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The latest in a long line of games pitting man and woman versus zombies, Resident Evil 6 was shown off at Microsoft's recent conference at gaming convention E3. As time's gone by, the game's morphed from a claustrophobic, fright filled, survive-at-all-costs experience, into more of a Hollywood thriller, with a twisting plot, plenty of over the top action, and all the rippling biceps you could expect from cinema's finest, wrapped in a layer of cheese that only Resident Evil can provide.
The plot revolves around a pharamaceutical-company-gone-rogue known as Umbrella, who've been conducting a number of secret experiments, infecting unwilling test subjects with a virus known as the T-Virus. Intended to make them stronger, faster, and harder than every before (and therefore let Umbrella either take over the world, or rent its new super soldiers out as mercenaries for hire), the virus inevitably goes horribly wrong, and turns its infectees into mindless zombies that simply want to eat things - mostly, you. Set in 2013, some 15 years after the original T-Virus outbreak of the first game, Resident Evil 6 sees a terrorist group known as Neo-Umbrella leading a series of bio-terrorism attacks using an evolved zombie virus (now known as the C-Virus) that's spread across the entire planet, from the suburbs of America to the bustling city of Lanshiang in China. With the fate of the entire planet at stake, it'll take more than just one man to save the day - even if he does have the largest arms in the world. What it'll take is a team. Avengers - assemble!
And much like the Avengers in the recent film, the team in Resident Evil 6, tasked with controlling the zombie outbreak, and saving the world, split into teams to get the job done - effectively giving the game three separate storylines, each featuring its own pair of protagonists (yes, it's still co-op - both online, and on the same console).
The first team we were shown was made up of Leon S Kennedy, long time friend of the President of America and his partner, Helena Harper, a secret military agent and former presidential bodyguard. Unfortunately, Helena doesn't seem to be very good at her job, as the President soon becomes infected with the virus, leaving Leon with no choice but to put him out of his misery - making poor old Leon a wanted man in America, and forcing the pair to flee to China to try and uncover the reason behind the outbreak.
The second team of playable characters consists of Chris Redfield (still working for the B.S.A.A. (the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, a group he founded to try and put a stop to the vast amount of bio-organic weapons that were appearing on the black market)) and his partner Piers Nivans. The B.S.A.A. are called in to stop the initial outbreak of the virus, but after a run-in with Neo-Umbrella (a terrorist group, linked to the former pharmaceutical company, that seem to be behind the recent attacks) the mission goes belly up. Blaming himself for both the loss of his team on that ill-fated mission and then the following attacks on America and China, Chris starts on a downward spiral of depression, vowing to make everyone in Neo-Umbrella pay for what they've done.
The last team is headed up by a newcomer to the franchise, Jake Muller, a mercenary who's apparently the son of the main antagonist of Resident Evil 5 and general series baddie, Albert Wesker. We're shocked that Wesker actually had time to consummate a relationship in amongst all the ridiculous plans for world domination, and we'd imagine the fact he has glowing laser red eyes may have put off any potential partners, but there you go. Being the son of Wesker means that he's got special blood, as Wesker, the normal looking guy who's actually a genetically engineered monstrosity, spent an awful lot of his time injecting himself with various viruses in order to make himself stronger. This has (somehow) resulted in Jake being immune to the virus currently ravaging the planet, which could potentially result in a cure for the virus being extracted from his blood. Being a mercenary, however, he's not going to give up his blood before anyone stumps up the cash for it. He teams up with Sherry Birkin, the daughter of William Birkin (the mad scientist who created the G-Virus, yet another of Umbrella's dastardly creations, from Resident Evil 2), after the pair cross paths in Edonia.
With full support for split-screen co-op, you'll be able to have a friend drop in and join you for the adventure - which is definitely a good thing, as it seems you'll need an helping hand keeping track of the story! As you may expect, the partners on each team have their own individual styles of combat, with Leon and Chris' using a wide range of weaponry to take down as many zombies as possible, and Jake seeming much keener to get up close and personal with the undead hordes - presumably being immune to the virus means he doesn't need to worry as much about getting bitten, so Jake's main mode of attack is hand to hand combat, which'll see you judo throwing zombies on your way to safety.
Another main difference in Jake's story is the inclusion of Ustanak, a creature that seems to be the spiritual successor of the Nemesis from Resident Evil 3, being as it is an unstoppable monster that stalks Jake throughout Europe, hungry for his blood. What Ustanak would want to do with his blood once he's got it remains to be seen, but we doubt it's anything nice.
With three separate story lines going on simultaneously, the various teams are bound to bump into each other on numerous occasions. This allows Resident Evil 6 to push the boat out even further when it comes to co-op play. At these points in the storyline where the paths of two teams cross, the new "crossover" mechanic allows for four real players to play together. We're yet not sure how this mechanic will be incorporated into the story mode (will it simply find you another pair playing the same section online at the same time?), but four player Resident Evil sounds like a winner to us.
Another new addition for Resident Evil 6 is a levelling system, which allows you to upgrade your character's reload speed, increase the damage their attacks inflict, or upgrade their health with skill points gained from defeating enemies, letting you tailor your character to your weaknesses. We know where all of our skill points will be going first.
You can watch the E3 trailer here:
With a new characters, new enemies, and a wealth of new features, Resident Evil 6 is looking to right a number of the wrongs of it's predecessor while still moving forwards. With a launch date set for October we should be getting lots more information over the coming months, so be sure to check back soon!