The Resident Evil franchise has been through a lot throughout its history. The sixth numbered entry in the main series is set to release later this year, but there have been far more than just six games. We have seen spinoffs series in the same type of engine, wave-based shooters, on-rails shooters, and so much more. Now, the folks over at Slant Six Games and Capcom are trying to take the series in another new direction, this time with very mixed results. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a unique entry in the series that stands out, but mostly for the wrong reasons.
The game is set during the events of the 1998 outbreak in Raccoon City. Instead of playing as some of the staple characters in the series, we are introduced to the Umbrella Security Service Delta Team. This group of operatives is made of multiple people, each with different specialties, in the field. Your team is sent in to acquire an experimental virus from Dr. William Birkin. However, things turn south once the t-virus outbreak happens and you’re new mission is to clean the streets and buildings of Raccoon City in an attempt to distance Umbrella from any relation to the problem.
On its face, this plot seems to make perfect sense and is gripping enough for an action game. Its execution however, is an entirely different story. Once you boot up the game, you are treated to a selection of options, and once you navigate yourself to the story mode, you are presented with some choices. You can create a new lobby online to play with others, play solo, etc. All of this would be fine in a game like Unreal Tournament, where it was always played in this sort of fashion, but a Resident Evil game? You are forced to select a character, loadout, specialty, etc. before you are even introduced to any of the characters or the storyline for the game. This automatically lowers the impact the story can have on the player, if they are lost before they even begin.
Once you actually start the mission, you’re treated to less than superb cut scenes and voice acting. It sounds like all of the characters are in a “deep-voice-talking-contest” all of the time, even the females. You find out everyone’s names and they all pretty much act like generic action heroes throughout the game, you never really see their faces, and there is little character development.
One of my biggest problems with this game, however, is just the overall design. The environments are blurry and too dark, it really seems like the developers reused the same tile-sets and color schemes throughout the game. The character models aren’t any better, and there is next to no enemy variety to speak of whatsoever.
Once you are in a mission, actually playing the game is technically functional. It is your typical 3rd-person shooter variety of gameplay, where you can take cover, blind-fire, pop-up and shoot over cover and around corners, and the like. The problem is that it just doesn’t seem to control as well or as precisely as it should. It is far too easy for your character to stick to a piece of cover unintentionally, and even easier to come out of cover without meaning too. There were also plenty of moments where the enemy AI seemed able to hit me no matter where I was hiding, which could have just been my fault, but it was exceedingly difficult to get myself in proper position.[quote-right]This game is passable in every sense of the word, and offers no more or less in the way of entertainment.[/quote-right]
Another point of contention is the fact that none of the weapons really feel any different at all. All of the guns have the same sort of recoil and spray, and it lacks the feeling of impact bullets should have. It also suffers from Uncharted-syndrome in that enemies take way too long to kill. Of course, this game is not “realistic,” but shooting an enemy four times, this generation, should cause more than a frustrated stagger.
Also, Resident Evil is a franchise known for its music and atmosphere. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City has almost nothing worth mentioning in the audio department. The music is poor and unremarkable, the voice acting is essentially terrible, the sound effects are boring and/annoying, and I was never once on the edge of my seat due to genius atmospheric design. Sure, every game in a long running series like this cannot expect to be amazing in every way, or have a sound track worth caring about, but if you notice something because it is displeasing instead of notable, then you have a problem.
This game is passable in every sense of the word, and offers no more or less in the way of entertainment. Yes, I understand that this is not a survival horror game like most in the series, but it still carries the Resident Evil nametag. Even as a spinoff, it should be held to the same standard of quality that the rest of the series is so well-known for. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City has next to no truly redeeming qualities. If you absolutely love Resident Evil, zombies, or third-person shooters and are bored of Uncharted and/or Gears of War, then you may find some enjoyment out of this. At the very least it’s another game to play with your buddies on a rainy weekend. Everything in this game is “passable,” with some being downright dreadful. All in all, I expected a whole lot more out of a title bearing the Resident Evil name. In the end: if you are trying to decide if you should play this game or get eaten by a zombie, chances are you may be better off dead.
You can pick up the game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; the PC version will drop May 18th in the US and EU. Let us know what you think of it in the comments below!
This review was based on a physical retail copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Capcom.