It's evil alright.

List everything you know and love about the Resident Evil franchise: the tight tension of single-player survival horror, the right dose of zombie enemies at those unexpected moments, the sparse supply of bullets and saves, and of course, the ultimate redundancy, being asked if you’d like to pick up the ammo. Now, throw all of those conventions away and what you get is a piss-poor reinterpretation of the events in Resident Evil 2, in which badge Leon S. Kennedy battled his way through the T-virus infected town of Raccoon City.

It may look familiar, but looks can be deceiving…

The first problem with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is the obvious facepalm: the game has you fighting the military. Bearing witness to scientist William Birkin’s T-virus outbreak in the town of Raccoon, a task unit of unmemorable Umbrella special forces are sent into the frying pan in order to ensure the shady organisation can’t be connected to the now death-diseased district. But your main enemy is not the sluggish zombie horde that antagonised RE 2; it’s a group of counter spec ops working for Birkin. So, while a fraction of the few fun firefights in this meager 5-hour campaign will have your character pick apart the undead, most of the game’s story couldn’t feel any farther from Resident Evil.

The story here is as shallow as it gets and only allows fans to see events of the classic RE 2 from a different perspective, sort of like Half-Life’s Blue Shift or Opposing Force expansion packs (except those were hurdles better than this crap). None of the small cast of characters have much to say nor do they poise any reason for existing other than to aid you – ahem, I use the word ‘aid’ very loosely – in your mission. Kennedy’s cameo, in particular, is expectantly a highlight, but to the extent of offering a deep campaign that gives greater glimpses into the fantastic Resident Evil universe and timeline, Operation Raccoon City is a pointless parade of direct combat.

A Bland Cover Up

Transition to the second issue: the survival-horror gameplay of the past has been scrapped for a cliché and done to death cover-based shooter – as if we don’t have enough of those at the moment. Mind you, I have no reservations about a franchise trying something new, granted they do it right — case in point, Resident Evil 4. This game, however, doesn’t do it right. The cover system is broken and the action in front of it is boring. Moving to the edge of a wall or barricade has you unstick from the edge. Often you’ll be trying to position yourself in prime attack position, and you end up walking right out into the open. Shooting zombies has its merit (doesn’t it always), but engaging with military troops is stupefyingly chestnut, as the combat is poorly designed.

“You must be the new girl… sorry, I can’t remember your name.”

My overwhelming concern is that the game never really knows what it’s trying to be. Resident Evil has always naturally been a single-player series, but jumping into the solo mode starts you off in a character select screen that feels like a multi-player variant. Throughout the “single-player”, each objective takes you on a linear ride from waypoint to waypoint, but some parts of the game won’t even let you continue if you don’t have all your stupid cohorts with you.

The AI, especially that of your own teammates, is abysmal. Friendlies will almost always charge into the fray right when you’re unloading a barrel into a group of hostiles, and the sound of “Hey, check your fire!” will more than once get under your skin. They’re always in your damn way, and it makes the game virtually unplayable at times. Again, why do you even have teammates?! Have Slant Six Games ever even played a Resident Evil game?

And with a treacherously tiny campaign at only 5 hours, most of your value is going to have to be in ORC’s online suite, which admittedly, and sadly, is a lot more fun. A handful of the standard set of modes are entertaining for the simple reason that you’re not playing with a bunch of morons who keep getting in your line of sight. And mind you, Operation Raccoon City is brought to you by a developer who are noted for their work on the SOCOM series, and that’s exactly what this RE feels like; for all intents and purposes,  it’s a multi-player experience through and through.

You Ain’t Got No Alibi 

ORC is an ugly piece of software, to be as blunt as the game itself. The graphics are just barely acceptable by 2012 standards, and the rest of the presentation is sloppy. The animations on characters in combat is non-existent, enemies never reacting to having an entire clip unloaded on their heads. The littered ammo and green herbs trademark of the franchise are just thrown around rooms at random, opposed to stashed in a crate at the back of a storage closet. Every bit of the design here is rushed.

Even Nemesis was angry at Slant Six Games.

I’ve always been a huge fan of Capcom’s heart-racing franchise, from the PlayStation classics to the revolutionary fourth installment, to the epic blockbuster climax of Resident Evil 5… but this garbage is a disgrace to the fan base. To call this an all-time low in the series isn’t even fair, because this is not a Resident Evil game.

Prefer moving pictures and sound? Then watch our video review here.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was reviewed on Xbox 360.


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