What would happen if you took Resident Evil, and put it in a blender with a tactical third-person shooter like SOCOM?
I’m not really sure, but I’d certainly hope it would be better than Resident Evil: Operation Racoon city, from Slant six Games and Capcom, a hypothetical look at scenario that unfolds between survival horror classics Resident Evil 2 and 3.
In it, you’ll play as one of the members of USS Delta team, a squad of mercenaries employed by the Umbrella Corporation – who started the zombie outbreaks with their T, G and pretty much ever other letter in the alphabet viruses. It kicks off in an underground laboratory, where you’re trying to capture samples of the mutating G-virus from Dr. William Birkin – who Resident Evil 2 fans will no doubt recognise – an Umbrella scientist who’s gone rogue in the resultant zombie chaos. There’s little in the way of exposition, and nothing to detail why you and your rag-tag group of mercs is really there, other than that it’s your job to eradicate any evidence of Umbrella’s involvement in the messy situation.
Throughout the game – which you can play through in an afternoon if you’re really bored – you’ll just be sent from location to location, mopping up waves of zombies and government forces through a loosely strung narrative that tries, rather poorly, to fill in the gaps between the events of the aforementioned Resident Evil games. It’s biggest failing is that it fails, completely, to capture the soul of Resident Evil – largely because it doesn’t have a soul of its own.
Your six selectable mercenaries – Each the sort of class you’d expected from a squad shooter fit the tropes quite well. You’ve got recon, tank, assault, medic and the like – each with his or her own unique class-based abilities which you can upgrade by spending the experience points you earn by completing missions. The problem with them is that not a single one of the playable characters is memorable or relatable in the slightest. With each robotic character hiding their visage behind a gasmask, there’s no personality or emotion to be seen – and without you being able to at least relate to the character you’re playing as, you’ll find yourself only too happy to run about shooting at things without a care in the world, occasionally hiding behind (and I blame Gears of War for this) one of the many conveniently-located 4-foot-high walls and boxes that litter the environment.
It’s also worth noting that though this game’s billed a survival horror, there’s not a damned thing scary about it. Ammo is plentiful, strewn about the game’s mostly linear corridors, so all opportunities for genuine tension are lost. while individual ammo drops are rare, there are numerous crates (some admittedly tricky to spot) that replenish your ammo entirely. Chances for real “kak-in-broek” moments if you’re able to just shoot at everything that moves with reckless abandon, especially once you’ve upgraded your abilities to the point where you’re nearly impervious. You’re drawn further out of the horror of it all when you’re faced with a horde of zombies – and the 30 or so undead that are ambling at you are cut and paste from just 3 models.
Resident Evil Operation is meant to be played co-operatively with friends, something made immediately apparent by the fact that even when playing alone, the game – like the far superior Zombie shooter Left 4 Dead before it – sets up a faux lobby. You really should play it with others, should you actually play it, because the game’s AI is beyond terrible, with your squad mates happy to run fast first in to a hail of bullets or crowds of enemies – making it pretty necessary to run after them and revive them when they fall – something that proves to be frustrating itself. You’ll often run up to your fallen comrades and press the button to revive them, only to jump away because of the game’s context sensitive actions, or pick up your dead teammate’s weapon instead, getting yourself killed in the process. You and your team-mates are also prone to zombie infection, a mechanic that’s meant to add tension – but is just silly in that once once of your team-mates gets infected, you can just kill them where they stand and revive them a moment later.
It’s hardly any sort of graphical showcase either; it looks alright, but mostly in that “I’m a dull and generic third-person shooter” kinda way. Mostly because it’s a dull and generic third-person shooter. It’s difficult to recommend this game to anyone. Resident Evil fans might get short bursts of delight when coming across cameos of their favourite characters or enemy types like Lickers, Tyrants and one admittedly awesome mission featuring Nemesis – but those moments are few, and very, very far between, and they’ll likely be angered by the way the game plays loose with the series established canon. It’s difficult to recommend to fans of third-person shooters, because they’ve played this all before, better.
Masochists though? You guys might like this one.
Design and Presentation: 5.0/10.
Is there a “stock textures and environments” site for game developers? There’s very little to distinguish Operation Raccoon city from..well, any other generic 3rd person shooter.
Go there. Shoot stuff. Go somewhere else. Shoot more stuff. Go back to where you were earlier to retrieve mystical McGuffin. Go back. Yawn.
There’s multiplayer – but it’s largely broken, and there’s no compelling reason to play through this more than once. Or at all, really.
It’s not really for Resident Evil Fans – disensing with pretty much everything that makes that series fantastic, and it’s not really for fans of the shooter genre, because it’s dull and generic. There’s some fun to be had if you have 3 like-minded friends to play with, but little else. But hey, at least you can move and shoot at the same time, right?
[Reviewed on PS3. Also available on Xbox 360, with PC version due in May]
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was reviewed by Geoffrey Tim