Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (RE:ORC) is the latest piece of Resident Evil canon published by Capcom (notice I say PUBLISHED, not DEVELOPED). The game was created or developed by Slant 6, the people who created SOCOM Confrontation (PS3), Fire Team Bravo and Tactical Strike (both on PSP).
The game was not received well by the community with a preview/review by IGN essentially calling it garbage, and other gamers who got a hold of early copies calling it sluggish, and weak. One of the biggest gripes that the online community continually repeats is that this game does not have the Resident Evil atmosphere that millions love.
After getting my feet wet, and dropping some zombies and Bio Organic Weapons (B.O.Ws), I have to agree with the general consensus of the online community. If you’re expecting that dark eerie feel where you pee yourself a little bit when a licker snatches you up, this is not it. For the die-hard RE fan, you will be disappointed and probably have the game up on Craigslist within 15 minutes. RE:ORC does nothing to set you up into that familiar atmosphere where you become paranoid and freak out at every single sound you hear in game.
Another aspect that I you will hear amongst the community, and I strongly agree is how weak the AI in the game is. Actually I’ll rephrase that, how weak your team AI is. Progressing through the missions, you will find enemies will bring their A game (playing on Professional Difficulty). They will hide behind cover, provide suppressive fire, and coordinate shooting. Your team will not. Your team is as tactical as a 13 year Call of Duty player arguing with his mother past his curfew yelling at her to get him some chocolate milk. Literally they suck.
I have had instances where they bunch up in the open and become bullet sponges, just soaking up the tracers. Other times, when trying to progress to the next area, they just stop and refuse to move. I actual had to shoulder charge all three, one by one, into a room in order to continue the mission.
My one last gripe is the gameplay. The controls are your standard 3rd person shooter, but in RE:ORC there is a “cover” mechanic, that could have been fleshed out better. First, in order to hide behind cover you have to run up to the object you want to hide behind. Now for those that played Gears of War 1, 2, and 3 you’ll wish there was a cover button. Just makes it easier. While behind cover, you can blind fire, but cannot lob grenades. Let me clarify this, when you’re behind cover and want to toss a grenade, you leave cover, stand out in the open, and then toss the grenade while taking fire. Kind of defeats the purpose to tossing/lobbing grenades using the cover mechanic if you step out just to be met with the heavenly caress of enemy fire.
With all these gripes, I’m sure that many gamers will say “Forget It, not worth my time”, but the game is actually fun. Something about running co-op with three friends, and just mowing down zombies and B.O.Ws all in the name of Umbrella is fun. That is one mechanic I will praise Slant 6 on is that there is no lack of action. Whether your fighting a horde of zombies, a B.O.W, or a squad of US Special Forces, there is plenty of action, guns and bullets to go around. Coordinating, Flanking, healing, and reviving your friends really raise the value of this game, and this is just Campaign Mode. Outside of Campaign mode there are the Versus modes: Survivor, Biohazard, Heroes, and Team Attack (Team Deathmatch).
Team Attack aka Team Deathmatch is just your normal team vs. team mode, but you have the added dimension of zombies and B.O.Ws stirring up the pot. The stages that the matches are set in are big and have plenty of places to ambush opponents to keep things fresh and interesting.
In Heroes mode, one side plays as the iconic heroes/heroines from the franchise such as Jill Valentine, Claire Redfield, and Leon Kennedy, while the opposing team plays as Resident Evil antagonists such as Ada Wong, and Hunk. The goal is to kill all four heroes/heroines, while some will argue that Heroes mode is just a beefed up Team Attack, the mode is fun nonetheless. Heroes are beefed up with extra life, but when one is killed they come back as a regular operative character from the US Special Forces. Besides having the extra life, Heroes cannot be melee executed. One of the mechanics in the game allows characters to execute opponents if they’re stunned (usually a 2 hit combo, then pressing the execute button works well). Other than that, Heroes mode offers nothing else than what Team Attack offers.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is definitely not the game that some die-hard RE fans were expecting. This is more for those with a need for a 4-player coop action fix. Granted with the flaws, I still find the game enjoyable. It will leave you craving for a “Real” Resident Evil game, but for those that don’t mind a weak story, and mediocre gameplay with plenty of action will definitely enjoy the game.