As many will already know, Capcom decided to take a bit of a detour with their latest installment in the Resident Evil series. It is very safe to say that because of the survival horror background established by this game’s history, RE: Operation Raccoon City is not the kind of game long-time fans of the series were expecting. This title takes a break from what has been done in the series’ past and attempts to fuse together the elements and mythology of Resident Evil within the realm of a squad-based shooter. To do so they enrolled the help of Slant Six Games, the development team responsible for multiple ‘SOCOM’ titles. However, for those considering the purchase of this title, let’s explore whether or not the squad-shooter succeeds within the realm of Resident Evil.
It’s been a few years since gamers last stepped foot into Raccoon City. This time around, the tables have turned, as instead of battling Umbrella, players take to the streets as members of this infamous organization.
Zombie-shooting fans will lament at the onset of this game due to its slow start; in fact, zombies aren’t even seen in the game until players get into the second level. You see, things in Raccoon City are going smoothly until the Umbrella Corporation discovers that Dr. William Birkin, one of their own, is planning to sell the G-Virus to the United States government. The game begins by selecting your character, joining up with a group of the Umbrella Secret Service, and then going into Raccoon City to secure the virus. Of course, the plans go dreadfully wrong, a chain of events ensues, and the virus makes its way into the sewer system to infect the entire town. Now your mission dramatically changes, as you are tasked with hunting down any survivors and silencing them before the story is leaked and Umbrella is tied to the town’s issues.
The story in RE:ORC takes place during the second and third games of the series, albeit from this counter point of view. Therefore, there is a sincere sense of nostalgia for fans as you will see aspects of those games popping up during the story (the inside of the police station, the infamous transfer-truck scene with Leon and Claire) along with cameo’s from some of the series staples, such as fan-favorite Leon Kennedy.
The main campaign can be played with a mixture of four online teammates or AI-controlled squadmates. You select one of six character classes to play as, each with their own abilities which can be leveled-up and customized throughout the game using earned XP. This XP can also be used to buy new weapons, ranging from assault rifles to shotguns, each with specific uses for specific situations.
As you move through the levels of ORC, you will find some of the signature door opening moments that have become staples of the series. Honestly, is there anything else quite like opening a door and having a pack of zombies lunging at you? Other staples of the series return, such as Green Herbs and anti-virus sprays that cure your infection. This, however, is one of the most interesting mechanics of the game. If you take too much damage you die. But, if you get bitten by the infected and do not cure the infection fast enough you’ll soon join the ranks of the undead, your screen will become blured and blue, and you will begin ravaging your fellow teammates until you are put down.
The problem with the campaign is that if you are not playing with human players, it is extremely inconsistent. Fickle teammate AI (yes, worse than Shiva) can have a cumbersome affect during the experience and tend to break the “inclusive” feel of the game- in other words, you are reminded that you are playing a game instead of being a part of the game itself. In fact, when playing solo, the AI teammates are best used as human-shields to keep the major bad guys distracted. However, these issues are completely resolved when playing cooperatively with friends online. Yes, there are several very fun multiplayer game modes for ORC- including the following:
- Team Deathmatch: Gather the most points through kills. Three teams: Umbrella Security Services, US Spec-Ops, and the Raccoon City Survivors. On top of that, there will be zombies that will attack every team. The team that earns the most kills wins.
- Biohazard: Return the G-Virus Samples to your base while also fighting off the other teams. Focused on teamwork more than Team Deathmatch.
- Survivors Mode: Fight off the zombies until the helicopter arrives, only one problem — there is limited space on the helicopter so not every one will be able to escape.
- Heroes Mode: A 4 v. 4 multiplayer game mode that allows you to play as iconic Resident Evil characters such as Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong, Hunk, and Jill Valentine.
Nevertheless, campaign co-op is where we found RE:ORC to shine. Playing with friends completely resolved several of the game’s AI issues and made the campaign a totally new, and much more fun experience. There really isn’t anything comparable to headshotting zombies with friends.
Mechanics wise, the game’s controls take a bit to become acclimated with, especially in terms of button mapping and the new cover system. This new system forces your player behind objects simply by pressing “forward” when running up to it. While this is extremely helpful at times, it can also be quite frustrating as it forces your character to take cover at times you aren’t commanding it to do so. To be honest, we would have much rather seen a jump-mechanic worked into this title as opposed to the cover system. There were several times during our time spent in Raccoon City that had us wondering why our specially-trained super-soldier could not jump and/or climb at will.
After clearing the town of zombies and defeating several forms of biohazard evil, I found Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City to be a game that, while being incredibly fun to play with friends, does leave a fair amount of potential on the table left unused. The chance to see the city from a new perspective is incredibly nostalgic, and fulfills a void in the mythology of the Resident Evil history fans probably didn’t realize they wanted until they actually had it. The story itself is very short and becomes complicated, at times, by fickle AI. However, as each individual character has unique talents and dialogue, this shortcoming is subsidized by the ability to play through the game with several different characters, leveling up their own abilities and purchasing new weapons.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is an interesting installment in the Resident Evil series. It is a game that should be played by those who enjoy the Resident Evil storyline and want to discover just what occurred from Umbrella’s point of view during the time of the infamous Raccoon City outbreak from a third perspective. However, gamers should not go into this title expecting a survival horror game- it was created as a squad based shooter and it is exactly that. Those expecting puzzles and storage chests, should simply walk away and come back in November when Resident Evil 6 releases, but those who want a fun game which provides a few thrills and fulfills a much needed understanding to the Resident Evil story without reading the many hidden documents of the past games- this is worth a buy.
Final score: 3/5