Capcom once again puts one of its most beloved IP’s into the hands of a relatively small western developer. Is this journey into Raccoon City worth sinking your teeth into or will it leave a nasty after taste?
Set during the events of Resident Evil 2, Operation Raccoon City has you controlling a squad of the bad guys; four Umbrella operatives on a nefarious mission to cover up Umbrella’s involvement in the leak of the T- Virus at Raccoon City. It will come as no surprise that the mission goes awry and zombie destruction ensues. Developed by Slant Six Games, responsible for a number of the latest SOCOM games, it will come as no surprise that this game is far more 3rd person action shooter than survival horror. In this game ammunition is plentiful and special powers are present as is a large selection of weaponry.
Put simply, this game does not play nor feel like a Resident Evil game. Combat lacks feedback, melee is unwieldy resulting in mad flaying that moves you forward past your enemies, characters are unimaginative and the world is uninspired. If it wasn’t for the occasional bump into Leon or other characters famous to the series then you’d forget that you were in Raccoon City. Zombie hordes are small and slow as they apparently used a shared palette of about 5 different skins. In fact the very first two zombies you see in the game use the same skin, it’s as if Raccoon City is full of twins whom dress identically. All of these unimaginative art design choices are bound into unimaginative level and mission design choices. The game is linear, be it down repetitive corridors to repetitive and tight city streets with a mission marker that literally drags you along, step by step. The mainstay of enemies you will fight are mercenaries or US Special Forces, not the infected and these guys are more deadly too! Every now and then you will come up against special infected, Lickers and Hunters to name a few. These are mostly encountered during set pieces and will always appear in large numbers and are complete bullet sponges. Fortunately these set pieces come with ammo boxes that never empty. You find yourself bored, firing round after round into the same enemies as they craw out of spawn holes, the only break in the action is down to you turning to that ammo box and filling up.
One thing in this current generation you don’t hear much criticism on, particularly in this genre, is control. Most games have cookie cut controls, if you’ve played one 3rd person shooter you’ve played ‘em all right? Wrong. I feel the need to point out that one button in the default control scheme has three different uses. All three are uses that you need during combat, normally at those times when you are low on health and need to make no mistakes. This button not only is used for switching weapons but also, if you are moving the left stick, it is also used to instantly 180 degree turn in said direction or if you hold it for more than half a second it puts you into an unnecessary shooting style reminiscent of dual analogue top down shooters like Geometry Wars in which you fire in whatever direction your right-analogue is pointing. Many times have I turned away from my enemy, changed weapon and then done the strange shooting dance briefly before dying and throwing my controller out of the window. Cover is also handled less than perfectly. You automatically duck behind cover with no clear direction on how to then exit cover or follow it around a corner. It is very easy to follow cover around a corner instead of running past a gap, or accidently jump into cover and miss a shot.
Presentation is barely worth mentioning; poor voice acting, poor sound design and as previously mentioned bland graphic design leave little to write home about, not to mention AI that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth when watching them attempt to attack enemies, let alone perform objectives. The one light shining at the end of the dark, grim tunnel is multiplayer. Heroes mode pits a four man team of the series’ heroes against another four man team of notable villains. As players die they respawn as weaker less notable characters, the aim being to be on the team with the last heroes left alive. The game mode is fresh, fast paced, fun and requires a good amount of team work. Tactics such as wounding players so that they bleed and attract the hordes work well and normally the side with the best teamwork wins. The multiplayer then for me goes and stabs itself in the foot as it asks you if you’d like to buy day one DLC multiplayer game modes.
If you cannot wait until October’s release of Resident Evil 6, then I’d suggest re-visiting the HD remakes of Code Veronica and RE4. If you don’t mind a bit of mindless shooting and coming away from the experience with nothing notable then rent this.