Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is perfect case study material. It should be showcased to any budding video game developer so they know how not to make a video game unless of course their aim all along is to waste money making a terribly boring, frustrating, buggy and jumbled mess.
Billed as an action game set in the Resident Evil universe, Operation Raccoon City attempts to take players back to where it all began, Raccoon City. Unlike previous games where you stepped into the boots of the good guys, Operation Raccoon City paints a parallel picture you’ll experience from Umbrella Corporation’s nefarious clean-up crew. It’s a cool idea no doubt and fans of the series will appreciate the subtle throwbacks to older games.
Screw you guys, I'm going home
The game strives to be a conventional third-person, cover based shooter and that’s totally fine by us but the cover system is all over the place. To take cover, you have to simply push your character up against any surface and he/she should technically take cover. That rarely works. What’s worse is that every time you bump against any object in the environment, you’ll find your character taking cover even though you just wanted him/her to move on. Weapons have an excessive amount of recoil and since there is no way to customize them, you’re left with shoddy gunplay throughout the game. This is also the first game where characters, be they humans or zombies do not die with multiple shots to the head. Now that’s hardcore.
Throughout the campaign, you can choose to play as one of four characters each of which specialize in certain abilities so someone can turn invisible or double up as a healer. As you slay foes, you’ll amass experience points that can be used to activate and upgrade active as well as passive abilities. This is a decent mechanic made redundant by the fact that most squad members had useless abilities.
You’ll spend your time in Raccoon City mowing down hordes of mindless enemies that attack in predictable and often cheap patterns. Still I’d go as far as saying that killing the undead is kind of fun. There’s also a neat mechanic in there that sees players turn into the undead once infected. This does seem like a good idea on paper that never got fully fleshed out (pun intended) since you lose all control of your character once converted. You then have to get snuffed out by your squad after which you respawn with a fully loaded load-out. Not a bad reward for nearly wiping out your team costing them the entire mission.
Things also take a frustrating turn when mini bosses or bosses are added into the mix. Not only do they absorb bullets like sponges but once they start their attack pattern, there’s no escaping it. The game doesn’t even have a roll or evade button so if you get knocked down by a boss, he’ll keep spamming you with attacks till you die since you can’t get up fast enough or roll out of the way. Not fun!
What I did learn from many such experiences was that you’re better off completely avoiding respawning enemies, heading straight toward the objectives as every enemy in the level magically disappears once you trigger the next major checkpoint. Towards the end of the game, it seemed developer Slant Six became aware of this strategy and proceeded to send an insurmountable amount of odds my way to make the game seem tougher – and longer, delaying my agony in the process.
We wanna go back to Left4Dead
Thankfully my anguish was shared by a friend and fellow reviewer. If not for him, I would have probably punched a hole in my wall since friendly AI is as dense as a black hole. They’ll more often than not run straight into harm’s way never bothering to provide any form of backup. Even when you go down, they will never come to your aid meaning you’ll end up replaying certain sections of the game. Once we decided we were going to soldier through the entire experience, we finished the game under four hours. Normally that would be a bit short but in the case of Operation Raccoon City, we were elated when the credits rolled. It gave us a sense of accomplishment no game has ever done before.
If the thought of mediocre gameplay hasn’t turned you away yet, take solace in the fact that the game is just as bad technically. Operation Raccoon City is one of the few games this generation that actually look worse off than many if not most PS2 games. Considering the resources available today, I know that wasn’t an easy task. Voice acting is just as bad as the visuals making your ears cringe every time a character utters his/her line in horrendous Russian accents. Frame rates also dip hard every few minutes as soon as the screen fills up with enemies or a grenade blows up near you making you think the game actually has a slow motion mechanic. Besides zombies, bugs galore litter the game like enemies getting stuck in visible as well as invisible walls, enemies suspended in mid-air, enemies just disappearing and re-appearing at their own will and lots more.
What am I even doing here?
I recently came across an article where Slant Six, the game’s developer actually defended their product saying they made it to Capcom’s specifications. That would hold true if Capcom told them to turn people off the Resident Evil franchise for good but I doubt that’s the case. I understand a lot of money, time and effort must have gone into making this game but that does not justify such a shoddy product that’s just no fun to play. Had this not been my job, I would have given up on this game halfway through the first level. It really should be avoided not just by Resident Evil fans but by anyone who likes video games in general.
Publish date: April 3, 2012 12:24 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:57 pm
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