RE: Operation Raccoon City Review: A City Worth Saving
When I put out the call for help with 1UP’s Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City review, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The idea seemed simple enough in theory: 1UP would give this multiplayer-heavy game a fair shake by inviting fans and members of our community to play along and help shape the site’s review. Review together or die alone, and stuff like that.
I was happy to see our community participate and share their opinions and unique perspectives with us. While a few entries didn’t make the final cut, I appreciate the effort and contributions made by all. Honorable mention goes out to 1UP user dayeight, someone who chose not to participate in our multiplayer sessions but offered this surprisingly succinct take on ORC: “Moving parts create a puppet menagerie of pain, online is fun-ish but isn’t it always.” Nicely put, dayeight. And with that, let’s kick off our first community review and see what our panel had to say about ORC’s strengths and weaknesses.
Click the image above to check out all Resident Evil ORC screens.
Oscar Reynoso, 1UP Member: I think ORC sticks to the story pretty well, and all of the characters seem really balanced. The assortment of weapons isn’t that bad, and it’s pretty cool to experience a story from Umbrella’s perspective during the G-Virus outbreak of Resident Evil 2 and 3.
Jose Ybarra, 1UP Members: ORC is a decent game if you already like this series, but annoying glitches get in the way — like trying to pick up items as an on-screen prompt disappears, for example.
Navin Mistry, 1UP Member: I was a little bothered by how ORC begins like a cover-based Spec Ops versus Spec Ops third-person shooter interspersed with RE references, but I let out a sigh of relief once zombies and other bio-terrors started to make their appearances.
Brandon Stennis, 1UP Member: After playing hours of ORC, I still don’t know how I feel about it. The game is a different perspective on Resident Evil 2 and 3, and while that concept has managed to keep me interested, certain creative liberties have been taken with the material since this game was created by a different company outside of Capcom.
Jose Otero, 1UP Associate Editor: I agree that Raccoon City isn’t a terrible game, just a flawed one whose sloppy execution undermines the overall product. The act of shooting anything feels too unpredictable, as constant gun recoil rocks my weapons far off their intended targets. The sniper rifle is practically unusable due to the inhuman level of precision required to make it work. I’d give anything at this point to see a patch clear up some of these aim-related issues, but as of this writing ORC fumbles its core mechanic: Tactical third-person shooting. Its not the worst TPS ever made, but Slant Six’s efforts appear average at best and don’t really get any better.
Oscar: I thought the levels were really dark, so I kicked up the gamma and still had trouble seeing things. I also found the cover system — a technique that’s initiated by holding the analog stick forward to slide into a wall or piece of cover — a bit irritating since it would trigger itself when I didn’t need it. I’d be checking for doors to open so I could find helpful items and my character would attach themselves to the wall for cover.
Weird things happen in ORC, too. I played part of the campaign solo and the A.I.-controlled players would run into fire instead trying to find ways around it. I’d lose my teammates often and watch them die without using their special abilities. This really made playing alone difficult since I found myself having to rescue them all the time. Once I started playing with buddies, the game got a lot better.
Navin: The campaign is fairly short but it seems designed to be played through more than once. The teammate AI isn’t great, but the game is vastly improved when playing with human players, which is great if they’re available and unfortunate for fans of traditional single-player.
Jose O.: I agree. Luckily, single- and multiplayer progress come together through the player progression system, and that’s a smart move on Slant Six’s part. It rewards players with experience that can be used to buy weapons, abilities, and customize how each character plays. Some of the special abilities work better in a competitive multiplayer environment, but the amount of options they lend ORC is enough to keep you hooked.
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Jose Y.: I can’t say I love the voice acting, but I did like the story. The single-player AI is not that smart either, but that’s where playing cooperatively with friends comes in, and it helps this game in a big way.
Jose O: I have to admit that playing through ORC with a bunch of strangers proved more entertaining than I expected. Of course, part of the joy came from the snickers and verbal jabs at ORC’s sub-par presentation. But working together yielded some pretty cool results, and on a whole the multiplayer mechanics found here work. You just have to prepare yourself and come to terms with the lack of polish.
It helps that revisiting key faces and places in the RE 2 and 3 timeline was the goal, but ORC almost retcons a lot of story in order to shove in Slant Six’s take on the timeline. The idea of Leon being a primary target seems like a good idea, but I could’t help but question the execution. Movies like Back to the Future 2 weave new plot points between existing fiction, but ORC doesn’t come handle them quite as gracefully. That said, the last scenario is probably the most ambitious campaign idea ORC has up its sleeve, but the execution still feels really random and shoddy. Thankfully, competitive multiplayer comes to this game’s rescue and helps breathe life into ORC’s slightly rotting corpse.
Navin: The competitive multiplayer modes are few, but they can be a lot of fun. It’s here that I feel the most unique aspect of the game presents itself. The constant presence of the infected forces players to abandon more traditional shooter tactics and play conservatively. Sadly, the implementation is a bit clumsy. If you’re anything like us you will find yourself pointing out little things that would have made a big difference, such as tightening up the sloppy gunplay.
If, like me, you are the kind of fan that will buy pretty much any game (or film) with Resident Evil on it, there are enough knowing winks throughout to provide satisfaction, but I’m curious to know how others feel. Good or bad, the fact stands that I had an extremely fun time playing with people online, so I see myself coming back for multiplayer, but neglecting single-player — until that inevitable run to grab all the hidden in-game collectables, that is.
Brandon: The gameplay is pretty standard but has some added elements in the action. But there is a lot of pop-in of enemies at points and sometimes there are some glitchy parts which sometimes affects the combat. My biggest compliment so far is the fact that the weapon/ammo situation is very bad. I don’t like the fact that you have to switch guns so often because you are out of ammo. Ammo runs out very fast in situations where you actually need to kill an enemy and there are no ammo boxes nearby. I have tried to get myself in the mindset that this isn’t a typical Resident Evil game and try to think of it as a very different spin of the series, which I’m assuming was the creators’ goal.
Click the image above to check out all Resident Evil ORC screens.
Jose O.: It’s true that ammo is in short supply, and in a sense that could be the only gameplay connection that ORC has with the original RE trilogy, but I still can’t get over the ridiculous mishandling of the viral infection idea in ORC. The concept of infecting a player in a town full of zombie-making bacteria is fine, but if your partner joins the undead, a quick bullet to the head will solve all your problems. Then you can quickly help revive your formerly undead partner and continue going about your business. Why did it have to be this way? I have no idea, but this silly approach makes it hard to take the idea as more than a minor inconvenience.
Oscar: The multiplayer is decent, and I found it fun to battle against others in the competitive modes while you’re simultaneously fending off zombie foes. ORC is worth playing, but it would be an even greater game if they fixed the sloppy controls.
Jose O.: I think Slant Six’s expertise as a developer of TPS-style games definitely shines in ORC’s competitive multiplayer. Team Attack mode takes the vanilla concept of Team Death Match and throws a bunch of zombies between the Umbrella Special Forces and the Spec Ops, and the ensuing chaos makes even simple modes like this more interesting. Biohazard mode offers a fun twist on ideas from objective-based multiplayer games. But of them all, Survivor and Heroes offer the most fun.
In Heroes, each player picks an RE all-star — from Leon and Claire to Ada and Hunk — and gets access to special bonuses and abilities. When a hero is killed on the field, the player respawns as a regular solider. The first team that burn through all four of their Heroes loses the match. Survivor mode takes the obvious survival concept and forces eight players fight over four seats on an incoming escape helicopter. The action on the field escalates as the chopper closes, unleashing deadly monsters like the Tyrant creature or Hunters. Each time you lose a life, your respawn timer is extended a little longer, forcing you to be conservative or risk losing your ride out of the ensuing chaos.
Jose Y.: While it’s neither the best nor the worst in the series, if you like Resident Evil and like games that rely on co-op multiplayer, then this game would be worth checking out. If you prefer to tackle your campaigns solo, then you might find this game quite frustrating.
By Jose Otero