Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review

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Resident Evil is a well-established franchise known for its in-depth narrative, various viruses and (quickly vanishing) horror elements. While Capcom has been behind every entry thus far, that is now changing as the SOCOM developer Slant Six is trying its hand at the zombie survival game. Since their expertise lies in fast-paced third-person shooters, they’re bringing some of their style to the new Resident Evil spin-off subtitled Operation Raccoon City. With 2012 containing three separate Resident Evil titles, can Slant Six’s interpretation maintain the classic Resident Evil vibe while still venturing into more action-packed territory? More importantly, will the fans enjoy this departure from the series’ norm?

Let’s take a look at what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.

HOT

From the Eyes of Umbrella
Gamers who have played the first three Resident Evil games on the PlayStation 1 should know the incident that took place in Raccoon City. While we saw the destruction of the city in the eyes of the good guys before, the new Resident Evil title dubbed Operation Raccoon City will allow fans of the series to play through the game through the eyes of Umbrella’s armed forces. The six new elite members of Umbrella are the main characters and you will fill one of their shoes as you replay the events that took place in Resident Evil 2 and 3 from their point of view. Your mission within the game is to prevent any leaks of Umbrella’s involvement with the outbreak that happened in Raccoon City. Going through familiar places, you will team with up to three people or AI-controlled team mates and get that objective done. Hunk’s mysterious appearance in past Resident Evil games will finally be answered here and his involvement in the whole incident. For fans of the series like myself, the story of the game’s campaign mode is somewhat interesting and I’m sure fans will find it intriguing as well.

Solid Third Person Shooter
Operation Raccoon City isn’t developed by the team who usually makes Resident Evil games, but, instead, it’s made by the team who brought us SOCOM: Confrontation on the PlayStation 3 and other well-known third-person shooters in the gaming industry. While majority of the titles they have released are somewhat average, the studio’s attempt to make Resident Evil to be more shooting-oriented is pretty spot on. The developer managed to bring what fans love in the third-person shooter genre (primarily, solid controls), fast paced third-person action, and pretty much everything SOCOM had is in Operation Raccoon City. For those who have played SOCOM, the moment you start playing this game, you’ll realize that it’s SOCOM with zombies and a Resident Evil theme!

Some Resident Evil Elements are Intact
As you know by now, Operation Raccoon City is a third-person shooter. That being said, the game managed to retain some of the Resident Evil elements that we’ve become fond of. Pickups like the Green Herb and First Aid Spray are among the items that will be in the game. Adapting the Circle HP health system in Resident Evil 4 & 5, the health of your character depends on it. With Green Herbs and First Aid Spray scattered throughout the field, you will pretty much be looking out for your health circle bar on the HUD. The bullets that you take in both single player and multiplayer will drain your circle HP bar and, once it’s gone, you’ll see the ‘You Are Dead’ sign. At this point, you’ll either respawn or restart from checkpoint in campaign.

Along with the herbs and spray, another element that Operation Raccoon City managed to retain in the game is the recognizable enemies. The game will not be carrying the Resident Evil title without its memorable monsters like the Zombies, Hunters, Lickers, Nemesis, and a lot more. The designs and the physiques are pretty much left intact and fans of the series will be glad to see them back in action in a different genre.

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Addictive Online Multiplayer
Slant Six not only specializes in third-person shooters, but they have also crafted some of the best multiplayer games. Following the success of Confrontration on the PS3, I can see a future for the multipayer section of Operation Raccoon City. Those who love playing online will find the game addictive due to its handful of online modes. Think of the well-known modes implemented in Operation Raccoon City and add the enemies of Resident Evil to distract you? Now that sounds like a challenge, huh?

The multiplayer portion of Operation Raccoon City has four modes: Team Attack (Team Deathmatch with zombies added into it to distract both sides), Biohazard (Capture the Flag where two teams have to get the five viruses and bring them to HQ), Heroes mode (eliminate the “Heroes” that know the secrets of Umbrella and the players who swear allegiance to a certain team) and, finally, Survivor (similar to Horde mode, but near the end of the timer all teams must compete for their survival as they race through the helicopter that has only limited seating). Three out of the four multiplayer modes in Operation Raccoon City are enjoyable, while I find the Heroes mode confusing and annoying.

As with all multiplayer portions of shooter games recently, it is bare without customizations and a leveling system. Every time you complete a mission and perform a kill, an Experience Point will be awarded to you at the end. These points are used in a lot ways in Operation Raccoon City as you’ll be needing them to purchase items and abilities that your character can use for leveling purposes. These customizations and all that mumbojumbo about the leveling system are all pretty common in shooter games today. One new thing, however, is when you get bitten by a Zombie or any of the enemies within the game, you can become a Zombie for a short time and attack your own teammates.

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NOT

Disappointing Campaign Mode
Aside from having a solid multiplayer, Operation Raccoon City also highlights the campaign mode. While the story behind the campaign is interesting and top-notch, you will be disappointed however in how it’s structured. Since everything about the game is built around the idea of playing with other people, you will have a hard time enjoying the campaign alone if you can’t find anyone to join you. This is due to the terrible artificial intelligence of your squad. The A.I-controlled characters that “help” you do a pretty bad job in providing support and sometimes they’ll simply not shoot at enemies or they’ll stand in your way as you try to kill an enemy. It’s nice that there’s no friendly fire enabled as you’d most likely kill your teammates on accident fairly often.

In addition to the poor A.I, the campaign mode also has some identity crisis. It isn’t sure whether it should retain the survival elements of past Resident Evils or if it should just be all about mindless shooting. Throughout the short campaign, you will have two options: run and reach the objective marker to proceed to the next mission or take your time to kill your enemies as you waste bullets, not knowing if they’re really worth your time. Even on the hard difficulty, I managed to finish a certain mission by simply running through the objective marker without firing a single shot. For those who play with a friend or people online, it’s a different experience as you’ll want to pretty much play as a team. However, with so many character classes that you are able to choose from, does it even matter which one you pick? Not really.

Another problem that I found in the campaign is the use of the cover system. For some reason, it is sometimes hard to get into cover as all you have to do is approach a wall or something and the game does the rest. While it works occasionally, most of the time it won’t. Since you can now run and gun, you will find yourself utilizing that method rather than the broken cover system because death is inevitable if you insist on using that useless cover mechanic.

During an early part of the campaign, you’ll encounter another problem that causes an invisible wall to stop you dead in your tracks until the boss reaches you at a certain point. When you are fighting someone during a section that requires that you run away from a boss, you will have to shoot them first to slow them down because, otherwise, an invisible wall will appear right in your face. This greatly limits where you can go and increase the risk of dying. The unbalanced pace of the campaign is troublesome as you can sometimes just skip the firefight and go to the objective marker to finish the mission or, in other instances, face the dreaded invisible wall.

Those who love Quick Time Events from other games will find them here in Operation Raccoon City, but they are executed in an annoying way. While every game gives you a specific amount of time before you can respond, Operation Raccoon City will give you less than a second. If you don’t see that button indication on the screen within a second, you will get hit so bad that it can lead to the death of your character. While what we discussed here in the campaign mode is mostly negative, there are positives ones as well, such as providing a true third-person shooter experience. However, you’ll see that the negatives outweigh the positives and, for this reason, players might want to skip the campaign mode and jump straight into the multiplayer.

Screen Tearing
On the PlayStation 3 version, I noticed frequent screen tears throughout the game. While it’s not really as bad as you may think, it will definitely annoy some gamers. As for the visuals, they are satisfactory as you revisit familiar and new places in Raccoon City. Those who played Resident Evil 2 and 3 will be surprised to see certain characters enhanced tremendously when it comes to the physiques and areas, like the Raccoon City Hospital. Areas like that are sure to bring back some nostalgic feeling.

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Don’t Expect Horror in this Game
Please don’t be misled by the Resident Evil title that was slapped on the game. Those who are expecting to have some classic Resident Evil experiences will not be finding them in Operation Raccoon City. There is no point in the game where you’ll feel that you’re playing a true Resident Evil game. Sure, the zombies are there, but your craving for horror will go unsatisfied because the scares simply don’t exist here. The game is pure shooter with no feeling of real horror and suspense whatsoever. Just because it has the Resident Evil title doesn’t mean it will have that experience. Think of this game as a SOCOM title with Zombies and nothing more.

$60 Price Tag
Since the campaign is short and is not innovative enough for everyone to enjoy, what’s left in this game is the multiplayer portion. And $60 is a steep price to pay for a game that players will only enjoy 50% of. A campaign mode that can be completed in one sitting combined with mediocre co-op gameplay leaves much to be desired and will push players toward the multiplayer section right away. A price of $39.99 would have been reasonable, but paying $60 for this game? I wouldn’t recommend it.

VERDICT

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a title that only hardcore shooter fans should get as Slant Six did a remarkable job in providing a solid online experience. However, for a game that carries the Resident Evil name in the title, fans of the series that are expecting something more along the lines of a traditional Resident Evil experience will not find that here. The game is pure third-person shooter and it is highly unlikely that long-time Resident Evil fans will actually like this entry. With a mediocre campaign making up half of what the game has to offer, it fails miserably and paying $60 for multiplayer only is too much cash to shell out for this subpar title.