Back to the Beginning

If there is one thing the Resident Evil series is good at, it’s embracing its past and squeezing every possible scenario out of it to continue fleshing out the back-story for this beloved series. With that idea in mind, Capcom gives us Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Taking place at the same time as Resident Evil 2, you play as one of six members of Umbrella’s elite hit squad called the U.S.S. (Umbrella Security Service) whose sole task is to ensure that any illegal incidents that could shine a bad light onto Umbrella never come to surface. And Raccoon City is as bad as it gets. So you’ve been covertly inserted into the city to make sure the B.O.W.s do their job and no survivors or information get out before things in Raccoon are cleaned up.

For as much good as RE: ORC does at times, it does just as much bad unfortunately. There are seven campaign missions that you can play with up to three friends online, but the fact there is no option for a local split-screen campaign or versus modes is a big fault in my book. The story mode lacks a lot of the character development and overall depth that we’re used to seeing, but it still feels really fun to progress through this special mission as this badass unit and take down all these zombies and creatures that we’ve seen in previous titles, like Lickers or Hunters, with controls that are more suited to the action game this is clearly trying to be. Of course, some hardcore fans may not enjoy the fact this game distances the series from its survival-horror roots, but I had a lot of fun with it and so was able to forgive them for going off the reservation this time around.

The game also has six very different main characters or classes, which gives you a nice bit of variety if you want to try them all out. Unfortunately, the game only supports four players at a time in campaign and four-on-four matches in versus though. And having more people allowed to play would definitely be the way to go because if you see how often the friendly A.I. suicides itself in the campaign, you’ll want as many of your friends around as possible.

The controls are also hit or miss. While the gunplay is very good, with dozens of weapon and power unlockables and upgrades, the cover system is flawed due to it not being button prompted, but is just initiated whenever you press up against a flat surface. The melee combat is also solid as you perform character specific combos, and if you have enough energy, a character specific execution move that can instantly take out your opponents. There is also a running tackle though that makes no sense because it really does no damage and if you miss your target, it takes so long for your character to get back up that you’re nothing but a sitting duck.

The clear saving grace for this game though is the multiplayer. Four different modes that pit you not only against another team, but also random B.O.W.s and zombies in each level. Think of them as the ultimate level hazards. The four modes include your standard team deathmatch, a ‘Heroes’ mode where you pick a classic character from the series up to this point and you can keep respawning until all four heroes have been killed once, a ‘Biohazard’ mode which is your basic capture the flag, and a ‘Survival’ mode where you have to beat back the enemy team and various creatures as you wait for a helicopter to extract you. What’s most fun about ‘Survival’ is there is only one helicopter and only four seats available so half the players will lose and often there will be a mix and match of teams that make it out as once that helicopter lands, it is every man for himself.

When all is said and done, I think a lot of third-person shooter fans and Resident Evil fans will enjoy what Operation Raccoon City is trying to do with a really fun multiplayer and a decent campaign that is worth a couple of quick playthroughs. The game looks and sounds great, although I still can’t believe Capcom didn’t come up with more than a handful of zombie skins, and most importantly is fun more often than not. Some more polish on the controls, ally A.I., and a local multiplayer option would have definitely kicked this game up a notch, but as is, it is worth a look to fans of shooter multiplayer modes and Resident Evil.

SUMMARY: Another unique look at the events of the original Resident Evil outbreak combined with a fun and inventive multiplayer should help Resident Evil fans look past the sometimes clunky controls and poor ally A.I.

  • THE GOOD: Fun multiplayer modes and a unique take on the classic Resident Evil story
  • THE BAD: Poor ally A.I., no local multiplayer options, and clunky controls
  • THE UGLY: That Capcom is still using the same five zombie skins since the series launched 16 years ago

SCORE: 7.0

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was on the Xbox 360.