Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Review
We step into a huge, dark laboratory room, and I can’t help but giggle to myself in fanboy delight.
We’re entering Umbrella’s Raccoon City facility, circa 1998. It’s the research lab where William Birkin developed the G-Virus, and we’re part of the team sent in to retrieve the virus from the scientist, who seems primed to betray Umbrella. It’s important to note that nothing has happened yet — there’s no zombie outbreak, no mutated monsters, not even a firefight between us and some random spec ops forces — but as we enter the lab, it’s vast and dark.
This is where Umbrella scientists work every day: a massive lab with overhead lighting that barely illuminates the walkway ahead of them, much less experiments. It’s a mad scientist’s lair, quite literally, but if you step back from the atmosphere for a minute and think about it in terms of fiction, Umbrella happily embraces that motif. You can imagine labcoated pharmacists sipping coffee in the dark, talking about “Friends” and injecting T-Virus into hapless test subjects.
It’s a B-movie world that you stroll into in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, and in those opening moments, it’s full of potential. Unfortunately, when you actually start playing things begin to slip apart in a sticky mess of lame gunplay, irritating gameplay and overall boredom. I hate to say it, but ORC just isn’t really all that fun to play.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (2012): Xbox 360 (reviewed), Playstation 3
Developer: Slant Six Games
Released: March 20, 2012
Operation Raccoon City takes us back to the locales of the famous mid-size Midwestern city from which Resident Evil has spent about a decade away. During Resident Evil 2 and 3, the city fell under zombie apocalypse and was then nuked by the evil Umbrella Corporation. But during those two games, quite a lot happened in the city, and we know that Umbrella had commandos operating in Raccoon City right up until its destruction, working to recover research and eliminate survivors with incriminating evidence of what happened there.
Players take control of one such Umbrella team in RE:ORC, and despite its nostalgic setting and cast of enemies, the game is much more modern in its third-person cover-based shooter setup and online play. RE:ORC is meant to be played online, with a team of three friends (or randoms), and it’s at its absolute weakest as a single-player experience. As one of a group of highly trained operatives, you’ll basically pick a class and a weapon load-out and then go through missions that have players experience fan service nod after knowing wink after fan service nod.
On the positive side of the spectrum, there are points in which RE:ORC really does invoke the classic Resident Evil feel that it’s going for, bringing the player back to familiar locales and putting them up against familiar creatures and enemies. Bad guys from Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 show up pretty regularly, as do other side characters and even a few of the games’ protagonists. You get to hunt Leon S. Kennedy and fight Nikolai Ginovaef, go up against the Nemesis, flee from William Birkin — it’s like Resident Evil’s greatest hits from before 2000.