by Ryan Cope
previewed on PC
A brain-munching blast from the past
It’s September 1998. There is an odd smell in the air, as well as an eerie feeling flooding through the streets. Rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy breaks the silence by pulling up in his car, only to find a body lying in the road. Is it a drunk or someone injured from a fight? No, it is just your average zombie and he is out for Leon’s brains. Rising slowly (because back then zombies weren’t clever enough to live up to Left 4 Dead standards), the undead citizen tries to take a chunk out of green-as-grass Leon. Before he can blink, Mr Kennedy finds himself surrounded by hoards of zombified citizens looking for a quick cop snack.
This was the opening scene from Resident Evil 2 and is one that will be seen again, as Capcom bring the series back to the fabled outbreak in Raccoon City. The T-virus has been released and the residents have suddenly got the munchies for brains. The evil pharmaceutical company, Umbrella, have been up to some naughty things and all fingers point at them. While survivors fight for their lives trying to escape the terror that has engulfed the city, Umbrella are trying to cover up their tracks. Left with little choice in the face of the zombie outbreak, the sinister company send out a team of the deadliest mercenaries in the world to clean up the mess.
Sometimes it’s good to be bad
Operation Raccoon City no longer puts players in the boots of rag-tag good guy survivors but rather highly trained gun wielding bad guys. After years of Capcom teaching fans to hate Umbrella’s guts, the tables have been turned, with them now asking us to embrace the evil company. Set during the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, players will take control of members of Umbrella Security Service (USS) as they swarm the streets of Raccoon City covering their tracks. The gameplay isn’t like it was in its predecessors, as these mercenaries can fully run and gun in a third person shooter style – no more stop, shoot, move and repeat. That’s right; Capcom is taking the series in a new direction that’s fast paced, exciting and nostalgic.
The USS has one mission – to destroy all evidence of Umbrella’s involvement and erase everyone left (undead or alive). The average leg-dragging zombies will be gun fodder; where the real danger comes from is all the classic nasty things from the Resident Evil series, including Lickers, Hunters and B.O.W. (Bio-Organic Weapon) A.K.A Tyrants. But, to shake the apocalyptic gameplay up even more, the U.S. government have sent out their own Special Operations forces to expose Umbrella for what it really is, which means the USS will be right in their crosshairs. With zombies, monsters and military forces biting, swiping and gunning for Umbrella, players will have a challenge ahead of them.
As already stated, Operation Raccoon City takes the Resident Evil series away from the survival/horror genre and into the third person shooter zone. While it can be played alone, the game has a co-op friendly design, where up to four players can team up and take on the swarms of waddling dead. Doesn’t this sound like another zombie infested game? Well, while Operation Raccoon City is a fast paced action shooter, it differs from previous zombie survival shooters. At the beginning of each game, players can choose a four person team from a list of six different USS mercenaries. Each “class” has different abilities and traits that affect what options are available to players. Choosing a good combination in a team will give players the edge in a level; where as bad decisions might lead to problems; For example the lack of a medic on board will mean the team won’t have any healing support.
The six person strong team is made up of Lupo, Four-Eyes, Spectre, Vector, Beltway and Bertha (all hopefully codenames and not six kids who had parents with twisted senses of humour). Lupo is the team leader/assault class, Four-Eyes is a scientist with the ability to take control of B.O.Ws and turn them against others, Spectre is a sharpshooter/surveillance expert, Vector is the recon expert (with stealth cloaking included), Beltway is the explosives expert and Bertha is the much needed medic.
Third person zombieplay
Operation Raccoon City offers the usual third person shooter gameplay with running, shooting and a cover-system all present. While hiding behind a car doesn’t really help against swarms of the undead, it will be very useful when taking fire from enemy spec-ops soldiers. Each class has access to its own assortment of weapons: Lupo will use assault rifles, while Spectre wields a sniper rifle. All classes will be able to use melee attacks, so when those brain hungry dead men and women come sniffing too close, players can gut them. Special melee kills allow the different characters cool ways to kill enemies and, with the inclusion of disarming spec ops soldiers, there are a variety of ways to fight.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City takes the series back to basics as well as driving it forward in a new direction. Returning to the biggest event in the Resident Evil series is exciting enough for fans, but Capcom is adding another element in the form of “what if” scenarios where players will have the choice to change Resident Evil lore. Should you kill Leon S Kennedy or let him go about his way? This is just one example of the many possible choices players will come across. Overall, Operation Raccoon City looks like a fresh start, and an interesting move on Capcom’s behalf. Hopefully it will do a good job of making another exciting game in the Resident Evil universe. And, if that doesn’t get you excited, the fact that players can turn into zombies if they get bitten should really get the juices flowing!