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Resident Evil 6 preview: Hands-on with the new gamescom demo

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'Resident Evil 6' screenshot

© Capcom


Resident Evil 6's demo - the same content which was shown at E3 in June - proved somewhat divisive when it was made available for Dragon's Dogma users last month. The latest look at the game shows that Capcom is going for the full sweep of scares, combining old-school survival horror with tense chase sequences and overwhelming action sections.

Though Capcom's logic is clear to see, there's a sneaking suspicion that the majority of fans would prefer a straightforward horror title, something that seems to be lacking during chapters involving Chris and Jake.

We sampled three more sections at this year's gamescom expo, taking our protagonists through eerie college campuses, war-torn streets and colourful shopping districts.

Resident Evil 6

© Capcom

Resident Evil 6

© Capcom



Leon heads back to school

Continuing with the traditional survival horror approach, Leon's portion of the demo takes place in the seemingly desolate Ivy University campus. The stage for scares is set almost immediately, as Leon and Helena Harper question why the halls are so quiet, pointing out that a campus full of students is the ideal breeding ground for the deadly new virus.

Making their way through narrow corridors and dimly lit lecture halls, it's not long before the game starts to drip-feed us zombies. In moments that provide genuine scares, many of the monsters grab and claw at your feet as you make your way blindly through the rickety old building, sticking to sections that offer the most light.

It's only when you make your way outside that you see the full extent of the outbreak, as zombies shuffle through the gardens, blocking your character's path from one building to the next. Just when it seems that everything is going smoothly, the game funnels players into another narrow corridor, setting off an alarm and challenging Leon and his partner to survive a zombie onslaught.

The reward for making it past the relentless assault is a car, which promises an exit from the city and away from the virus. Somewhat predictably, the vehicle actually offers very little safety, and despite an exciting scramble for the hidden set of keys, it's not long before it veers out of control and you're faced with a trip down into the sewers. It's a well paced level, ending on a real cliffhanger.

'Resident Evil 6' screenshot

© Capcom



Chris takes it to the streets

In stark contrast to the subtle scares offered in Leon's chapter, we join Chris in an Eastern European town that's littered with enemies and populated with soldiers, tanks and armoured vehicles. While Leon's return to college left a lot to the imagination, Chris's mission doesn't give you time to think, assaulting the senses with gunfire, explosions and a never-ending supply of J'avo.

The highlight of this military assault involves a battle with a huge biologically enhanced beast, who stalks Chris and his partner through the narrow streets, destroying everything in its path. Like any boss worth its salt, there's a hulking great weak spot on its back, which can be exploited by shimmying through buildings and taking up higher ground.

Unfortunately, despite this enjoyable and deadly encounter with the screen-filling BOW, Chris's mission is far from a resounding success. The all-out third-person action is betrayed by Resident Evil conventions such as a lack of bullets, something that proved enormously frustrating when your enemies are packing so much heat.

The cover system, meanwhile, is about as useful as a green herb in an emergency room, failing to offer adequate protection or a safe point to pick off enemies. The rows of buildings and cobbled European streets look fantastic, however, and while there's a diverse array of objectives, the mission is definitely in need of a few tweaks and fine-tuning in the gameplay department.


Jake goes shopping

Jake's mission, meanwhile, actually offers a happy medium between Chris and Leon's chapters. It features similar levels of action to Chris, but in far more manageable chunks. The introduction of a new breed of reptilian enemy provides the scares, while the occasional need for Jake and his partner Sherry to split up leaves players feeling vulnerable.

Much like the Hunters from the original game, the scaly new enemies are quick on their feet and scurry after Jake whether he's on the ground or making his way through the rooftops. The action takes place in a colourful shopping district that's seen better days. Finding your way through overturned cars and flaming wreckage isn't always easy, especially with enemies jumping out from the shadows.

'Resident Evil 6' screenshot

© Capcom



Jake's mission also places a greater emphasis on teamwork, isolating one character while the other unlocks a door or unblocks the route. With a plentiful supply of weapon-toting enemies, not to mention the deadly reptile race that burst forth from impenetrable cocoons, the fear of death is always present without the relative safety of a companion to revive you.

Though we can see Jake's levels proving occasionally frustrating, especially with the sheer number of enemies involved, it feels much more in tune with classic Resident Evil games than the action-heavy sections involving Chris. With no sign of the relentless and frightening Ustanah, we see the potential for plenty of scares when it does finally rear its ugly head and mechanical pincers.

'Resident Evil 6' screenshot

© Capcom



After a mixed reaction to the Resident Evil 6 demo, the latest batch of chapters aren't able to fully quell our fears that this won't live up to the highs of Resident Evil 4.

While we don't have a problem with classic survival horror ammo conservation, we do when you're playing a game more akin to Gears of War than Resident Evil.

Hopefully, the team will have a chance to balance any all-out action sections before launch in a few months' time. On the plus side, we witnessed more scary moments in the latest batch of levels than we did throughout the entire duration of Resident Evil 5, so we can, at least, guarantee some thrills come October.

Resident Evil 6 will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 2. A PC release will follow, but has not yet been dated.

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