The Resident Evil franchise is widely recognized as the granddaddy of survival horror, but lately it’s known less for frights and more for action-based gameplay. Unfortunately, Resident Evil is also known for its various plot holes and cliffhanger endings. Capcom looks to alleviate that with the $59.99 Operation Raccoon City, which aims to fill in said plot holes between Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3.
The story is set, to no one’s surprise, in Raccoon City. However, instead of following around fan favorites such as Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong or even Claire Redfield, players are introduced to the Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S), which is made of several highly trained operatives each equipped with their own specialties. The U.S.S.’s goal, without giving up too much info, is to cover up the truth about the virus outbreak in Raccoon City by any means necessary. Throughout the story players will fight their way through zombies, B.O.W.s, and Special Ops soldiers, as well as meet up with some of Resident Evil’s most memorable heroes and villains.
As a third person shooter, ORC holds up well from a tactical standpoint. Three NPC characters “assist” you as blast your way through the single player campaign, or you can partner up with one to three of your friends. Teaming with human players is by far the better option, because the team AI are absolutely moronic at times. The team AI will walk into obviously planted trip wire mines or run head on into enemy gun fire as if they’re trying to fill the role of some martyr. Don’t expect them to get any smarter on the higher difficulty levels.
Holding your own with team AI isn’t much of a problem on low difficulties either. The main issue stems from the cover system. It is highly reminiscent of Gears of War, but it isn’t done as well. To take cover, you simply need to move your character up against an object instead of pressing a designated button. While the cover system is serviceable, it causes more problems than it solves. You can’t go into cover while reloading or shooting, and blindfire is useless because you tend to hit the cover you’re hiding behind and nothing else. More often than not, outside of a firefight, you will take cover on something you weren’t intending to. If the option should ever come up during game to take a human/zombie shield, do that instead. It is much more effective.
When the game works it works well, extremely well, in fact. When it doesn’t, it’s terrible.
For example Vector (Recon class) has the passive stealth “Stealth Run” which boosts movement speed and reduces the sound of his footsteps to prevent detection. “Detection Avoidance,” his other passive ability, helps Vector avoid enemy mini-maps while he is moving at less than full speed. Vector’s active abilities are “Motion Detector,”which allows him to throw a tiny orb that raises an alarm when enemies are nearby. His “Active Camouflage” lets him cloak himself to avoid detection, but some enemies such as Lickers, who are blind, can smell him despite his being cloaked. His last active ability is “Mimicry.” Mimicry transforms vector into the enemy, which enables him to sneak across enemy lines. That’s just one character’s abilities and the U.S.S. consists of six members.
As with any shooter on the market the online features are a major selling point. Operation Raccoon City features four online modes, not including the option to host a private game. Team Deathmatch has 4-on-4 gunplay with Spec Ops and U.S.S. duking it out for the highest score. Biohazard is the Operation Raccoon City equivalent of Capture the Flag where the flag is a sample of the G-virus. Heroes is once again 4-on-4 but the twist is that you play with Raccoon City’s heroes on one team and the villains on the other. On the heroes side you pick from Leon S. Kennedy, Jill Valentine, Claire Redfield and Carlos Oliveira. Villains choose from Hunk Ada Wong, and the two newly introduced characters Nicholai Zinoviev and Lone Wolf. The last online mode is Survival where players fight it out to catch a ride on an evacuation helicopter that only has four available seats. The great thing about all the game modes is that they pit you against human opponents as well as zombies, B.O.W.s, and at times the dreaded Tyrant.
When the game works it works well, extremely well, in fact. When it doesn’t, it’s terrible. The biggest gripe being the netcode. Single-player aside, it’s the online component that really gives the most trouble. At times matchmaking takes longer than it should, you’ll unable to spawn at the loadout screen, and you can end up in a mode different from the one you chose.
The worst thing about it all is quite possibly the lag. Every game has lag, but sometimes Operation Raccoon City will lag to a point where you won’t even want to touch it.
Slant Six Games did a great job filling in the blanks with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. The single-player campaign is a bit short, but the story telling is magnificent. The online multiplayer is good when it works and the four modes are fun to pass time with some friends. When it doesn’t, though, it feels rushed and unfinished.