Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review
publisher: Capcom Entertainment
developer: Capcom Entertainment
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Mar 20, 12 (released)
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Resident Evil 5, Capcom's last outing in its popular zombie-infested shooter series, has really impressed us not only because it was a fabulous tribute to the traditional mechanics of the old games, but because it offered a truly satisfying single-player and co-op experience. Before Capcom announced the next official installment (RE6), they thought it would be a good idea to expand the franchise a bit further with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (ORC), which centers on a squad-based multiplayer gameplay. While this seems to be a terrific way to extend the life of the license and make it more accessible for those who prefer multiplayer team-based shooters, there's still the 'small' matter of polishing one's product and making it playable to the extent that people might actually enjoy it for more than 15 minutes.
Resident Evil: ORC offers a slightly different account of what went on in Raccoon City during the virus outbreak, which was portrayed in Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. You're not a lone warrior, barely managing to survive a massive zombie invasion. Instead you're part of the Umbrella Security Service - in other words, part of a squad. Normally, I'm the kind of guy that easily buys into Capcom's entire Resident Evil premise. So far, most games have managed to keep my attention, story wise. This doesn't seem to be the case with ORC. Whether it's because of a shallow story presentation or something else I couldn't tell right away. I had to dig deeper to find an explanation for my nagging sensation.
Who's gonna win this one?
I can see a fashion trend starting here.
We do acknowledge the efforts to put players back into familiar scenery, which improves the game's atmosphere. Essentially, you'll be returning to a few recognizable locations and they are very well presented, no doubt about that. It's a cool touch that most fans are bound to appreciate. However, there's no tension or build-up you get in other Resident Evil games, even though the devs tried to establish this. You are hurled straight into shootouts. The game's flawed cover system was the first and almost immediate disappointment. It seems weird that Capcom would allow this to happen. Taking cover was a vital element in games like Resident Evil 5, similarly to this game. Unlike in RE5, in Resident Evil: ORC the cover mechanics do not work properly. Instead of pressing a button, you'll automatically take cover as your character approaches a wall. It's supposed to work smoothly, but it really doesn't. So very often you'll walk into cover even though you don't want to. Also, it's easy to slip out of cover inadvertently while shooting at enemies. Basically, tacking cover just doesn't work as and since this is an integral part of any shooter, it is likely most gamers will be annoyed by it.
Even though you're part of a squad and not just, ya know, one guy fighting swarms of zombies, this game doesn't exactly shower you with ammo. For a franchise that emphasizes survival horror, scarce ammo should be an expected ingredient. In ORC, however, it quickly becomes a problem, rather than a cool element that sets the right kind of ambiance for a survival horror game. This presents a major issue seeing as a lot of enemies in the game are difficult to drop. So, when you're trying to fend them off with little or no ammo, at the same time struggle to, say, revive a fallen teammate, then the game becomes frustrating up to the point where you'd gladly chuck it out the window. Since we've broached the subject of team revival, it might be worth mentioning that you should not rely on AI squadmates in that sense. They frequently fail to come to your aid if you've fallen, so don't look for much help there.
There are some brief moments of fun to be had thanks to the different character classes you can choose. There is a question of balance though; something the developer's didn't quite take into account. Playing the campaign and the multiplayer unlocks various upgrades for each class, none of which will matter much, as soon as you find out that Vector's powers outshine every other class on offer. His main traits involve transforming into other players and becoming invisible. Pretty darn useful. Utilizing his powers is cool and all, albeit after some time this gets tedious too.
A few cool moments for fans, nice atmosphere;
Technical issues everywhere, gameplay is flawed, there's little in this game to guarantee a solid and addictive multiplayer experience;