Capcom Co.’s Resident Evil 6 for Sony Corp.’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 is an ambitious sequel that successfully evolves the gameplay and enemies of the franchise. While the title can lose its footing in large-scale action sequences, the title injects new variety and improved co-op action to the series.

Resident Evil 6 features three full campaigns for Leon, Chris, and newcomer Jake Muller. Each includes a secondary character that can be controlled by a local or online co-op player. In addition, users can meet up with new players in special four-player boss sequences, and join other user games as an enemy in the unlockable Agent Hunt mode. A final fourth campaign with Ada Wong is unlocked after the three main campaigns are completed.

New to Resident Evil 6 is an improved control setup which allows users to aim while moving and provide new dodge options to leap to the ground and aim, scoot forward or back, and roll to the side.

The new controls work well to provide dexterity while keeping users a bit retrained against new nimble enemies.

In addition, a new Skills System allows users to equip three Skills can that can be purchased with points accrued in each campaign. Many add offensive and defensive power, along with other perks that can aid in combat.

An option that doesn’t perform as well is the title’s cover system. A ready aim and button press will allow users to pop in and out of cover, however when players use it to peer around walls the camera can swing to an unintended position that requires camera adjustment. The clunky feature is better left unused in most action segments.

All three campaigns feature the largest variety of mutated enemies ever. Each variation is inventive and will have even seasoned veterans working to figure out each new enemies’ weak point. New creatures like Shrieker, which projects a scream that can awake nearby zombies, the obese Whopper and Whopper Supreme, and the dynamically transforming J’avo all provide a catalyst to keep gameplay surprising. In addition, most new enemies are campaign-specific.

Weaponry is similar to prior entries, with handguns, assault rifles, shotguns, and grenade launchers being staples. The revamped item system, which allows users to pick up any item quickly, and the ability to convert herbs into tablets for one-button use streamlines the inventory management.

Survival horror buffs will cling to Leon’s campaign, which includes some of the most well-developed and eerie locations, including a subway station and mob-based battle in Tall Oaks complete with defending bystanders. Action heads will gravitate toward Chris and Jake’s campaigns which involved more action-oriented play comparable to the Mercenaries Mode, though certain moments hearken back to the franchise’s slithery survival horror roots.

The series still works best when it grounds itself toward reality to provide a sense a fear akin to the original entries. A few over-the-top action sequences don’t allow the user to bask into some unsettling set pieces and would have been better relished if more restraint was used in its direction.

Co-op play is improved and provides an excellent buddy experience. In single-player the second AI player is more than able to handle enemies and rarely requires assistance. In two-player co-op action players are separated at many junctures to provide a unique experience for both.

The returning Mercenaries Mode is still a solid side game with solo or co-op users in a race against time to kill as many enemies as possible. Players can unlock new stages and bonus items with each passing grade.

The graphics engine is top-notch at 30 frames-per-second. The MT Framework engine works hard to provide the most detailed characters and environments ever seen in a Resident Evil game. From flowing locks of hair to grimy flesh-bursting hazards, the title is thoroughly convincing in indoor and outdoor locations.

The soundtrack is one of the best in the series. It never bombards the player and is used subtlety to provide unease and is well-integrated into more intense action-based moments. Voice acting is top-notch with an added layer of depth to many main characters.

Resident Evil 6 is the most robust title the franchise to date. The sequel successfully injects new gameplay in three main campaigns with strong enemy variety, brooding atmosphere and 25-plus hours of gameplay. While the title can stumble into less-horrific blockbuster action, the latest formula is the most evolved since the Las Plagas virus of Resident Evil 4.

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