To most people the name Raccoon City might be hard to place. However, for fans of the Resident Evil series, Raccoon City has long been the primary locale in which all things bad emerge, as well as being the location of the evil Umbrella Corporation. Though not every game in the series or its spinoffs have directly involved Raccoon City the connection to it and Umbrella has remained constant throughout the series.
In the new game Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, players get to take a look back to the events of the original outbreak in 1998 to see a different side of how it all began.
Playing as one of the members of the elite Umbrella Security Service, the special forces team is sent into the city to retrieve an experimental virus. Naturally things do not go as planned and it soon learned that the virus that they were sent to retrieve has spread into the streets, changing the mission parameters from a search and recovery, to a search and destroy. And survive. And of course, with top priority being to cover up all evidence of Umbrella Corp.'s compliance in the outbreak that's sweeping the city.
The game takes players through several key locales in the third person perspective. Multiple play modes allow for not only a story mode but for co-op and multiplayer mode as well. Players are given the opportunity to select the character they wish. In a refreshing twist, there are male and female characters available so you do not have to spend your time as a largely faceless grunt. Characters have their own dialogue and personalities which allow them to be more than basic cannon fodder and allows you to deeply care about helping them survive the challenges ahead.
Those challenges are many, as not only are there hordes of zombies and bioorganic weapons, there are some unexpected elements and other squads that players will have to contend with as well.
I was easily able to connect online and find a match and I was very happy to see the cooperative spirit employed by online members. During my first game I found myself literally stumbling around in the dark, as I attempted to navigate the maps and make it through the very dark elements that I was encountering. On more than one occasion I found myself lost and wishing that I had the ability to jump over objects, but never once did any of the other teammates get on me for lagging behind or wandering aimlessly. On more than one occasion a couple of them even backtracked to help locate and lead me to the rest of the group.
I of course repaid this debt by saving their lives on more than one occasions. When the safeties came off and the bullets started flying I certainly had more than enough to contributed. I littered walls with holes and parts of anything unfortunate enough to cross my gun sights.
The control system should be very familiar to any person who has played first or third person shooter. Graphically the game shined and really put me in the action. The sound was an extremely pleasant surprise. Not only did I get the impression of looking through a dark danger-laden locale but the static echo of gunfire as well as the AI voices of my squad mates was a very immersive experience.
On the occasions when I got a little too aggressive with my tactics and met my fate, I was happy to see that my squad mates were able to revive me and get me back in the fight.
There are power ups throughout such as green plants and players who have the ability to locate new weapons and ammunition along the way which will be desperately needed.
I can remember one occasion, in an early match were found myself separated from the group only to discover a new area which was rife with the infected. A few quick rounds dispatched the front runners but when my submachine gun ran dry, I found myself with only a pistol as I attempted to hold off the advancing horde.
While I was able to score a few head shots, I quickly learned that discretion was the better act of valor and beat a hasty retreat until I not only found some ammunition but reinforcements who quickly helped me turn the tide of the battle.
Weaponry ranges from standard pistols and shotguns and machine guns with various varieties as well as grenades which are definitely game changers in tight situations.
The immersive factor of the game was what really sold me as I have to admit when I first heard about the game, I was concerned it was basically going to be Resident Evil's version of Left For Dead. And while this is not a bad thing, that game essentially captured the zombie experience of a George Romero movie perfectly and I was not sure to expect from the new game.
What really sold me was when the squad was masked by a door and I knew there'd be a port on the other side yet still had an element of surprise when they finally did emerge.
The enemy AI is fairly standard first as the horde much like their mindless counterparts aimlessly makes their way toward you and as long as sure ammunition holds out you should be more than able to hold your own. As the game progresses, new threats will emerge which will require you to do some real tactics as well as take advantage of cover if you're going to survive.
The game is currently available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation three consoles and the PC version of the game will be released in May.
While Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is not likely to be as deep and complex as the upcoming sixth chapter in the series. It nonetheless is a very entertaining and enjoyable experience for fans of the series old and new as well as for those who like to blast zombies to mayhem and see a different side to the Raccoon City outbreak.
4 stars out of 5.
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