually killing any zombies because you might need that ammo for a boss fight. Early survival horror was all about collecting keys while avoiding zombies.
Resident Evil 4, by contrast, was about killing zombies and making a game with combat that wasn’t physically painful, though you’d still have to search for keys sometimes. It was fun. RE5? Also about killing zombies, this time with even less focus on key collection. RE6? Killing zombies, and I can’t recall ever searching for a key outside of a couple scenes that didn’t last long. No wonder die-hard fans of the originals don’t care much for the series past RE4: there weren’t enough keys.
The elephant in the room that needs to be addressed: yes, this is still Resident Evil 6. The transition to PS4 hasn’t turned it into a different game or anything. That means that if you didn’t care for RE6 when it originally came out you’re probably not going to have an amazing time with this one, either.
Why wouldn’t you have cared for RE6 when it originally came out, though? The easiest way to explain it: it’s dumb. The whole game is kind of dumb. The pacing is weird, juttering from extreme action to chill-out walks though buildings like a broken roller coaster. It’s loaded with quick time events, largely considered the dumbest form of game design though really that’s just shorthand for trying to sound like one understands game design. The monsters are dumb; we’ve gone from zombies to what appear to be men that turn into various types of bee depending on where you shoot them.
The plot is incredibly dumb, though that’s not really out of the ordinary for the series; we follow several previous heroes, including Leon, Chris and Sherry, and a few new faces as they do the usual while battling nasties along the way. Contemporary video game criticism doesn’t really like “dumb,” and certainly action movie sequences, QTEs and bee-men aren’t nearly as intellectual as using the club key to find the falcon medal or whatever you did in early Resident Evil games.
What redeeming factors are there for RE6, then? Well…it’s dumb. It’s got solid co-op and if you’re the kind of person who gets a lot out of B-movie horror, then you can do worse than grabbing a friend and going through this one. It’s a bombastic spectacle a significant amount of the time, with explosions and gore flying everywhere, to the point where I’d call it a summer blockbuster of a game. At many points, new hero Jake solves his issues by punching zombies in the face.
There’s nothing artistic about any of it. If you called this game an “experience” you’d have your art-school degree, beret and employment at Starbucks taken away. Fighting off bee-men is actually a good time, and combat in general is pleasant enough with the exception of a few of the boss fights.
In particular, the improved graphics and framerate make the remaster a much more pleasant experience; the remaster runs at 60fps 1080p, like pretty much every video game should in The Year of Our Lord 2016. Other bonuses include the addition of all the original game’s DLC – largely cosmetic – and a bunch of multiplayer modes, including the ability to randomly choose a mode to play if you’re feeling indecisive.
To put all of this another way, I liked Resident Evil 6 Remastered for about the same reason that I liked Sunset Overdrive and Dead Rising: it’s a video game that isn’t trying very hard to be art, which is a breath of fresh air in the current landscape of pretentiousness. It’s a mindless series of explosions that manages to be a good time, especially if you can grab a buddy who will join you in not taking any of it too seriously. It’s also proof that video games haven’t yet grown up, and it suggests that they might not need to just yet. It’s the kind of anti-intellectualism the games industry needs to stay in balance. It is, frankly, worth a look, and this remaster is the way to do it.