When fans hear the name “Resident Evil”, most people tend to remember back to the original, one of the ones that actually created the genre that we now call “Survival Horror.” While the Resident Evil formula has changed over the past few iterations, it still remained a strong contender with Resident Evil 4 even taking a few game of the year titles in the year of its release. When I first heard of the rumors a couple years ago of Capcom possibly looking into returning to Raccoon City for another game, I kept my ear to the ground and became very interested in what ever developments that I could come across. Was the final outcome worth the wait? Maybe.
The main storyline campaign takes place some where along the timeline of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 where Raccoon City has become overrun with zombies and Umbrella BOWs. Players will take on the role of the Umbrella team “Wolfpack” who has to do what they can in order to cover up the mess that Umbrella has caused due to the viral outbreak. There are six characters in total, ranging from classes such as Assault and Medic, but only four can be present at a time.
First impression of the game is that if you are expecting an older, more traditional style of Resident Evil that started the series in the beginning, this is far from it. Operation Raccoon City is a third-person tactical shooter, not survival horror. Players are not going to be taking slow steps down halls and alleyways, trying to sneak around zombies and conserve ammo. The game tends to be rather fast paced and full of running, shooting, explosions and taking cover. While ammo and items are limited, there is always more than enough around to get the job done.
The main campaign can be done single player, but it seems to stress cooperative play due to the fact that regardless of being alone or not, you will always be followed by three other people (either AI-bots or actual people on the other end). Players can even join in during a game that is already in session. The campaign itself is not too long, around 7 missions with a total play time of around 6 hours in the first play through. Even on the hardest difficulty of Professional is not terrible to handle when there are three other players that can revive you when ever it is you happen to be knocked down. The “YOU ARE DEAD” tends to be rather misleading when it comes up and you are revived not five seconds later.
The biggest portion of the game seems to be the multiplayer where players can take on against other players in a number of different game modes. Umbrella Forces fight against Spec Ops in a number of different modes, all the while there are infected zombies and other monsters around looking to kill them while they are still fighting one another. Players can even become “infected” with the virus and must be cured of it or else they will turn into a zombie themselves and lose control of their character. This concept of two factions fighting against one another in the middle of a zombie apocalypse is what seems to be the most interesting and fun to me, but putting an entire game mode, “Nemesis Mode”, on one specific platform just does not sit well with me.
While I have overall had a decent time with the game, it must be stated that almost all of my game play has taken place with friends who are also fans of the series. Playing through the multiplayer and campaign with people I know have greatly increased the “fun factor” of the game, but it is hard to say it is the game that is doing that and not a group of people hanging out that share similar interests.
The game itself is not without its own few shares of problems. A lot of the weapons feel rather underpowered when it takes an entire magazine of bullets in order to take down a simple soldier, though much less to a zombie. The guns themselves tend to feel and look mostly the same for their own classes, the only real way to tell them apart being through their actual names and looking at their stats in the weapons selection screen. The number of weapons to choose from also feels rather lacking, only having a handful of weapons in each class type, being even more limited if you do not have the classic weapons DLC pack that comes with the limited edition version of the game.
While there is a cover mechanic, it is a “walk up against to go into cover” and not “press a button to enter cover” sort of deal, so take that as a positive or negative if you like. I personally took the cover system as a negative due to the fact that when it comes to cover, I would like something definitive. I want to snap into cover and snap out of it at the push of a button. Because of the free cover system, I tend to come out of cover often times when I do not want to or find myself unable to enter cover when I try to and makes the system itself feel sloppy.
The melee and “brutal kills” seemed very clunky, forcing you to press an alternate button to instantly kill an enemy while meleeing, but it is not always clear with the timings. Sometimes it would take me a number of attempts before I could pull off a “brutal kill”, while others I was able to perform on the first try. I would usually chalk this up to me not being very good, but I honestly do not know what it is I did differently when I got it right compared to when I got it wrong. I felt as if the game should just be clearer about it.
The biggest problem I see with the title is just that I can not help but feel it to be rushed. If Capcom and Slant Six had just happened to take more time to flesh out the game and handle some of the issues the game has, it could have been much more of a heavy hitter. There are a lot of great ideas in here that if they had just taken the time to put more thought and effort into it, I could easily see this being a top ten game. The basic concept of the game sounds awesome. The execution on the other hand, not so much.
Overall I feel like the game tends to fall short on a lot of expectations I had for it going in. There are a lot of great ideas that just do not seem to hit as hard as they should and a lot of the overall mechanics makes this game feel sub par. It is honestly a hard game to recommend if you are not a huge fan of the game and do not have a couple of friends you tend to play with on a regular basis. If you are looking for a traditional Resident Evil, you should probably wait until October for Resident Evil 6. If you have a group of friends that love Resident Evil, third person shooters and would like to learn some possibly non-canon information on what actually went down from the Umbrella side in Resident Evil 2 and 3, it might be something to look into. I personally had some fun with friends with the game, but it is a rather hard recommendation to make at $60.