Two weeks ago, the latest installment to the Resident Evil franchise Operation Raccoon City released. The game is set in post-outbreak Raccoon City and enables the player to fulfill the role of a super elite clean-up team “WolfPack” hired by Umbrella to weed out survivors and destroy incriminating evidence. The Pause Button’s own IncreaseBlue got the chance to fully dive into the game and offers her thoughts below. Warning, there are few spoilers ahead.
I’ll be honest, I had high hopes for Operation Raccoon City. The thought of mercilessly taking out survivors in a zombie infested city, squashing all hope for rescue, and (most importantly) personally dispatching Leon and Claire with my own bare hands just sounded awesome. Unfortunately the game doesn’t really own up to its non-cannon ties and gets hunkered down by the existing Resident Evil storyline, as well as painful controls and other game play issues.
Since the game was produced by Slant Six Studios (of Socom fame), Operation Raccoon City already proclaimed itself as vastly different from previous iterations. This is true to a certain degree in that characters can move and shoot, auto-stick to cover, etc. but it also retains a feel for RE with keeping certain sound effects and items (green herbs anyone?) or doing melee and brutal kills. This is something that Slant succeeds at in keeping little details that remind you it’s a Resident Evil game, but changing the control scheme to fit the game play.
That’s where the praises stop however. Controls are often hampered by overly long kill animations and characters getting stunned by melees that can loop until you watch those red letters on the screen proclaim your death. Damage is also doled out in an incomprehensible way. In order for the game to register a headshot, anywhere between three bullets and an entire clip needs to be emptied into an enemy’s head. It’s frustrating and annoying certainly, but with patience players can eventually dreg their way through several short chapters with only a few cheap boss fights.
Multiplayer modes offer up basic team modes with Resident Evil touches. Survivor basically plays out like team deathmatch except for the mad dash to a helicopter for extraction (and extra points). There are also variations of capture the flag (capturing virus samples instead), and siege modes, but nothing overtly groundbreaking. The multiplayer controls suffer much of the same setbacks as in campaign but is not nearly as painful when playing against other people. There are some freezing and matchmaking errors that still happen every few matches which can make the task of simply hopping into a lobby a headache. The multiplayer is a much better experience than the campaign but doesn’t (and shouldn’t) carry the game entirely to make it worth buying.
What’s most disappointing about Operation Raccoon City is the fact that it is simply filler material. The story of the Wolfpack team is made to fit into the existing plot of Resident Evil 2, so much of the campaign is spent hinting and referencing previous canon with a few token cameos, but never going anywhere significant with the team itself.
For example, a single mission pits the Wolfpack team against Nemesis, simply for the objective of knocking him out, fixing his programming, and sending him back on his merry way to kill S.T.A.R.S. Since Operation Raccoon City already set us in the mindset of being some Umbrella-hired ruthless mercenaries, it’s sad to see the game just doesn’t own up to its alternate reality style. What would have been rewarding is having Wolfpack change up multiple events from Resident Evil 2, instead of just dancing around them. Granted there is one alternate canon ending, but it’s awkward and fails to satisfy when all of the other missions in the game stuck to the old RE script.
In the end Operation Raccoon City is a decent game but mechanically frustrating and disappointing in its story elements. The multiplayer modes are fun enough, but the disappointing campaign and other headaches in the game play system leave this title as worth only renting or maybe a purchase when it hits that $20 bargain bin.
Final Verdict: 7/10