Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City E3 2011 Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Jun 21, 2011
In our previous hands-on preview of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Capcom’s latest iteration in its long running survival horror series, we tested out the game’s multiplayer and co-op campaign, and detailed a lot of the new additions coming to Operation Raccoon City. For E3 2011, we played through an early portion of the game, consisting of devastated portions of Raccoon City littered with fiery rubble, debris, and, of course, infected hordes.
For our play session, we played as Lupo, a gasmask-wearing Umbrella operative with curves as deadly as her melee weapon of choice, a wickedly long knife. When we drop into the game, my squad (aka me and a few A.I. bots) moves forward through a street choked with abandoned cars and other remnants of a city under siege by endless swarms of the undead, chief among them lots and lots of zombies.
Now, while I enjoyed Resident Evil 4 quite a bit, it still did the one thing that all RE games do: not allow you to move and shoot. Some would say this is what makes the games so intense and terrifying, but I just find it annoying, not to mention clunky and illogical. After all, shooting and moving in a Dead Space game, for instance, doesn’t make it any less frightening.
Bit ranty there, I know, but it had to be said, because Operation Raccoon City marks the first time a console RE game lets players walk while shooting. According to Capcom, the decision was made so as to more accurately reflect the tactical prowess of the Umbrella soldiers you play as in the game. Of course, both Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy are both highly trained operatives in their own rights, so this could easily have been added to any number of previous titles, but it’s a welcome, if long overdue, addition nonetheless.
Because of the new controls, the gameplay is fast and brutal, much more in line with a Left 4 Dead than a traditional RE game, but that’s exactly the point of Operation Raccoon City, to provide a new perspective on the old RE formula. In addition to dealing death from afar with your various guns, grenades, and such, you’ll also be taking out infected using up close and personal melee attacks and finishing moves like the classic slash and stab the throat option. You can also melee in any direction now, which means you’ll be able to bounce between infected ala Batman: Arkham Asylum should you feel the need to show off.
While most of your bullets will be infected bound, you will also face off against U.S. Special Forces who have been sent into Raccoon City to quell the outbreak. Thankfully, you can use these do-gooders to your advantage by wounding them and letting their bloody wounds serves as infected bait. This is obviously a smart tactic in multiplayer, but it will be invaluable to your success in the single-player campaign as well—not to mention wickedly satisfying.
Should you find yourself bitten by an infected in the course of the chaos, you will, for the first time in the RE franchise, become the new recipient of the infamous T-virus that has been a part of the series from the beginning. This sad fate brings with it a host of problems, primarily that you become a ticking time bomb. Unless your partners heal you before the countdown meter runs out, you will turn into a mindless beast just like the rest of the infected, which becomes doubly tragic in co-op since it will then be up to your friends to put you down for good.
A lot of work has been done on the enemy AI this time around as well. For instance, the new and improved lickers, an RE favorite, are now entirely AI driven rather than merely scripted. At one point, we entered a dingy yet brightly lit garage, only to have a swarm of lickers burst in through the air vents. Some crawled on the ceiling, some on the walls, some on the ground, and they all reacted differently to my attacks. Should a licker get its tongue around you, you can actually cut it off, which also changes its attack behavior. Another nifty AI improvement is that the hunter infected now targets the strongest player in the game, so if you’re racking up the kills or have the most health, watch out.
Based my relatively brief hands-on time, it’s clear that Operation Raccoon City is unlike any RE game to date, and that’s risky for sure, especially given the loyalty and love gamers have shown the series over the years. But it’s also shaping up to give fans and gamers, like myself, who have shied away from Resident Evil for whatever reason a chance to see the RE story from a fresh narrative and gameplay perspective. We’ll have to wait until the game ships later this year though to find out if the risk will be rewarded.