Rarely do reviewers agree on a great deal, particularly in foundling fields such as game journalism, and yet critics from competing sites - typically so desperate to distinguish themselves - have conspired to rip Resident Evil 6 to shreds.
Well, it ain't right. And I'm telling teacher.
Giant Bomb, a resource near and dear to my heart, is one of the biggest bullies: "Resident Evil 6 is a big-budget disaster on the order of the Star Wars prequels, a sprawling production that clearly required so many individual talents to bring it into being, you can't help but wonder how the end result could have turned out so bad."
At least Destructoid's reviewer quantifies his problems: "Listlessly wallowing in the depthless waters of homogeneity, Resident Evil 6 is a coward of a game, afraid to make its own individual mark in the industry and cravenly subscribing itself to every overplayed trope in the book."
Joystiq, meanwhile, are rather more reasoned — and they get bonus points for using appropriate imagery! "Everyone would do well to study its anatomy, to learn what happens to a series stuck somewhere between a new life and an old body."
Get it? Because of zombies? Oh, what wit!
But beyond the wit... bullshit. Because Resident Evil 6 is overwhelmingly alright. It certainly won't be winning any Game of the Year awards, but why would that be the yardstick against which we measure this sprawling sequel? Why not its immediate predecessor? Why not its closest competition? Why not the stale new Silent Hill, or the forthcoming installment of Call of Duty?
Come to that, why compare it with anything? Resident Evil 6 is what it is. And what it is structurally ambitious, narratively novel, graphically gorgeous and extraordinary aurally. It may be mundane mechanically - as throwback and old-fashioned as ever this series has been, despite the efforts of its developer - but it isn't broken, and the notion that it should have been overhauled to feel more modern (which is to say more like every other goddamn game on the market) is counter-intuitive coming from a community that demands diversification on a daily basis.
In any case, Capcom have gone to incredible lengths to make fans of this multifarious franchise happy. In an era when six hour single-player games have become the new normal, it's surprising - shocking almost - that Resident Evil 6 clocks in approximately five times as long. Less so when you realise it's essentially four games in one. In the first, you're Leon, returning from Resident Evil 4 in a campaign that feels a lot like that game's. The second campaign casts you as Chris, Resident Evil 5's protagonist, and it plays similarly: it's more shooter than survival horror.
But the third and the fourth campaigns return to that very territory: the former recalls Resident Evil 3: Nemesis - you're being chased by an unstoppable monster the whole time - and the latter, starring I couldn't possibly tell you who, feels like it's sprung fully formed out of Resident Evil 2, what with the secret player character and all the puzzles she-who-must-not-be-named has got to solve.
Resident Evil 6 is an odd sort of hodgepodge, on the whole: a guided tour through the make-up of the entire series to date, or a forlorn love letter to itself. In that sense, it reminded me - of all things - of Final Fantasy IX. What makes it cohesive, if anything does, is the structure of the story: characters continuously come together as four narratives neatly interweave, and each time the player experiences something a second time it's from a whole other angle, with more or different information.
Admittedly, the controls are iffy. The Quick Time Events around every corner are overbearing. The puzzles are plodding and the shooting is largely unsatisfying. The dialogue is obvious and the tone of the story is all over the place. Resident Evil 6 has a lot of problems... but so did all the other games in the series, and praise was lavished upon these.
So what gives?
Patience, I presume. Critics don't have a great deal of it on good days, and around this time of year, when there are huge new releases to play through and review each and every week, it's obviously in very short supply. But to dismiss this game on those grounds is dishonest. Resident Evil 6 may not be particularly great, but it's not bad either - not like certain ostensibly objective perspectives have suggested - and if you ask me, you've got to give Capcom credit for trying so damned hard.