Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City | Zombiegamer Review

In short

Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City is a spin-off from the series, set around the Resident Evil 2 and 3 timeline, and it takes the series in a new direction. Multiplayer is the focus and while you can still expect the horror bits, it is more and fast-paced action shooter now. There are plenty of well designed new aspects, but the execution is a little wobbly.

Developer: Slant Six
Publisher: Capcom
Distributor: SterKinekor Entretainment
For fans of: Multiplayer shooters, action
Reviewed on: Playstation 3
Also available on: Xbox 360 and PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 7/10

Overview

Raccoon City has been infected by the deadly T-virus outbreak, developed at the Umbrella facility.  Umbrella Corp needs this to be covered up and an elite team is tasked with destroying evidence and eliminating any survivors. This elite team not only need to deal with soldiers but zombies to. Players can also be infected which will turn them to zombies if not treated in time.

What I liked

  • Ambitious design
  • Frantic atmosphere
  • Several multiplayer modes
  • Character design
  • Soundtrack and scoring
  • Four-player co-op

Not so much

  • Buggy
  • Campaign is not the longest
  • I found it difficult to get into multiplayer lobbies
  • Visuals feel incomplete
  • Clunky controls

Gameplay and Features

Jogging through the main menu shows that there is plenty on offer in the package, which is clearly geared to online modes. Even if you pick campaign mode, you can choose to fill up a four man lobby to co-op, or search and join another campaign lobby. I found the previous two options to be the best bet. Co-operating is definitely best experienced with other players as you the AI is questionable and you will find yourself doing the lion’s share of the work.

The campaign mode is clearly geared to multiplayer and even has you clear level after level, with a summary after every level. This helps organise your campaign if you are returning to it later and jumping from level to level online. You also tally your score and gain XP after every level which you can use to unlock new features or characteristics for six lead characters in the USS team that you can choose from. You can choose a different character after you clear the levels and each has a unique skill-set and use different weapons. There’s the demolition expert, the medic, a weapons expert and a surveillance specialist. This is why playing with other players is the best, so you can really take advantage of the different classes, whereas the AI is not reliable at carrying out their classes’ main task. The campaign is not the longest, and while I found it quite atmospheric, it’s clearly not where it’s at with Operation Racoon City. I mean even though the co-op is fun you won’t want to keep clearing the same levels over and over.

The online multiplayer modes offer 8-player versus lobbies. There’s Team Attack, Heroes mode, Survivor mode and Biohazard. Team Attack will be familiar to any regular online shooter fan. Players get to choose previous famous characters from the series, and it’s basically a ‘versus mode’ between Spec Ops and USS teams. Biohazard is also somewhat familiar and teams need to steal the opposition’s virus. The problem I found with the multiplayer is that I needed to wait long periods of time to get in, and I would regularly drop as soon as I thought I was in. It wasn’t all smooth when I did get in either, and I experienced lag here and there.

The control mechanics were very well designed and for the most part work well. There are some unique characteristics which were welcome, like the combat button – you can tap it to just swing at your opponent, or hold it in which executes a combo which varies depending on your enemy. If you are facing zombies, holding the button in ends with taking the zombie as a shield. If it’s a human enemy, the combo ends with you dropping them to their knees and the ability to execute them. I liked the cover-system which you can just lean into to go into cover and then move straight out – simple and clean. The only feature about the control mechanics that irritated me is the ability to dive to the ground to dodge. You can lean or run in a direction and then press X to dive to the floor, supposedly to dodge. It seems fine in theory, but the X button is also the button you use to pick up things. So if I was running around in a busy room for example, desperately looking for health to pick up, I would run towards it, hit X and… dive. So if you want to pick up something whilst running, you need to come to a complete standstill to pick up, and can’t press direction when doing so otherwise you dive.

The shooting mechanics are a touch clunky but generally work well. The stop/start aspect of previous games has been replaced by being able to run and shoot freely. There’s the laser aiming feature as with previous games, and if you hold in L2 you can auto-aim but your character will switch to the obligatory handgun here. Each character can carry two guns which vary from sub-machine guns, to heavy-machine guns, a grenade launcher, a flame-thrower or shotgun – nothing special here for regular shooter fans. One aspect I miss from the previous games is that I rarely ran out of ammo, which brought a constant sense of desperation with the previous titles in the series, something I really enjoyed. Operation Raccoon City is less survival, more action.

There are reminders of previous games like the collectables and the familiar enemies. Your main enemies are the Spec Ops soldiers and the T-virus infected zombies. Then there are the series’ Lickers, Tyrants, Parasites and the notorious zombie Dogs. You will also recognise many bosses from previous games that remind you that this is in fact a Resident Evil game.

Other than that, the gameplay is a fresh take on the series, and while it has some brilliant designs, I think it should be a hit or a miss with players. Fanatical Resident Evil fans might not appreciate the ‘action’ direction of this spin-off, while shooter and multiplayer fans will find favour here. I certainly loved the new direction and the gameplay, I just wish the deliver was a little smoother.

Sound and visuals

The presentation is absolutely stunning – modern, neat and kind of creepy. The menus are well laid out and you immediately see how much options or modes there are on offer. The indicators were well designed to keep you completely in the know. The first cinematic scene plays and because it looks stunning, you think you are in for a treat visually. Once you are in the game and a few minutes into looking around, do you start noticing the incomplete-looking visual designs. There is loads of shimmering, and while some aspects of the scenery look very good, there are others that just look below par. I also really dislike the look of the human character’s faces which definitely need some work, as they are way below the quality I expect in the series. Not all the visual design is a let-down, and it actually does a pretty decent job of making this an atmospheric experience. It’s just if you play a lot of games, especially this far into the current-generation, you should easily spot the imperfections and an almost incomplete look.

Fortunately the sound quality is absolutely top notch. The music selection was brilliant as was the scoring and the sound-effects quality. The sound really depicts and compliments the frantic, dramatic and tense atmosphere of the game. The voice-acting wasn’t a highlight for me and I don’t know if it’s a personal thing, but the Russian accents sound so cheesy to me. The dialogue could have been better written and was instantly forgettable.

Closing comments

I expect to be blown away by a Resident Evil title and I wasn’t despite enjoying it. I don’t mind the fact that this spin-off totally veered from the series’ roots, and I even like the fast-paced action design. I love the ambitious design, but what did detract from the experience for me is that it feels like it wasn’t complete when pushed out. At first it was all good, but soon enough I began to notice the imperfections with the visuals and some of the clunky controlling aspects.

That said, I would hate to put anyone off, because it does try so much interesting new things and it is fun if you can ignore the shortcomings. I also hope the developers continue in this chosen path with the series, but next time a little more developing would be welcome.

Zombiegamer rating:

 

 

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