Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Updated Hands-On ImpressionsBy Russ Frushtick - Posted Oct 31, 2011
True Resident Evil sequels don't come around every year. Or every other year. Hell, the time between Resident Evil 3 and Resident Evil 4 was a whopping six years. But can people really go six years without unraveling new secrets behind Umbrella and its nefarious biological weapons? Absolutely not. So Capcom does the next best thing: spin-offs. Some Resident Evil spin-offs are more full-featured than others. Resident Evil: Code Veronica, for example, was one of the better ones. Resident Evil Survivor...not so much.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is one of these spin-offs, but it treads into a territory that hasn't really been seen in the franchise yet. It's an action-heavy third person shooter that controls more like SOCOM than it does a classic Resident Evil game. Which makes sense, given that it's developed by Slant Six, the studio behind SOCOM.
Operation Raccoon City takes place between the events of Resident Evil 2 and RE3. Raccoon City is a full-blown disaster area after the T-Virus turned everyone into zombies. Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield are running around town, trying to avoid some of the nastier Umbrella creations, and things are looking pretty dire all in all. But there's work to be done!
Players in Operation Raccoon City take on the role of the Umbrella Security Service. Your primary objective? Destroy any evidence of Umbrella's wrongdoing. Yes, that includes killing anyone that stands in your way. There are six members of the USS squad, including recon experts, heavy weapons specialists, and assault team members. Players can pick from any of the six as they may their way through the campaign, earning experience to unlock new weapons and abilities.
While there's a full-fledged adversarial multiplayer mode in Operation Raccoon City, the campaign was the focus of Capcom's recent press event. The campaign can be played with three other players online, but in this case we were limited to playing solo. The whole concept of Operation Raccoon City is to see familiar events from a new point of view. For example, Hunk's confrontation of William Birkin as the G-Virus is used, a memorable moment to be sure, is captured from your squad's perspective.
Familiar locales are also plentiful. We were able to go hands-on with a mission that took us through Raccoon City's city hall, which happened to be infested with zombies and a few lickers. It was here that we got a taste of the Infection mechanic in Operation Raccoon City. If you're grabbed by a zombie or licker, there's a chance you'll become infected. This will turn your health bar blue and slowly drain it. Wait until it's all the way drained and you'll become a zombie, viciously attacking your own squad.
The only way to save yourself is to find some anti-viral spray, a rare drop off enemies that's worth saving if you stumble upon some. But it's a balancing act. When infected, you'll take considerably less damage, making you much more able to withstand large crowds of enemies. Your squad's medic can actually purposefully infect you, send you to kick some ass, and then heal you once you're done enough damage. It's an interesting mechanic that encourages teamwork, cooperation, and mass zombie killing.
All this killing will net you experience. Level up and you'll earn a token to unlock a new weapon or ability for any one of the six squad mates. Focusing on one member will ensure that you nab the higher tier unlocks faster (like the Typewriter machine gun), but it may leave you at a disadvantage in multiplayer if the squad needs a good medic and all you have is a gun-toting madman.
While the core of Resident Evil has always been about fear, Operation Raccoon City is more about fun. The number of zombies you kill in five minutes would easily best the body count of the first Resident Evil, and having a few friends along for the ride is sure to make things even more entertaining. And, for those hardcore fans looking to get another perspective on the Raccoon City outbreak, this seems to be your best bet.