The Game Effect Review
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review
Generic and Frustrating Single Player Experience Is Eliminated Online
Some could say that 2012 has been slightly nostalgic when it comes to some of the major releases thus far. Whether gamers are going back behind the wheel in Twisted Metal, or revisiting the haunted streets of the quiet mining town Silent Hill in the Silent Hill HD collection, 2012 has definitely been a year of classic revival thus far. In the case of Slant Six Games' Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, the visit back can be rocky at times, but when played well it's like visiting an old friend after 15 years.
Rough AI Rides on Player TalentResident Evil: Operation Raccoon City as a whole feels eerily familiar, which is both a blessing and a curse. Battling the forces of the US Government Spec Ops team and T-virus nightmares through the infected Raccoon City, and revisiting old landmarks make this a nostalgic third person shooter emotionally, but gameplay wise still has a "been there done that feel." From mechanics, to even the constant grays and blacks of the environments, treading through Raccoon City feels like numerous games that came before it. Technically speaking Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City works well, minus the severe frustration of dealing with AI squad mates.
In a scene that should have been filled with adrenaline as we tried to escape a room full of lickers, I was instead treated with severe frustration. My squad mates just sat at the top of the theater, on the stage, and died over and over again. The sheer survival skill of this group was that of new born animals, as they left me on my own to run through a gauntlet of death. These children on my team became burdens, and it takes away a mechanic in the game that should have been more exciting than it actually becomes. When a character takes a significant amount of damage from T-virus infected creatures, they can in turn and become a zombie after they die. This is supposed to add a level of danger and reason to keep your squad safe, however with the necessary Anti-viral spray being rare, smart players can learn to just let the poor saps turn, kill them as a zombie, and then revive them with no consequence, sans the ammo usage.
The Been There Done That FeelSquad AI aside, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City just feels dull offline. Gameplay relies heavily on a smooth cover mechanic, but it lacks many social graces that could have made this game special. Moving through cover is fairly easy enough, run up to a barricade, press forward on the d-pad, and your safely dodging enemy fire. Which is good because this is how you will survive most combat situations, but your enemies will just sit behind cover without leaving that barricade, unless something disturbs them of course.
Moving in and out of cover isn't cumbersome, but it just lacks any real excitement. There's no way to vault over cover, and battles end up becoming episodes of pop and hide. Compounding the issue here, is how ineffective your weapons feel. I'm honestly surprised that war is so dangerous in games like Modern Warfare 3, because shooting a US Spec Ops soldier in 1998 Raccoon City requires multiple shots to the head and chest. Melee is dangerous against your opponents, because your knife swings and kicks are coming from a blade that has to be dull. While special combo finishers are available to each character, after taking several beatings repeatedly from Spec Ops I simply decided it wasn't worth the almost guaranteed game over screen.
Within Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City there are plenty of opportunities for true greatness, however it seems that potential is still left to be recognized, especially offline. It's hard to rate a game for feeling like an obvious cash-in, especially given that the core mechanics work exactly how they are meant. The problem is that it seems these features were meant to be developed further or implemented in another way. Luckily for those who play through the game cooperatively and competitively, the shooting, reviving, and team work all shine in ways that makes the offline offering even more disappointing.
The Light In The DarknessWhen taken online most issues with the gameplay melt away, and a sweet euphoria washes over you the first time you cause a human player to bleed out and get swarmed by zombies. The online modes play out in fairly obvious ways. Team deathmatch is present, as is a capture the flag mode called Biohazard, and two other modes that define the competitive experience. Heroes mode tasks two teams of 4 with control over iconic characters in the Resident Evil series, and pits hero vs. villain in a match with no respawns. Players are given access to higher health and a battlefield littered with dangerous creatures to wade through as well.
Grabbing four friends, or randomly joining a campaign in progress is essentially the best way to play Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Drop in and out, and enjoy the ability to not deal with shoddy squad mate AI; soon players will recognize some of the brilliance that Slant Six Games was aiming to achieve. In the right setting with the right squad, the campaign becomes a fantastic online survival horror, to an extent. There are no real puzzles to solve, just flip some switches every once in awhile throughout the linear levels, but combat becomes that much more exhilarating when playing with human allies.
In my offline playthrough I hardly ever worried about ammo or supplies, the squad with me wasn't worth saving and the consequences of not saving them were ultimately not worth the penalty. If I went down during battle none of my squad mates would be there to revive me, and so worrying about my survival over theirs was an easy choice. When playing with co-op online however, this idea of squad support plays a much larger role. Failing to work together as a team ends up leaving one of your squad mates dead, which forces the rest of the squad to pick up the slack. Co-op also eliminates the complete idiocy of the AI, and being able to coordinate tactics makes some of the most frustrating sequences more manageable. The co-op experience also adds challenge through the idea that as a group people, they all need ammo. My AI squad never ran out of ammo, and I never had to worry about them as long as they were a distraction.
Overall ImpressionThere really is nothing inherently wrong with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City; the nostalgic trip back to 1998 and the events of Raccoon City are entirely fan service from top to bottom. The retrospective on those events even offers some compelling ideas, but the concepts here never fully materialize. Because of these issues it's truly difficult to adequately write a "fair" review of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. The brilliance is there, but it's buried beneath an absolutely poor single player experience. A campaign that has all the makings of a rote point-A to point-B progression, and just general frustration. Take the title online though, and you'll be met with the sweet spot of Raccoon City. The tactical experience becomes more realized, survival becomes intense, and the competitive mechanics feed into the game extremely well; which was the opposite of my frustrating and generic romp offline. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is ultimately a case of potential not met, it's not terrible, but there is hardly anything that will leave fans asking for more from this spin off.
- Mechanics Shine in Multiplayer
- Co-op Is Excellent
- Poor Squad AI
- Generic Gameplay
- Missed Potential