Developers don’t know what they are doing when they ravage a series, especially one that is well known. When I think back to what a Resident Evil game meant to me back in the series’ heyday it’s that much more disappointing to see where it has ended up. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a stark contrast to what was previously the most recent title in the series (Revelations), and a plain old train wreck compared its predecessors.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew what this game was when I picked it up: a squad based shooter that was meant to cash in on the fame that has graced well known multiplayer games such as Gears of War and Call of Duty. The shooter formula could have worked, it could have blossomed into a halfway decent Left 4 Dead clone. But it didn’t, and fans of the series are only left with the pieces of something that could have been.
Operation Raccoon City places you in the role of an agent for the Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S.). There are a number of different operatives you can play as, but besides a special move that they do (that wasn’t really all that special) there was no remarkable different between them. Since they are working for Umbrella, they’re pretty evil people. Each character bio reads something to the effect of “I’m a bad-ass who cares nothing for human life.”
Since the storyline for Operation Raccoon City takes place during Resident Evil 2 and 3, you’d think there would be a lot of interesting backstory provided on the bad guys to add to the core games. This assumption is false. Dialogue seems forced, cheesy, and isn’t very exciting to listen to. The most exciting part of this game are the cut-scenes, which at least try to meld into the events leading up to the original games.
The largest flaws in this game are graphical. On the surface, if you aren’t paying attention, the graphics are decent. Enemy characters and familiar characters look pretty much like they should. The biggest problem with everything seen in this game is laziness. Perusing through City Hall, one of the first playable missions, I was bewildered by what I saw there. Three times in roughly ten minutes, I saw the same character model for a corpse on the ground. Not just the same clothes, but the exact same character model, which was a headless lady with a business suit on and one of her shoes missing (laying a foot away). The same model, in the same position, within ten minutes….three times.
The graphical copies don’t just end there. In this same area of the game, there are zombies. However, the zombies are roughly the same character models used over and over to a very noticeable level. You have the cop, the lady with a mid-drift shirt, guy with hoodie, and lady with a blonde bun. So you’re thinking, the characters are copies of each other, but the atmosphere of the game must look amazing.
Wrong. The environments, like the enemies, are just the same area copied over and over. I remember playing through Resident Evil 2, and looking at the tiny details put into all of the atmosphere whether it be trash on the ground to notes all over the place that you could read. Everything seemed real and it was eerie. There isn’t anything compelling about what you see in this game. Just plain looking rooms and hallways; nothing to awe a player in the least.
So this game isn’t much of a looker, but some great games weren’t the best looking in the world, right? If a game is fun, it can negate some of those graphical problems. This isn’t one of those diamond in the rough games. There is no pleasant surprise here with awesome gameplay. Combat is boring and drones on and on. Creatures fought are either human troops (Umbrella Bio-hazard Countermeasure Service from Resident Evil 3) or zombified creatures and bio-organic weapons (B.O.W.s). In all cases they aren’t very smart and tend to run into other enemies, walls, and your player’s team. It’s not just the enemies that do this. Your teammates, when controlled by AI alone, aren’t the brightest crayons in the bunch. They aren’t helpful and get themselves killed way too often.
Weapons are able to be unlocked and bought via experience, and they are displayed with stats so you can choose your favorites. You can carry one main weapon and a small firearm (such as a handgun). Grenades are also available, and are scattered around the map with ammo boxes and weapons on the ground that can be picked up and used.
The main component in this game is supposed to be multiplayer, but even a few friends playing along can not fill in for what Operation Raccoon City lacks. The combat isn’t fun, and aiming at enemies tends to fail more often than succeed. There’s also a very annoying “take cover” mechanic that is automatic. So if you want to pick up something you may end up taking cover instead. It’s like the walls are made of Velcro or something. You pick up items with the “A” button, but coming too close to a wall will cause the character to “auto-cover” and you may end up missing the chance to pick up the item.
There are a number of multiplayer modes that feature familiar characters to play as such as Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, but there is no real incentive to play them. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City let me down in a big way. At no point did I expect a survival horror like the originals, but I also didn’t expect something so far away from the idea of it that I wanted to walk away and go play Resident Evil 2 for the Tiger Game.com.