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Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PlayStation 3) artwork

The Resident Evil franchise has a long and rich history. It brought smiles to the masses even back on the first Playstation with its disastrously bad voice casting, atmospheric locations that ranged from abandoned mansions, dank sewers and destroyed cities. Of course, there was its story, that was at best at the level of a mediocre horror flick. Still, the various characters and the gameplay alone were enough so that today, it's a benchmark title for the survival horror connoisseur. The newest title, Operation Raccoon City, came out recently, with promises of grandeur, and the retelling of some of previous title's highlights, told from a different perspective.

You take control of Umbrella's security team whose mission is to protect the famed T-Virus so it wouldn't get in the hands of the American military, and the main locations are those of the titular Raccoon City. As it befits the usual fare of Resident Evil, our "heroes" are all top notch specimens of the human race that are capable of destroying everything in their way without batting an eye.

The story itself is set in the period between Resident Evil 2 and 3, and it places us in the boots of those that the protagonists of said titles were supposed to stop. While the plot itself is placed in the same world, this title is supposed to show a "hypothetical situation" in which the bad guys are running the show.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PlayStation 3) image

At the start you can choose one of the characters you want to control, while the other three people from your team will be controlled by the A.I. The purpose of this approach was to enable the function of an entire team, and not just of an individual that needs to pass certain puzzles and enemies to progress. After each mission, you can choose a different team member to control, so there is no fear of getting stuck with just one person.

And, at first glance, it works.

The leader of the group, Lupe, is good in all aspects of combat, but doesn't excel in any of them, while Beltway is the big guy in charge of demolitions, and his expertise and love for things going boom clearly shows. Other characters include Vector, a spy with the ability to use his cloaking field in case he needs to disappear, Bertha, the medic of the group, Spectre, the russian sniper and Four Eyes, the not-at-all nationally insensitive Asian geneticist.

This versatile team is equipped with various weapons that the gamer can buy at the beginning of every mission with earned experience points ranging from pistols, machine guns all the way up to shotguns and sniper rifles.

And here is where the real problems actually start, because everyone will soon see that there's no real difference between the characters. Sure, each of them has an "ability" the other lacks. For instance, Four Eyes can deploy a pheromone bomb that will make all the zombies go berserk with bloodlust to the point of attacking each other, while ignoring the team, while Beltway has specific bombs that can stick to the targets of his choosing, but that aside, there is no real difference between the characters. Vector is supposed to be some awesome martial arts master, but when you put his skills to the test in close quarters combat, he fares just as well as Bertha, while Spectre is no better at his job then anyone else that has a sniper rifle equipped.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PlayStation 3) image

This team will move through various locations that will be familiar to any fan of the Resident Evil series. From the police station to the cemetery of Raccoon City. Also, as an added "bonus", you'll get to meet familiar characters like Leon Kennedy or Doctor Birkin.

While visually this title looks more or less attractive to the eyes, there is a distinct feeling that this title was made exclusively for the multiplayer aspect, while the story of the single story campaign was put on reserve. In the midst of combat, you will learn to employ the all too familiar cover based system of combat where the entire point is hiding behind a waist high wall and peek out from time to time to let loose a barrage of bullets, be it into zombies or soldiers.

All of this might seem like this title is worth playing. However, when you get down to the technicalities, you'll be able to see the glaring faults it has. Your companions border on the line of those "special" people you were taught never to mock because their opinion on what combat should be like consists of running straight forward into a hail of bullets or pissed off zombies, and engage in hand to hand combat. With zombies this tactic can prove more or less efficient (until they get bitten and infected, which happens fairly often), but the real fun starts when they do this against fully armed special forces. The end result is much like you would think it would be, so no matter what character you decided to control, you'll spend more time reviving them than actually fighting.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PlayStation 3) image

While Resident Evil dumped the infamous tank controls when they decided to perform a mini-reboot with Resident Evil 4, what they did bring along was a successful foray into over-the-shoulder third-person action. However, despite the seven odd years gap between the titles, Raccoon City can only wish it controlled as fluidly. Your character is practically useless in hand to hand combat, no matter who you choose, so in most cases you'll spend a lot of time spectacularly missing your target, while he'll get you in a combo of punches/knife thrusts/angry zombie flailing that will soon take your health to zero.

The single player mode also offers the unique charm of automatically saving your game which doesn't happen nearly enough, which will result in a game over because of some stupid mistake (more usually then not because your team decided to charge headfirst into an all-you-can-eat undead buffet), and also lead to you repeating a large portion of the level you were stuck at.

And that is one of the main problems of the titles. Repetition. If someone told me that shooting zombies in the face would get boring, I'd simply laugh and call him a crazy person, but the fact remains that here it's all you're doing in a setting and plot that will hardly keep even the die hard fans stuck to the screen.

There were a lot of titles in the Resident Evil series. Some good, some bad, and unfortunately, it has to be said that this one belongs in the latter category. Mostly because of technical flaws, even though the gameplay itself is riding in murky water, mainly due to repetition. The first level was interesting enough and it seemed like it would lead the game in a strong direction, but after that, at least as far as the single player experience goes, we're talking about a mediocre title that will draw only the fans because of its legacy and to have something to do before Resident Evil 6 came along.

Project Horror 2016
Project Horror saw one (1) horror review submitted every day through the month of October. This review was part of that effort.

darketernal's avatar
Community review by darketernal (October 14, 2016)

Occasional reviewer of random stuff.

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