When news first broke about Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, I was really intrigued. While I was a bit skeptical, the concept sounded surprisingly right. While it is clearly not like any of the core games in the series, it still works. After all, we knew there were teams that Umbrella sent in to neutralize the threat, and frankly, you’ve already played as a member of one of those teams (Carlos Olivera in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis). This just gives you the opportunity to play as one of those squads while the chaos was just beginning.
Obviously it is very different from every other Resident Evil game you’ve played, having more in common with games like Left 4 Dead and even SOCOM. It is a third person, squad based shooter that struck me as very chaotic. While I had a good time with the demo, it seems like teamwork is not exactly necessary. I and the three other random people I was playing with did not really act as a squad. At all. Three of us stuck together while our fourth decided it would be more effective if he ran ahead and took on the entire zombie horde, legion of Bio-Organic Weapons (BOWs) and the US Military Special Forces by himself. It did not really work, and at one point I got to even hear him ask, sincerely, “Why do I keep dying?”
In spite of this, we still tore through the zombies and the other assorted enemies. The action was chaotic, and the demo showed some hints at some cool systems, such as if you become wounded and begin bleeding, Zombies are more attracted to your character. Apparently you can even wound other teammates to get zombies off you. It did seem easy though. It is possible that the game may have been set to a lower difficulty. More noticeable was that there was no apparent penalty for death other than a respawn timer, so aside from dying less, there was no real incentive to work as a team. In Left 4 Dead, which may be the best game to compare it to in spite of the perspective difference, there are dire consequences for not sticking together. With Operation Raccoon City, at least with the hands on demo, there did not seem to be any.
In spite of the lack of consequences, the game was still fun in a chaotic sort of way. Zombies come at you from all sides, though in the demo, having watched others play through it before I got my chance, the BOW attacks, soldiers and even the item drops all seemed a bit too scripted for my liking. I imagine that this won’t be a huge problem in the final game as you will not know what is around the next corner. Still, maybe we have been spoiled by the Director in Left 4 Dead.
The shooting mechanics were solid, though unfortunately I did not have enough time to really see if the various characters were really that different. The character I used had a few neat tricks, but nothing too amazing. I imagine that I would need some more time with the game to make up my mind if the characters are more than just “cool soldier design with a gas-mask” or if they are just more faceless characters. There did appear to be a large number of unlocks however, as very few guns were available to us, and many were still blacked out, so the presumable existence of an unlock system is promising for any multiplayer shooter these days.
While I do not expect the story to blow me away, I still expect one from any Resident Evil game, regardless of whether it is a core title. There is promise however as the demo started with a remastered version of Resident Evil 2’s opening cinema, which always was one of my favorites growing up. The initial mission in the demo was to track and kill Leon S. Kennedy. The demo ends at a set point, so I was not able to see if it was actually possible to kill Leon and change the Resident Evil story forever. However, I was informed that the game exists in a strange sort of part canon, part non-canon version of the time between Resident Evil 2 and 3.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a game that showed quite a bit of promise, so long as you have some friends to play with. As it stands now, it just doesn’t seem like it would be nearly as much fun to play with 3 random people, though I guess that is true for any multiplayer game. There was almost always something happening on the screen, and the end of the demo really showed off just how chaotic the game could get, with BOWs, soldiers and Zombies all on screen at the same time and fighting amongst each other. I really like that Capcom is taking a chance with the Resident Evil franchise with a squad based multiplayer shooter, especially after games like Resident Evil: Outbreak tried. This seems much more fast paced however, and if you can get a good squad together, maybe you can bring some level of order to Raccoon City.