The Resident Evil franchise has always been a mainstay for Capcom. Each time a new entry into the series was released it was usually met with praise and set the example of a good blend of action and horror. The last few entries however have been mixed for the series; now Capcom has outsourced their latest release in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City to Slant Six Games, former developers for entries into the SOCOM: US Navy Seals franchise. Unfortunately, what was produced is something that most people could claim to be scarier than the monsters you face in the game.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City campaign takes place in a non-canonical “What If” scenario. It gives you the opportunity to see further into the virus outbreak of Raccoon City, which was the setting for the original Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. This time however, instead of playing as a STARS team member or police officer, you are able to play as a member of an Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S.) cleanup crew nicknamed the “Wolfpack”. Their main objective at the beginning of the game is to collect a sample of the G-Virus, the cause of the initial outbreak, from Dr. William Burkin. From then on your objectives change putting you in to several missions that would shape the course of the Resident Evil universe.
Before beginning each level, you have the chance to choose a specific character from the Umbrella team, each with their specific class talent. You have Beltway, who acts as your Demolition expert. Spectre is the Surveillance expert who can see and detect enemies at a distance. Vector the Recon specialist who can turn invisible and sneak attack enemies. Bertha is the Medic class, Four Eyes the Field Scientist who can control and turn B.O.W.’s (Bio Organic Weapons) to attack your enemies, and finally Lupo who acts has the main assault class and field team leader. Each of these characters have unlockables to grant them extra perks using the experience points you gain completing levels and performing extra challenges. Sink enough points into a specific class to have their abilities either last longer or become more powerful. But do not fall victim to becoming too comfortable with them, as they are meant to help you. Example would be Vector’s cloaking ability. You can add experience to have that ability last longer, but if not careful enemies might still be able to detect you. Your experience points can also buy you passive abilities that stay to help you. Other than abilities, you can also purchase better weapons and upgrades for them ranging from better assault and sniper rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
The campaign story is told through a total of seven missions, although they can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. From a long time Resident Evil fan’s perspective, it is really exciting to see these classic levels and areas as they are more fleshed out, connected, and intertwined. However that appeal will only last for so long.
Along the way you will battle human Raccoon Spec Ops squads, old enemies such as the classic RE slow moving zombies along with the more evolved violent crimson heads, Hunters, and Lickers. You may even have a chance to take on some of the more menacing bosses from past Resident Evil games. One good part of this game is you are able to melee zombies and use them as (un)human shields against other enemies. What do you know, Slant Six Games actually figured out a problem Capcom could never get their heads around; moving and shooting at the same time.
The problem with battling some of these enemies is that in the Hunters case, when I was repeatedly knocked down, the Hunters kept attacking me. The reason I bring this up is, while your character is doing their animation to get themselves up from the ground there is no way of defending yourself. Instead you simply must wait to see how much damage is taken from you before you have the chance to fight again. You must also be careful when fighting because all human players have the chance to bleed, which will attract more zombies and monsters to you. Another interesting aspect is that all mutated enemies have the opportunity to infect human characters with the G-Virus. Even live enemies that become overrun from zombies can become infected and turn. Do not find an anti-viral spray for yourself and you risk turning into a zombie. Do not cure your teammates and you will find them attacking you, forcing you to defend yourself and kill them.
The terrible AI here also brings me to one of the biggest problems with the game, it seems at times your teammates can barely function without you. Your squad will help you in terms of firepower, but small simple things like when they become hurt they barely if ever attempt to heal themselves. Many times members of my squad were near death with green herbs around them with no action taking place. But it wasn’t until I took charge to find a first-aid spray were they finally cured. Other times they would plainly take cover behind vehicles covered in fire or in other dangerous spots which would cause me stop just to help them. Players should not have to be babysitting a group of “trained” mercenaries. AI teammates will not even resurrect their fellow computer controlled allies, making you once again, have to help them. Another problem is weapons and other objects lying on the ground will come in the way of you being able to maneuver into a spot to resurrect your fallen teammates. Other problems occurred when they clearly ran into proximity mines time and time again or bunched together in tight corridors making it hard to move past them. Opposing AI isn’t any better at times either. When fighting against the Raccoon City Spec Ops troops, at times, I easily dispatched them or snuck around to execute them with little difficulty. Considering they also ran out into the open just as much as my teammates didn’t help either.
Another main problem of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is its stiff movement and character gameplay. It is apparent that developer Slant Six Games is using almost the same game engine used on their previous SOCOM games. What I don’t understand is how game mechanics from those games were either removed or somehow did not make it in to this game. Little things like not being able to crouch at will to sneak past enemies in a game where it is best not to be detected seemed confusing. Taking cover behind a low wall or car and not being able to vault over felt strange. Instances of invisible walls stopping your characters from moving forward or dropping one foot to lower ground were very annoying and troublesome. I could not find a dodge function to move to the side, which would have helped against certain enemies. I refuse to believe that trained mercenaries do not know how to properly dodge enemies.
The animation and graphics for the game are times also at fault. One area had me escape from a burning building. I reentered the building to restock my ammo only to find that the fire animation was completely gone five seconds after leaving. Another problem occurred when I reached a certain check point; the door closed behind me trapping one of my teammates. Bugs and glitches like this are annoying and terrible for someone paying the full price for this game. Although I will say that a bright spot is that in certain points, Slant Six Games seemed to have modeled the zombies in this game after the original looking zombies from Resident Evil 2. Small little touches like that are one of the few bright spots in this game.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City also contains online features for both campaign and multiplayer, which during the time of this writing was playable. If you plan to play the story portion of this game, do yourself a favor and play with online co-op partners. As I explained, the computer controlled characters are more troublesome than they are worth.
You have a total of 4 different modes to play. During which you will play as either the U.S.S or Raccoon City Spec Ops teams, each with the same counter abilities. There is Team Attack, which is your basic Team Deathmatch mode. Heroes’ mode gives you the opportunity to play as classic Resident Evil characters of past games. One side chooses between Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Carlos Oliveira. The opposing side chooses between Umbrella characters Ada Wong, Hunk, Nicholai Ginovaef, and a new character named Lone Wolf. Other modes include your Capture the Flag mode called Biohazard, in which you must collect samples of the G-Virus in random areas and return them to your base. And a Defend and Conquer mode called Survivor, were two different teams fight to race to the last rescue helicopter out of Raccoon City. In all of these modes, while battling each other, teams must also battle zombies and other infected or mutated enemies within the game. At times there could be two opposing members working together to take down a Tyrant or you could simply watch and not interfere as the other team becomes destroyed by these super enemies. Unfortunately, when playing these modes, it simply seemed like nothing but simple team deathmatch. After playing them all, I felt like I already experienced all the multiplayer aspect had to show me.
What it all boils down to, is to ask, “Is the game overall fun?” That could be answered with Yes and No. If you are a zombie fan and can see past the faults, are able to play with human players, and have an affinity for zombie games then there is somewhat of a fun team based game here. But it really is a shame, that after wanting to see more into the events of the original Raccoon City incident – even if this is non-canonical – that we were delivered a game that came so poorly done. If anything I would recommend players, even fans of Resident Evil, to wait on this game. That is if you ever planned on picking this game up. It would be a better value at a lesser price.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City gets a 4/10