I played Resident Evil 2 Remake back in October and since then I’ve been making my way through this franchise for a future Love/Hate series. I’m on Resident Evil 6 at this point and was dreading and looking forward to it in equal measure. I went in well aware of the reputation that this game has, but was more than willing to give it a shot. While I think the game is a mess (which I will go into with plenty of detail when that Love/Hate series comes out), there was one chapter in particular that went so far off the rails that it went from being awful to a transcendental masterpiece.
A big caveat here before we begin: I took edibles before playing this chapter and they kicked in about halfway through, making this experience even more baffling and surreal for me as I struggled to make sense of any of this nonsense. It was so baffling that I rewatched this whole chapter on a Youtube let’s play just to make sure it was as incomprehensible as my drug-addled mind believed. I was not disappointed and neither will you if you check it out.
The chapter in question is Chapter 4 in Chris’ campaign. Context is everything in this story, so let me set the stage for you so you understand what has happened in this game up to this point. Chris’ campaign opens with him as a drunk amnesiac who gets pulled back into duty by his second in command, Piers Nevan. They investigate a bioterrorism incident in Lanshiang involving mutant soldiers known as J’avo. This chapter ends with the building getting bombed and Chris and his men barely making it out alive. Chapter 2 then flashes back to an earlier bioterror incident in Eastern Europe where J’avo had turned a city into a warzone. Chris leads his men through the city til they encounter someone calling themselves Ada Wong. However, she betrays them and infects all of Chris’ men with a virus that mutates them into monsters. Chris and Piers barely escape, but Chris couldn’t handle the loss of his men and so became the drunken, amnesiac, PTSD-ridden soldier we met at the start of the game. The story then returns to the present, where Chris discovers that Ada Wong has been spotted in Lanshiang and he goes on a revenge quest to kill her, which once again results in the death of all of his men (except Piers). When he finally catches up to her, Chris discovers he’s not the only one after Ada Wong, because Leon Kennedy shows up and stops him from killing her. After a brief pep talk, Chris decides he doesn’t want revenge anymore… it’s seriously that sudden. Anyway, Ada escapes and Leon and Chris split up, with Chris and Piers pursuing Ada. There’s a ridiculous car chase before Ada escapes to an aircraft carrier, where you and Piers pursue her.
So, with that all said, Chapter 4 opens in about the most boring way possible. Chris’ campaign has clearly been trying to ape the gameplay and tone of Call of Duty and Chapter 4 opens with the most generic, low-quality Call of Duty map you could ask for. You’re in the hangar of an aircraft carrier and have to fight your way from one side of the hangar to the other, using shipping containers as cover against the snipers raining fire down on you and the J’avo (who suddenly look like Metal Gear Solid 2 tengu soldiers) swarming you relentlessly. It’s a particularly tedious and annoying fight, especially because the J’avo weren’t dropping much ammo for me. This is also a very large, wide-open area and I completely missed picking up a sniper rifle hidden away in a random room at the start of this mission which would have helped a lot. As a result, I was constantly struggling to actually deal with all the enemies that were getting thrown at me and eventually I had to just rush for the objective. There was a bulkhead on the far side of the hangar that we had to break through and when we get to it I discovered that I had to head up some stairs onto a gangplank over the hangar and then turn around back to where I started and launch a missile that was hanging over the starting area. Then you get the privilege of fighting through the shipping containers all over again, oh joy! So you move up the hangar again and then find that a set of stairs was retracted, so when you get to the far end you have to go through a side-door and reactivate the stairs… which places you back at the starting area and you have to fight through the containers AGAIN (but this time there’s a jet on a turn table shooting at you). Having to fight through the hangar twice felt like padding, having to fight through a third time feels like a joke. This whole section of the game was awful and tedious but it inadvertently lulled me into a sense of boredom that was about to get shattered.
Anyway, you finally get out of the goddamn hangar and get this weird cutscene where Ada has a private conversation with the bad guy in Leon’s campaign, except for some reason she’s having this conversation over a loudspeaker which broadcasts it to the entire ship. Wow, Ada sure is a great super-spy isn’t she? This is literally the sort of material you’d expect out of a spy comedy film and here it’s played totally straight. I’m not really sure why they needed to have Chris and Piers listen in on this conversation anyway. It’s about as stupid and pointless an exposition dump as you could imagine.
From here, you get into a few quick fights in corridors and rooms as you make your way to the ship’s bridge to catch up to Ada Wong. This part is actually reasonably enjoyable in its own right – not only is there a sense of urgency because you keep catching glimpses of Ada just ahead of you, but there’s progression and some actual craft behind the gunfights you get into with the J’avo here. Soon enough, you catch up to Ada and Chris decides that this whole revenge quest he’s been on is no longer about revenge, it’s about “Justice” and so he tries to take her into custody instead of killing her. Ada reveals that she’s about to launch missiles to create zombie outbreaks around the world when suddenly a freaking helicopter appears behind her and shoots her to death. Wait, what the fuck!? Just like that, the whole narrative drive of this campaign is gone halfway through the fourth chapter, now we’ve just got to clean up the mess she left behind.
Chris decides that the best way to deal with these missiles is to get to the hangar so you run off to do that, urgently. You’re immediately faced with a really annoying road-block – a locked door that requires three passcodes to enter. Wow, this imminent missile launch definitely seems like the right time to make the player go on a ten-to-fifteen minute side quest! Jesus Christ. Not only is the area that these three passcodes have been hidden in an absolute maze that easy to get lost in, this is also where the developers decided to confine their Regenerator-wannabes who only show up here and never again in this campaign. While they are clearly modeled after the Regenerators, complete with their own breathing problems (which sound more annoying than creepy), they’re kinda pushovers in comparison because you can kill them with a bit of firepower… so, in other words, like any other enemy in this game.
Anyway, I was slogging through this side quest and this was around the point where the edibles really started kicking in and I realized I had long forgotten what it even was that I was supposed to be doing or why. This whole segment of the game is clearly padding out the chapter, at the cost of bringing the game’s pacing to a screeching halt. My drug-addled mind was having a really difficult time remembering what the fuck was going on in the game, but by the time I got those three passcodes and was able to advance I was not prepared for what came next.
That hangar bay Chris was trying to get to? It never really clued in to me that he wanted to go fly a jet. Not only that, but for once this isn’t going to get confined to a QTE-sequence, the game literally expects me to fly the jet. So imagine me, already confused and high out of my mind when suddenly the game turns into a fucking Steam Early Access-quality arcade flight game! Let me explain just how insane this is: this gameplay segment lasts, like, two minutes, tops. The devs went to the effort of designing an entire arcade-style jet fighter minigame and give you no time to get used to it. It would almost be impressive, except for the part where it controls horridly. Like I said, not only did they have to design this within the engine they’re already using for the rest of this game, but they have to make it as simple as possible so players can understand how to play it immediately. Now, I’m no stranger to arcade flight games – I’ve played a couple Ace Combat games, Rogue Squadron, Battlefield, etc. However, because this flight sequence is using Resident Evil 6‘s control scheme as its base, it’s not using traditional flight controls (eg, left/right control roll, up/down control pitch) to treat this jet like it’s an airplane. Instead, it’s using Resident Evil 6‘s normal movement controls to treat the jet like a human that can’t stop moving forward (eg, left/right on the left stick make the jet yaw hard in that direction and up/down on the right analog stick controls the pitch). Suffice to say, I was all out of sorts with this control scheme and it probably wasn’t (only) the drugs that were making it so difficult to understand. The way this whole sequence is put together reminds me of the Fallout 3 train hat, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was all sorts of sorcery involved behind-the-scenes to make this sequence actually work in-engine. It’s glorious and by this point I was laughing my ass off at the absurdity unfolding on my screen.
It only gets better though. Piers jumps out of the plane and runs over to deactivate the missile, instead of, y’know, landing right beside it or shooting the fucking missile with the goddamn jet. Since I was playing Chris, the game then turns into a sequence where you hover in mid-air and provide air support to Piers (which, being honest, sounds really boring for the person who gets stuck playing Piers in this scenario). Oh and to make things even better, suddenly a giant fucking mutant J’avo appears from under a tarp and starts chasing after Piers. By this point I had completely lost it, I was laughing my ass off at how absurd this level had gotten. To make things even better, my wife happened to call at this time (she was away seeing family that evening) to say good night and in my drug-induced delirium I tried to explain just how batfuck crazy this level was. That went about as well as you could expect.
Anyway, despite all your efforts one of the missiles gets away “because plot” and Chris and Piers feel bad. While this is technically the end of the chapter right here, the lead-in to Chapter 5 is just as ridiculous and bears mentioning. Chris and Piers are just chilling in their airplane when they get a radio call from Leon telling them to go rescue Jake and Sherry Birkin at an underwater lab. Oh, also, Jake is Albert Wesker’s son, which Chris clearly holds against him. They do what Leon said and head down an underwater elevator, where Chris tells Piers that he’s going to retire when this is all over and that Piers will be his successor. Like, recall what I said earlier – the whole point of this campaign was Chris wanting to get revenge on Ada Wong for killing his men and that got resolved halfway through the last chapter. By having a whole other chapter after that point, the game suddenly has to come up with entirely new directions to take the characters and story which ring hollow given how rushed they are. This is the problem with the way Resident Evil 6 structures its four campaigns – they aren’t four self-contained narratives that, combined, tell a wider story. Instead, they’re three four that weave in and out of each other inextricably. As a result, you’ve got the actual story of Chris’ campaign told by the end of Chapter 4, but then we need Chris and Piers to provide co-op in Jake’s campaign so suddenly they’re given a whole other chapter to go resolve things for someone else’s story. The result is four campaigns that are trying to tell one epic narrative but instead tell four unsatisfying narratives.
Resident Evil 6 has been a ridiculous, insane trainwreck and I have to say that Chapter 4 was undoubtedly the best experience I’ve had in the whole game. The way that it goes from boring tedium to full-on batshit lunacy with a straight face the entire time is just baffling when you sit down and think about what the game is actually making you do. I’ll have a full Love/Hate out for Resident Evil 6 when I’ve gotten through a couple more games in the franchise, so hopefully that will be done before the end of the year. In the meantime, I had to give this chapter its own entire write-up because holy shit did it ever leave me in hysterics.