I've been playing a lot of Resident Evil 6 lately.
Why Resident Evil 6, you may ask? It's not that Resident Evil 6 is a great game. I don't have a ton of time for gaming these days; why pick that particular game?
Well, for the same reason why I've played about a jillion hours of Resident Evil 5: because of its co-op. If you're on the PS3, and you're not playing Borderlands, and if you don't like side-scrollers, then Resident Evil 5 & 6 are simply the best cooperative games there are.
(There's a certain level of irony to this, because classic Resident Evil fans tend to hate the coop, because having a partner inherently strips some of the survival horror out. But frankly I wouldn't be playing the series if it weren't for coop because there are so few coop games out there. Jesus.)
And I am pretty much primarily playing coop games these days. I have a personal rule that I won't be playing single-player games until I get to a certain point of my novel - possibly not until I finish it, unless I get ahead of schedule 3/4 of the way into this draft and need a break.
RE5 & 6 are full of flaws, even when you're just picking on gameplay. RE5 is the worst offender: Not being able to move and shoot at the same time during gameplay is just the start, along with a clunky inventory system, awful melee and a ridiculous love of shitty Quicktime events.
RE6 takes a couple steps backward: inventory can only be modified in-game, which is annoying - it would be more immersive but let's not kid ourselves about Resident Evil's immersion here. But thankfully it takes even more steps forward - you can move and shoot at the same fucking time! Melee is actually a ton of fun! Inventory is less clunky! There's a setting you can turn on to get around of most Quicktime events! It's all around more entertaining to play.
The story of both games is appalling. RE6 is slightly better than RE5, but not by much. When it's not bad, it's confusing, and when it's not confusing, it's bad, and usually it's both. But I'm not playing for the story anyway; admittedly the attempt at a story is an improvement over Borderlands' fetch-quest-slash-grind method, but that doesn't make it not appalling.
The terrible story gets a little more fun (okay, a lot more fun) in RE5 when you unlock ridiculous fetish-y outfits for both characters to wear through all those awful cutscenes. Sadly, so far that's not the case for RE6.
Both games feel like you just wouldn't want to finish them if you were only playing solo play.
Resident Evil 5's gameplay is simply too aggravating until you get used to it; it's a ton of fun now, but required a lot of investment to get there that only seemed worth it in cooperative play.
Resident Evil 6 fares a bit better, with the first two-thirds of the first campaign being pretty awesome. (There are four campaigns, by the way. This is a long fucking game. Each single campaign is ... around half to two-thirds as long as the entire campaign of Resident Evil 5.)
Unfortunately... the second campaign of RE6 gets pretty shitty if you haven't unlocked a bunch of skills to make killing things easier. And if you're not willing to point farm, well, fat chance there. And the characters in the second campaign are the least likeable or interesting. We actually took a several-month break from the game in aggravation after getting through the second campaign, before coming back, point farming, and actually having fun (gasp!) with the third campaign. (We're about to start the fourth, which I hear is supposed to be actually pretty good.)
So again... if it wasn't coop, I wouldn't have returned to the game.
But the coop is just marvelous. It's hard to emphasize how much fun it is, especially in RE6. Both games seriously suck you in by actually stacking up rewards for completing campaigns or accomplishing certain goals. Primarily, in both games you can buy skills or abilities or costumes with points earned by playing the campaign/s. And you can play the campaign/s over and over with all those purchased points. It's hard to overestimate how much replay value this adds to the game, especially - again - if you're playing coop. And the games get more fun as you earn more abilities and ratchet up the difficulty.
Both games also have a non-story mode called "Mercenaries", which is 'just alright' in RE5, but more fun in RE6, mostly because the gameplay is much (much) better and partly also because you can purchase abilities specific to Mercenaries in RE6. In both games, playing Mercenaries earns goodies for the main game too. My partner and I are playing a lot of this right now.
Heh. This was going to be an analysis of the problematic aspects of Resident Evil's character portrayals... yet I've segued into a goddamn game review, and I'm mostly out of time. Time to change the post title to "Part 1" and move on to "Part 2" next week. In Part 2, I'll address the character stuff, and I'll also note anything I missed in Part 1.