Around sixteen years ago, Capcom released one of the most influential games that changed the way survival horror games where developed: Resident Evil. With its emphasis on horror elements, puzzles, atmosphere and story, Resident Evil set the standard on how survival horror games are done. Four numbered sequels and numerous side/spin off games later, the series has lost a bit of its luster. In order to give the series a bit of a twist, Capcom handed the series to Slant Six, developers of SOCOM Confrontation and Fire Team Bravo, to create Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. Can a dev with experience with military shooters inject some action into the iconic survival horror series, or will it be as dead as its undead zombies?
Untold Story - While Operation Raccoon City isn’t part of RE canon, we are treated to a behind the scenes look as to what happened in the city, as well as events that were never fully explained in RE2 and RE3. Operation Raccoon City stars a USS Delta Squad codenamed Wolfpack who are at first sent into help Hunk obtain the G-Virus from Birkin’s lab under Raccoon City. When that mission failed and the T-Virus spreads out into the city, they are tasked with “silencing” of witnesses and survivors that may implicate Umbrella is responsible for the outbreak. We get to see events unfold from a totally different perspective and have a better understanding of what went on during RE2.Wolfpack isn’t the only squad that entered the city during the outbreak. The US government sends in a SpecOps unit called Echo Six to see what is causing the outbreak, gather evidence against Umbrella and evacuate civilians, but I’ll get to them in a bit.
Again despite the game not being in cannon with the rest of the games, I have to give credit to Slant Six for expanding on some of the events. It can be hard to try to add your own spin on an established story such as RE, but they did a decent job with it.
Co-op Play - When the game was first announced, Slant Six touted the main attraction to be the Co-op play. The Co-op play, especially during the Campaign, was actually really fun. Some would compare it to Left 4 Dead, however, I would say that the Co-op resembles more of the SOCOM series, no surprise there since Slant Six developed some of the SOCOM games. Playing missions with humans not only makes it for a more fun experience, but also doesn’t result in instant deaths and being sent back to the last checkpoint, meaning if you get knocked out, a fellow human teammate can come over and revive you. This is much quicker than playing solo, dying and having to respawn back at the checkpoint.
Multiplayer Firefights - Speaking of Co-op play, the multiplayer portion of ORC has to be the most fun I’ve had with MP in a while. MP modes include Team Attack (Team Deathmatch), Biohazard (Capture the Flag), Heroes Mode and Survival Mode. Heroes mode is a variant of Team Attack where each player from both sides take control of a main RE character from RE2 and RE3. First team to eliminate the other side’s heroes wins. Survival Mode plays just like its name. The objective is to survive waves of zombies until an evac chopper comes to extract your team. There is a catch and that is you’re not the only team wanting to get out. But once that chopper lands, it ever person for themselves as there are only four seats in the chopper. If having zombies and an opposing team wasn’t enough trouble, some MP maps will have additional obstacles in the form of various BOWs. Lickers, hunters and even Mr. X will join in, giving both sides more to worry about.
Nemesis DLC - An extra mode coming soon (unless you bought the 360 version) is Nemesis Mode. This mode is this game’s version of King of the Hill in which players fight for control of the Nemesis control unit. Once one squad has taken control of Nemesis’s control unit they have the ablity to control Nemesis himself and cause havoc against the rival squad with his chain gun. Having to not only take care of zombies, BOWs and the opposing team is already tough, but also having Nemesis hunting you down adds to the intense action.
SpecOps Story DLC - I mentioned a SpecOps team Echo Six earlier. In addition to playing as the USS in the main Campaign, players will be able to experience Echo Six’s involvement in Raccoon City as a separate DLC Campaign. Just like how the USS encountered events from RE2, Eco Six will have a role in events from RE3, such as meeting Jill Valentine and Nemesis. However, one problem that most fans will recognize which might turn them off to this mode; the Echo Six missions are on disc. To be fair, come April 11 this DLC will be released for free for all players. So it’s not all that bad, free is free after all.
Not For the Lonely - As I mentioned before, the main selling point of the game is that it’s a Co-op experience, especially when it comes to the Campaign mode. While going in with a group of friends or random people in a quick match can make for some really fun times, playing the Campaign mode on your own can be a bit of a chore, and sometimes frustrating. Speaking of frustrating one of the main reasons to play with human players is….
Brain-Dead Team AI - The team AI sometimes can be annoying, especially during a tough firefight or in a boss battle. AI teammates cannot revive you when your down, nor can they heal you when you need it the most. They also sometimes charge in getting slaughtered in the process one minute and then the next become total bad asses and take down BOWs like nothing. Since this is a squad based game, you would think that Slant Six would have given some control of the squad to players, being able to set up ambushes and traps. They have developed tactical shooters before, so you would think that some tactics would be included. Speaking of tactics….
No Tactical Movements - Controls are a bit on the stiff side and have no proper tactical functions. You can’t do a crouching walk, go prone, toggle snap to cover, vault over obstacles and a multitude of other actions associated with modern shooters. The USS and Eco Six are tactical Special Forces, and tactical Special Forces use such tactics to maneuver around. Hell, Slant Six developed SOCOM games; you would think that they would use that as a basis for ORC. While not having such movements do not make the game unplayable, it would have been nice touch to have them added in.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City has been getting bashed a lot in the gaming media for not being true to its roots and for not giving a true RE experience. If you’re coming in thinking that this will be an RE experience with some SOCOM influence, then you might be disappointed. However, if you come into this game thinking that this will be a SOCOM like game with zombies and RE settings, then you will be pleasantly surprised. Because that is what ORC is: a SOCOM-styled game with RE zombies and series elements. Sure it has its flaws, such as the team AI not helping out all that much, a lack of tactical movements and a lonely single player campaign. But in spite of those flaws (especially the single player ones) ORC is a fun MP game with a Campaign that is best played with friends instead of the AI bots. Shooting zombies and BOWs never gets old, each MP modes offer a fun twist to traditional MP modes, and incoming DLC (both announced and future) will ensure players a fun time. While it’s not the best game in the RE series, ORC is a good game when played with friends online. The game could use a little work but overall it’s a pretty fun game. If you’re on the fence about it, I say give it a rental. But if you’re looking for a MP experience in a city as iconic as Raccoon City, grab a few buddies and give it a buy.