A game that could have been great in theory suffers from poor execution.
Operation Raccoon city takes place between the events of classic Resident Evil titles 2 and 3 where Umbrella dun goofed and unleashed a terrible virus on the city’s inhabitants. And we’re not talking about a fever and sniffles type virus, but one that’s turning them into flesh-eating zombies. You play as one of the six available characters of the USS (Umbrella Security Service) and your objective is to collect virus samples from around the city and destroy every scrap of evidence of Umbrella’s part in the disaster. The six different characters each have their own class: recon, sniper, explosives expert, a scientist with the ability to program and operate the BOWs, a stealth agent who can cloak himself and a medic.
One of ORC’s main focuses while marketing the game was the ability for players to rewrite the story based on a handful of “moral choices”, a primary example being the ability to kill off a main protagonist of the entire series. Although an interesting twist, these choices never felt very meaningful considering they’re part of such an early era of the series and won’t have any real meaning in future titles.
The story doesn’t offer much in the way of… anything. That’s a downer because I was hoping to really see what it’s like behind the scenes of the Umbrella Corporation or even more insight to what they do and why through the eyes of the “bad guys”. Resident Evil has always been known for interesting, although “out there”, storylines and characters we can grow to love and ORC doesn’t add anything to either category.
First and foremost- the AI in ORC is painfully bad. Team AI and enemy AI are both laughable. Think Sheva from Resident Evil 5, but even worse.
While it’s truly meant to play with friends/allies, I was still blown away by how useless my AI teammates were. They sauntered about into walls and objects while I was already making my way across the map, and most notably always found every possible way to die. When being attacked by a horde of the undead, my team would fall in line like dominoes to get themselves killed. They were useless in every way, shape and form. I was pretty disappointed that there was no way to control your team’s actions such as where to go for cover, what to attack, to rally etc. The enemy AI, as I said, is just as bad. Human foes were the worst offenders in this case; they would run at me from cover only to turn back around and run away. They were much like chickens with their heads cut off. They spent most of their time in “cover” with their heads and shoulders in plain site. I suppose this would be a terrible call if headshots actually did what they were meant to- which they don’t. Not once did a headshot bring a simple human target down.
This brings me to ORC’s aiming. I know the term “blindfire” is saying something, but the system was basically broken. It was nearly impossible to hit anything unless I ran directly into a firefight. Being pelted with bullets brings on a quick death and that’s way more than I can say for the enemies. At times I could unload an entire clip and then some into an enemy before they/it dropped, and other times just a few bullets put them down.
One of the most irritating things ORC brought to the table (yes there’s more) was the auto-cover system. Instead of placing yourself into cover your character hid/stuck to every object you went near. I suppose they were looking for a way to make gameplay easier, although in the end they just made it that much more a pain in my rear.
Even an average shooter is made so much better with friends, and this makes the rather so-so campaign a little easier to swallow. Much like Dead Island, this is a game I would never recommend to play alone.
The player-versus-player modes with all the delicious monsters in the middle showed me tiny glimpses into why this game could have been great. Teams of four go head-to-head in an environment crawling with the undead and the bigger and meaner B.O.Ws. Having a showdown with an enemy player while also facing the infected makes for a tense and fun experience.
As Eurogamer said, ORC is still deathmatch-by-numbers, but this little bit of gambling occasionally brings the game to life. An opponent delivering the final shot gets clocked by a hunter before they can squeeze the trigger. A sniper clips an enemy and makes them bleed, sending a small horde of zombies rushing towards the enemy team’s position just as you start tossing the grenades. These are great moments, and Operation Raccoon City should have had many more of them. Instead you get a pointless leveling system that simply unlocks items not really worth the time and effort, as well as insanely long result screens after each match.
ORC isn’t an ugly game, but it’s nothing to write home about either. ORC lacks atmosphere big time. The set pieces are bland and repeated often, and everything down to the music fails to capture the RE universe or create any amount of tension. The only thing I can’t complain much about are the graphics and character models. Having said that, they’re still not what I’d consider impressive in this age of gaming. I’m not sure why, but most models from humans to monster all looked really shiny, as if they were made of plastic.
I was really happy with the classic Resident Evil 2 zombies they had roaming around, such as the cops and the girls in the dark shorts and tank tops. It brought back a crazy amount of nostalgia. The problem with them is just how many of them there were. There were so few different skins for the zombies that seeing ten of the exact same undead person shuffling about wasn’t uncommon. They even recycled the dead folk strewn about the levels. Same model and in the exact same post. It was actually distracting how much of the same thing I was seeing when it came to both set pieces and NPC models.
The idea of setting foot into the Raccoon City incident once more was such an exciting concept, but my hopes for a truly great game were quickly dashed. ORC is a nightmare, a game that delivers the bare minimum in every category and stops right there before getting anyone too impressed. The story is interesting enough if you loved Resident Evil 2 and 3, but the gameplay is so terrible and the presentation is completely underwhelming. Interesting and somewhat fun multiplayer modes helped to redeem the game a tad, but not nearly enough. Although fun to see some of the classic Resident Evil events in new and shiny graphics without having to buy a Wii, it just wasn’t worth the pain.
And to think I got the Special Edition. At least I got the cool patches!
*insert picture of crying over the patches*