Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review
Extra Features: online multiplayer (1-4 players), download content, leaderboards
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a spin-off game from the main Resident Evil series and is co-developed by Slant Six Games and Capcom. Operation Raccoon City is a third-person squad based shooter that takes place during the viral outbreak in Raccoon City. The game is set around the same time of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Operation Raccoon City tells the story of Umbrella Security Service (USS) Delta team's involvement in the Raccoon City incidence. From the start, USS Delta team is sent in to help Umbrella's Alpha team steal William Birkin's sample of the G-virus. Later, Umbrella orders the USS Delta team to run errands for them to remove traces of Umbrella's involvement in the viral outbreak in Raccoon City as well as other orders to prove the USS squad's loyalty to the corporation.
There are a total of six lead characters in the USS team that a player can choose from to play campaign mode. The main campaign is built for 4-player online co-op play. There is no split screen play. There are seven total stages in the main campaign. Playing the game single player will place you in the role of one of the squad members along with AI partners for your other three team members. The AI partners will assist through healing and attacking, but I often found them standing in the line of fire, running into explosive traps and running right through flames very often. They can be just as much of a blessing as a curse at times.
The game truly comes alive when played in 4-player online co-op play however. There is a lot of fun to be had with Operation Raccoon City when the game is played online with friends! Each player can pick one of the six USS squad members and assist each other with the squad's unique skills. Each squad member feels quite unique to where I wanted to try them all out. This game has the perfect elements for a very fun online experience when played with a group of other gamers.
The USS squad consists of Beltway, Bertha, Lupo, Four Eyes, Spectre and Vector. Beltway is a demolition expert that uses explosives to his advantage. Bertha is the medic for the team and can carry more first aid sprays and enhance the team's performance through her abilities. Lupo is more of a weapons expert that excels in overall weapon combat - she can enhance her gunplay. Four Eyes is one of the most unique in the team. Four Eyes can actually control T-virus infected enemies and make them attack other targets - she basically infects the infected! Spectre specializes in surveillance - he can scope out all on human enemies in the current area and also take advantage of his radar to find enemies and hidden items. Vector is built for stealth play. He can cloak himself in a transparent camouflage and make himself look like human opponents to easily sneak in and kill the human enemies.
Each character has their own unique abilities that can be unlocked and leveled up to increase their effectiveness. Characters have passive abilities that are always in effects as well as active abilities that can be activated once every few seconds - active abilities have to recharge for a short period of time after being activated. Finishing each level or playing multiplayer will allow a player to level up their rank and gain XP that can be used to buy extra abilities and weapons.
The weapons in Operation Raccoon City have a lot of variety to them. A player will be able to carry a handgun and some other secondary weapon. The secondary weapons include shotguns, rifles (rapid fire and sniper), machine guns, submachine guns, a flamethrower, and a grenade launcher. All weapons feel somewhat different in their own way. Shotguns are more for close range and most other weapons are good for mid or long range. One problem that I found with the weapons is that the sniper rifles have quite a bit of recoil that really messed up my precision aiming at times. Each time I would shoot with one, the gun would jerk upwards to where it would feel as if I wasn't even hitting my target.
Ammo is not usually a problem with the frequent ammo boxes and ammo crates found through the game. Enemies drop weapons depending on how they are defeated and sometimes they will drop ammo as well. Since a character can only carry one secondary weapon, I found myself switching on the field quite often for different situations. Each time a player must respawn in a level, that player will respawn with the secondary weapon chosen from the character select menu. Handguns are never switched unless a player chooses a new handgun from the character selection menu. Each character has melee attacks that can be used to fight off instantly kill enemies. Each character class has a unique melee attack as well.
The environments in Operation Raccoon City display the T-virus outbreak extremely well in the street areas. Dead bodies lie all over the environments, and these are not just bodies that have blood-soaked clothes or a single arm missing - these are bodies that have mutilated beyond recognition. It's not surprising to find bodies with intestines hanging out of their stomachs or bodies missing several appendages. Indoor environments look good for the most part. Some of the earlier stages and lab areas have a few rooms that are kind of boring, such as the tunnels when you run from the main boss in the first level, but overall, the game has a great look to its level design. There are several areas from RE2 and RE3 in the game.
When fighting human enemies, the game provides several covers areas to hide from gunfire. Pressing up will make your character stick to a wall and take cover behind it. For the most part, the cover system works well, but there were times where my character would not take cover behind some walls and be left a standing target. When T-virus infected enemies attack, cover areas become meaningless. T-virus enemies are very aggressive however! There is a noticeable difficulty curve with human enemies compared to T-virus enemies. Human enemies will murder your character with gunfire if you don't respond quickly to their presence by taking cover while T-virus enemies only basically attack aggressively from close range, so you can just constantly back up or step to the side to avoid their attack while blasting them.
Your main enemies in the game will be Spec Ops soldiers and T-virus infected enemies such as Zombies, Parasites, Lickers, Hunters, Tyrants and Zombie Dogs. The Zombies come in many varieties (Bomb, Armored, Parasite Zombies) and some will randomly turn into Crimson Heads. Bosses from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 are also fought in certain levels of the game. Nemesis makes an appearance in one stage and in a versus mode (for Xbox fans). The RE enemies all have a different feel to them compared to other RE games - they are all more aggressive now. Zombies can group up on your character easily at some points to where you can become overwhelmed. Lickers can quite annoying with their tongue impales and Hunters are built like tanks in Operation Raccoon City.
Zombies and other T-virus enemies can infect players with the T-virus. This condition can be healed with antiviral spray, but if there is not one available, the player's screen will turn blue and the vision will get wavy as the player's life slowly diminishes like a poison status. Once the player's life is fully gone, the character will turn into a zombie and attack other players in the squad. There is also a "blood frenzy" state where a player or enemy will have a deep wound from an attack and start to leak blood out of their chest for a short period of time. While a player is under blood frenzy status, all surrounding zombies in the areas will immediately run toward that player and attack them very aggressively.
The difficulty in the main campaign can be quite enjoyable. It's very easy to get mobbed by T-virus enemies and this really adds to the fun that a player can get out of the game when playing in 4-player co-op play. It's very common to die (on any difficulty) and have to constantly revive squad members since the enemies can really pile on the attacks at times. The main campaign offers a casual, normal, veteran and professional difficulty setting.
The character models in the game are not quite as good as Resident Evil 5's character models. The models have slightly less detail but the outfit design is quite stylish for an Umbrella squad. T-virus enemy designs look decent, but some of them have a very fake looking death animation where their bodies will go limp as their body falls over on its side and dissolves. It's kind of strange to see human enemies dissolve also. It's quite fun and pleasing to kill zombie enemies - they literally fall apart as you shoot them. If you shoot zombies with a shotgun, they literally just explode into pieces. Operation Raccoon City will toss tons of enemies at your team at once. It's quite nice to see how many enemies will appear on the stage at once with very little slowdown at times.
Operation Raccoon City's music is very top notch. This game has some very memorable tracks throughout it. The menu soundtrack and in-game stage soundtracks all sound really great. There is one tune that sounds a lot like RE4-style music at one point. The majority of the music is original and it sounds great! As for sound effects, the game has the usual RE item collecting sound effects and RE enemy yells throughout it. The voices for main characters seem good as well - most USS team members have amplified voices as they talk through their masks. As usual, Alyson Court still voices Claire, which is always a pleasure to hear!
The game offers an 8-player Versus online mode with several modes that a player can choose from as well - Team Attack, Biohazard, Heroes, Survivor. Team Attack pits two teams again each other to see which team can score the most points through enemy and player and kills. Biohazard requires two teams to steal a virus sample or defend a virus sample against another team. In Survivor mode, two teams fight over seating areas in a helicopter that will land in the middle of the area toward the end of the match. Both teams have to defend the area near the helicopter in order to secure a seat inside.
Heroes mode allows a player to play one of the famous RE characters from Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. It is a deathmatch between a Spec Ops team and a USS team where one team must wipe out the other team in order to win. RE characters in this mode include Jill, Carlos, Claire, Leon, Ada, Nicholai, HUNK and Lonewolf. The Versus mode has some different characters in it. It has the familiar USS delta team, but it also has a team of unique Spec Ops soldiers in some of its modes as well. All new characters in the Versus mode all have skills similar to a member of the campaign mode USS team.
One major problem that I have with the multiplayer in both campaign and the Versus modes is that there is no way to communicate with other team members without a mic. Prior Resident Evil games have always had some sort of in-game communication during multiplayer online games, but Operation Raccoon City has none. In-game commands were sometimes hard to understand, but at least they were there for players that do not choose to use voice communication. In Operation Raccoon City, if you do not have a mic, you have no way to communicate with your squad basically.
I did run into a few glitches in the game, such as objective markers not appearing in some areas or objectives not activating for a certain amount of time for some reason. The glitches never did really take away much from the gameplay however since they were rare. AI partners were the main noticeable problems when it comes to game bugs and glitches. Sometimes they would get stuck in an area and walk against a door instead of opening and keeping up with the rest of the squad. They will always respawn in other areas eventually though.
Operation Raccoon City is geared more toward online play. If you play this game single player, you are not likely to enjoy it as much. The AI partners can really mess up the single player experience with how badly they act - single player is actually harder because of this. The game is built for multiplayer and it will not be near as much fun without it. In all honesty, I did not care for the game that much at all until I started to play it online with friends. Overall, Operation Raccoon City offers a fresh new experience to the Resident Evil franchise through its squad play, but it has many problems to weight it down. I really feel that Slant Six did a great overall job for their first squad based Resident Evil game since I do enjoy this game quite a bit when playing it with friends. The game has its flaws, but it's worth a try for Resident Evil fans that want to play it online with friends.
+ 4-player campaign co-op play
+ A lot of variety in the main characters (abilities)
+ Great overall level design showcasing destruction and bloodshed
+ Several online multiplayer modes
- Single player can be very boring and frustrating with the bad AI partners
- No split screen
- No in-game communication besides voice
Final Rating: 73%. Time to grab some friends and return to the city where it all began in the Resident Evil universe - commence Operation Raccoon City!