The Resident Evil franchise, at its core, has always been deep rooted in the survival horror, but this is something that Capcom has been trying to change in recent years. Resident Evil 5 had a much more "action" feel to it, while the release of Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D also showed that there was another side to the franchise. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City takes things once step further and not least because it's being handled by a western developer. It also takes the Resident Evil franchise fully into the third-person shooter genre and shows that the Resident Evil franchise just isn't ready for that, at least not in this form.
Taking place between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Operation Raccoon City sees you play as members of the opposition force. Yes that's right, it gives you the chance to live out your fantasies of playing on the side of Umbrella, specifically the Umbrella Security Service.
To this end, the game introduces six new characters, each of which has their own specific class. And as the campaign progresses, you get to see a little bit more light on some of the cutscenes from Resident Evil 3.
The main problem is that it's all rather disconnected. There are seven missions in total and they attempt to follow the storyline. It's just too broad of a stimulus though, so you'll be jumping here, there and everywhere. Nicholai appears, he's your opposite number for a little while, and then he disappears. Likewise, Leon and Claire seem to just appear. There's also a minor tie-in with the Nemesis too.
A big deal was also made about certain decisions that could be taken. For example, whether you decided to let Leon Kennedy live or die. Unfortunately, how it plays out in the game is pretty bland.
In terms of gameplay, Operation Raccoon City is pretty standard fare for the third-person shooter genre. Each class, has two suggested default weapons, but they can use any of them with the same proficiency and from here, your objective is to obviously shoot as many bad guys as possible.
Slant Six are best known for their work on the PlayStation Portable versions of the SOCOM franchise. It shows. The gameplay doesn't feel up to the standards set by home console third-person shooters in recent years and while cool, some of the design choices are a bit rudimentary. For example, the ability to hold down your change weapon button to pull out an auto-aiming pistol. It's a smart mechanic in theory, and one that would be suited rather well to the PSP. But in this environment, it just seems pointless. It doesn't work that well and it's better to be able to aim yourself.The movement and general feel for the characters is also very wooden. There's a "snap to" cover system, which doesn't work all that well and the dodging mechanics work, but do very little else.
Operation Raccoon City is primarily a squad-based shooter and there is a clear focus towards online play. The simple fact is, the AI are diabolical. They will do everything they possibly can to try and get themselves killed, including purposely walking into huge streams of fire and walking through trip mines. They also do very little to try and help with any of your objectives, aside from acting as a meat-shield distraction. It makes playing with at least one other human a must, because otherwise, the game can be an arduous mess.
Despite its squad-based mechanics, there is no real reliance on team-work. It's pretty much a free-for-all at all times, apart from when you need to get to the next checkpoint. Obviously you want to help each other out if you get in a bind, but there's no incentive to do this. If anything, due to how the scoring system works, everyone is competing against each other as there are only a finite amount of enemies to kill and collectables to pick up.
As an attempt to stay within the Resident Evil world, enemies also take a ridiculous amount of damage before they go down. It makes sense for zombies to be able to take a bit of a lead battering, but it makes no sense for opposing human characters to have the same rules applied. If anything, these guys can take even more punishment. Sure, they're "Spec Ops", but that doesn't explain why they're able to take three sniper shots and just stand there as if nothing even happened.
When looking at presentation, things don't get much better. Character animations are very bland and the visuals are pretty embarrassing in some respects. Looking at Leon's character model is the most disappointing. Compared to how he looks in Resident Evil 4, it's so disappointing to see him looking so lifeless. This is a game coming out towards what we think will soon be the end of this console generation, and it's from a big franchise. There's no real excuse for such poor performance here.
When it comes to replay value, Operation Raccoon City does a little better, but only just. Playing through the campaign should take around 3-4 hours, but due to the nature of its initiation, it is easy to see that it was designed for multiple plays. There's also the whole versus side of things, which is a rather different ball game. The main problem here though, is that you're still stuck with the same poor gameplay that plagues the main campaign, so that could hinder how much enjoyment you get from the experience.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a game that epitomises average. When looking at the different elements featured throughout, it's difficult to see if the developers even aimed for something higher than that. It's very difficult to look past the poor visuals, bland gameplay and disconnected story implementation, but if you do, there's a game that could have a decent life for its co-operative offering. It's just not a game that Resident Evil fans deserved and it doesn't do the franchise justice.
|You can use zombies as hostages, which is quite fun.|
|Playing with four friends could negate the poor gameplay.|
|Lots of replay options.|
|Presentation is just bland.|
|The AI is diabolical.|
|Human opponents take a ridiculous amount of damage.|