Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
65

Gaming Review

'Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City' review (PS3)

By
Released on Friday, Mar 23 2012

'Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City' screenshot

© Capcom


Also available on: Xbox 360, PC
Developer: Slant Six Games
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: Third-person shooter

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City could be viewed as typical of everything that has been wrong with Capcom's famous horror series in recent years. The third-person shooter amps up the action to notch number 11, and never really lets that up. With Resident Evil 6 on the way, bringing an expected return of the tense, survival horror atmosphere that made the series so beloved, do we really need this team-based spinoff?

There are certainly a lot of problems with Operation Raccoon City. The action set pieces are pretty uninspiring, the gameplay is vanilla and the presentation has more than a whiff of last-generation consoles. Teaming up with three friends to kill hordes of zombies, monsters and special operations troops in the campaign levels is reasonably good fun, but Operation Raccoon City is never going to blow you away.

For evidence that this is a spinoff, look no further than that you play as the bad guys. Yes, Operation Racoon City puts you in the boots of the Umbrella Security Service (USS), a tooled-up 'wolfpack' of mercenaries sent into the apocalypse of Raccoon City with the goal of destroying all evidence of the T-Virus outbreak, and silence anyone who could leak out the truth. Complicating things is the arrival of US Spec Ops attempting to discover and expose the illegal activities of Umbrella. Stuck right in the middle of all this is rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, about to have a very, very long night.

The story unfurls between the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, and fans of the series will see familiar events from a very different perspective, albeit not as successfully as in the 'Separate Ways' missions featuring Ada Wong in the acclaimed Resident Evil 4 (Wong also appears in Operation Raccoon City). The new game also allows players to 'rewrite' history with a series of moral choices, including the poser of whether to kill Kennedy. But being as many people have already played as the character for the whole of RE4, this seems a bit of an odd inclusion.


Indeed, quite a lot of the story elements across the seven campaign co-op levels don't really work, and the great promise held in the 'alternate' take on much-loved Resident Evil moments never feels fully explored. Playing the campaign on your own is also a bit of a mess. The co-op AI is really all over place (think Sheva Alomar in Resident Evil 5, and then double it), which means that it can be rather a chore to wade through the missions. This means that it is much better to go online and join three others on either the USS, or the Spec Ops teams, each with their own objectives.

At the start of the game, you can select from six different characters across familiar classes such as recon, sniper and explosives expert, but there also extra skills to choose from, such as scientist with the ability to programme and operate the BOWs, or a USS agent with a cloaking ability. Essentially, there are two teams up against each other in the levels, but between them is an army of the undead, slathering at the mouth to get some brains.

Operation Raccoon City brings back the zombies rather than the 'infected', and so these decaying monsters will stagger to attack you and grab hold if they get close enough, requiring you to frantically waggle the left stick to get free. A pretty cool feature is that because you are not a key Resident Evil character, you can become infected. Antivirus sprays are dotted about the levels to be used like health sprays to stop the infection. But if one is not around, then you will eventually turn into a zombie, attack your own teammates and most likely get a swift bullet in your head.

Alongside the virus, there is a 'bleeding' mechanic that occurs when you are close to death, which makes the screen go reddish and transforms the unlucky player into a walking buffet for the zombies. Operation Raccoon City also welcomes back some familiar BOWs, including the troublesome Lickers, the marauding Hunters and the Lurch-like Tyrants. The action is mixed up between battling the enemies and sporadic boss battles, but the problem is everything is just a bit uninspiring.

It is evident that Canadian studio Slant Six has overseen the development, as the team-based third-person gameplay has clear roots to the SOCOM series. Gone is the famous Resident Evil 'planted to the spot' combat involving stopping, aiming and shooting, meaning you can now run and gun as in most other third-person shooters, as well as make use of a cover mechanic. While Resident Evil's approach to shooters has been widely criticised, the shift to the new system makes the game feel more derivative rather than distinctive, and somehow robs some of the magic.


As previously mentioned, the problems with the computer AI make the single player a bit of a chore, and while the online co-op action is frantic and fun, it's also chaotic and lacking a bit of flow. There are quite a few glitches in the campaign, including zombies disappearing into scenery, or just disappearing entirely, and the set piece battles are hardly jaw-dropping.

Indeed, Operation Raccoon City really feels like a PlayStation 2 game, in both its level design and presentation. This is not necessarily a bad thing (I recently re-loaded RE4 on the PS2 and still loved it), as good gameplay, distinctive visuals and strong storytelling always shines out. But Operation Raccoon City does not really have any of these things, and the Resident Evil branding is not enough to paper over the cracks.

Alongside the campaign, players can jump into an online multiplayer covering all the usual modes given slight twists. The four versus four battles between USS and Spec Ops troops are spiced up with zombies and BOWs thrown into the mix, offering another variable to keep players on their toes. The game has a Horde-mode called Survivors, involving survival against wave after wave of enemies in the hope of securing a vital space on the helicopter out of Raccoon City.

Heroes mode allows players to become many favourite Resident Evil characters, including Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong, Jill Valentine and Hunk, competing in team battles across a number of famous Resident Evil locations. A Nemesis mode will also launch exclusively on Xbox 360, which is essentially King of the Hill with the difference that players can take control of Resident Evil 3's Nemesis monster. Unfortunately, we didn't get to try this mode out before the time of publication.

On the one hand, Operation Raccoon City offers a different spin on the Resident Evil licence, involving team-based battles and the return of proper zombies. On the other, it is a rather confused and somewhat dated shooter that has numerous flaws and doesn't really make the most of its premise. There is fun to be had in playing this game, particularly with three friends online, but this is very far from a Resident Evil classic.

You May Like

Comments

Loading...