Watch the property prices in Raccoon City tumble.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, or REORC as it has come to be known, is the latest in a long line of spin off games from the popular Resident Evil franchise. Whilst it is safe to say that not all of these spin offs have been successful, the world and mythos that has been built around Resident Evil certainly encourages this expansion. The problem always seems to be that the more fanatical Resident Evil fans expect too much. Can REORC really live up to the lofty expectations? Or will it only be a disappointing stop gap until the next true Resident Evil game is released?
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a third-person, squad-based shooter developed by Slant Six Games. Being squad-based, you can imagine that there is a strong emphasis on taking the game online and teaming up with friends. But let’s look at the solo experience first.
The story is juicy enough to whet the appetites of any Resident Evil fan. The game is set between the second and third game and sees the player taking control of one of six U.S.S. soldiers who are initially sent into the Umbrella research facility to recover an experimental T-Virus sample. As you can imagine, nothing is ever that simple. Dr. Birkin, who was planning to sell the sample, injects himself with the virus and through a series of unfortunate events, the T-Virus is leaked into the sewers and starts to infect all of Raccoon City. It is then up to the player and their team to destroy the evidence and cover up Umbrella’s involvement.
Resident Evil fans will be pleased to hear that some of the characters, locations and enemies that they have come to know and love make a welcome return, including Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, Hunk, and the Nemesis.
So, yeah. It’s all kicking off in Raccoon City. Not only do the team have to deal with the virus outbreak and the subsequent Zombies, but the government have sent in their own team of operatives. I am guessing now would not be a good time to move to Raccoon City…
The story continues with all of the customary twists and turns and, so far as squad-based shooters go, is quite an enjoyable romp. The six different characters that the player can control each have their own strengths and weaknesses, adding both variety to the gameplay and a tactical edge. You have a all round assault class, a scout, a sniper, a medic, an explosives expert and a scientist. Some of the classes play better than others.
The controls are where the game seems to have made a big leap forward, with the amazing revelation that you can now fire your weapon whilst moving! Other than theat, the controls are all fluid and will be comfortable to anyone who regularly plays shooters. There are a few inventory problems, the limitations that have been put in place on how many weapons or health sprays you can carry. The same can be said for the antiviral sprays, which prevent you from going all Zombie should you be infected, as you are limited to carrying only one. But these limitations don’t really harm the game, they are just minor annoyances that will force the player to be a bit more careful.
The main problem stopping the game from being thoroughly entertaining in solo play, is the difficulty. Don’t get me wrong, this is not about the game being too hard, although some checkpoints through the levels would have been nice. No, this is about how having a bunch of stupid team-mates can make even the most easy going game a nightmare.
The team AI is incredibly flawed. Your team-mates are not only incredibly useless when it comes to taking down threats, but they seem to actively go out of their way to make your job more complicated by getting stuck on walls and doors, setting off traps and generally getting in the way. So many times I found myself having to back-track as a couple of my team-mates had just decided to stop and I could not progress without them.
It is much better however, when you replace those nasty AIs with real players. It wouldn’t be fair to complain too much about the solo play as REORC appears to have been designed with multiplayer in mind right from the get go, which is why it strikes me as strange that split screen co-op has been left out. I am a massive local co-op gamer and, I’ll be honest with you, I even dragged my former Resident Evil 5 gaming partner around to join me in REORC. The disappointment was overwhelming. Tears were shed.
Playing co-op removes the one major problem with the game. The resulting game is rather good, albeit not outstanding. The mechanics all work well, but it just feels like the developers have not taken advantage of the “Resident Evil vibe” that the fans have come to expect. There is a distinctly “Left 4 Dead” feel about the game though, which can’t be a bad thing.
There are also a bunch of different competitive modes included, with the players either being members of U.S.S. or the US Special Forces. Most of the modes are your standard variations on different multiplayer modes, such as team deathmatch or capture the flag, with the added threat of zombies wandering around. Whilst they may not offer anything especially new to the shooter genre, they are all enjoyable and add more playability.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a fairly enjoyable co-op shooter. However, the Resident Evil survival horror feel is absent, a fact that will likely leave many of the fans feeling somewhat short-changed. But, if you pick up this game not for the Resident Evil name but rather for some co-op shooter action, there is no reason why you wouldn’t have a damn good time. Just don’t try playing it alone…