Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was possibly the worst decision made by Capcom in recent years. Given their reluctance to pull insanely over-priced, on-the-disk-DLC from all their current titles, Capcom are losing reputation fairly quickly with gamers on all systems. Following the “real ending” DLC for Asura’s Wrath, we wanted a little more from Capcom; what we got, though, was an indie game pretending to be a revolutionary Resident Evil game.
Set between the second and third games, Resident Evil: Operation Raccon City (which I’ll call ORC from now on) introduces fast and fluid combat within the buildings and streets of Raccoon City. It’s basically an attempt to give gamers a little of what they think they want in the main canon games of the series: moving and shooting, more ammo, cover, etc. What ORC is on paper is far from what it is in execution, though. An under-produced, buggy and broken, sluggish port of a game that wasn’t even particularly well made for consoles, ORC not only fails to meet expectations, it actually sinks below our worst doubts.
You can’t just give us multiplayer and expect us to make our own fun.
You and three of your friends, through the always popular GFWL, lobby up and select your characters. Each with their own special gimmicks and respective arsenal of weapons, you’d think there’d be some benefit in picking one over the other: not so, at least not from what I can tell. You can pick your weapons regardless of what they appear to be using in their pictures, and health seems the same for each of them. The main differentiating feature being a little story about how apparently awesome they are. I’m not a complete cynic, the character designs are pretty cool – and they mirror more the W. S. Anderson original Resident Evil movie than they do the previous games in any way. One of the characters, donning a shotgun and armoured suit similar to Jack Bauer in season 7 of 24, was my personal favorite.
The game opens with your team sent to cover up the abysmal zombie mess at the source. It soon becomes apparent that this is a pretty naughty thing to be doing, since you’re suddenly and surprisingly ambushed by hordes of US soldiers.
Even though the prior cut-scene was kind of cool, you’ll probably realise what ORC is all about as soon as you start shooting. With the gunning mechanics of Saints Row: The Third and the dynamic and linearity of 007: Bloodstone, it soon becomes apparent that the team were either incredibly unimaginative, or severely under funded.
The sound of gun-fire is tinny and horrible, and whilst this isn’t usually a big problem for third person shooters in a somewhat fantasy setting, it seemed to matter more here. The guns have no kick, with a mere shifting reticle to simulate recoil. Cover is buggy and awkward, too, requiring the player to shove his character into cover in order for him to crouch behind the object. You don’t snap, it’s really flimsy – it felt as though it was up to the game whether or not I was actually in cover… not that you need it.
Left for Dead… literally. You’re literally just left for dead by the AI.
If you’re with less than three friends, it’s nice to have a little AI assistance. Nope! In ORC your AI allies cannot resurrect you. This means that if you’re playing single player, when you’re knocked out you’re out for good. Game over. In multiplayer, players will need to utilize the unlimited ability to help each-other out – it’s integral to the game. This isn’t possible in single player, and for that reason the campaign, played alone, is basically broken. Unless you really enjoy dying because of invisible walls and endlessly spawning zombies and disease, then you’ll need to team up with friends. It’s not as bad as Lost Planet 2 for single player… it’s much, much worse.
Another problem is the fact that you can’t vault or jump. I died numerous times because of tiny, ridiculously redundant objects simply getting in my way. For instance, I had to head down a small staircase without a bannister in order to avoid a horde of zombies – but they were all over the stairs. I tried to jump the 2 foot step to escape and survive, but no, I couldn’t: invisible wall. I was at this stage playing alone, so had to repeat the stage again because of poor foresight from the developer. In a game where everything is out to kill you, it is incredibly frustrating when the game developer is, too.
Really, you can’t rely on the AI for an enjoyable gaming experience – no matter how dedicated you are. You need to be resurrected at some point, by someone.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
ORC doesn’t have any idea what it is. It’s patently obvious in the games dynamic. It takes an entire magazine to take down one human enemy, in a game where ammunition is scarce and survival is supposed to be about shooting frugally. You’d naturally be thinking “well, aim for the head” just as I did – but that doesn’t seem to work. It literally took 3 direct shot-gun blasts to the face to kill someone with a balaclava on. As for SMG’s and fully automatic weapons, don’t even bother. Sure, a concentrated spray to the face might take down the enemy – but at such a high cost that you’ll constantly be running around looking for ammo. It’s as though they planned a careful, strategic survival horror game with modern mechanics but changed their mind at the last minute, leaving a horrible unbalanced mess.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though – killing zombies in the city streets is great fun. Featuring the comparatively poor Hexane engine, there’s some dismemberment. Whilst blasting hordes of zombies is always fun, it’s especially fun when you’re doing it in the Resident Evil universe between two stories from the classic series. It almost feels naughty… like you’re cheating. It’s a real treat, honestly – and the game would have been 50x better if it was merely a mad romp throughout the zombie ridden pathways of Raccoon City – but it isn’t.
Zombies aren’t very varied, either. Mindless hordes pour in all the time, all around you – all the same skins. Some lickers and other favourites make an appearance, but after the first three or so they’re an unwelcome addition. I found myself wishing it was just me, my magnum, and a licker. At least that had atmosphere.
Bosses are also straight out of 1999. Pound them with bullets, hit the sweet spot, dodge attacks. Nothing new here.
Who do you think you are?
Capcom hyped the living dead out of this game, and for why? I feel lucky that I went into it having known what it was like due to a delayed PC release, but those who bought the game full price expecting all the spit and polish of a regular Resident Evil release must have been incredibly disappointed.
ORC is basically another cooperative Left 4 Dead clone which plays like a mini-game, or bolt-on multiplayer mode from a larger single player experience. Unpolished, clunky and buggy, with no PC specific graphical options such as FOV that you’d expect (FOV is terrible, it made me feel sick), ORK is an indie game, with indie polish – but it wasn’t sold at an indie price.
Slant Six Games have basically tossed a bunch of over-used mechanics into a game that wasn’t ever suited for them, which better represents the generally bad movies than the original franchise – and whilst the whole holding space to spin around and look a bit cool thing was… cool… it doesn’t make a good game. Likewise, adding the ability to become infected and kill your own team was funny the first time – but then you realised you were basically delaying your own progress and it became a nuance.
Packed with enemies who need a clip each, with not enough ammo to go around, ORC is basically a run and gun on-rails third person shooter that, perhaps at no fault of Slant Six’s, pretends to be something it isn’t – when in reality it’s just a cheap, shoddy indie game published by a developer who’s lost touch with its core demographic.
On the plus side, it’s fun to run around the Resident Evil 2 settings outside - but the inside segments of game-play still invariably suck. The puzzles, such as “find 4 pieces of paper” are terrible to point of being literally time wasting game filler.
If you can pick up ORC for around £12 then perhaps it’s worth a shot with friends – but make no mistake, ORC isn’t a good game… but a group of good friends can have fun playing practically anything… and that’s basically the most positive thing I can say about this game: Slant Six Games have given you something to do on TS or Skype.
Certain segments can be fun, but you really have to come to terms with what you’ve actually just purchased. This isn’t what we were promised, and I’d be a lot more forgiving if it were within the indie bracket – but it isn’t. By no means is ORC a terrible game, but it offers nothing new, and offers us an under-developed gaming experience all round.