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Resident Evil sheds its survival horror skin for a team tactical shooter that`s high on action, references and fan service in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. If you enjoyed the Raccoon City setting of the original games and want to experience a different take on the events in a what if? scenario, you`ll find plenty to enjoy in this Slant Six Games developed game.
This time around you play a black ops Umbrella Corporation group tasked with wiping out evidence of Umbrella`s involvement in the Raccoon City outbreak; That means you`ll go into the heart of the city to find and destroy particularly sensitive information, and intertwine with the already established events of the early Resident Evil saga.
The game`s campaign is of the out of the frying pan and into the fire variety, with the team encountering worse and worse situations on their mission to scrub the evidence. Each mission will take you between 30 and 45 minutes to complete and you will be scored on a variety of criteria; if you`re a slave to completion, you`ll be playing missions multiple times to score S ranks. Events and objectives get a bit predictable for my liking and seem to follow a pattern of collecting keycards to get through a door or surviving a rogue boss encounter long enough for an elevator or helicopter to show up. I would have liked a bit greater variety to really make every single mission feel unique and fresh, but overall I enjoyed the seven core missions
he game`s action and shooting are solid and fun. Because of the developer`s pedigree, it might be easy to draw a direct line from SOCOM to Resident Evil, but that`s not really accurate; Operation Raccon City is not SOCOM with zombies, because the game favors action and adventure over stealth, tactics and military combat.
Players will choose one of several classes, each with their own special abilities. Each class has one main gun and a backup pistol, but there are almost as many left over and stashed guns as zombies in Raccoon City for the player to pick up along the way; I loved that the game really unleashes an arsenal early on and keeps the guns flowing throughout. If guns aren`t enough, there are also plentiful special abilities at your disposal, including incendiary ammo and the ability to slough off zombie hits.
One great gameplay tweak to the series is the ability to become infected and turn into a zombie. Unlike other Resident Evil games, first aid spray and green herbs can`t cure alone and players will have to find and keep an antidote spray on-hand to stave off infection. If you become infected or one of your teammates does, an icon will display their infected status and their health will begin to drop. Once fully depleted, they will turn into a zombie and attack the rest of the team. Oddly enough, there are no major penalties for turning zombie and once you`re put down or you put down an infected teammate, you can just resurrect the dead player by holding down a button and they will be plague free. It`s great that I don`t have to deal with lots of hoops, but it`s very weird in practice.
You`ll be able to level up each of the game`s character classes with new abilities and weapons. You`ll earn the ability to upgrade by earning XP from killing creatures and collecting data across the stages. While you can choose how you want to upgrade any of the game`s classes, I found that I stuck with one class and built them up to their max potential. Some of the game`s later stages posed quite a challenge and so I needed a character that could withstand threats.
The game`s boss battles can be particularly frustrating, both in function and format. For instance, several of the boss characters are significantly faster than your character, so fairly often you`ll find yourself stuck in a corner with no way out but death. In several incidents I was knocked down by a boss character (and even some of the tougher enemies) into a corner and I was unable to get up. The character was too slow to get to their feet and the boss characters too quick to pound down on with fists. This situation happened too often for my liking and really dragged down some of the boss encounters.
The game really does capture the Resident Evil tone and feel, but it doesn`t stick to the formula or play by all the rules. In fact there are quite a few gameplay elements, story changes and enemy alterations from the core series (like zombies that run) that might tick off a few purists. I definitely noticed a few major departures from what I knew to be Resident Evil, but this is a what if? scenario that isn`t exactly canon, so I threw out preconceived notions of the series as best I could and just tried to have fun with the game.
Don`t play Operation Raccoon City alone; playing this game with a full human team is the way to go and will make situations far more tense and interesting. I played the game fully through with just the bumbling computer A.I. And it was an OK experience, but later when I replayed parts of the game with players, it was considerably better. Actual teamwork replaced the computer`s inclination to run through fire and danger and the game improved dramatically.
The multiplayer portion of the game is pretty interesting and extends Operation Raccoon City`s life well past the point of its middling campaign. In multiplayer you can participate in the team deathmatch Team Attack mode, capture biohazard canisters in the capture-the-flag-like Biohazard mode, defend and kill series hero characters in Heroes mode, or do Survivor mode which has you rushing for a few remaining seats in a helicopter out of town. There are more players than seats, which leads to some hectic combat sequences.
What I enjoyed most about the multiplayer modes is that not only are you fighting against human opponents, but you also need to deal with hordes of zombies and BOWs around the map. It leads to some tense situations where you`re in a shoot out with an opponent, but have to turn away quickly to engage an immediate zombie threat before you can return to taking down the enemy. That type of unpredictability and time management is quite different from other multiplayer shooters and makes Operation Raccoon City more than your average multiplayer shooter.
If you`re going into Operation Raccoon City for the campaign, you`ll likely be a bit disappointed, as I was, but if you`re looking for a multiplayer game that you can jump into with friends, you`ll find much to enjoy. The game isn`t perfect, but the developers really tried to tweak the multiplayer formula and they succeeded in creating several fun modes that are action-packed and unpredictable.