Review: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
(Note: This review can also be found at Front Towards Gamer)
When I first heard that Slant Six Games was developing a multiplayer-focused third-person shooter with the Resident Evil license, my immediate thought was of some weird amalgamation of SOCOM Confrontation and Resident Evil: Outbreak. I know that’s not the best pedigree in the world, but don’t be so quick to roll your eyes and write off Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City as just another case of Capcom grasping at straws. While those presumptions are true to a point, Operation Raccoon City does an adequate job of holding down the fort for Resident Evil 6.
Resident Evil… 2.5?
Set during the events of Resident Evil 1 and 2, Operation Raccoon City puts you in the shiny black boots of one of six Umbrella Security Service agents tasked with the extermination of all Umbrella involvement in Raccoon City’s recent zombie population explosion. This, of course, requires lots of bullets, large guns for said bullets and green herbs. Major characters from the Resident Evil canon, such as Leon Kennedy, are interspersed throughout the campaign, providing further perspective as to where your merry band of soldiers fit into the overarching chaos. Speaking of your squad, none of U.S.S. Wolfpack is particularly memorable. There’s a crass demolitions expert and a shady Russian spy among others, but, other than a brief text bio, you never really get a sense of who these soldiers are. A vast majority of the voice acting is incredibly poor, with Spectre and Nicholai standing out as exceptionally bad.
Though it most certainly doesn’t redefine the series like Resident Evil 4 (and honestly, who was expecting it to), Operation Raccoon City’s narrative is interesting enough to keep things fresh for the six or so hours it takes to complete.
The Killing Floor.
Along with copious amounts of the undead, Operation Raccoon City also pits you against squads of government agents and spec ops. Rather than simply having a batch of Left 4 Dead-style special infected, you’ve got this constant three-way battle in which the U.S. military and Umbrella Corp. duke it out while the zombies create absolute havoc for both sides. In addition to your basic, shuffle-and-groan Resident Evil zombies, Operation Raccoon City mixes in several other varieties of infected. Lightning quick Crimson Heads do their darnedest to snuff out campers, and big baddies like Hunters and Lickers take massive amounts of damage while causing absolute bedlam.
While Raccoon’s undead do an extremely good job of making your mission a living hell, the same can’t be said for the human AI. Enemy soldiers attack with the aggressiveness of a zombified snail. They’ll occasionally land a few decent shots and can throw a grenade like an NFL quarterback, but otherwise offer little resistance. Though they will heal you in a pinch, your AI buddies aren’t much better, serving more as a diversion than anything else. Ideally you’ll be tackling the campaign with three friends via Xbox Live or Playstation Network, but, if not, the AI is serviceable enough that it doesn’t ruin the experience.
Brother, can you spare an herb?
Billed from the start as a Resident Evil game that would focus on multiplayer, Operation Raccoon City offers a surprisingly decent online component. In addition to the entire campaign having 4-player co-op, Versus mode features a good variety of modes to choose from. You have the basic Team Deathmatch and one-on-one equivalents, but there’s also Heroes mode, which, as the name suggests, has each team start as heroes and villains from the Resident Evil franchise. You only get one life as a hero per match, and the game ends once all the heroes/villains on one side are dead. While entertaining, Heroes mode only lasts for one round, making each game disappointingly brief.
Operation Raccoon City features an experience system much like Call of Duty, though your XP is cumulative across all modes. New weapons, special abilities and passive buffs work well without feeling overpowered, but are still legitimately fun to use. Unloading on a group of zombies with incendiary ammo will always be one of life’s simple pleasures.
I honestly have a hard time believing that this was the same developer that made SOCOM Confrontation. While Confrontation had massive connection and latency issues, there are no such problems with Operation Raccoon City. I seldom had trouble finding a match, and, once in, lag never once reached game-hindering levels. This was the area I was expecting Operation Raccoon City to really falter, but Slant Six did a surprisingly good job with online play.
While it may be little more than stopgap for Resident Evil 6, Operation Raccoon City delivers enough zombie-filled action to satisfy fans of the series. By no means will it have gamers deserting their copies of Modern Warfare 3, but Operation Raccoon City provides enough multiplayer goodness to warrant a rental at the very least.