- Reviewer: "Resident Evil: Raccoon City" not a worthy chapter in franchise
- This time, players fight for bad guys, Umbrella Corporation, against the U.S. military
- The shooter ends up feeling like a poorly lit "Call of Duty," Larry Frum says
- Frum: The game's ending also flies in the face of the franchise's story line
Over the course of more than 15 years, "Resident Evil" has established a rich history as one of the video game world's most storied franchises.
Sadly, "Resident Evil: Raccoon City" fails to add to that rich history, serving up ordinary squad-based game play and limited threats from the franchise's iconic zombies.
The latest venture into the zombie-filled world by Capcom is supposed to take place in time between between two other games in the series, "Resident Evil 2" and "Resident Evil: Nemesis."
This time, you play as a member of the Wolfpack squad for the always dubious Umbrella Corporation. You're tasked with retrieving a virus that turns people into the undead creatures before the U.S. military can get it.
Raccoon City is the location where the zombie phenomena first occurred and has been the setting in many of the "Resident Evil" games.
Working for the bad guys in this title was supposed to be a refreshing change from others in the series. And it might have worked, if the squad-based third-person shooter game didn't feel more like a poorly lit "Call of Duty" than what we've come to expect from the "Resident Evil" franchise.
Each member of your squad specializes in a different field (stealth, explosives, recon, etc.), and you play as one of four soldiers fighting their way through Raccoon City.
Either your friends can fill in the roles of the other three squad members or the game will control the others. You get to choose your special abilities and weapons at the beginning of each mission, but these are all locked down once the game starts.
The weapons are similar to those you'd find in a first-person shooter, and your character can carry one sidearm and one long-barreled weapon. Ammo and other weapons are sprinkled throughout the battleground and very rarely will you find yourself without bullets.
There are a couple of high-powered, single-use weapons (grenade launchers, flamethrower) that can't be replenished with additional ammo. If you use one of these, make sure you can pick up another weapon as soon as you run out of fuel or grenades.
One of the most frustrating aspects of combat is what I call "magnetic cover."
If you're trying to use cover from your enemies while you're moving, you end up essentially plastered to a wall if you get even close to it. Forget about moving stealthily from one covered spot to another. If you want to progress, you have to stand up, exposing yourself to enemy fire, then move to the next safe spot.
The artificial intelligence that runs the game is fair, but its decisions are sometimes hard to understand. Your squadmates will rush into a room with guns blazing at times when the team could have easily sneaked past. At other times, they will arbitrarily fling themselves to the ground for no apparent reason.
At least they are good in a fight and and very effective at taking the heat off your character. Be sure to have a medic in your squad to help heal injured party members.
Most of the opponents are not zombies. You'll spend a lot of time battling the U.S. military in firefights, not that the soldiers you face seem much smarter than the undead.
Character models for the soldiers and the zombies are reused often. You'll see the same zombie police officer, zombie large guy and zombie girl in short-shorts over and over again.
You will kill a lot of living and nonliving enemies in this game. The experience points you gain can be used at the beginning of each mission to upgrade weapons or personal abilities. But, even if you don't use any upgrades at all, you will still be able to succeed.
The passive abilities that help you find items and enemies on your mini-map are probably the most useful. None of the weapon upgrades felt like they were necessary.
"Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City" ultimately comes off as a mundane, average shooter that abandons its heritage in the zombie/horror genre.
There aren't enough zombies and too many living-breathing enemies to truly feel like a worthy outing for this franchise.
The ending flies in the face of "Resident Evil's" history and leaves more questions unanswered. It feels half-done with no real finale.
Obviously, the ending leaves the door open for another shooter in this series. Unfortunately, it doesn't really deserve one.
"Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City" is currently available in North America, Australia and Europe. It will be available in Japan on April 26. It is available for Windows PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is rated 'M for Mature' due to blood and gore, intense violence, and strong language. This review was done playing the Xbox 360 version.