Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon Pity
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. A game seemingly destined to fail from the moment it was announced. "A co-op shooter set within the confines of Resident Evil? Nay!" seemed to be the consensus. Why was this game being made, and who exactly was it being made for? A question that every fan had in their head. Combined with the checkered past of Slant Six games, it was all but too easy to completely dismiss Operation Raccoon City as a bomb waiting to go off.
The campaign starts in a fashion similar to another co-op based zombie shooter, with a character select screen and short biography for each character, however some sound almost too cliche to matter; Beltway being the veteran demolition expert who lost his leg in an accident, or Four Eyes, obsessed with science for as long as she could remember, devoting her life to the field etc, etc.
Your group of characters are the makeup of The Wolfpack, this black ops type outfit Umbrella has running around doing their dirty work. You've got Russian Cold War veterans, medics who have a certain affinity to their job, and your well rounded, well expected group of mercenaries.
Each character has a class and with that class, a number of special abilities. For instance, Four Eyes, of whom I played for the entire game, has one ability that throws a pheromone cloud to a certain point, which is more tuned to multiplayer than co-op, as using it in the campaign felt very clunky and not worth the effort, when going down guns blazing always seemed to work with a certain "accuracy", compared to the pheromone cloud.
One thing to note for certain and without any doubt: This is a co-op game. To the core. I began the first chapter by myself, as I could not find anyone to play with and at the time, no one I knew had the game. It started "neat" enough, pandering immediately to the Resident Evil nostalgia that people undoubtedly bought this particular game for.
You begin the game and are met by series familiar, Hunk, as he strategically dismembers two security guards with his knife. One particular character I brought with me, Specter, was "trained and taught the ways of war" by Hunk, and they have character specific dialog that touches on that. The whole thing seemed very neat and was setting itself up to be this unique, almost diamond in the rough. It looked pretty good, it sounded alright, but then, the shooting began.
You walk into this huge room and are told "weapons free", to foreshadow the upcoming firefight. Depending on which character you've brought with you, and which weapons, the fight could turn out to be more or less strenuous. I just happened to bring a SMG with me, which was probably the worst possible weapon to bring. Not only does it do incredibly low damage, but the bullet sponge enemies seem to multiply the irritant tenfold.
Quickly following along, it is revealed that we are there to stop William Birkin from taking his specially made product to the United States Government. You are assisting Hunk during this mission and work your way towards him. Of course, these bland and empty corridors are filled with bullet sponge enemies that never seem to die when you want them to, and there are a lot of them.
I had really hoped that they were putting such emphasis on these soldiers only to pleasantly surprise you later on with the variety in zombies and other enemies you would end up fighting, but that was not the case. The difficulty in enemies was only a real problem due to the A.I on your other characters being almost nonexistent. For instance, during the first boss fight, there is a moment where you have to shoot him and back away(You cannot actually turn around at all in this moment, you just have to walk backwards while shooting his "weak point" to stagger him). While this was happening, of course, my A.I partners were spawned on the other side of the map, to the point I was supposed to got to. So, during this relatively easy segment, I was alone.
This isn't a one-time happening either. Far from it. The A.I behind your team-mates seems to mimic that of a four year old. For instance, during the second chapter I had finally partnered up with another player and we would kill enemies and progress, turn around and try to find the rest of our "four man group" only to see them way across the map, doing a very poor job of clearing out zombies.
Thankfully though, the game recognizes this and does not require you to wait for them. It does require you to wait for the other players, however. So sticking together is always a good idea.
More to the point on co-op, however, is the ability to revive fallen players. You would assume this be easy, but most of the time when the other player went down, their name would be left in one place, and his body somewhere different. And you do need to find the body in order to revive them. So in at least two occasions, the other player had gone down and I couldn't begin reviving him due to his body going somewhere else, resulting in my death and the start of the checkpoint again. One painstaking issue when a player goes down, however, is that they lose all items they had. Just picked up a First Aid Spray? Gone. Even if the player goes down for mere seconds, they lose all items in their inventory except weapons and abilities. It was a huge bother, having someone go down in a boss fight, especially a medic that has the special ability to carry an additional First Aid Spray.
Thankfully the check-pointing seemed to hold up fairly decent, only acting up near the end of the game, where certain locations required us to stick around longer than most, without doing any sort of time-decisive checkpoint, instead going for the usual "you checkpoint when you reach a certain spot" type deal.
The game has a persistent experience system in which you can level up by completing chapters, killing enemies, reviving players, both offline and online, giving you credits to use on their store, which has tiered weapons such as default shotguns, to slightly better shotguns, to rapid fire shotguns etc etc.
Immediately, I found myself resonating with the shotgun, as, it seemed to me, shotguns were a better choice as they kill things faster and without as much to get in your way. The Juggernaut and I became quick friends as we gun down special ops soldiers and zombies alike.
Speaking of zombies, for those who are unaware, zombies play second-fiddle to just about anything else. There is not very much focus put on them at all, and when it comes down to it, they are probably a distraction at best. Once the game opens up after the first chapter, it seems like even the game doesn't care about zombies. In fact, they are more like cute little puppy dogs that hang around and always want your attention than any actual threat.
It's so easy to go around them, that I often wonder if this wasn't an accident and they just couldn't make zombies fearsome enough, or if it was a callback to older Resident Evil games, where the point was, at often times, avoidance. Either way, it's very easy to do so, only getting a spike in difficulty when you begin to "bleed", which is a trigger in the game once you've taken enough damage, essentially pulling the aggro of all zombies in the area. It's a swift death for those who are not careful, but considering the relative easy of avoiding zombies, laying down multiple rounds with a shotgun is more than enough to clear the path.
Boss battles are something I am actually depressed by in this game. For instance, there is one boss battle that has a rather overtly dramatic intro, instigated by a very familiar face from the Resident Evil series. It loses all ground almost immediately once you realize the goal of this "fight" is to run up to a certain distance, trigger a cutscene, and then the boss fight ends: You're winner! And no, there is no more to it. It's just over.
Other boss fights in the game are probably more inane than that, but the aforementioned boss fight just really put a bad taste in my mouth. Considering the character and the circumstances, it's clear that I'm just putting too much credit into what they were trying to accomplish, which was nothing more than mere fan-service, which if you haven't realized by now, is pretty much the entire point of this game.
I was able to beat the co-op campaign with one other player in roughly four and a half hours on the normal difficulty. It was a shame that the game was so short, because what the game did right, I believe it did right in spades. For instance, the atmosphere you get when you walk around the streets of Raccoon City. Unfortunately, you do not spend enough time in the streets. Instead, it falls into generic shooter territory with generic corridor infused buildings and of course, the genre defining "docks" stage that has you running over and under cargo trailers.
Another problem you will see is the utmost abuse of the monster closet concept. Every door you walk by is almost, and I mean 99% almost packed to the brim with zombies. The first time you see it, the paranoia in you goes "There's no way that door's going to burst open with zomb-OH MAN! Monster closet! Oh boy you got me good! There's another door, but there's no way... oh, it was a monster closet too. Please don't tell me this is a mons-... yep. All of these doors are monster closets" That was my exact reaction to the "surprise" it has in store. It's almost funny the first time you see it, thinking that maybe these guys know what they're doing, but the second, third, and three hundredth time you see them, you are just bored of it.
And then there's the multiplayer. Trust me when I say I did not want to go into this game with some sort of misplaced hatred for bastardizing the series because I had a secret hope it would have blown us all away. Long story short: It doesn't. But if there is one thing that Operation Raccoon City manages to do, is feature a multiplayer that packs a punch.
The multiplayer mode is your usual kit of TDM and CTF inspired modes, but there are additional modes that are weirdly refreshing, like one mode in which you and the other team fight for an extended period of time, waiting for a helicopter to land. At that point, the player walks up to the helicopter and holds down the "action" button to get in. The team that has the most players in the helicopter out of four, wins. Of course, nothing is ever easy, and the helicopter usually erupts a massive drawn out battle to stop the enemy team in their tracks.
I ended up spending more time with the multiplayer than I originally expected, but there's a certain quirk to it that I cannot deny. This sense of there are zombies everywhere, yet I'm out here killing other people is really interesting. It's such a shame that the really well done multiplayer had to be attached to such a lackluster product, as there is no way it is worth the asking price of $60. No matter how fun the mulitplayer is.
Surprisingly enough, and, in a good way this time, the multiplayer was completely stable. I had no freezes, no disconnects(Except for my shoddy internet at times which was completely on me), there was no lag or obvious cases of bad hosts. The multiplayer is a solid, very well made product that is actually almost ironic considering Slant Six's last venture into the territory, SOCOM: Confrontation, being down-right unplayable for months and months after launch.
If you had to ask me, I would say the multiplayer alone gets three S.T.A.R.S for feeling different and fresh, while at the same time being held back by it's singleplayer component. Whereas the aforementioned singleplayer component(While entirely playable in co-op form, and recommended in such a state) is a shambling mess of pandering "Hey! Remember this thing from that one game!? Don'tcha!? Don'tcha?" that it's actually more funny than it is serious.
I had no intention of coming into this game with negative feelings, and no matter how much I would recommend the multiplayer to anyone, I just cannot recommend the singleplayer in any such regard. It's a mess of tired cliche's, interesting ideas that ultimately fell on their heads and no love for the series, often resulting in nothing but sheer pandering, hoping to maybe get some "I see what you did there"'s from fans of the other games. And as much as I want to see Slant Six Games really succeed, I don't think this is the game to do it.
And with that said, I'm afraid I have to give this game 2 S.T.A.R.S out of five.