Operation Raccoon City first impressions

Human Resources Manager with Flexible Morals Needed

Umbrella Pharmaceuticals is seeking a motivated professional with proven experience in a high stress work atmosphere. Due to recent downsizing we are looking to fill a vast gamut of positions in our pharmaceutical and biological research divisions. Please send resumes to white@umbrella.umb.

At least, that’s what the ad would say after Operation Raccoon City, if Capcom decided to ever go that deep into immersion for their dead Resident Evil franchise (Yes, we are 2 releases into the year and there are 3 more Resident Evil titles coming out – 2 more movies, one of them shitty, and one more game. Still dead.)

Read on to find out why.

Operation Raccoon City pretty much came out of nowhere a year ago – news surfaced of a game where you play the bad guys. It was being made by the same people who ruined SOCOM – Slant Six, not that SOCOM had any value whatsoever. Let’s get this out of the way so that I can simply expand upon it later. SOCOM sucks. It was a terrible multiplayer third person shooter on PS2, and all the other derivations thereof sucked as well, including PSP. Suffice to say, I don’t think anyone expected this game to be worth it’s hefty price tag. However, because I am a fan of Resident Evil despite Capcom’s abuses and non-existent integrity, I pre-ordered. So far I am not too disappointed.

ORC plays just like Socom, but with the benefit of 10 years of improvement to its advantage. You play as the character you select, a member of Umbrella Security Service – you know, the guys who all died, including Hunk, in the beginning (chronologically) of RE2. Yes, I know Hunk survived and it wasn’t retcon because he was one of the four survivors – it’s still and always will be pure BS that he survived, especially if it was based on this game. Which it thankfully is not. You control your character in third person, with the same over the shoulder view you got used to after RE4, and you of course have a laser sight on every gun – which happens to not point at the same spot as your crosshair. In addition or amendment to the gameplay of RE4, RE5, and RE Revelations, you can now freely melee anything, and you have “two” special attacks  – when you melee an enemy and stagger them, you can press A or whatever button (X?) on Playstation to do a special instakill move that’s fun to watch. Unfortunately you are vulnerable during said move so unlike RE4 and RE5 where doing those button prompt special executions saved your life constantly, in this game they will pretty much get you killed if you do it wrong. Your other supposed special move is with the Y button, which is not a special melee move, it’s your characters Active ability, so the instruction manual is misprinted to say the least.

Each character has an array of passive and active abilities they can use which add some RPG elements to the game, and make you hate yourself when you aren’t Spectre, basically. Spectre’s passive ability, for example, will show you every item ever within a certain radius on the minimap. There are other passives – Vector gets a passive run speed increase, for instance. Active abilities include cool things like Vectors active camouflage (think Halo), or Lupo’s infinite ammo buff – among others. Essentially, the game plays like third person left for dead, minus the entertaining dialog and funny ways of dying – no smokers here, just your teammates or stupid AI getting murdered to death by a Hunter or Tyrant.

As far as art goes, ORC is pretty faithful reproduction of the first 3D Raccoon City. There are very few things that will look odd to you – the virus canisters are one of them. The super tyrant also looks more like one of the super tyrants from the other non-RE2 games but that’s ok. Claire also looks weird at the end which kind of disappointed me – not her look but her facial animation made her look like a weak bitch, to be honest, in the last chapter at the almost end of the game. The RPD building is also slightly disappointing – you can only explore about a fifth of it and parts of it are not exactly as they were in RE2 – this also happened in Darkside Chronicles where the entire third floor was missing, I believe. Parts around the RPD are also not 100% reproductions of the original but it’s not the end of the world. Speaking of art, you unlock concept art by collecting data throughout the game – which gives you XP at the same time, so you can re-collect the same items over and over and sometimes it will unlock new art. When the game was first revealed I found the character design to be ridiculous but it really doesn’t bother you in game – you are too busy trying to kill everything to notice that Lupo is wearing a diving mask, or that Beltway is wearing a bomb disposal suit – which makes absolutely no sense considering he’s the one planting bombs, not defusing them. It didn’t make any sense for Fat Man to wear one in MGS2 either.

ORC does not feature too wide a variety of enemies, but it has enough enemies in it. Regardless, the variety of enemies isn’t the problem. Series mainstays such as zombies, cerberi, hunters, and lickers make their return. You unfortunately also get enemies like crimson heads, Tyrants, Nemesis, Spec Ops, and the most annoying son of a bitch zombies ever – zombies controlled by a parasite (read: Gigantic annoying spider) that you have to shoot in the back, though there are so many of them at once and so little space to maneuver that it’s irrelevant. Use a frag. This is one of my major complaints with the game – the enemies. They are severely overpowered. A zombie will almost always go down from one headshot, or you can melee it to death with ease. A licker, however, will take about 5 times as many shots from anything to kill as it took to kill with a pistol in RE2. That’s bullshit. Hunters are the same way. As are parasite zombies. However, that’s not the problem. I give them a pass because they are genetically mutated killing machines.

No, the problem is human enemies, including other players in versus. They do not die when they should, ever, at all. I have literally hit an AI spec ops troop six times in a row with a Barret .50 (called the anti-material rifle in game, because that’s what it’s for in real life, blowing up equipment.). In real life, a bullet from a barret .50 sniper rifle is about the size of an average  dick. If a bullet from a Barrett passes by you, it will kill you. That’s absolute fact. If a bullet from this gun passes within a certain distance from you, it will literally kill you without hitting you because of its size and velocity. If it hits you, you’re dead. It will literally blow your torso into gibs. So when I shoot a motherfucker in the head with this gun, they need to be dead instantly. It doesn’t matter if it’s in versus or campaign. The only thing that should be allowed to survive this gun is a Tyrant, and MAYBE a hunter. So why the fuck is it in the game Slant Six? It doesn’t kill anything in one hit. The only times I’ve killed someone in versus with it are after I hit them repeatedly – which is practically impossible to snipe anyone in this game because of their move speed. It’s fucking unacceptable – if you’re going to put that gun in a game, you have to put it in realistically. It’s supposed to be completely overpowered. If you don’t want your game to be unbalanced, which it already is, ban certain things from multiplayer.

Campaign mode is fun if you are with at least one real person or you are just boss, but I wouldn’t bother owning this game if you don’t have friends, internet or Xbox Live. The AI is dreadful, which is the case with all games that have AI teammates, more or less. I’ve found myself killing Beltway because he is too huge and the AI is too stupid to make him anything but a nuisance. The story itself is surprisingly good and amazingly lacking in retcon, to be honest. The only retcon that’s really even in the game is the beginning – where the sewer plays absolutely no role whatsoever – and the end. Of course there are also parts where Ada Wong is inside the lab way before she ever should be, and there are Spec Ops soldiers inside the lab as well, but I don’t think they ever intended to make story changes with this game so it’s not a big deal, those things are for funs. I would honestly say that you will have a bitch of a time beating the level before Expendable without any real people to help you.

As for survival horror, this game is as scary as Left 4 Dead. Teammates always make things less stressful but Slant Six managed to negate that with the sheer number of enemies. I’m not exaggerating when I say that during one play through of this game, you will encounter more zombies, lickers, hunters, and tyrants than you have ever encountered in every main story Resident Evil game combined – even if you have played RE5 over 100 times. If you thought Chapter 5 of RE5 had a lot of lickers, you haven’t seen shit. On top of that, these lickers are at least ten times harder to kill, each. And can hit you from much further away, and are much more maneuverable. There is one mission that is definitely never going to  leave your mind in this game – you have to extract NE-α parasites from a deactivated T-103 Tyrant, then inject those parasites into Nemesis in order to get it under control. It sounds simple but it’s the hardest chapter in the entire game and you are attacked by infinite zombies, and the Tyrant, and the Nemesis, and Spec Ops, some of them at the same time. This is where the opening came from – I killed 370 enemies my first time through this mission, and pretty much had to superman that shit all by myself, running around the lab getting the keys and opening doors and dodging and shooting zombies every .2 seconds.

There are some other minor annoyances like Nicholai one shot killing you at random, or the fact that grenades often clip through walls, or that there are some animation and other graphical issues – the game runs like shit on 360 to be honest. If you have about 5 explosions on screen at once, expect your FPS to drop to single digits until its over. However, I’ll tell you – I picked up my pre-order the second GameStop opened on Tuesday and I’ve pretty much done nothing since but play this game. Here’s to hoping they keep this game going with some actual DLC – nemesis mode and others aren’t enough to keep the game alive. A sequel would be nice too, like, Code Veronica or something – a new original story even. I do have one regret though – no Carlos and no Jill Valentine, despite the other main characters (minus Kendo, Bertolucci, Irons, and some others) being in the game. The game takes place during RE2 and RE3 and that’s irrefutable because of moments where Nicholai blows up the hospital, for example, so it’s odd that you never hear of or see Jill – especially considering you visit at least four locations from RE3. By the way you’ll learn from this game that the RPD has a number of officers equal to the number of people living in Raccoon City. So the fact that they couldn’t solve this Umbrella thing without  S.T.A.R.S is bs, if you go by this game.

Buy it, and if you are on XBL then add Grenadehh and let’s kill some shit.