Review: Resident Evil – Operation Raccoon City
Resident Evil is back for another round of Zombie slaying. This time around Capcom have decided to take a different approach to the beloved franchise, and instead of the typical high tension scares, you’re joined by other players in this multiplayer focused shooter.
Does Raccoon City re-invent the series, or has Capcom taken a wrong turn with the franchise? Find out in this review.
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Resident Evil Raccoon City is set as expected in the infamous Raccoon City which previous fans of the series will be familiar with from Resident Evil 2 and Nemesis. Placing you in the shoes of the bad guys (the U.S.S) who operate under the Umbrella Corporation, the campaign is based around the U.S.S with their mission focusing mainly on securing samples and destroying evidence of the initial outbreak. At the start of the game you’ll encounter a scientist known as Dr. William Birkin, who is in possession of the ‘G-Virus’ and wishes to sell it to the US Government, and so Umbrella send you and your squad to retrieve the deadly sample. This is where the story starts to really open up, creating an intensifying atmosphere as I was intrigued to see what would follow. As you progress you will learn that Birkin has injected himself with the virus and has transformed into a great hulking mutant who wishes only to rip you limb from limb, as well as notice other story elements woven in from Resident Evil 2 and 3. You will also come across some familiar faces, including Leon S Kennedy; which for the first time ever, fans of the series can choose the fate of the S.T.A.R.S officer.
The story provides a different approach to the series, for the first time we are able to see what was taking place during Resident Evil 2 and 3 from Umbrella’s side of things. It’s an interesting element that sadly doesn’t quite provide that oomph that I expected, that said, the game does start off very well with some intriguing and visually impressive cut scenes. With the title focusing on a new direction, the game also features a few other elements that haven’t been featured in past Resident Evil titles.
The game is still based around the same third person concept as its predecessors, except the campaign can now be played with up to four players. However, if you aren’t particularly focused on jumping online to partner up, you do have the choice to take on the game with the AI, who thankfully are very useful at times. While waiting for your game to begin, you’re able to choose from six characters, each with their unique perks, abilities and weapons.
Partly due to the fact that he looks like Sam Fisher, I decided to stick with Spectre throughout the campaign. The character variations are unique and each play to a different style of gamer, with Vector able to turn invisible for a short time, or you can choose Beltway, the muscle-bound character of the group who is much has a much more up close and personal attitude. Each character earns XP throughout campaign and multiplayer sessions, which can be used to purchase abilities and weapons. The weapon selection for each character includes Shotguns, Pistols, Heavy Machine Guns and Assault Rifles.
The campaign is split into seven chapters, though unfortunately there’s quite a lack of variety, with a number of the areas looking dull and graphically poor. Most of the time you’ll be inside buildings battling hordes of zombies, only entering the streets of Raccoon City twice in the campaign. The chapters themselves link together nicely, with a number of varied missions, however the story quickly devolves into chasing Leon. As expected, enemy encounters are frequent, with many zombies to be taken care of, though unfortunately there isn’t much variation in enemy variation and models, though you will encounter other ‘zombified’ enemies later on including Tyrants and US Operatives. Playtime is pretty low, with each chapter lasting less than 30 minutes, and for the asking price, there isn’t much to it; add to this the frequent glitches and bugs, it’s very disappointing. While the glitches certainly aren’t game breaking, they did occur a little too often, including invisible barriers that could stop certain players from progressing, as well as other issues such as enemies standing still and not moving, AI players disappearing, human controller players not being able to be revived, connection issues and loading issues.
The concept of infection plays a much bigger role in this game than ever before in the series, and if you happen to be bit, you’ll need to find an antivirus before turning into a zombie and attacking your team mates. It’s definitely a fun addition to begin with, though did start to get old towards the end of the game. In terms of keeping your characters in good health, the classic First Aid spray makes an appearance along with green herbs, and to keep the enemies at bay, you’re be able to get hold of flash grenades, grenades and incendiary grenades. Team mates can be revived easily, so don’t worry if you aren’t too good with your aim.
As well as contending with the zombies, the US Special Ops team will also be on your case, often eager to put a few rounds into you instead of keeping an eye on their own well-being from the hordes of zombies. Worth noting however, is that if you start to bleed, you’ll also attract more zombies to your position, so it’s important that you take out the soldiers first.
Capcom have implemented a cover system for the first time in the series, and while useful, it can be a little fiddly. Instead of the usual ‘press to enter’ style made famous by Gears Of War, it’s all contextual, simply meaning that once you’re in the right position, it will do the work for you. While this is a useful feature, it doesn’t work as well as advertised, as it’s often very slow to react as you move from cover to cover.
Shooting is solid, with each weapon having its own characteristics. Thankfully ammo is very easy to come by, so the usual Resident Evil mantra of ‘every bullet counts’ doesn’t apply here.
Melee Combat is also present, though like the cover system, is very fiddly and often you’re best off sticking to the fire arms. Hand to hand combat is a much more time consuming way to kill zombies and the majority of the time leaves you open to other zombies attacking you, though it does fare a little better with human enemies. Enemies aren’t very lenient with their attacks however, so you’d better get the first hit in or you’ll be heading to a Game Over screen quickly.
Presentation is all over the place in Resident Evil ORC. The CGI cutscenes look fantastic, but the ingame visuals are messy. The animations are often clunky, and the lack of variety with the character models definitely hurts the game. Some of the main campaign areas do look interesting, with some nice lighting and textures, but this is far from the norm, with many areas looking very dated.
There are many other game modes on hand, featuring many different gameplay styles once you’ve tired of the campaign. The Heroes mode (Horde mode) tasks you with fending off waves of U.S.S. Soldiers and B.O.W’s as recognisable characters from the series including Leon, Jill and Hunk, while the Survivor mode offers up team based objective gameplay against four rival players, including situations where not everyone can escape, leading to intense firefights towards the end of the match. The Vial mode presents familiar ‘grab as much as you can’ gameplay, where the winner is the player with the most vials, definitely one of my favourites, while other game modes such as Team Battle keeps things varied.