Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a Resident Evil game by name only. If you’re expecting Operation Raccoon City to feature the horrors of the first three games of the series, or the explosive action from Resident Evil 4 & 5, you may be in for a disappointment. Operation Raccoon City is a third-person shooter game, but unlike the Gears of War series, this third-person shooter is marred with bad controls and AI that single-handedly ruins what could have been a really fun game.
The game is set between the events of Resident Evil 2 & 3 as you play as the Delta Team of the Umbrella Security Service (USS). The deadly T-virus has spread throughout Raccoon City and has turned most of its citizens into brainless zombies. The USS is tasked to eliminate any evidence of Umbrella’s involvement in the incident. This means even killing off any survivors of the event.
Turning a Resident Evil game into a third-person shooter doesn’t sound that bad on paper; it’s just that Slant Six Games (developer of the lesser known SOCOM games) have not done a good job of it. One of the things I loved most about Resident Evil 4 was the length of the game and the engaging cutscenes. The campaign mode is very short in Operation Raccoon City, and the cutscenes and characters aren’t very memorable.
That said, it’s the actual shooting gameplay that is the biggest and most annoying aspect of the entire game. Say what you will about the Call of Duty franchise, at least those games have good collision detection and enemies actually die when you shoot them in the head. Here in Operation Raccoon City, you fight both zombies and the Government dispatched Spec-Ops soldiers. Shooting zombies isn’t so bad, but shooting the human soldiers is annoying as hell. It normally takes multiple bullets for one of them to go down, and even a sniper rifle bullet to the head does not kill these guys. I had to shoot three more times until one of them finally died.
Another frustrating aspect in this game is the dumb AI of your partners. If you’re playing the game offline, the three AI-controlled partners don’t help you very much, and often get in your way. I remember trying to run away from a grenade but I couldn’t as my partner was just standing there blocking my path. Not to mention they are utterly useless when it comes to boss battles. Facing off against Nemesis was very difficult considering I had to shoot him all by myself.
If Operation Raccoon City had better AI and there were no human enemy soldiers, than it may have been a less annoying game to play. Killing zombies is a lot more tolerable since they cannot shoot from afar like the soldiers, and you can easily shoot them in the head since they walk so slowly. One of the more unique features of facing zombies is that they can turn you into a zombie simply by biting or spewing on you. It’s funny when your partners turn into zombies as you actually get to kill them off and then revive them again as humans.
Some modern-day shooting fans may not like the health-bar system. Most shooting games these days offer an auto recovery system, but in Operation Raccoon City, you have to rely on collecting health to stay healthy. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, since it keeps you on your toes and ensures you play more carefully. There’s also plenty of ammo and green herbs lying around, so you’re not totally lacking in resources.
Graphically, Operation Raccoon City actually looks pretty decent. Bear in mind, you may have to jack up the brightness of your TV screen before you start playing the game. The first time I loaded it up everything was too dark and I couldn’t even see where I was going.
Operation Raccoon City may be annoying as an offline game but playing online, it does get a little more fun. This is mainly because playing with real-life players is a lot more enjoyable than playing alongside the imbecilic AI partners. I have to admit, I was stuck facing off against Nemesis until I logged online and decided to play there. The real players were much more helpful in shooting Nemesis, and were less susceptible to turning into zombies as well.
Online multiplayer modes outside of the main campaign are also fun to play. I’m not the best online player in the world but I enjoyed playing this game online. This is because you’re not facing off against skilled players all the time, and zombies are littered throughout the maps making life difficult for both teams. Killing real players earns more points than killing zombies, but you can still earn a decent amount of points just by killing zombies and steering clear of real-life players.
Hero mode is the one online mode I was hopeless at. Sadly though, this is the only mode you can play as past Resident Evil characters like Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and Claire Redfield. What makes this mode so hard is that there are no respawns, and you are dead pretty much instantly. It would have been cooler if you were able to play as the past Resident Evil characters in the other online modes as well as Hero mode may prove too difficult for some gamers.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a game of two halves, occasionally fun but often downright annoying. Had Slant Six Games worked on the collision detection, improved the AI and made the campaign mode more interesting, this game could have been much better. The multiplayer modes are fun though, considering how shoddy the campaign mode is. Fans of Sony’s SOCOM games may like this title but traditional Resident Evil fans should stay away as they are likely to be disappointed.
Lasting Appeal: 6.5