Wednesday, October 3, 2012

So ready to go digital

So Resident Evil 6 is getting totally savaged on Metacritic--critics and users alike. I myself played the demo and didn't like it. Even so, I picked it up at retail day-one because . . . well, let's be honest, I'll buy crap just to have it, so long as it has "Resident Evil" on the cover.

To be specific, I even paid the $30 premium for the "Archives" edition for 360, which bundles in Resident Evil Code: Veronica X HD, Resident Evil 4 HD, Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition, and the Resident Evil Degeneration movie. Degeneration is dreadful and, on its own, not worth paying for at any price; you can just consider it a bonus in this package. But each of those games normally goes for around $20 (about $10 too much for CVX), so if you don't already have more than one of them, then the bundle is not a bad deal (that is, provided you still want and intend to play RE6 itself sooner rather than later).

That said, Resident Evil 6 Archives is surprisingly quite the opposite of a conventional "collector's edition"--probably not the sort of item you'd be happy with if you're buying things just to have them. If it proves to be rare, then I suppose that in itself will make it a collectible. But it's a very unattractive and cheaply put-together package. RE6 already has some of the more boring box art in recent memory, and the Archives cover is a possibly even less inspiring grayscale version of the same, only with the words "Archives" and "Includes" above a list of all the titles included. At least it has a slipcover, though it's the same and just as tacky as the front of the case.

Among collectors, the bigger gripe (or at least equally bad) is that CVX, 4, and 5 are all strictly digital; the box just includes download codes for the approximately 13 gigs' worth of content. Degeneration is a standard-def DVD, which may well be the greater offense. So, basically, Capcom pressed an extra batch of RE6 discs, generated a bunch of download codes, and tossed in leftover Degeneration DVDs (of which they probably have thousands lying around), all thrown together in a package with a cover that looks like a placeholder image. There's not even an instruction manual included! What total crap! (The standard edition of RE6 reportedly doesn't come with a manual either.)

So, yeah, it all sounds pretty disgusting, doesn't it?

Well, the package makes for an unquestionably lame collectible. On the other hand, I'm lately starting to feel that, price being equal, the digital versions of games in many ways hold more practical value for me than physical media. The convenience of being able to load games right off the hard drive, instead of popping discs in and out of the tray every time you want to switch games, is not to be underestimated. Yes, essentially, not only am I a wasteful spender, but I'm also lazy. But the reality is that the majority of the games I've played on the 360 over the last year have been off the hard drive, and that comfort is certainly something I've come to appreciate. Also--and I'm being completely serious here--I've had multiple occasions when, on a whim, I would load up a game on my already-on 360. Meanwhile, walking over to my games shelf, picking out a game, and then inserting it into the console is not something that I would ever do on a whim. And, as I am these days an increasingly more casual player, my gaming almost depends primarily on whims to initiate.

I'm actually glad that the included RE4 and CVX are digital rather than physical copies. Knowing myself as I do, I know that I would never pop in disc versions of either of those games into my 360. On the other hand, there's a chance, however slim, that I might one day, on a whim, load RE4 off the hard drive. That possibility also makes my spending seem less wasteful than if I were paying only for a disc to gratify my sense of collector's vanity. And, since I already have RE5 on disc, it's nice to also have a digital copy now. (Of course, it would be even better if, when I bought the physical copy, they would just include the downloadable version free, but that's obviously a pipe dream.)

In fact, I honestly wish that the included RE6 were a download as well. Certainly, the overall cheapness of this bundle makes me wish they had simply gone all the way and made it nothing but codes on a sheet inside that crappy box. Even setting aside the underwhelming physical component to this specific release, however, going all-digital is something that, more and more, I feel I can really get behind. It's convenient, saves shelf space, and is more secure in a way, since you can usually re-download even if your hard drive fails, whereas if something happens to your disc, you're screwed. Sony made a big deal recently of its being able to offer downloadable versions of RE6 and other major titles simultaneous with their retail releases. Had that been an option on the 360, I would seriously have considered it for RE6. Aside from my collector's mentality, which is largely mooted here by the lame cover art and lack of manual, the only real argument for the physical version is that Archives is the better value and, ironically, only available at retail.

On that note, it's worth mentioning that, for the same price as Archives, you can get its PS3 counterpart, Resident Evil 6 Anthology, which swaps out CVX and Degeneration (the weaker parts of Archives) for downloadable PS1 versions of RE Director's Cut, RE2, and RE3. Outside of this bundle, those games would collectively cost you about the same as CVX + Degeneration, but they're probably more worth your time.

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