The Resident Evil series of games was always synonymous with frights and chills mixed with mind bending puzzles and the oft-sought crank. Over the past couple years, the series has branched further and further out from its original design, but none quite so much as Operation Raccoon City has. Not meant to be a spook filled romp like the Resident Evil games of years ago, ORC is a run and gun third-person combat action game that takes place during the same time frame and parallel to the events of Resident Evil 2, but told from the side of the Umbrella Security Service Delta Squad, sent by Umbrella to destroy any and all evidence that connects the corporation to the city wide outbreak.
With up to three other players in co-op, or by yourself with A.I. companions, you’ll find yourself going through the wreckage of Raccoon city, fighting through hordes of zombies, and swarms of Government Special Operation forces. Through the seven missions in the storyline, you’ll find that you’ll revisit some key locations from Resident Evil 2, such as the police station and familiar street locations. Aside from that, you’ll also run into characters that played key roles during the game, like Leon S. Kennedy and Ada Wong, although they feel like they are more shoe-horned in for appearances sake rather than actually lending any real credence to the game.
Resembling Left4Dead more than any previous Resident Evil game, Operation: Raccoon City is all about combat and combat alone. At the start of each mission, you will choose which team members to take with you- each having their own class; assault, medic, support, etc. – and you will be able to select their load out of weapons. Each character also has their own abilities that can be purchased and upgraded with XP that is gained from each mission, giving each player a different take on how they can handle the situations of each mission. If you are playing alone and not co-op with any real live people, then expect your A.I. teammates to do a whole lot of nothing. Well, that’s not exactly true. They do enjoy looking at walls for extended periods of time and running into trip mines for no reason at all. The A.I. is downright atrocious in the game and I found myself just pretending that they weren’t even there for the sake of my sanity.
To make things more difficult for you and your idiot cohorts, you will run into various enemies from the Resident Evil mythos, such as Crimson Heads, Hunters, Tyrants, and even zombie dogs, along with the regular zombies that have long been absent from the series. When the zombies attack now, they are far from the slow, shambling zombies, and now sprint at you en masse, with purpose, quickly surrounding and overwhelming you if you aren’t ready on the trigger. Along with the infected citizens and the B.O.W. enemies from the Umbrella camp, there are also human Spec Ops soldiers that have been sent in to clear up the city and to kill everything in sight, including you. Not even they are safe from the zombie outbreak however.
When human enemies are shot at, you’ll cause them to bleed out to attract the infected and have them turn into zombies themselves. As fun as that is to watch, you are not safe from infections either. If you get bit or attacked, there is a chance that you or those on your team will get infected and you’ll then have a limited amount of time to administer a serum before the infection takes over. If it takes over your character, you’ll die. And that’s the thrilling extent of it. If your teammates get infected and turn, they will run around in their zombie state attacking everything in sight. As great as this seems in theory, much like many things in this game, it is poor in practice.
Once an infected teammate turns and you put them down, you can immediately revive them with a simple button press and they are back to normal fighting alongside you; even if they didn’t have a head. Another issue with the game is the mechanics of picking up items. While it is nothing more than pressing a button to do so, the prompt will come up when you are running and if you press it then, you will dive comically, which honestly looks like you tripped and fell, more than anything else. It gets infuriating in the heat of battle when you are running for your life, needing to stop to pick up a green herb or grab some extra ammo, instead of grabbing it while on the run.
Along with the 7-8 hour story campaign, there are also four different Versus modes that can be played online. These modes are Team Attack, Biohazard (basically a CTF type), Survivor (where each team fights to try and board a helicopter that lands), and Heroes; a mode where each player takes the role of a key character from the Resident Evil series until they are killed and then respawn as members of the USS or the opposing UBSC for the rest of the round. The online versus modes have their moments since each map and game type is filled with swarms of infected zombies and hunters along with the other enemy players to keep things interesting.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is not what you think of when you think Resident Evil, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad game. The horrifically poor A.I. and awkward contextual controls to pick up items do. If you are planning on playing with friends then you will have a much more enjoyable time with the game than if you are planning on playing alone. However, if you do decide to take on the Raccoon City incident from the USS side of things by yourself, just try to ignore your teammates and you’ll get through it just fine.
Title: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
Developer:Slant 6 Studios, Capcom
Release Date: March 20th 2012
Platforms Available: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
Retail game purchased for review