Return To Raccoon City Where Horror Was Born
Ever since Capcom made the change to the shooter first style of Resident Evil, I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to be in Raccoon city at the time of the outbreak. As if reading my mind, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon city was released.
I was ecstatic to jump into the environment. Of course, I was going to judge this thing to death on storyline accuracy, so lets start with that. The opening movie takes place and shows the infamous vial being dropped, the event that starts the chain reaction that is Resident Evil.
It was nice to get back to the heart of the issue, trying to defend the city and seeing everything through the eyes of the rank and file guys who are just trying to contain what is ultimately the unstoppable.
This game places you in the body of a soldier from an Umbrella Corporation military unit. There are a few different characters you can choose from. I chose a cold war veteran who was best at surveillance. Different characters can do different things, though your squad selection is also important. You don’t need to heal yourself if you bring a medic along for example.
Operation Raccoon City takes the typical behind the shoulder camera angle of the other games. One drawback with Resident Evil 4 and 5 was when aiming, you came to a complete stop, something columnists like Todd Hargosh has written about and which trained shooters all say does not need to happen. This agonizing flaw was remedied. But where one problem is fixed, another rises. In this case it’s clunky, and in some spots dysfunctional controls rear their ugly head.
Going into cover in this game is actually one of the most aggravating portions. Instead of clicking the A button (F.E.A.R. 3, Gears of War 3) you just push forward on the movement stick while looking at the cover. Which sounds nice…until you’re being shot at from three directions and you’re screaming because your character won’t enter cover. This fun little dysfunction caused me to shout a great many obscenities at my TV.
Of course this wasn’t the end of my woes. All three of your teammates are complete boneheads when it comes to intelligent AI. There are times where they don’t make it through the door or shoot a single zombie. Within the first half hour I almost threw my controller through the screen at least six times.
There were some bright spots however. One of which was that there were no zombies with guns. That is one of my all time biggest pet peeves. Once when I encountered zombies with rocket launchers on Resident Evil 4, I just put the controller down and said "Never again."
The graphics and story were great, and that was the only thing that kept me in the game for as long as I played. After awhile though, I just kept hoping that Resident Evil 6 would be better. To be honest, even the controller malfunctions could be overlooked if your squad wasn’t so incompetent. I chose to have a medic on my team for example, and she healed me only one time in about two hours, despite me leaving a trail of my own blood everywhere.
I’m not sure why the AI is so bad. There are many examples these days of good squad AI. If a patch could come out to make your troops a little smarter, this game would improve ten fold over the way it is now.
The audio was actually the brightest spot. The sounds of gunfire, screams in the background and various city noises all made you feel like you were there in the earliest days of the outbreak. The background music also did a stellar job of influencing the mood.
Would I recommend this game? Yes, but only after its price drops a little more. There were some nice changes, but ultimately some major flaws. This leads to my score of an average 3.5 GiN Gems