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Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review

by Diogo Miguel March 21, 2012

This year marks the sixteenth birthday since the release of the first ever Resident Evil video-game. Surely not even the development team could have guessed the impact that Resident Evil would have in the video-games industry.

The start of 2012 brought upon the revelation of a sixth Resident Evil, that’s coming out this year no less. It’s only understandable that many forgot about Capcom’s other Resident Evil project with such an announcement. Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City is being developed by external development studio Slant Six Games. Obviously Capcom still has a say in the matter, but is it a good idea to give control of such a popular series to another development studio?

Slant Six Games is well known for the SOCOM shooting video-games on PlayStation hardware, so it’s not a surprise that Operation Raccoon City is similar. Anyone used to the old school Resident Evil mechanics is definitely in for a surprise. This new entry in the Resident Evil universe is more like a distant cousin, that doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the family, besides the family name and the odd genetic trait. Anyone that played through Resident Evil 5 is familiar with the AI partner.

It’s now possible to play through the campaign in this video-game with three other AI controlled squad members. The issue is that these squad members aren’t cooperative when it comes to the battlefield. Anyone attempting to play through campaign without at least one other player is bound to struggle. AI squad members don’t work as a team and instead resort to wander about like a group of unruly children. This squad based system doesn’t benefit from a lack of command options, which would enable the player to assign strategic orders to each squad member.

Operation Raccoon City uses a similar approach to the chapter structure in recent Resident Evil video-games. Each area is given a level such as a run-down hospital full of body bags and reanimated humans. At first it’s interesting to explore Raccoon City from a different perspective.

It’s not surprising that this is not the typical Resident Evil experience, given that this is a pure shooting experience. Unfortunately this means that any diversity it offers is short lived after playing through the second level. It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that each level pretty much consists of clearing out waves of enemies, until getting to the end of the level. This depressing thought is only made worse by the level design that leaves little to explore. It’s as if the campaign is put together using maps meant for a multi-player experience.

There is some joy in playing the campaign with one or more friends. Doing so will make it possible to work efficiently as a team. It’s also handy since others can resuscitate the player since the AI controlled squad members are not able to. It doesn’t change the fact that the campaign is shockingly short to the point that it only takes an afternoon to finish it.

To put it in perspective, it’s estimated that it lasts as long as getting to the midpoint in Resident Evil 5. One of the major focuses so far has been the inclusion of characters from the previous games. The story is set during the second and third Resident Evil time lines so it would make sense. Sadly there is very little interaction with these characters but for a certain occasion that will surprise fans. There are a few familiar monsters that pop up though such as the infamous tyrant.

Use of cover is essential considering that this Resident Evil is a shooter at heart. The cover system works reasonably well. It’s fairly easy to get into cover but it’s a shame that the possibility to jump over isn’t an option. There are times when it’s frustrating to have to go around low barriers, rather than simply jumping over them.

The dodging animating is also odd as it doesn’t specifically do much when it comes to evading enemies. One of the strong points is the vast array of weapons. It’s even possible to unlock further weapons by earning experience in campaign and multi-player. Each character has unique abilities but their use is limited and some don’t have much of an impact in battle.. The possibility to unlock further content via experience might sound appealing but it won’t do much to improve the player’s experience.

Most players will spend the majority of their time playing the multi-player versus modes. There’s quite a few modes to choose from with their own respective goals. The issue is that, while they are fun to play, it’s unnecessarily confusing at times. Survivor mode for example involves trying not to die, while waiting for air transport to arrive. The only issue is that it pits two teams against each other. It keeps hinting that a player will take longer to respawn with each death.

However, it doesn’t seem to directly influence the chance of not getting on that air transport. Fortunately other Versus modes like Biohazard are simple and far more entertaining. Biohazard is a modified version of capture the flag, where each team must recover four virus sample vials. It’s highly addictive as it’s possible to defeat enemies to obtain any vials they pick up. The other two modes (Team Attack and Heroes) are just as fun and will keep players amused for a while. Heroes is interesting in that it allows players to control familiar Resident Evil characters, while trying to keep them alive.

There is no denying that the multi-player portion of Operation Raccoon City is the main attraction on show. Oddly enough there are a few interesting ideas such as the ability of becoming infected and turning into a zombie. There’s also a lot of classic Resident Evil references that fans will most likely enjoy.

But the single-player campaign is far too comfortable with the same repetitive routine and so ends up being anything but memorable. It doesn’t help that the main group of characters has as much personality as the zombies they are putting to rest. On rare occasions Operation Raccoon City does provide some excitement, by retelling some of the key events in the final hours of Raccoon City.

It’s only the excellent multi-player that saves it from being a thoroughly disappointing experience. It ends up being but a mere shadow of the superior Resident Evil titles. It’s best to think of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City as a dream that got invaded by one of Freddy Krueger’s less intimidating relatives.

Decent attempt from Slant Six Games, but those looking for a proper Resident Evil experience are advised to wait for the new main chapter, coming out later this year.

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