Sunday, January 12, 2014

VGR Operation Raccoon City

AKA Resident Evil: The Action Game!

VGR: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City also known as Biohazard: Operation Raccoon City
From Slant Six Games/Capcom
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PS3 & PC

Type Action/Third person shooter
Year 2012

In a day and age where the Resident Evil series seems every time less rooted in its survival horror origins, a purely action 3rd person shooter entry was an inevitable experience at one point or another.

And Capcom simply decided to offer it in 2012, right off several titles on that very same year.

To celebrate the arrival of the actually numbered 6th episode in the series, two movies were released (another live action entry and a CGi animated one), as well as two spinoff videogame titles.

Resident Evil 6 offered several gameplay alternatives as a throw back at what the series originally represented (pure horror) and what it had become over the years (action games).

And while the 3DS received in Resident Evil Revelations a return to horror and a brunette Jill, Operation Raccoon City went for a Gears Of War-style cover shooter/action game all the way!

While the gameplay is firmly rooted in the third person shooter genre, the actual content and settings looks at the past of the franchise with nostalgia.

And RE:ORC marked a return to both Raccoon City and classic zombies!

The story appears to take place around the events of both Resident Evil 2 and 3. Long story short, the Umbrella Corporation just let loot the T-Virus amongst the streets of the city. But they want to keep the situation under control, getting rid of any possible ties between Umbrella and the outbreak (such as survivors!).

That's where you come in! You take the role of one of Umbrella Security Service (USS)'s soldiers of the Delta Team.

There's 6 of them available, each with his own little subtleties, abilities and weapons of choice.

From the announcement of this game to the actual introduction, this looked like it would be HUNK's time to shine - one of the franchise's most beloved mysterious characters (specially now that Whesker turned all Matrix on us..). But he ends up only in a supportive role.. and quickly disappears into shadows as usually. But his presence is still felt through the game.

The game begins with meeting Umbrella's super soldier/spy HUNK to put a stop to the scientist named Dr. William Birkin. But Birkin has other plans such as selling the G-Virus to the US Army. He is also employing the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Services (UBCS) mercenaries to stop Delta Team!

Along the way you will have fight your way through zombies, UBCS mercs, the Spec Ops and several experiments let loose in the city. Finally after fighting some classic RE "Tyrants", you will face Nemesis itself, meet fan favorite familiar faces such as Sherry, Leon Kennedy, Claire Redfield, Nicholai, Ada Wong, Carlos and even have to fight some of them...

If you decide to follow the story to the letter or change events is up to you at the end... After all this "What If..?" scenario can be changed with a single decision in the final battle...

The entire game itself is actually quite reminiscent of another past RE spinoff, the Resident Evil: Outbreak series, another "squad-based" similar title that took place at the heart of Raccoon City during the original zombie outbreak. And while those were much closer to actual Survival Horror and more limited in scope due to being simple PS2 games, they also offered multiplayer cooperative gameplay.

The gameplay is were RE:ORC seems to shine, really. A big step-up from Resident Evil 5, it seems like a natural update and evolution of said gameplay.

For one, you can heal your partners, switch weapons and basically use a proper cover system like any regular 3rd Person Shooter these days. You can even shoot and walk at the same time! I mean, if Capcom wanted to turn the series into an action game, they should at least try to do it properly, right?

Yet the gameplay still keeps some key RE signature movements. Such as the "quick turn". Herbs can still be found around, which turn into sprays, sending masses of shooter fans into confusion no doubt.

Sure, the Delta Team are far from being memorable characters to play as, but at least they managed to cover a wide range of "soldier" types, enough that I'm sure anyone can find a favorite amongst the lot!

Like similar games of this genre, you obtain experience playing through this game, which can be used to buy/unlock more features or weapons.

The game is not particularly long... or difficult.. but it's still manage to be what it's suppose to do. Which is a "Third Person Shooter" Resident Evil game, done "right".

It could be a lot more fun or simply done better.

But suffice to say, the team at Slant Six were able to make enough of the situation. A game that appears like a retelling of RE2/3 through the modern RE lense.

There's a lot of boss fights, including what appears to be a scene right out of the game's cover art, which includes not one but two Tyrants! Birkin goes through is classic mutation phases. Nemesis is a pain in the butt!

There even appears to be some reference to Paul Anderson's disputable Resident Evil movies (Nemesis uses both a rocket launcher and a minigun at one point or another!).

The encounter with the RE heroes is always fun, seeing them as NPC from another angle for a change!

People like to deem this episode as "not canon", but I mean... It's as valid an entry as the recent games! Personally I prefer to only regard the first 4 games as canon* to be honest, so.. I'd say it's as in-continuity as Resident Evil 5!

In the end we're left with a game that is "okay", without being completely spectacular... or even memorable.

All of its best moments appear to be scenes out of the classic games!

And the formula, while fine, has very little to do with Resident Evil in my eyes.

Despite all its evident flaws and bad reception the game still managed to sell a lot more than RE6 would only half a year later.

Playing as a USS cleaning the evidence and limiting the damages for Umbrella is fun in itself. Having to track and kill the survivors... Being on the bad guys' team and all that. Going through classic RE scenes and facing memorable characters.

But sometimes it feels a bit "off", with what the recent games have become in mind. Specially when you see the streets filled with soldiers gunning each other... in Racoon City of all places!

Finally the music by composer Shusaku Uchiyama is decent enough... Although entirely forgettable (like the entire game..?). It does capture the madness of a post-apocalyptic city, with none of the memorable tunes of past RE games.

Speaking of replay value and content, there's also a Spec Ops Campaign and a Nemesis Mode... Those are both downloadable content, but the first Chapter of the Spec Ops is free content on disc and playing as Nemesis - as fun as it sounds - was available on the go on the Xbox... and sounds a lot more than what it actually is at the end of the day.

The Spec Ops Campaign, aka playing with the "Good Guys", is an entire alternate campaign. It's as long as Delta Team's story. With perhaps some better levels and more originality. It's the only way to also meet Jill in the game.

As the Spec Ops, your goal is to find what's behind the zombie outbreak.

There levels appear to be better designed and offer some actual challenge.. but you'll have to play with a team of even more generic "characters" (and I use that lightly). The team appears to be composed of "fancharacters" based on the main RE characters. While on the Delta Team only one really looked like a fake-HUNK (specially mirroring HUNK's alternate costumes from past games), the Spec Ops appear to be composed of a fake-Chris Redfield (trading his iconic green for red), a fake-Claire with brown hair, a fake-Ada with white hair, a redhair fake-Jill and token black guy (a palette swap from Josh Stone in RE5 actually).

Like I said, that's some minor complaint, and the main thing here is the co-op gameplay. And that composes most of this game. But really Capcom... couldn't this secondary campaign be included in the game... you know... like every single prior Resident Evil game before Operation Raccoon City? You know, "FREE"?

I say, HUNK still needs is own actual spinoff game... You know, an actual fun Resident Evil someday...

Overall, it's not a great game per say. but I wasn't expecting much from it to be honest. 

Still, it's very much playable for what it is, and it improves on RE5 "action game" gameplay in every way. Even the AI is much better in general at least.

The concept is decent and half-well executed.

There's perhaps too much gun-firing foes in my eyes compared to zombies, I don't remember open guerillas in the street of Raccoon City!

The game is at its best when on a small scale, in open streets crawling with zombies.

So, I'd recommend it, only if you don't mind the action and occasional glitches and lag (nothing really bad, just small details that can be annoying). There's also numerous bugs, mostly cause by the fact they rushed this game to release it months ahead of Resident Evil 6!

I give it:
1.5 / 3 Quacks!

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