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Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review

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On 03/29/2012 at 07:02 PM by Nick DiMola

This is not the Resident Evil game you're looking for.

Not Recommended.

For more than fifteen years players have been experiencing the Resident Evil series through the eyes of the good guys. They’ve controlled Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, Chris and Claire Redfield, among others, but never before have they been given the opportunity to see the events of the series from the perspective of the evil Umbrella Corporation. Part of the intent of Operation Raccoon City was to expose players to the other side of the story, offering an inside look at the events surrounding Resident Evil 2 and 3. Sadly, this opportunity has been squandered on an inconsequential story and a gameplay experience that is at best, boring, and at worst, flat-out broken.

Navigating the menus of Operation Raccoon City should’ve been indication enough of the quality of the contents within. Using the analog stick, it was nearly impossible to just move up and down to make a selection. Despite concerted attempts, the stubborn cursor would not move. Compare this to the actual gameplay and playable characters are more than happy to move – even after you’ve stopped pushing in a direction.

Inadvertent, automated movement aside, Operation Raccoon City attempts to bring a more streamlined third person shooting experience to the series. Eschewing the typical rigid and slow-paced shooting introduced in Resident Evil 4, Operation Raccoon City plays out more like your standard third person shooter, giving players the ability to take cover, aim down the sights, and move/look using a combination of the two analog sticks.

The net result of these changes is a Resident Evil experience that feels completely unlike past games in the series. As a spin-off, the unique approach is completely acceptable; factor in the squad-based co-operative gameplay and it’s clear to see why the entire core experience had to be changed.

It’s too bad though, because the resultant product is completely uninspired, tedious, and largely without purpose thanks to the thin story. Ignoring the glaring issues found within in the gameplay, the core narrative behind Operation Raccoon City hardly touches upon the background behind the events in Raccoon City. As a team of Umbrella operatives, it's your job to merely clean up Umbrella's involvement in the outbreak.

As you progress from mission to mission, you aren't made privy to what exactly you're covering up – it's just a matter of getting to the proper location and interacting with some given object. You might disable cameras, or destroy evidence, but what the contents of this information are remains a mystery. Arguably, the dirty laundry is what we want to see. What's their motive? Who's orchestrating all of this? It all remains a mystery even after completing the entire quest.

Furthermore, rather than taking control of some notable characters, you find yourself occupying the body of a brand new, faceless (literally) character on the clean-up squad. HUNK is around at the very beginning of the quest, but beyond that, you won't bump into any other notables on the enemy side. Even worse, the game offers almost no explanation of any of the events that are occurring or ties them to past titles in order to help refresh the player's mind.

By the end of the quest, you'll encounter Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, and Ada Wong, but they play a minimal role until the very final moment of the game. Instead you'll battle a combination of zombies and generic spec ops soldiers, with the occasional virus-mutated boss thrown in for good measure. The fan service ends with the retreading of ground from past games. It's interesting to see some of the environments from Resident Evil 2 again, but most of it isn't the same and merely acts as a backdrop to the tedious firefights.

These firefights occur with the aforementioned hordes of spec ops soldiers that have apparently made their way into every crevice of Raccoon City. No matter where you go, they seem to have posted up in great numbers, practically awaiting your arrival. It's awkward because they never seem to have a purpose outside of just being there. Sometimes they are slaughtering zombies, but more often than not, they're just hiding behind some conveniently placed boxes and barricades.

Engaging in combat is always a chore. With little feedback, it's never clear how much damage you’re inflicting. While this issue holds true with all enemies outside of zombies, it's most frustrating here because you will constantly fight them. One soldier will go down with a single headshot while another will take clip after clip, merely stumbling and getting back up again. This inconsistency makes it very hard to produce a strategy for success.

While many past Resident Evil games seemed to feature this same inconsistency, it simply doesn't work here. The prior titles had an element of ammo conservation that dictated a very different approach to combat. Here, ammo is plentiful and the gameplay is purely shooting-based, so if Slant Six was carrying over the random health concept, it was a mistake.

More frustrating than the inconsistent amount of health for each enemy type, is the inaccuracy of your weaponry. Despite clearly taking aim at a foe, your shots will often scatter around them. Because you can equip upgrades before coming into the mission, it seems accuracy was knocked down to accommodate for upgrades that would increase it. Shooting, which is again, the main experience of the game, feels completely unsatisfying and poorly implemented.

It gets worse – missions tend to ramp in difficulty to extreme degrees as they reach their climax. Some segments will require many, many attempts to complete, which brings into question if the game was balanced for single-player. Because the game lacks local co-op play (which is frustrating in its own right), you're forced to play using computer AI for the rest of your squad. To say they're idiotic would be too generous; your squad is absolutely worthless. They rarely defeat even the simplest of foes and more often than not just get themselves killed, forcing you to revive them.

In order to swap these morons out for some real humans, you have to play online. Unfortunately, it seems no one ever joins games, as over the course of my quest I was blessed with the presence of only one comrade for a matter of mere minutes. You can instead opt to join someone else's quest, or play with a friend, but unless you are playing within your quest, you will not make progress. Regardless, when you do join a stranger's quest, there's a clear lack of team play, which defeats the entire purpose of playing together. This is a game you play with a few friends on the couch, but with no local co-op, that option does not exist.

You’ll surely experience a variety of other frustrations as well. This includes, but is not limited to, button input issues. Switching weapons won't always work, so you'll be dry firing your weapon at the worst of times. I had an instance in the beginning with William Birkin in his "G" form where every time he hit me I'd get stuck to him and eventually killed. I managed to escape his clutches after many attempts, but as a single player it was nearly impossible. Despite being able to revive teammates, they can't revive you when you go down.

Boss encounters in general are completely aggravating. Playing alone, some can easily last fifteen minutes, which is entirely too long. God forbid you should die, you'll be forced back through all of it again. Without any feedback, it's impossible to gauge how long you have left or if you're even doing the right things.

If there weren't enough issues for you up until now, there's still one more left: infection. On paper, the concept sounds great – you finally have to combat one of the most obvious threats. However, its implementation is hardly original. When zombies infect you, it acts like poison in any other game, with a spray remedying the ailment. Tough luck if you don't have the requisite item and you're playing alone – you will die and you will replay the entire segment you’ve been working through. Towards the end of the game, where the zombie population is high, you will encounter this issue at a much higher frequency.

While I believe I've covered the brunt of the issues in Operation Raccoon City, there are surely others hiding within its folds. Despite any curiosity you may have to catch this side of the story, there's nothing here for you; just broken, uninspired trash that was likely never finished before being pushed out the door.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Julian Titus Senior Editor

03/29/2012 at 08:26 PM

Man, it's been a bummer for horror games lately. I think I'm going to play some Silent Hill HD Collection and Corpse Party while I wait for Dead Space 3.


03/30/2012 at 12:33 PM

Nick you lost me the second you said the game has poorly implemented shooting mechanics. This is a shooter, and screwing up the shooting is like making an RPG without any stats and progression to have control of. This has nothing to do with anything, and it's extremely nitpicky, but in some of the pictures there's a group of soldiers (1 lady and 3 boys). Why does that lady have to have a deep plunging neckline on her armor? I get it, she's pretty and most likely eyecandy, but come on. What the fuck is the point of wearing body armor and a gas mask if you're going to wear clothes that expose vital organs like your lungs and heart?

Friggin dopes. She has knee-pads and a gas mask on, but her vitals are wide open. All the boys are covered heavily head to toe like Juggenauts from Modern Warfare 3.

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