The Average Gamer

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review

Welcome to Raccoon City. The apocalypse is coming and you are a member of the Wolfpack. You and your teammates are part of an elite force employed by Umbrella Corporation to remove all evidence of its part in unleashing the T-Virus on the world. While Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon city’s squad-based action shooter gameplay is a far cry from its solo survival roots, it may possibly be one the purest additions to the saga to grace this generation of consoles.

When I first saw the trailers for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City it looked terrible. Most people I spoke to agreed with me. How could a team-based FPS capture the same feeling I had playing through Resident Evil 3? That sinking desperation that came from being outnumbered and out gunned wherever your turned, the mad scramble for ammo and sinking terror at the thought of taking out the Nemesis.

I was wrong. So wrong. Slant Six Games and Capcom have pulled off a work of impressive wonder. The Resident Evil atmosphere is still here amid the tried and tested standard fare of a cover based shooter. It lures you into a false sense of security. The campaign is perfectly orchestrated – Gears of War-style cover sections are mixed with open space crescendos. Tightly-packed corridors full of zombies quickly turn into tension filled rumblings when you realise you are low on ammo and the noise of a Hunter is slowly getting closer.

Surviving the onslaught is reliant on having a solid team around you. The Wolfpack consists of a variety of members all settling in different roles: usual suspects like the medic and assault types sit amongst a field scientist, demolitions expert, surveillance and recon types. With names like Bertha, Lupo and Vector the group looks almost as scary as their background histories. Each role has its own set of specialist talents it can unlock using XP earned in campaign missions and online.

The campaign is easily completable offline but online gameplay is where it really shines. With a team that understands and loves the roles they have chosen, tactics can be created and packs of lizardlike hunters become nothing more than a stumble in the path, at least until the backup arrives. Offline does have its bonuses – I don’t recall ever seeing an AI team-mate hurrying around in search of ammo and green herbs for health. Online it’s a different story; clips empty quickly in high pressure scenarios and with 4 players all vying for the next ammo stash, communication is key.

One of my favourite mechanics is also one of the most annoying. Get bitten by a zombie when pinned or even rushed and you will find yourself infected. Infection slowly lowers your health. Run out of that and you become a member of the not-so-shambling undead. Undead team-mates can be killed with the staple headshot and will join the team again at the next checkpoint. Online, this isn’t a problem but try it offline and turning means instant death.

As with any Resident Evil game, Operation Raccoon City is chock with weapons choices. Your basic kit is decided at the beginning of the mission. Your trusty pistol is joined by a variety of automatic and semi automatic weaponry from shotguns to heavy rifles and snipers. A handful of grenades accompany this menagerie of firepower and complete your death dealing kit. Death-givers in hand, there are plenty of non-campaign game-types to dig into, these matches pitch the Wolfpack against the United States Special Ops team in relentless battles for survival in a mad rush to be the first to the lone helicopter or an allout death match.

Considering their similarities Operation Raccoon City is no Left 4 Dead. If anything, it takes the formula and actually makes it better. It feels much more… alive. Graphically it’s darker, bloodier creepier. The sound design is fantastic and it’s backed up by a strong narrative that reveals the full extent a panicking corporation is willing to go to protect its reputation. It’s a strange change of direction for the series but one that is just as badass as its solo predecessors. It’s zombie-killing time!

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is out on 23rd March for Xbox 360 and PS3.

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