Review: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PlayStation 3)

Reviewed by Harold Morris, posted Mar 27, 2012
Even though I will confess that I am not the biggest Resident Evil fan in the world, hearing that a new game in the series is coming out always peaks my interest. When I found out that RE: ORC would not be a traditional RE survival horror but rather a squad based shooter, my interest was peaked even more. As more details regarding the game emerged, the more excited I became. Once I found out that I would be lucky enough to review RE: ORC for GBAtemp I was hyped and was extremely looking forward to getting my hands on this game.
Mar 27, 2012
  • Release Date (NA): March 24, 2012
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Genres: squad based third person survival horror
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Set within the Resident Evil universe during 1998, Operation Raccoon City is a retelling of the events that took place during Resident Evil 2 and 3. There has been a T-Virus outbreak in Raccoon City, and the Umbrella Corporation orders its elite Umbrella Security Service to cover up its involvement and eliminate any survivors. Your team of four U.S.S. troops must venture into the ravaged city and battle their way through hoards of zombies, bio-organic weapons and government troops in order to destroy all evidence implicating Umbrella in the outbreak. Along the way you will encounter iconic Resident Evil locales, characters and enemies as you fight to survive and complete your mission.
Harold Morris

Any new Resident Evil game on the horizon always creates a buzz amongst gamers, such is the high regard Capcom's survival horror franchise is held in. To call the series iconic would be an understatement, and the idea of having a squad based online shooter centred around the mythology of Resident Evil 2 and 3 is an exciting one. Capcom chose to entrust the development of RE: ORC to a small, little known studio called Slant Six Games. Their previous games consist of three forgettable SOCOM titles on the PS3 and PSP. This is part of Capcom's recent experiment of handing out development duties of its big properties to Western studios, an experiment which has provided mixed results thus far. Sadly Slant Six Games has crumbled under the pressure of handling such a well-known and iconic IP, and what we have as a result is a boring and badly executed mess of a game.

You play as part of the Wolfpack squad, a part of Umbrella's Security Service which is comprised of six members. A forgettable band of generic cardboard cut-out cliched soldiers, devoid of any sort of personality. At no point in the game are their characters developed in any sort of story arc. From the first second you start playing as any of these characters, it is simply impossible to care about any fate that may befall them. The only thing that differentiates this merry band of cardboard people from each other are the skills that they specialize in. Vector the recon expert can cloak himself, Specter is a marksman, Bertha is a medic and so on. There really is no need to explore each members abilities in great detail because those abilities, which you unlock as you progress by spending XP you accumulate, do not make a huge impact on the gameplay. The most effective ability which they all share is the ability to aim a gun forwards and shoot it. At times they are incapable of even doing that well.

The first mission you undertake is to infiltrate the Raccoon City underground Umbrella Laboratory in order to stop Dr. William Burkin from handing over his T-Virus research to the U.S. government. Immediately upon entering the laboratory you encounter a group of Spec Ops soldiers, whom along with zombies are the main enemies you fight within the game. From the very first encounter with the Spec Ops soldiers the problems with the general gameplay mechanics become evident. First is the dumb AI across the board for both your enemies and your team. At times enemy soldiers may run up to you, stand a few feet away from you while aiming at the floor and do nothing. The character design is so generic between your team and them that I often found myself not recognizing them as opponents. On other occasions they may attack ferociously from 30 feet away, forcing you to use the game's poor and often ineffective cover mechanic to save yourself. The snap to cover mechanic in this game is enabled when you press upon any barrier or wall. By press I mean either lightly brush a surface or desperately throw yourself against it until it decides to activate. Once in cover it is extremely easy to pop back out of it by accident -- move too much in any direction and you will stand back up into a hail of gunfire. You will often find yourself snapping into cover when you didn't intend to do so, just by venturing too close to a wall or a piece of cover. At other times you will have to make multiple attempts to get into cover and constantly snap out of it while you move left or right to adjust your aim.

Did I mention poor squadmate AI and bad shooting mechanics? Oh boy, let's start with your squad if you are unfortunate enough to attempt the story campaign in single player. Your teammate's contribution varies from being negligible to being a downright liability. They can be helpful at times, healing you, and actually attacking enemies, but often they just get in the way and act as cannon fodder. The fact that you can resurrect them immediately after death is a blessing because they are prone to running into fires, obvious mines and charging into huge groups of enemies in order to melee them. It also means there is no consequence to just leaving them to it, and letting enemies focus their attacks on them while you slowly pick them off. You can bring them back a second after death after all. However when you play alone this advantage does not work in your favour, as they have no ability to resurrect you. If you die, it's back to the last checkpoint, which is frustrating to say the least. In online co-op you can be brought back by any human player. If you are playing with a full squad you become practically invincible as there is no real penalty for death, and little chance of all four players being killed. Going back briefly to the aforementioned charging into groups of enemies to melee them, this trait is particularly annoying as they do it constantly. Often you will have your line of sight blocked as they flail around surrounded by zombies with you unable to pull off a shot.





Also on the list of gripes are bad shooting mechanics and sketchy hit detection. At times you can kill an enemy with a short burst of fire to the head, on other occasions you can unload an entire clip into someone and they keep on coming as if not a single shot hit them. This happens even at point blank range and is inexplicable. Something that I also noticed whilst in cover was that often even if your aiming reticule is placed directly on an enemy your shot is actually hitting cover instead of them. You see at times you have two reticules, the white dot that is always at the center of the screen and a laser sight which is attached to your weapon. Even if you are aiming directly at someone's head the actual laser sight may be hitting the cover two feet beneath them. Observing this makes you realize how poor your accuracy can be as the laser dot floats around all over the place and is hardly ever still. Not all weapons come with a laser sight, so you can literally expend multiple clips on one person in a futile attempt to hit them. Combined with this you have the problem that some enemies (such as hunters) seemingly have never ending reserves of health even on normal difficulty. Alongside the fact that the hit detection is sketchy, you can exhaust clip after clip on one hunter in what amounts to a bland, overlong battle of attrition.

Another disappointing element in RE: ORC's shopping list of disappointing elements is the downright blandness and complete lack of ambition of absolutely every single set piece and boss battle. Whether it be swarms of lickers attacking you, groups of hunters, boss fights, or even fights against classic characters such as Leon Kennedy. Absolutely every single one of these confrontations contains absolutely no drama, excitement or sense of danger. "Oh I'm fighting Leon Kennedy, cool!" *shoots Leon 45 times in the head as he stands motionless on a balcony*. Things are worse in co-op as these boss battles become laughably easy. Playing online co-op with a group of two other human players we managed to dispatch a Super Tyrant in mere moments. It's sad because these moments, if handled with even the smallest amount of ambition could have been epic. As they are only one word can describe them, and that word is pitiful.

As well as uninspired set pieces, the level design, character models and just the graphics in general are dull as dishwater. At no point will you see anything here that will make you go "oh wow" or stir any sort of emotional response within you. With the exception of the outside areas, which gives you a good sense of a ravaged city, everything is functional, uninspired and by the numbers. Spec Ops troops, your squad and especially the zombie models are ripped off the standard soldier/zombie template. You will quickly grow tired of seeing the same six zombie models over and over again. The more powerful larger enemies such as tyrants, lickers and hunters have a strange, playdough-ish look to them, which makes them stand out in a bad way and is very inorganic.

Other boring and pointless elements in this game include forgettable side missions. Shoot the CCTV cameras and collect data disks for uninteresting rewards (Yay! Gallery artwork! *slips into a boredom induced coma*). An XP leveling system that allows you to unlock combat bonuses and weapons of limited helpfulness. By "unlocking" weapons I do not mean you will have no access to them before they are purchased. Enemies drop all types of weapons throughout the campaign which you can pick up, whether they are unlocked or not. When a context specific weapon is needed for a particular set piece, usually a weapon box containing it is close by. All unlocking weapons does is allow you to select which weapon you start off with in the story missions and multiplayer. Also the fact that you or any part of your squad can become infected and turn into a zombie is another squandered element with no sense of danger to it or impact to the gameplay. A biohazard icon appears over any infected player so they are easily identifiable. When infected your health slowly drops, but during that time you can continue fighting. When you die you turn into a zombie, just a regular one with no special powers. You lose control of your character at that point so the danger to the rest of your team is minimal. All you have to do is monitor an infected player and as soon as they turn kill them, and then revive them a second later like nothing happened. Yeah.....

At this stage of the review you are probably thinking that RE: ORC has absolutely no saving graces to it. Well thankfully it does, so it isn't a complete and utter disaster. There are the functional and occasionally fun team deathmatches. Although still standard fare and kind of bland, the inclusion of zombies within the team deathmatches can lend itself to frantic and chaotic moments. From a distance it can be hard to tell who is a human player and who is a zombie, so there is always an element of tension when you see something in the distance. Despite the fact that for the most part you can run through scores of zombies without taking any damage, allowing them to crowd around you is ill advised. Being grappled by a zombie mid fire fight can set the heart racing, and pumping shots into an opponent while he is being attacked is exhilarating. However there are still issues that reveal themselves in the mutilplayer too. I discovered early on that it is very easy to catch a human opponent in a melee loop. You simply tap the melee button constantly and it is impossible for your opponent to escape the loop until they die. Regardless the multiplayer deathmatches are still fun, but still nothing more than mediocre. If you had a choice, playing the multiplayer of this game would still probably be at the very bottom of your list.


Closing Comments

RE: ORC is a huge missed opportunity. Bland from the outset and with a myriad of technical issues, there is really no reason to play through its short and boring story mode campaign more than once. Even with human companions it cannot be saved, as their inclusion barely adds any challenge. Slant Six Games' heritage of dull tactical group shooters oozes out of every pore. Their inability to escape from this heritage and do something imaginative with the Resident Evil setting is sad, because if a less inept studio was given the opportunity to work with this concept and license we could have seen something truly spectacular. As it stands, this is definitely the poorest game I have played this year, and one of the poorest I have played in several years in fact. This is definitely a game to bury and forget about, and one of my co-op experiences sums it up pretty well. In a match with two random people, 20 minutes into it one of them said: "This game is fucking retarded". The other said: "Yeah" and they both left the game. That sums up the experience in a nutshell.


+ The team based deathmatches can be fun and chaotic at times
+ It has guns.... and zombies.... you can shoot zombies with guns....
- Dumb squad AI hinders you more than it helps you
- Bland uninteresting characters and story
- Extremely short and boring story campaign
- Pitiful, unexciting, boring set pieces and boss battles
- Poor, annoying cover and shooting mechanics
- Bland level design
- You can easily forget that you are playing an actual Resident Evil game
- Everything else
4 Presentation
Plain graphics, uninteresting character models and boring zombie design are this games' trademarks. The music for the most part is pretty bland, and doesn't really create any atmosphere or tension. There really isn't much to say about the presentation, as every aspect of it is bland and boring.
4 Gameplay
If you have played any third person shooter before you will know what you are in for with this. It's just far more bland than other games like Gears of War. Aiming can be a problem at times, with your shots seemingly having no affect on enemies. The cover mechanic is a constant source of annoyance, as is the infinite melee loop you can get caught in during multiplayer.
3 Lasting Appeal
Once you have completed the incredibly short and dull story campaign there is little chance of you revisiting it. Even in group co-op there is little incentive to replay it. The multiplayer deathmatches can occasionally be fun, but with so many other superior multiplayer experiences out there, again, there is little incentive to play this past the first few days of owning it.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Bland, unimaginative and half hearted are terms I used to describe this game throughout my review. It's a shame this game was executed so poorly, the basic idea behind it could have lead to a far more interesting game. As it is it ranks up to one of the poorest games I have played in a long while, and I cant recommend it to anyone because of that, not even die hard Resident Evil fans. 4/10, this walking corpse deserves to be shot in the head.


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