Just kill me now.
Resident Evil meets squad-based shooter. What could go wrong? A great deal, actually. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is one of those games that seemingly has everything and nothing going for it. The ideas sound like they should work, but in practice it’s all one big disappointment.
What Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Got Right
Fills in the gaps - There are a lot of gaps in the Resident Evil universe, so Operation Raccoon City heads back to make light of the unknown. It takes place behind the scenes of Resident Evil 2 & 3 and offers a new insight into that whole outbreak situation that ruined everything.
You play as part of the Umbrella Security Service on a mission to retrieve virus samples and destroy anything linking Umbrella to the whole debacle, but I’m sure you already know how that turns out.
New idea - Kudos to Capcom for looking outside Japan to reinvigorate the series. It hasn’t worked, but the potential is there. Slant Six Games, best known for the SOCOM series, has some good ideas, but just hasn’t executed them well.
At first, most of the faults aren’t that apparent. It feels like a simplified version of Gears of War in the Resident Evil universe, with a strong emphasis on co-op. You can take cover, walk and shoot and even come up against normal humans. Crazy, I know. The overall experience will be significantly improved with four real world players, as you’d be better off without the three imbeciles posing as your A.I. teammates.
What Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Got Wrong
Terrible A.I. - When I first loaded Operation Raccoon City I wasn’t even sure it had a single-player option. It is all about setting you up with randoms online if you have no friends, which is fine, but sometimes you just want to do it alone. I would say that fortunately you can play with A.I. teammates, but that turns out to be the opposite of the word I’m searching for. They are ridiculously terrible, almost as if the game is punishing you for not playing online.
You have no control over them, but can’t progress unless they’re following you and they tend to do their own illogical thing. Most of the time they are on a suicidal mission in search of their own death, but sometimes they run back to an area you cleared ages ago just because they can.
Terrible enemies - The enemy A.I. is only marginally better -- in that they try and kill you -- but some poor design only escalates the situation. Resident Evil is meant to be scary. If you were actually in some of the situations in Operation Raccoon City, you would probably laugh at the ludicrous behavior of some of the infected mutations. When playing alone, they’ll generally focus on your character and ignore the A.I. who aren’t doing anything. The best strategy is to use them as human shields.
Weapon power is meaningless - Sometimes a clip will do no damage but your knife will deliver a one hit kill. Other times, certain death is the only option in the hope that you can reset the situation and fix it next time. Most enemies are more like sponges than anything else and by comparison you have a fairly low limit of ammunition. 150 rounds should be heaps in a Resident Evil game, but it often disappears without achieving anything. Enemies just soak up bullets to no avail.
Auto-cover - There are simplified game mechanics and then there’s auto-cover. You stick to any wall in your vicinity, which is downright annoying when all you want to do is pick up ammo. It leaves you with little control over what your character is actually doing and makes the control scheme far more awkward than need be. It eliminates the point of a cover-based tactical shooter if you don’t have the option to use it as a tactic on your own terms.
On that topic, shooting is random at best, and you never have a precise aim. For some reason the handgun tries to auto-aim, but it normally just swings the character around so they are looking in a different direction to the camera, and then they miss anyway.
Doesn’t look great - By 2012 standards, this is not a good looking game. By Resident Evil standards, it’s shocking. It is completely devoid of the Resident Evil atmosphere that has made the series one of the best in its genre and leaves little to be desired. Furthermore, the music is completely wrong for the setting and the voice acting feels lackluster considering the serious nature of events.
The Final Verdict
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a sea of missed opportunities. Everything I’ve complained about could have been fantastic if done right, but it’s all just terrible. Granted, the experience is significantly improved in co-op, but that doesn’t forgive the horrendous A.I. Weapons and damage don’t make any sense and come down to random luck more than anything else, while the auto-cover system is dumbfounding considering this is meant to be a tactical shooter. I want to see Capcom experiment more, but this isn’t even close to being a good squad-based shooter and it doesn’t feel anything like a Resident Evil game.
By Ben Salter - Tweet @Ben_Salter