Over the past few years, the Resident Evil series has slowly but surely been shifting towards the action genre leaving its old-school survival horror roots behind. While this has been beneficial to sales, certain fans of the series feel cheated with Capcom’s new change in direction. Those fans may not be pleased with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City as it’s as action oriented as it gets.
The game takes place in Raccoon City (duh!) but this time you play as one of the bad guys called in to clean up Umbrella’s Corporation’s mess. You can choose to play as one of many characters, each of which have a distinct skillset. This is an action game at the end of the day so don’t go expecting radically different gameplay; choosing different characters simply means you receive different abilities on the battlefield like the ability to heal teammates, be better at explosives and so on.
Operation Raccoon City is a squad-based shooter much like developer Slant Six's SOCOM series only instead of killing terrorists, you’re shooting zombies in the face. The game now plays out like a conventional third person action game with a cover system and the ability to blind fire. While taking on human enemies, the game’s actually quite generic and by the numbers. You’ll run to cover, shoot mindless foes as they run blindly at you, reload and move on.
Things become a lot more interesting when the undead are thrown into the mix. Much like Valve’s Left4Dead series, they tend to attack you in droves making the whole experience a lot more intense. Sure you could take cover but what use is taking cover behind an object when a zombie with an explosive strapped to its chest is up your backside. During these segments, it’s best to be on your feet at all times, dodging, shooting and generally making sure you stay alive. And just like Left4Dead, I can see the game being a lot more enjoyable when played in co-op with other people. Friendly AI in single players wasn’t bad; but then again, it wasn’t that good making me do all the work.
We can never be friends
Gunplay is rather solid and this could be good news or bad news depending on which camp you’re from. You can now aim down the sites while moving around and shooting stuff generally feels more responsive, like it would in a third person shooter. While I whole heartedly appreciate these refined gameplay mechanics, veterans of the series may get a bit bummed out with this fact since clunky controls actually made previous games a bit scarier. Think about it; when you move like a tank and can’t aim while moving, life can get a lot more hectic. The cover system also works surprisingly well as you snap into cover simply by running toward an object. There’s no designated button which is nice but for some odd reason, there’s also no way to vault over cover.
Visually I could see nothing wrong with the game. It looked presentable and even during sequences when I was surrounded by the undead, the frame rates held up just fine. I did only play around two levels so I can’t comment on how the full game would stack up but so far, the game looks technically solid.
Who doesn't love zombie shields?
Initially I admit, I was a bit apprehensive with this game but after playing around with it, my inhibitions are starting to fade away. While I’m guessing this game won’t win any GOTY awards this year, I’m sure it will provide players with an action packed Resident Evil experience till Resident Evil 6 arrives this November. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City releases for the Xbox360, PS3 and PC this March.
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