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'Resident Evil 6': Control issues plague zombie-shooter

The little zombie problem in Raccoon City goes international in “Resident Evil 6.”

Capcom’s latest installment of its horror/shooter saga follows the exploits of three pairs of heroes battling outbreaks of the zombie-creating C-virus in North America, Eastern Europe and China.

Each of the heroes follows a different path and brings his own style of combat to the missions. Series veteran Leon Kennedy starts off by battling the outbreak in North America. Leon’s missions tend to have more of a vintage “Resident Evil” feel, with hordes of shambling zombies milling around underground passages and gloomy buildings

Another old friend, Chris Redfield, begins his portion of the campaign in China. As a member of an elite corps that fights bioterrorism, Chris brings the feel of a military shooter to his portion of he campaign. He tends to get his hands on more powerful weaponry and fight foes who are more super mutant than living dead.

And a new acquaintance, the mercenary Jake Muller, starts in Eastern Europe. Jake’s missions tend to be a little more athletic, with loads of hand-to-hand combat and plenty of climbing and leaping around the battlegrounds.

A fourth "surprise" story line is unlocked when you complete the first three. This involves another old friend, who arrives with a new weapon and different style of fighting.

As the campaign unfolds, the storylines intertwine as the heroes trot around the globe via airplane or flashback. It’s apparently an effort to bring more depth and scope to the game. However, “RE6” still comes off as relatively standard.

Some fans of the series complained that the fifth installment strayed too much into shooter territory, with lots of action — much of it outdoors in broad daylight — and little horror. I’m definitely a shooter fan, so I loved it.

Earlier this year, Capcom leaped into shooterland with both feet when it released “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.” That game offered cooperative missions and online competition, but was cursed with sloppy controls and level design.

The new game starts with the franchise’s traditional horror/survival action but swings into shooter territory after a few missions. Sure, zombies leap out at you, cars suddenly careen menacingly around corners and doors can open into a ravenous nest of mutants, but these are more startling than scary.

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However, the game has a few lingering quirks from its horror days that are likely to turn off hardcore shooter fans. The need to pull a trigger to aim as well as a trigger to fire your weapon prevents the sort of running and gunning that fans of “Halo” or “Call of Duty” enjoy. Even worse, the aiming controls can be downright sluggish. The results were apparent when I played the game with several friends and relatives in the co-op mode. The twitchy-fingered shooter fans handed off the controller before completing a full mission.

Another problem is the over-abundance of quick-time events. At certain points, it seems that you need to press a button every 10 seconds to open a door, crawl through a vent or climb a ladder. At key moments in the story, things get a little less mundane, and a lot more frustrating. A big baddie will pop up and you must frantically mash buttons to save your life. Unfortunately, the controls seem to be at their sloppiest precisely when you need them to be smooth. In one encounter, I died 10 times before finding the sweet spot and killing my foe.

Although I might gripe about these issues, I found the missions and characters entertaining enough to keep me pulling the trigger. The missions are well-constructed and offer a good deal of variety.

I also enjoyed the co-op play, which is available in both split screen and online. Your friend takes the role of the hero’s partner and can be quite helpful in fighting, healing and puzzle-solving.

Online play also gives you the option to jump into someone else’s adventure to control their mutant foes. It can be very interesting.

The game earns its mature rating for gruesome mutations, gore and a large, naked mutant woman.

Bottom line: Control issues are the biggest enemy in “Resident Evil 6.”

Platforms: Xbox 360 (tested on), PlayStation 3

Online: www.residentevil.com/6

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