Have you ever wondered what really happened back in Raccoon City during the initial outbreak of the T-Virus? Have you ever been curious how a more shooter-centric Resident Evil title would feel? Capcom delivers on both fronts with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, developed by Slant Six Games. This is not your typical Resident Evil title, but that was how Capcom wanted it: The developer’s goal was a “squad-based shooter set during the early Resident Evil games”.
Operation Raccoon City takes place during the timeframe of Resident Evils 2 & 3. You control a small group of mercenaries sent into Raccoon City by Umbrella Security Services (USS) to help clean up the evidence linking the disaster to Umbrella. Spanning seven missions, you’ll battle your share of zombies, soldiers, Lickers, Hunters and even a few Tyrants as you go about doing the bidding of the USS. You will also see some familiar faces from past Resident Evil games (I won’t spoil those if you don’t know).
Each character fits snugly into a generic class; Assault, Medic, Recon, Surveillance, Scientist and Demolition. I liked the characters’ designs, but their abilities (outside of the passive abilities) all seemed irrelevant during the campaign. Each character has two passive abilities and three active abilities, as well as a starting gun loadout. Experience earned in the game is per user, not character, so you can buy guns and abilities no matter what character you use and one gun purchase is all that is required to use it with everyone. While the abilities can be upgraded, weapons cannot which was a letdown to me.
During the campaign, only a few active abilities were of any use. You could tell they were designed for multiplayer, but even during the multiplayer I rarely used them. While a good idea, and I’m sure some people would argue their usage, I have more success without them. Still, The Medic’s “cure infection” is a winning ability, and Surveillance’s “items on radar” ability made getting collectables easier when trying to get an S rank on missions.
The plot was an interesting “behind the scenes” look at the early Resident Evil games, so if you like the series’ canon, you shouldn’t be disappointed. On the opposite side of things, the campaign is rather short. Leaving the replayability argument alone for the time being, completing the game in five hours was rather disappointing in regards to the story. If you are into trophies, this is a positive thing as the trophies encourage multiple playthroughs. One side of me wanted to see more of what happened back in Raccoon City, but the other was ready to be finished with the campaign and not look back.
The whole campaign is drop-in co-op, so at any time you can invite a friend and if they leave, you just keep on playing by yourself. However, if you get disconnected and your game turns into an “offline” game, you can’t invite anyone in until the game is over. Your squad is a four-person team, so if someone bails in the middle of a mission, the AI will jump in and fill the role.
If someone dies, reviving them can be a tricky process. See, when upon death you drop your gun so that someone else can pick it up (I assume mostly to please at Versus crowd). Me and my wife played through the campaign and when either of us would die, it quickly became a cursing contest of me yelling to hurry and revive me and her yelling at me that she was trying (oh, and the game does not support split-screen; this was done on two PS3’s with two copies of the game), or vice-versa. The whole time, you are walking around in a circle trying to find the revive prompt. Instead, you keep picking up and swapping guns. While it should be said this was not always the case, it is very noticable when you are pinned down by snipers and trying to revive a teammate.
Playing solo, you are accompanied by three AI players. Anyone that remembers Resident Evil 5 (I know, I know, I swore not to compare this to a prior Resident Evil game, my apologies) surely remember the bad AI you were forced to play with in singleplayer. Take that, and multiply it by three. Sure, they help shoot enemies at times, but like most games with AI partners, when you actually want their help, they are standing off to the side not doing anything. Oh, and that First Aid Spray you need? Sorry, your partner got to it first. Unlike Resident Evil 5, you can’t manage their (small) inventory of items, either.
Before I jump into the fun part of Operation Raccoon City, let me say the enemies in the campaign are complete bullet sponges. You can unload a round of bullets from an assault rifle into an enemy and they just keep firing. Zombies are a little quicker to kill, thankfully, as they are what you will see the most of. Humans in the game take an obscene amount of firepower to kill, and even headshots don’t kill people in a realistic fashion.
Luckily, Operation Raccoon City features a well-designed cover mechanic. Walk up to a wall, box or any other obvious piece of cover and you snap to cover. It’s very easy to use, and works wonders for the style of shooter it tries to be.
Versus mode comes in a few different variants, all played in two teams of four. While that number seems small, you are also on the field with various zombie types, including some of the specialty B.O.W.’s (Lickers, Hunters, etc.). The maps are rather large, so if your sole goal is to find other players and run through the hordes of zombies, you won’t be given much fun in that regard. It was a lot of fun mowing down zombies, racking up kills and eventually finding my way to a person and killing them. Versus mode is geared towards a more tactical audience and I’ve come across some pretty tricky squads, but the majority of people playing (on PS3 at least) are going solo.
Survivors mode, my favorite, has your team pitted against the other team in what seems like a deathmatch. The more you die, though, the longer it takes to respawn. After so much time passes, a helicopter lands on on the map and you are then tasked with getting to it. The catch is, there are only four seats and if your math is as good as mine, eight people on the field fighting over four seats causes just a little chaos.
The other three modes, Team Deathmatch (just as it sounds only with zombies), Heroes (protect your Heroes and kill the opposing Heroes; when you die, you respawn as a regular soldier) and Biohazard (a G-Virus sample spawns and both teams fight to bring it back to their base), were all a lot of fun, but Survivors created the most dynamic outcomes and allowed people who weren’t so good at the killing part get a bonus for surviving.
It’s worth noting that (as I mentioned) I played through the entire campaign with my wife, someone who could not get into Resident Evil 5 with me and enjoys shooters but isn’t great at them. Operation Raccoon City was easy for her to jump into, and I was asked almost nightly if we were going to play. So the game can appeal to people unfamiliar with the series, or even the action-shooter genre. Above all, this is a multiplayer experience. We probably had more fun the second time through trying to get S+ ranks on all the missions. We were trying harder, skipping the story segments and generally rushing through while actually coordinating so we both got a high rank.
Contrary to what the negative press reaction might lead you to think, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City delivered some good times. While I don’t feel it lived up to expectations, there is still some fun to be had. Outside of a few gripes, I really enjoyed my time with the game, and will continue playing multiplayer for the next few months. The camera, a large step forward in the series, is definitely something Resident Evil 6 needs to look at when designing the next real Resident Evil. All in all, people not looking to mingle and get their competitive game-on should steer clear. But if you are after some zombies to kill and have a buddy or two, Operation Raccoon City may just be up your alley.
Note: This review is based on gameplay on the Playstation 3 console purchased by the reviewer. The game is also available on the X360.
- Best camera in series so far
- The canon is interesting for fans of the franchise
- Surviors multiplayer mode madness!
- Great cover system
- Revive mechanic is a pain to work with
- Enemies take far too many bullets to kill
- Terrible AI (both enemy and partner)