When I heard about Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, I was instantly excited for its release, since it had two things that we’ve never seen in a Resident Evil console game: four player co-op, and the ability to shoot and move at the same time. Videos and trailers sealed the deal and I saw myself lining up to get my copy with a friend the day it was released. After just a day with the game, I realized that all the reasons why I wanted this game so much combined weren’t enough to swallow this mess. Resident Evil fans, bear with me.
The game takes place during the events of Resident Evil 2, and for the first time you’re playing as the infamous Umbrella Corporation. You play as either one of the members of the Wolfpack and are tasked with entering Raccoon City and erasing all evidence that could trace the outbreak back to Umbrella. You witness how the virus was released in Raccoon City. It was a treat to walk through the streets of Raccoon City once again in a different perspective, but the story had no impact at all, nothing to keep me interested in what’s going on. To make matters worse, even if you are interested in the Wolfpack’s experience in Raccoon City, you are only given 6 chapters that will only take around four to five hours to complete. Given that it’s only a four-hour campaign, the plot holes in the story make the whole experience even less appealing, leaving me let down when the credits started rolling.
The characters you play also lack a sense of any personality whatsoever. Actually scratch that, all the characters you meet in this game are hopelessly dull. Most of the team is masked anyways, so when they give us vaguely emotional dialogue scenes, it just comes out awkward.
You meet the iconic characters Leon and Claire from Resident Evil 2 as enemies in the campaign. Umbrella command orders Wolfpack to eliminate the famous characters and you see your squad on the hunt for them. Resident Evil fans will get a kick out of this but they might end up disappointed since the story doesn’t stay true to the events of the earlier game.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, but Six Slant Games did do well in terms of recreating Raccoon City. Did it keep the scary atmosphere of RE 2? Not really. You are mostly on the move and you can tell they weren’t trying to create a survival horror atmosphere. Even the game’s score doesn’t give you that fear that you are in an infected town surrounded by zombies. You do visit the Raccoon City Police station, and seeing it just the way it was way back when is pretty cool.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City’s gameplay is what caught my eye at first; they had a great concept for a Resident Evil game, but absolutely dropped the ball on the execution. At long last for a major RE game (Resident Evil: Mercenaries 3D for the 3DS non-withstanding), you can shoot and move at the same time, a feature fans have been wanting for over a decade. Another first is the ability to play the game co-op with three other players. You might be wondering: how could that possibly go wrong? Playing with three friends in a Resident Evil game with the ability to shoot and move? Sounds like a winner, right? Wrong. Everything else around and building up to those two features ruins the experience.
My biggest deal-breaker is the cover system, which bothered the hell out of me. To get into cover, you simply go near some cover and your character will instantly stick to it. To get out you simply pull your character away. It becomes more of a pain than an actual tool to keep you alive. It’s also inconsistent, since you find your character unable to stick to some cover environments, leaving you to take a few shots because of a bug. I mostly avoided using the cover and was able to maneuver and protect myself better by doing so.
The cover is so bad that even enemies don’t use it… Just kidding. They use it, but just barely, since they are the worst AI I’ve ever seen in a game. Spec Ops soldiers show up all bunched up together and just stand there, shooting at you. They also at times don’t even notice that you are beside them and still continue to shoot at your allies that are far away. The zombies at least act like how zombies should, but the humans you face in this game feel like a waste of time to encounter. They’re more like a chore, since it takes tons of ammo to take one down. Don’t get me started on how Tyrants act in this game.
Aside from the Spec Ops soldiers, you face: different kinds of zombies, a creature called the Hunter, the infamous licker from the second game, and even Tyrants. I was excited to see my first licker in the game since I remember them freaking me out way back when I first encountered one in Resident Evil 2. Yet even they are a disappointment here, as they feel more like harmless spiders, crawling on ceilings and walls. You see the bad AI in the lickers as well, since you can often observe them struggling to get to you. It’s even common for them to get stuck on a part of the ceiling, leaving them as easy prey.
Don’t think your AI allies (if you really chose to play solo) are better than the enemies - they’re even worse. Your allies don’t revive you; they trigger traps, and hardly kill anything. They even wander aimlessly by themselves or get stuck in environments. AI pathing is bad and you should play this game with friends to save yourself the pain of dealing with these pathetic allies.
The third-person shooting ends up being decent, at least. The controls to shoot your gun are the standard L1 to zoom in and R1 to pull the trigger. The shooting I can forgive but I spent more time looking for ammo than shooting. You burn ammo fast, since enemies you face can take a bullet, as if they are all Tyrants. The gun sounds don’t help the immersion either, since I didn’t feel the weight or power of my gun. Ammo packs are placed conveniently in each area so it isn’t that tough to get more ammo, but be aware that you’ll find yourself doing that a lot.
The melee system here wasn’t bad either, but it gets awful repetitive after you watch the 50th zombie get killed by the same kill animation. Pressing O makes you do a melee attack, and when you get an enemy staggered (usually after the first melee) you can press X to execute him. There are different executions like smashing someone’s head to a wall but it’s still not enough to elevate its being repetitive. Oh, and because zombies often overwhelm you and you burn ammo quick, you’ll be swinging your arms a lot.
Your secondary weapon is a pistol and is actually a bit more useful than your primary at times. It takes longer to run out of ammo and has this auto aim feature that instantly locks on any enemy that’s in front of your character. It’s meant to quickly deal with enemies that would overwhelm you, but I just use it for the auto-aim.
When you complete each chapter, you earn experience, which is used to unlock new guns and class skills. Yes, there are classes in this game. Each character in the Wolfpack specializes in a specific class. The available classes are Recon, Surveillance, Demolition, Assault, Field Scientist, and Medic. Each one has three passive skills, and three skills that you can activate. You can only equip one active skill though, so you’ll have to choose which skills you would like to bring onto a session. It’s pretty cool in theory, but I didn’t really see an impact from most of these skills. Each skill in the game has three levels, but most of the improvements when you level them up feel like a waste of experience points. For example - the Demolition class’s timed explosive. At level one it will detonate after 4 seconds, max it and it will detonate after 8. Huh?
On the flipside, some skills can be useful such as the Assault’s incendiary rounds skill or the Surveillance’s Threat Scanner that reveals all the enemies in all the players’ mini-maps. With all the skills, it seems that teamwork is needed to make it worthwhile, but during my first play-through of the short campaign, I hardly used these skills and ended up just powering through. All your unlockables are carried into the multiplayer, which is where I really started to test every skill.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City’s multiplayer is a four-on-four game with around four game modes to choose from, which I’ll get to in a bit. While I was hoping that the multiplayer would provide a better experience than the campaign, all the problems I had during the campaign were present in the multiplayer. The unique thing about this multiplayer is that it’s like a three way battle against the good guys, bad guys, and the monsters of the game. As you worry about the opposing team, you also have to worry about the zombies and lickers out to get you. Again, this is a great concept destroyed by poor execution. Midway through a match, it becomes chaotic. Everybody running for their lives, separated. It is even hard to tell a real enemy player to a zombie, which makes it difficult to get things done for your team to win. It just goes out of control real fast and takes the fun out of the match. You have no idea how many awkward moments I had when I noticed an enemy right beside me, and then discovering that my enemy just noticed it too.
The game modes are Team Deathmatch, Biohazard, Survivor, and Heroes. Team Deathmatch is self-explanatory. Biohazard is like capture the flag but instead of flags, it’s vials and you need to grab four and return them to your base. ‘Heroes’ lets you play iconic heroes and villains like Leon, Jill or HUNK with your goal being to kill all the opposing team’s iconic characters. Players that have already died will respawn as normal characters and will have to defend the heroes left alive in their team. It’s sort of like protect the VIP, with a twist. The last, and actually the worst mode among the four is Survivor. In this four-on-four match you simply have to survive until the transport helicopter arrives to extract four survivors. There are only four seats, so you’ll have to fight for them. The funny thing is, you can die and respawn. So what’s there to survive? You can even share a seat with an enemy already on the chopper, so it doesn’t really make sense. There’s no real point in either going against the enemy or helping your team.
There’s not much to unlock, so the lasting appeal of the multiplayer is not even close to a month at best. Heck, you might see yourself tired of it in two weeks. I also encountered long game matchmaking and lag that leaves you an easy target.
For the first time, I was deeply disappointed after purchasing a Resident Evil game. I was trying to find something good out of getting this game but the best I can come up with is that you can experience this train wreck with friends. A very short campaign, bugs everywhere, horrible AI for enemies and allies, a painful cover system, and a multiplayer that isn’t much fun to play. The concepts for this game sounded great, but were executed terribly by Slant Six Games. Maybe next time Capcom will think twice of giving one of their beloved franchises to another developer, because I can easily say that this is the worst Resident Evil title that was ever developed.
Score: 50/100 Pros:
- Revisiting the iconic Raccoon City was a treat
- Horrible cover system
- Bad AI for both enemies and allies
- Very short campaign
- Weak multiplayer