Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City review
While Capcom’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City wasn’t my most anticipated game of 2012, it was definitely on the list. The trailers, the concept, and the coop / multiplayer aspects were quite compelling and alluring. As a Resident Evil fan, I was excited to relive a familiar time period in the series — the initial outbreak in Raccoon City.
You play as the ‘bad guys’ — Umbrella security agents. Your task is to cover up the evidence of any connection to Umbrella and the incident involving zombies. ‘Covering up’ includes burning physical evidence, deleting digital data, and killing any survivors found. What I love about this concept is that for once you play as a faction that knows what Umbrella is up too. You see a hunter and your character identifies it as a MA-121. Instead of being surprised by a zombie outbreak, you understand it, have the skills to enhance it, and have the ability to cure infection. For once, you don’t play as a Chris, Leon, or insert S.T.A.R.S. member here.
The negative aspect of playing as an Umbrella agent is that by knowing what you’re against and what’s going on, you lose a lot of the fear element. As a player, it’s difficult to grasp the severity of the outbreak when your squad is reprogramming a Nemesis. The co-op aspect of the game also takes away from the fear element. It’s hard to catch the few ‘scary’ moments when the event starts by someone that isn’t you.
Despite what I just said, the cooperation play is the best aspect of REORC. To play through the game with three friends is ideal. I had the most fun when playing with friends or at least other humans. The AI for your squad is downright awful. Charging into hordes of zombies, not moving at all, walking over trip mines, and just standing in fire until they die were popular tactics of my single player squad mates. I thoroughly enjoyed the times my mates would get infected so I could just shoot them in the head.
There is a general consensus among myself and other reviewers about the bad AI. While I fully admit the AI is terrible, the game is designed to be played cooperatively. Playing Left for Dead single player can be just as painful. In a squad-based game you need to have squad dynamics to be efficient. The penalties for death are not grave enough (pun intended). Losing your sprays and grenades to get all your ammo back isn’t a bad trade off. As long as one human player is alive, the game stays in motion. For some reason, you can revive a player who was previously infected and / or brutally mangled with no limbs left. To revive someone costs nothing but time.
For the campaign mode, there are six different characters you can play as. Each character has two unique passive abilities and three unique abilities. However, you can only use one of the three unique abilities at a time. Both the passive and active abilities have three levels that you can upgrade with experience points. Experience points are universal, so while you play one character you can unlock other character abilities with the same experience. Different guns can also be unlocked, which any character can use once you unlock them.
While I admittedly love the setting, the plot still fell short of my expectations. Since the Resident Evil series often uses the same characters in each of the games, they don’t have to catch you up too much on their past. In REORC, these are six brand new characters and there is literally no backstory. While I never expected too much in this department, I would have liked more than the small blurb when you're highlighting the character you want to play as. Without giving away spoilers, the twists in the game were somewhat predictable. I feel like Capcom could have done so much to flush out these characters and have some development during the game.
With all that said, there are many things I enjoyed about the setting. REORC takes place during the events of Resident Evil 2 and the outbreak in Raccoon City. Due to this time period, Leon and Claire are integrated into the story. The scenery looks like an updated Raccoon City from RE2, you fight classic enemies like hunters and lickers, and you even visit the Raccoon City Police Department. There is even an easter egg that I picked up on is when coming across a piano which plays “Moonlight Sonata” like the piano in the original Resident Evil. I will forever associate that song with the Resident Evil series.
The gameplay itself is a bit clunky. While the cover system is easy to get into (you just run into what you want to take cover against), I found it to be too easy at times. While running away from stuff, I would often go into cover, giving whatever was chasing me a few easy hits on me. I didn’t like that I wasn't able to vault over smaller objects. Shooting felt similar to other third person games. You always have a sidearm and one other gun. You will often drop guns for new ones on the ground for the sake of having ammo to fire. I felt this gave a slight ‘survival horror’ feel to the game.
Headshots, as they should be, were extremely effective versus zombies. The other B.O.W.s (Bio Organic Weapons) were hard to determine just how much your attacks were doing to them and often took clip after clip to take down. The Hunters and especially the Tyrants were quite the ordeals to bring down. Melee attacks are weak, but they open the ability to instant kill zombies / humans which make them strong. Effectively using melee attacks will leave you completely unscathed, even when surrounded by a horde of zombies.
The campaign mode was fairly short; somewhere around eight hours. The multiplayer may have potential, but it wasn’t able to grab my attention. The same experience points you gain in the campaign is also gained in multiplayer. The unlocks you get in single player pass over to multiplayer and vice versa. So if you pick up the game without ever playing you have to rely on the standard guns and you won’t have any powers. After a match or two though, you will be caught up. Only one person can play a single character at a time, so spread out your powers instead of having one fully upgraded character — unless you are playing with three friends.
In conclusion, if you are a die-hard Resident Evil fan or someone who knows a handful of friends who want to play the game, I’d say pick it up. If you don’t have internet connection or plan on playing through the entire game as a private single-player experience — I don’t suggest it. The game excels as a multiplayer and cooperative game, and I feel it should only be played as one. I enjoyed my experience with the game, but I would have rather had it more polished with a slightly more fleshed out story. I don’t feel like I got what I anticipated so long for. The length of the campaign was disappointing, as well. There is already free DLC promised, so let’s see what direction the future of this game takes. At least we can all go back and watch those kick ass trailers. The trailers were so good...
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]