Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
: Slant Six Games, Capcom
: XBOX 360, PlayStation 3
: Third-person shooter
: March 20, 2012
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is the result of a partnership between developers, Slant Six Games and Capcom. The game has been met with mixed reception, with fans of the series claiming it departs further from the series with its emphasis on action rather than survival horror, while others think itís a step closer to the Resident Evil brand with the return of zombies, including memorable characters and settings. It turns out that Operation Raccoon City is a decent game; itís certainly not great, as there are numerous flaws going for it, but itís worth a try.
Taking place during the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Operation Raccoon City follows the covert missions of Wolfpack, an elite group of Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S) operatives. Having played the classic Resident Evil games aforementioned, you may recall that Raccoon City had suffered an epidemic caused by the T-Virus, which mutated the population into mindless zombies. While this may seem familiar to fans of the series, Operation Raccoon City tells a ďwhat ifĒ story that is non-canon to the series.
When the T-Virus begins to infect the general population U.S.S. Command dispatches Wolfpack, a.k.a Delta Team, to eliminate all traces of evidence of the Raccoon City incident that could potentially lead back to Umbrellaís involvement. In other words, this is your opportunity to play as the bad guys for a change.
Operation Raccoon City is a good looking game. Itís not the graphical power house of the genre itís in, but the gameís settings look good either way. Maybe it was just me, but the game appeared to be really dark in some areas. It wasnít my TVís settings that needed changing, so I had to adjust the gameís brightness in-game. It seemed to be dark by default, but it didnít help in some areas of the game that were designed to be dark and foreboding. If it happens to you, Iíd recommend changing the gameís settings, not your TV.
One highlight of the game I enjoyed was the gore. Ah yes. It involves the zombies. Limbs, torsos, and heads can be decimated in a variety of colorful ways. In Resident Evil 5, whenever you shot an enemy point blank with a shotgun, theyíd be blown back as if theyíd been pushed very hard. Operation Raccoon City does zombie gore the right way. Spurts of blood and bodily tissue blow off when you attack your enemies, making for an icky good time.
Although you canít make out any facial detail on the members of Delta Team, the gameís cut scenes that feature iconic characters looks promising. I only wish there were more of them in the game to enjoy.
Memorable sound effects appear in the game, mostly related to item acquisition such as the healing herbs. Weapons have differing sound effects as well, which is noticeable when you unlock the gameís many alternate weapons. The gameís music caters to the action sequences of the game and also does a fair job of highlighting the downtime of action, as if someone or something is lurking around the corner just waiting to say hi to you.
As previously mentioned, Slant Six Games participated in the gameís development. Their work also includes the SOCOM series. If youíre thinking about going into this for some kind of survival-horror aspect, thatís not what youíll be getting here. That doesnít make the game a bad one. Certainly not. If you enjoy the shooter/action path, youíll feel right at home, but Resident Evil purists would be more inclined to check out Resident Evil Revelations for its survival and horror roots. One way to describe the feel of this game is a cross between SOCOM and Gears of War, and thatís in terms of its controls. That being said, Operation Raccoon City is a pretty good action game, but it really trips over itself in many areas.
Delta Team is made up of six teammates: Lupo, Vector, Beltway, Spectre, Bertha, and Four Eyes. You take control of your choice of character for each mission, and you can swap out characters as you move on from one mission to the next. You can also choose which other characters will make up your squad. You can choose up to three other characters for a team of four, including yourself. Each character comes with their own proficiencies and skills. For example, Lupo can equip incendiary ammo to burn her enemies. Vector excels at stealth and can use his combat suit to turn invisible. So this makes for a variety of team combinations.
Now one downside to this feature is the poor AI system. The AI characters that make up your team will prove to be more of a handful than helpful. The AI will deliberately walk into enemy fire with no interest in taking cover for protection. Theyíll even put themselves in harmís way. On many occasions theyíd run into fire, or traps such as laser trip mines, then get themselves up and do it again. Thankfully, friendly fire is disabled because theyíll also walk into your line of fire, obstructing your view of the enemy. Should they take repeated damage, theyíll eventually drop to the ground prone, awaiting to be revived by you. So if they keep getting themselves injured and faint in a big fight, things can go downhill quite fast. What would have been useful is if you had the option of issuing them commands, such as to take cover, open fire, group up, or hold back, but thereís no way of keeping them in order. Itís possible to heal them using the recovery spray, but they all need to be in your immediate vicinity to be healed. This was another pain. Youíll have to walk around, as if to get their attention, and as soon as they gather near you marks the opportunity to heal them with the spray. If they walk off just a little, the radius of the spray wonít reach them and theyíll miss out, costing you a precious method of recovery.
The game also has some questionable checkpoints. It wasnít a huge issue, but will be times when a spike in difficulty will occur and youíll be killed, then your last checkpoint will be loaded and you can find yourself a noticeable distance from the next checkpoint. Itís best to rethink your strategy in these circumstances, because restarting from the same checkpoint repeatedly after numerous attempts to move on to the next checkpoint can get annoying.
Enemy AI is made up of zombies, creatures, Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W) and teams of spec ops soldiers. Zombie 101 dictates that itís best to kill them using headshots, and thatís really helpful in Operation Raccoon City, although shooting off their arms or legs still looks quite cool. Some enemy AI take more damage than is necessary, burning through your ammo reserves fast when thereís a group of them. This would be better suited for boss-type enemies, but not regular recurring enemies. For example, the Lickers, the red creatures that ensnare you with their tongues, take a lot of bullets to kill, even when youíre shooting them in the head. Additionally there were minor glitches in which Iíd clear an area of zombies, believing that the immediate area was safe for exploration when the game suddenly causes a new horde of zombies to appear out of nowhere.
A cool feature of the game is CQC (close quarters combat). In addition to using a variety of weapons, you can beat down your enemies with melee attacks. Depending on the situation you can attack freely in any direction or you can do one of my favorite moves in the game: a Brutal Kill. Brutal Kills involve pulling off a flashy killing strike after disorienting your enemy with a melee attack. Pressing the Ability button, provided that the Ability gauge is full, will pull of a Brutal Kill unique to the character youíre playing as. Additionally you can use zombies as shields. A feature in the game called Blood Frenzy can be useful if you use it effectively. When enemy opposition seems high you can shoot an enemy soldier to cause them to bleed. Once you start bleeding, and if you donít kill them, any nearby zombies will smell the blood and will begin to attack the source. This works both ways, meaning you can cause Blood Frenzy, but it can also happen to you if you donít take cover from enemy fire. Another technique is Quick Draw. Reloading your primary weapon can take long, so switching to your sidearm is faster. Quick Draw equips your handgun and pushing the right stick in any direction will automatically shoot enemies that happen to be in that direction. If a zombie or creature gets the best of you, then you are prone to be infected. Once infected, youíll have to use an antiviral spray to disinfect yourself before turning into a zombie yourself. Teammates are also prone to infection, and given the AI system, can be even more dangerous than they already are.
Ammo shouldnít be a problem in the game, as numerous caches of ammo are sprinkled throughout the environment. You can also take weapons from your fallen enemies.
After each mission you complete comes the opportunity to spend your accrued experience points (XP) on your abilities and unlock new weapons. Abilities can be further upgraded to improve their effectiveness in battle and itís totally worth taking the time to customize your character to make things easier for yourself.
By shooter standards, the single player campaign was quite short. The campaign can be beaten in less than six hours. In fact, I took the time to go out of my way and look for pieces of data (or intelligence), which act as the gameís extra features, more accurately the way to unlock concept art for the gameís gallery, and I still beat the game in less than six hours. Mind you, I was checking every nook and cranny I could. Now something you may have forgotten is that Operation Raccoon City not only tells the story of the U.S.S. Delta Team, but also the Spec Ops team thatís been sent in to figure out just whatís happening in Raccoon City. At launch, only the U.S.S. characters are playable with the Spec Ops side of the story set to release as free DLC. In fact, you can see this right on the gameís box. ďFree Spec Ops Mission 1 DLCĒ, available April 11. This review takes into consideration the product that released to stores, and not the upcoming DLC. If the free DLC does make the length of the game more worthwhile, then more power to it, but the game as it released on March 20 was disappointingly short.
Finally, the finale of the game couldíve been handled better. Without spoiling it for you, the finale of the game is one in which you make a choice out of two possible options. The problem is that when youíre given these choices youíre given very, very little time to think about which option you want to choose. I mean this literally, if you take even more than five seconds to make your choice, the game will just step in and do it for you. If Iím presented the opportunity to choose the gameís ending, canít I at least have the time to think it over and then make my choice? It seemed really strange for the game to choose for you should you decide to take your time.
If youíre considering giving the campaign a try, I would recommend playing the game with a group of friends if they also happen to have the game. This way you eliminate the AI issues and youíll more than likely have a good time playing together. The ability to take the campaign online is a good feature that partially redeems the flaws that are experienced by playing it alone.
Multiplayer will keep you busy if thatís how you want to use the game after giving the campaign a try. There are four options. Team Attack is a team death match. Teams are split into U.S.S. and SPEC OPS. Points are awarded for taking out the opposing teamís players. Moreover, creatures will also be present on the battlefield and killing them also awards points. Biohazard acts as a capture the flag type game, but instead teams attempt to recover samples of the G-Virus to return to their base. Heroes is a cool mode that involves some of Resident Evilís memorable characters. Players will control Hero characters from the Resident Evil games and the team that kills all of the opposing teamís characters will win. Lastly thereís Survivor. A rescue helicopter is on the way to the area for evacuation, and teams must battle it out as there are a limited number of seats available on the helicopter.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a decent shooter. Character progression is a fun component of the game. Also, the gore and the use of CQC were really fun. The game controls and plays quite well, but there are numerous bugs that couldíve been addressed. Team AI, enemy AI, campaign longevity, and the handling of the gameís ending couldíve used some work. When coupled together, theyíre noticeable and can put quite a damper on your play through. Thatís why itíd be best to play the game online with friends or at least a reliable group of individuals. Honestly, I enjoyed the game despite these flaws, and I really enjoy the shooter genre. It was easy for me to adapt to the issues. If youíre a fan of shooters Iíd give it a go, but I have to recommend you rent it first or wait until a decent price drop. The upcoming free DLC was obviously not counted in this review, but letís hope that the game can be improved upon with the extra content. Operation Raccoon City is a decent game, but it couldíve had more going for it.