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Posted by Raine Hutchens on Mar 23, 2012

Review – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Xbox 360)

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Product Information

MSRP: $59.99

Developer: Slant Six

Publisher: Capcom

Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

ESRB Rating: M for Mature

Genre: Third-Person Shooter

The year is 1998, and terror is in the air. Raccoon City has changed from a small town to a living nightmare in a matter of hours. Zombified citizens are scraping the streets in a constant search for a meal. Families have been lost. Friends have fallen to the hands of other friends in moments of sadness and despair. This outbreak has been a complete disaster, and someone has to take the fall for it. The Umbrella Corporation is behind the whole incident, but they’re the last ones who want the blame. In Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, you’ll see just how they plan to cover up the mess, and who they’ll use to do it. After years of playing the heroes, now it’s time to step into the shoes of the enemy and see a brand new story arc that wasn’t made available to us before.

The new game comes to us from developer Slant Six, who is best known for the SOCOM series on the PlayStation platform. RE:ORC is a very different title than we’re used to with the series, and that introduces some new strengths all while tossing in some weaknesses. The Resident Evil games are ranking among the most favored in my career, so I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to give this title a spin. While it’s not the pinnacle of gaming in the series, it’s by no way a title to toss under the rug. That being said, let’s take a look at what it brings to the table.

Presentation and Storyline

The story in RE:ORC is pretty cut-and-dry. You play as one of 5 separate Umbrella Special Service operatives launched into the city during the events of the second and third Resident Evil games. Known as both Delta Team and “Wolfpack,” the group enters Raccoon City’s underground laboratory where they run into Alpha Team’s leader, Hunk. Their primary mission is to assist Alpha Team in preventing Dr. William Birkin from handing over the T-Virus research to the US Military, and to pick up the G-Virus. Unbeknownst to the teams, Birkin has paid off several UBCS mercenaries to work under his arm as the deal goes down. In the midst of the operation, Birkin gets shot and injects the virus into his own bloodstream in hopes to cheat death. He then mutates into a massive Tyrant and unleashes his wrath upon the teams. Hunk and another Alpha member make it out alive with the samples, while distracting Birkin away from Delta. Not long after this encounter the virus has spread across the city, and people are turning into the undead.

Delta team, in what they consider as punishment by the higher-ups, is sent throughout the town to destroy evidence leading back to Umbrella’s involvement in the outbreak. This is the main storyline of the game, where the team will head through various tasks to help scrape the Umbrella name from every little piece of incrimination they can find. Throughout their tasks Delta will run into countless familiar faces in the Resident Evil series, and face down some of the worst baddies to show their faces in the games. I won’t spoil it, but there’s a twist towards the end of the game that even I couldn’t predict. RE:ORC’s story wasn’t a wash by any means, and I found it rather intriguing. As a fan of the series, it was cool to see what happens to some of the characters, and be introduced to some new ones to become favorites.

Now let’s take a look at visuals. At first glance, RE:ORC is a very dark and drab title. You’ll be running throughout some familiar scenes in the series, and while they’re interesting, everything looks like it has some sort of black filter on it. Everywhere is dark and gloomy, and while I understand that it’s in the middle of Raccoon during an outbreak, but I’d like to see more attention to detail as well as better lighting. Fans of the series will be wanting to see places like the laboratory, city streets, and Raccoon Police Department in an updated setting. Every alley tends to look the same, every laboratory hall seems like the last, and it often gets boring. The saving grace to this is the attention to enemy detail. You’ll be placed against Tyrants, Hunters, and tons of zombies that each have their own specific look, which really takes you back to the older games. It’s nostalgic in a very big way, and the minor issues can be overlooked. Also, just as a note, I went into the game’s options and changed the gamma rating, which really made things stand out better. Things weren’t so gray-washed and melded to one another.

Gameplay and Multiplayer

Remember when I said that this was a very different game in the long-running series? Here is where that statement comes into play. For the first time in the history of the Resident Evil games, RE:ORC lets players move and shoot at the same time. There’s no static aiming and pinging off enemies like the days of old – now there’s strafing and emptying clips! This opens up a brand new way to play the game, a brand new way to avoid enemies, and a new way to approach difficult situations. This is something that I think the series needed, and Slant Six has done a good job implementing this mechanic.

Another change to the series is the absence of an inventory, so-to-speak. On your heads-up-display you’ll see your health, current ammo count for your equipped weapon, and the number of grenades, first-aid sprays, and antiviral sprays you’re carrying. You won’t hit a button to go into a menu showing your weapons and ammo, nor will you have to reload in said menu. Everything is handled on-the-fly, making gameplay much faster-paced. I really enjoy this, and it’s really made playing Resident Evil a better experience. When you need to heal, you’ll hit the D-Pad to use a spray. Reloading is as easy as pressing a button, as is switching weapons. By the way, you can only carry two weapons at once in RE:ORC. You’ll choose a primary weapon and a sidearm from the menu before a mission, and you’ll find ammo supplies throughout the game. Enemies will drop their weapons (only the Commandos) which will be available to you if you need to pick up a new one.

Speaking of enemies, plenty of familiar creatures show up to run you down. Players will face Hunters, zombie dogs, Tyrants, and even the Nemesis in the game. This is where I ran into my first, and biggest, real issue. The collision and damage detection in RE:ORC is next to horrible. I understand that some of these enemies are bio-engineered weapons that are made to sustain tons of damage. In fact, the way that zombies and Hunters just stand and take blast after blast is kind of intimidating. Slant Six found a way to make these guys scary yet again, instead of seeming weak and helpless like in some of the other titles. I found myself running around actually trying to avoid enemies like I did with the release of the first couple of Resident Evil titles. I was seriously terrified sometimes while running around, and I hadn’t felt that in a while.

Now, while all that is good, there’s a huge part I don’t understand. When fighting the Commandos, which happen to be the most difficult batch of baddies in the game, I can’t wrap my head around how they can just stand and take blast after blast to the face without flinching even once. I’m serious. They don’t move, don’t stumble backwards, and don’t seem to react to damage at all. This makes skirmishes difficult and running into packs of these guys almost a certain deathtrap. They stand around taking clip after clip while your team mates run blindly behind you. It quickly becomes frustrating.

Then we come to my next peeve. When it comes to your A.I team members, I am under the assumption that they used panda bears to substitute as players for capture. They don’t help you at all! I mean, sure, there were a few times where they would heal me when I needed it, but more often than not they were useless. Numerous times they would just stand around and do nothing, other times they’d shoot and draw enemies near only to end up becoming overwhelmed. I can remember a boss fight where I was stuck doing all the work because my team mates would just stand in the room staring at the walls. In another instance a team member stuck against a wall for the entire mission. This was extremely aggravating.

A saving grace here is that it’s actually better to let your team members die than it is to try and heal them yourself. When they fall you can stand over them and revive them by holding a button. This revives them with full health and ammo. Instead of wasting your first-aid sprays on them, save them for yourself.

Through the game you’ll be completing objectives and earning XP at the end of the level. You’ll collect data spread throughout each level and send them off to command by using laptops. You can also destroy city cameras to help get rid of evidence and earn extra XP. These points are calculated at the end of each mission, and used to purchase new abilities and weapons. This is a great new feature added into the series. You can choose abilities which are different to each specific character, and choose a specific weapon for them. Eventually you’ll cap out if you play through the game enough, but until then you can earn tons of weapons and abilities. It’s a new flair that I feel helped RE:ORC stick out among the others.

The single-player campaign wasn’t too long, though it was satisfying. All-in-all it took about 8 hours total, and it was fun from start to finish. It had a few hiccups, but nothing that was game-breaking. Some glitches stood out here and there, but most of them were fixed with the update that came out for the game recently.

Finally, it’s on to mutliplayer. The multiplayer aspect of RE:ORC plays out in a few different modes. There’s the regular team deathmatch mode, where one team plays as U.S.S., and the opposite plays the U.S. Military. You’ll fight it out amongst yourselves across a few shabby maps that mimic scenes in the single-player campaign. The object is to simply destroy the other team at all costs, all while surviving against teeming hordes of undead.

There’s also the Heroes Mode, which is the same as the previous, except for the fact that the teams are made up of familiar characters from the Resident Evil series. You can play as Leon, Nicholai, Claire, Ada, and more in a battle against each other for dominance. This is particularly fun, as each character has different abilities that make each match interesting in its own way. The Heroes Mode was, and still is, certainly addictive, and I think it’s become my favorite of the bunch.

Finally, there’s the Nemesis Mode which is exclusive to the 360 version of the game. In this mode, the two teams fight it out as normal, though there’s a new horror added to the mix. Players can make it to the Nemesis Control Unit which is somewhere on the map, and once they do, the Nemesis will come to life and fight alongside them in battle. This spells disaster for the opposing team, and truly gets your blood pumping. It’s really fun the more you play it, and helps break up the monotony of the other modes. Through mutliplayer I didn’t really run into many issues, surprisingly. Matchmaking was quick, lag was minimal, and I always had fun, though I didn’t do so great on the leaderboards. The multiplayer aspect of RE:ORC is a nice change for the series, and may be the saving grace of the game all together.

Conclusion

On the surface, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City plays out as a Resident Evil-themed SOCOM game. However, when you take the time to play it, the game becomes interesting and fun. I enjoyed the single-player campaign, and multiplayer was a nice treat. Though the game had some hiccups and minor issues, they didn’t make me want to stop playing. I got through the entire game, and plan to make another run using a different character to see how the story comes together. I can’t say to go out and grab the game right now at its full price, but once it drops to around $30, I’d say it’s worth buying. As a Resident Evil fan, I think Slant Six made a game that’s fun to play, but it’s by no means a game that will turn the series.

The Good

  • unique and fun storyline
  • familiar settings and characters
  • fast-paced gameplay
  • remains true to the series

The Bad

  • sluggish controls
  • collision/damage detection is way off and makes you feel underpowered
  • graphics are a bit dark and dreary throughout the entirety of the game
  • semi-short single-player campaign
  • bad A.I. partners make the game frustrating and somewhat difficult

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