A little game called Resident Evil 6 came out yesterday.
While I wait for my copy from Amazon (who goaded me into signing up for a free trial of Prime, fuck you very much), I began to dig around the interwebs for an early review to see if one major publication had gotten a chance to talk about it. It turns out a lot of reviews had been posted by daybreak yesterday, and nobody can seem to come to any sort of consensus on what makes up RE6.
What I found has got to be one of the biggest examples of “mixed reviews” I have ever seen for such a high profile release. There will be much discussion about the game in the coming days and weeks, but at the center of it all will no doubt be its final Metacritic average and what it could spell for the future of Resident Evil. Let’s take a look at what happened and what could happen.
Game Informer is infatuated with it; Tim Turi says the “sheer wealth of satisfying gameplay and insane set pieces has me hooked like [Resident Evil 2] did back then [in 1998].” Destructoid’s Jim Sterling was infuriated with the game, calling it bad enough that the game “at its very best — is so pedestrian, but to screw up in areas that even third-rate shooters manage to get right is something Capcom should find degrading.” IGN and Gamespot once again disagreed, with IGN favoring the same ambition and scope that Gamespot criticized.
I believe the biggest issue here is that Capcom has dug themselves into such a deep hole with so many different camps of fans, there was no possible way for them to get out. Look at all of the different people giving opinions on Resident Evil 6: you have the ones from all the way back in 1996, still demanding a return to form for the series and becoming further disenchanted and incensed every time a core game branches out even farther from the Spencer Mansion that started it all. Then, you have the ones who jumped on board with Resident Evil 4 and do not understand where all these characters like Sherry Birkin are and where they originated. On top of that, you have people who may have never played a Resident Evil game in their lives but scoop up any shit they are handed after being raised on Call of Duty. They see a commercial for the “No Hope Left” campaign and think the game looks cool, regardless of the number 6.
One thing you cannot take away from Capcom is that they tried to please all three of these schools of thought. Unfortunately, that is an impossible task and depending on whom you ask, they may have failed on all three fronts. I cannot speak yet, as I will not have the game in my hands until Friday. I remain excited at the prospect of playing it and will reserve judgment until I finish all four campaigns (Ada’s unlockable story is no longer a secret). What I am going to worry about is the future of the series and if we even get another proper Resident Evil, whatever your definition of “proper” may be.
The evils of Metacritic have been discussed for years, going back to an MTV Geek blog in 2008 that told the story of an anonymous developer who was not paid royalties due to the game being contractually obligated to score high enough. Your first thought should be “Sure, anystrom0, that makes sense for a brand new game, but you’re a shitbird for thinking it could affect a giant like Resident Evil.” I would answer with “Pay attention, fuckstick, and look at today’s business world.”
How many millions of dollars did Capcom unload into the production of the game across two platforms for the past three years? How much money was dropped in advertising for print, internet and TV placement? I watch barely any television and have seen commercials for RE6 for months. The game was moved up from its initial release of some time in November to today. Capcom wanted this game to destroy at retail, and from the look of Amazon’s sales rankings, it will do just that. What I want to know is what Capcom’s definition of a successful game is. RE: Operation Raccoon City was lambasted across the board, even more so than RE6 has been at this point, and it shipped (not sold) two million copies. They called this a “big success,” but this was an outsourced spin-off. Developer Slant Six had to lay off more than 25 percent of their staff three months after the game’s release.
For a core entry, sales of millions across both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 may not be enough. They will want people to love this game, and right now, the press does not. A damning number from Metacritic could have been instrumental in shaping the future of Dead Space, a fact all but confirmed in a recent quote (http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/ea-origin-our-aim-is-to-be-a-better-version-of-steam/) from EA stating they want all their games to score 90 or above on the aggregate total. Dead Space stands at an 89, and look where the series is going. Resident Evil 6 stands to score the lowest in the 16 year history of the series, and regardless of when you started playing them, you can be sure that this could spell serious trouble if you are thinking about Resident Evil 7.
Speaking with Gamespot, RE producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi (who may have just been in troll mode) said that a remake of Resident Evil 2 is “something Capcom would take under consideration” if there is enough demand for it. If the backlash from RE6 is strong enough, Capcom may not have any other choice. At this point, RE4 has topped RE2 in overall sales with over 7 million, and we all know by now what a classic game that was. RE6 has a lot going against it, and this may very well be the last time Capcom invests so much money into the Resident Evil name.