In the past few years, we've seen a significant increase in the number of Resident Evil properties being released by Capcom and this doesn't look like its going to change. This year alone there are four Resident Evil properties planned for release, all of which will be slight departures from the main franchise. In this preview, we'll be talking about the only one to be releasing on an HD system, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.
The game takes place between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, but you won't get to play as any of the series' stereotypical heroes. Instead, you will control either someone from the Umbrella Security Service (USS) or the United States Special Operations task-force. And depending on which side you choose you will have different objectives, such as destroying evidence if you're on the side of the USS.
Gameplay is rather different from previous Resident Evil experiences, as it's primarily a third-person shooter. Capcom recruited Canadian developer Slant Six to work on the project; their previous titles were third-person shooters for the PlayStation Portable and PS3. It really shows too, as Operation Raccoon City controls in much the same way. But that's not necessarily a good thing. While some of Slant Six's games have received decent scores, none of them have ever been scored all that well.
There will be six playable characters to choose from in the game, and each will have their own unique abilities. You will need to choose a character that suits your play style in order to succeed. Interesting tactics can also be adopted, such as using zombies to your advantage. For example, you can let zombies bite you. This makes you invisible to zombies, as they won't eat their own kind and it makes you invulnerable to opposition fire. The catch, once you become a zombie, you can't respawn again until someone kills your zombified self.
You can also be rather cheeky and use one of the game's mechanics to your advantage. If you get severely hurt, it will cause a blood frenzy. What this means, is that all zombies will suddenly find you more alluring than normal. You can then purposely use this to lure zombies in a certain direction.
While you will be running through Raccoon City killing zombies, killing the opposition forces is your main objective. And its something that can get a little bit confusing. You see, zombies are unlimited in their supply - no matter how many you kill, they will keep on coming. You may be tempted to stick in an area to try and clear out some waves, but it won't really benefit you that much. Instead, you need to keep on driving forward to your objective and concern yourself primarily with killing other humans, preferably ones on the opposing team.
There are some nice concepts here, but it doesn't feel like it adds a whole lot to the Resident Evil franchise. Perhaps the story will make-up for it, but currently the gameplay looks like it needs a lot of patching up before its going to be of a good enough standard.
The game will also feature a full-on multiplayer component where you will be able to square off against some buddies and this could well be where the best experiences comes into play, but that remains to be seen. Either way, the game is due out later this year on PS3 and Xbox 360, so we will all be able to find out for ourselves.