Resident Evil Operation Racoon City Review
Unfortunately For Such A Game, With An Incredible Amount Of Promise And Hype, It’s Let Down By The Mistakes Made By Slant Six
Platform: Xbox 360/PS3/PC (Xbox 360 reviewed)
Developer: Slant Six Games, Capcom
In my mind the greatest of Resident Evil was way back on the Playstation. Those secluded, harrowing walks through the RPD station, desperately fearing what was around the next corner, or those terrifying walks through the streets of Raccoon City, petrified of what awaits you in a dark alleyway, whether it be the constant and unrelenting threat of the Nemesis or a chance encounter with a hungry horde, or even more terrifying: nothing. You never knew what was coming and the way those original titles built up suspense and fear was unique and incredible. Yes the titles grew all the more outlandish and unbelievable over the years but those early titles, and the encapsulation of overwhelming zombie survival, haunted players for years. With the announcement of Operation Raccoon City me and gamers around the globe exclaimed "finally! Back home with original horror!" Taking the original stories and playing them from the perspective of a highly trained elite squad was a dream come true.
Unfortunately, instead of going back to what made the series ala RE2/3, this game fits in the plethora of poor entries in the series up there with the Outbreak, Survivor and Chronicles series’, and it's truly sad to see a game with such potential end up there.
Playing from the perspective of USS Delta Team codenamed Wolfpack, you are tasked with several missions taken from those iconic early titles and given specific objectives such as retrieving a sample of the G-Virus and reprogramming the legendary Nemesis character. Spanning the course of six missions you play alternate scenarios from Raccoon City, seeing what would have happened had this Wolfpack actually been deployed and altered the course of future titles.
One thing that RE: ORC manages to do well is cause widespread feelings of nostalgia, diving through the vast history of Raccoon City and bringing back popular and lesser known enemies alike, with everything from the vicious and enhanced Crimson Head zombies from the Remake on GameCube, the terrifyingly designed Lickers from RE2, and throwing in a healthy dose of Tyrants for good measure. This would be all well and good, but instead of taking everything that was great about these creatures, Slant Six manages to subvert them all in such a way that instead of inspiring dread and fear, they only cause irritation. We all know that the best thing about the Lickers was when you encountered a single solitary one in the halls of the RPD, nails clacking hauntingly on the ceiling, or skittering past the window only to be caught out the corner of your eye, causing panic over whether you saw them or are letting your terror get the best of you, but instead these creatures are thrown carelessly into ORC in packs, gripping you annoyingly with a tongue attack only to be batted away. Likewise enemies such as the Tyrant or Nemesis are used as end level bosses instead of the constant risk they were originally. Possibly the only enemy successfully added to the game was the zombies, now being able to dispose of with a single well placed headshot, but we’re get to the ease of this in a little bit.
These nods to previous titles also stretch to the human characters, with the likes of Leon, Claire, Ada, and NicholaiGinovaef (clue: he was in RE3) all making appearances, and nods being made to Code Veronica all being very nice and a boost in fan appreciation for the series. Yeah, kudos for Slant Six doing their research into the series. Unfortunately they didn’t think to add some decent gameplay in there as well. And here we enter the biggest gripe. Yes, you can have all the nostalgia in the zombie infested world but the game itself is a broken, incomplete, near unplayable mess.
If you’re not signed into Xbox Live then from the very “press start” screen you’re in trouble, with the game forcing you to reselect your profile, save location, and again confirm that you’re not bothered with going online. The menu system itself is a mess, whether it be selecting a game mode or simply trying to pause, with the game seemingly flip-flop between whether the pause button or “B” will let you actually do anything.
Gameplay itself is an absolute disaster, if you attempt to use cover then the game will only let you shoot if you’re in a certain position in said cover, and blind fire will be absolutely useless to you. That being said, outside of cover you’re best spraying and praying, as if you actually attempt to aim you’re in trouble. Not only is aiming slow and unresponsive, but also trying to get bullets where you’re actually looking is seemingly based on pure luck, with everything from the handgun to a precision bolt-action rifle apparently being calibrated by monkeys, with bullets going only in the vague general direction of where you’re looking.
At the same time, weapon power is also based on luck. You can unload half a round into a Hunters face and have them keep coming, or accomplish a one shot kill on a whim. Your best bet in all honesty is to use the ridiculously overpowered CQC melee combat, if it wasn’t for the fact your character would flail mindlessly and only occasionally hit who you’re going for. In summary for gameplay: Controls are a joke, blind fire is impossible, aiming is terrible, melee is insane, and throwing grenades make you look like an idiot.
Not only is the gameplay itself… regrettable… but also ORC features possibly the worst AI I've seen in a game for some time. Your own squad will either stand in front of you doing absolutely nothing while at the same time stopping you from attacking in combat, or run in like a bat out of hell and swiftly get kicked back, over run, and murdered. At the same time your squad has a penchant for running idiotically into any “hidden” trip-mines or traps, detonating them and killing themselves, and even more of hindrance, at one point actually managed to stick a grenade to me.
Equally enemies will all stand in a corner facing away from you as if hoping you won't see them, get stuck in objects, attempt to shoot each other, or on the rare occasion actually try to kill you. It’s almost as though Slant Six lookedat the idea of programming the game effectively and figured it was time for a sandwich break instead.
When selecting from the six different character you’ll notice that each will have a specific skill such as the character Bertha being a medic, Spectre being sniper focused and so on, however in the game itself these characters will not play on the abilities in any way shape or form. As your squad cannot be controlled by the player at all this skill allocation is mostly superfluous and seems that the creators only decided to add this element as a superficial element to the game. Each character has a certain amount of passive and active abilities that can be upgraded by gaining experience points throughout the game. These skills include cloaking and threat scanner and are specific to each individual character, helping to somewhat mix up gameplay and make your favourite characters feel all the more personal. Plus there is a wide array of different weapons to unlock, meaning you can use everything from the tommy gun you unlock in RE4 to the special S.T.A.R.S. handgun, the Samurai Edge.
Unfortunately for such a game, with an incredible amount of promise and hype, it’s let down by the mistakes made by Slant Six. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City could have been a tight, nostalgic, exciting tactical squad-based third-person shooter, but instead it’s an unfinished mess. The thing is, even if the game play was amazing and actually worked, you can see the influence of more recent RE titles and realise the series will never inspire the quiet terror and dread that came from the games that ORC are trying to emulate and take influence from. With bad graphics, no tension, almost unplayable controls and terrible AI, ORC is one of the most disappointing, broken games I’ve had the misfortune of playing, sadly falling into a forgettable pile of plain bad third-person shooters. And it’s a huge shame.
Writer, gamer, and general all-around awesomeness compressed into human form. Co-founder of Reset Gaming.
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