Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review

April 9, 2012 by  

The Resident Evil series has been through many changes during its, up until now, 16-year long run. The traditional, linear survival horror theme has been shifted to more open-ended games, to more action oriented games and to arcade style games such as on-rails shooters. At some point, there was even a first person shooter Resident Evil. Some of these changes certainly didn’t hurt the series success, and it’s probably safe to say that Resident Evil 4, the game most known for its complete upheaval of traditional Resident Evil gameplay, was the most succesful and best Resident Evil game to date. With this in mind, copying Resident Evil 4′s third-person over-the-shoulder view and making the game more action-oriented doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch when making a new Resident Evil title. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, however, does exactly this and definitely fails to hit the spot.

Critics have been almost unanimously negative towards this game, and honestly, it is pretty easy to see why. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is not a good game. There, I have said it. With that out of the way, let’s focus on exactly what is wrong with it, and what parts of the game are actually salvageable. The story – or rather, its interesting perspective – is among the latter category. Playing through Resident Evil 2 and 3 as the badguys and seeing what might’ve happened if they were succesful is an interesting take on the events we experienced so many years ago. Having to fight Leon Kennedy instead of fighting as him is something that’s new to the series and is in itself a nice change of pace. But with that said, the game is actually extremely light on story. There is an overarching narrative throughout the handful of chapters available, but it is very dull and basic. Cutscenes are few and uninteresting, events are rushed and unclear and many situations are appearances are unexplained. A lot of it doesn’t really feel anything like Resident Evil either. So while the story could’ve been interesting and a highlight of the game, it doesn’t reach beyond its great setup and ultimately fails to deliver. It is clear story wasn’t high on the development team’s priority list when they made this game. Given the nature of it, this isn’t very surprising but it is still a complete waste when you consider what they could’ve done with it had they invested more time and care in this area.

What remains is a game that places its bets on its gameplay and multiplayer features. Neither of these are very strong in RE:ORC. First off the multiplayer: Operation Raccoon City is guilty of one the most frustrating aspects of multiplayer games in this day and age. While marketing itself as a multiplayer game, it only allows you to play with friends using Xbox Live. Really? Is it so hard to understand that people ARE actually interested in offline coop modes? This game is built around the notion of playing together with friends, so being able to invite people over to your place to sit down and play a few games is – to me at least – absolutely vital to the game’s succes. I would advise against a purchase based on this fact alone. There may be many people who don’t care, and just wish to play the game either online or offline by themselves. The latter of these options isn’t worth your time. You are accompanied by 3 AI-controlled teammembers who are definitely among the most useless teammates in video game history. They will never use special abilities when useful, they will never actually kill enemies, and they die frequently – mainly because they walk right in front of you as you are firing. Or they don’t seem to notice the obvious trapwires and mines placed right in front of them. It’s frustrating, and you might as well have been alone. For this reason alone it is even more unforgiveable that you cannot replace them with actual players since offline coop is not supported.

Online multiplayer is divided into two main categories: campaign chapters that are teambased versus the AI opponents and Heroes and Villains mode which plays something like team deathmatch. I suppose it’s nice the Heroes and Villains mode allows players to take control of famous Resident Evil characters such as Leon and Ada, but it doesn’t really help to save the game. While the game modes aren’t that bad, they offer nothing new or special, espcially when compared to other games in the genre. You’re really better off sticking to Left 4 Dead if you want a similar experience. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is much like that game, but considerably worse. The control scheme is mostly logical but being a third person game, it obviously uses a cover based system with chest-high walls spread all around the maps just like any other third person shooter in existence (with the notable exception of… the other Resident Evil games…). While that’s okay, the controls for taking cover are so bad it makes me want to cry. If you thought getting stuck along walls because you perform 10 different things with the A button in Mass Effect 3, imagine having to take cover by simply walking up to a wall. It never works when it needs to and always lets you take cover when you don’t want to. I really wish you could just press a button to take cover. And what is up with the movement in this game? There is no longer the classic TANK system that prevents you from moving and shooting at the same time, instead opting for a more run and gun approach, but there is not option to run? O, there is… by pressing L3? Really, the movement stick? Could it be anymore awkward?
Having to choose between 2 weapons and swapping between them with the shoulder button has gone wrong repeatedly as well. What was wrong with the way the other Resident Evil games handled this? This IS called Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City…

Well, it sure doesn’t feel like it. There are some memorable moments, mainly dealing with feelings of nostalgia if you are familiar with the games, and there are zombies too like in the original games, but with the overabundance of them in modern gaming  I’m not sure if that’s really a blessing. I like fighting them a whole lot more than the US commando teams that are frequent enemies. This is Resident Evil, not Modern Warfare, thank you.
About the only thing I liked was the selection of different characters and their personal expertise and abilities. Being able to choose and upgrade your character according to what suits your playing style works really well and allows for players to really operate in well-oiled teams where each person has his or her own role and is just as valuable to the team as any other. Gathering experience to both upgrade these abilities and acquire new weapons is fun, but it’s a shame the playing the game to get to this point is so much less rewarding. If you are going to play the game at all, be sure to have some friends with access to the game so you can play together online. It is definitely most fun this way. But for what it’s worth I’d say skip this one all together and wait for Resident Evil 6 later this year.

48% out of 100%

Tom Kerkhof

Archaeology student and avid gamer. Especially interested in fighting and horror survival games, and with a fondness of (mostly) Western RPG's. Also a fan of retro gaming. Writing for NiSuTe as writing staff, and projectleader of the recently launched Square Vision video-podcast project.

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