by Danielle Harrison
previewed on PC
In the beginning there was greatness
If you can show me someone who has never heard of Resident Evil, I can show you a liar. The Resident Evil series is one of the biggest names in horror games if not all games in general, and it has influenced almost all other horror or zombie games in one way or another since its beginning in 1996. Perhaps at around the age of 8 I should have been playing with Barbie dolls or something, but instead I spent my time killing zombies and attempting to save the world from the brutal outbreak Umbrella Corp unleashed upon Raccoon City. Back then Resident Evil was just a game to my young, uneducated mind but now I see what it really is. A milestone in gaming that would never be forgotten.
Let me take you back. It is 1996 and Resident Evil has just been released for Playstation. Although not the first, the game coined the genre horror/survival and it's hardly surprising. Throughout the game there were plenty of scares, whether it be dogs jumping through windows or lickers quickly making their presence known as they scurried across walls. You were made to fear the scares and on top of that you felt the need to ration your equipment, holding back on using a lot of ammo and having to make the decision on whether it was justified to use an ink ribbon to save the game or whether you just had not made enough progress. The game was full of puzzles and even though you were playing a third person shooter, it never felt like that was the main genre.
Resident Evil was well received and propelled the genre into new heights of popularity; a sequel was well anticipated and Capcom responded to the fans' expectations. In 1998 and 1999 Capcom released Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. The gameplay was similar to that of the original and the scares and survival instincts stayed intact. The stories to the games intertwined perfectly and the balance between the shooting and the puzzles was foolproof. I never found myself getting bored with any of the first three games.
Fall from grace
However, big changes to the franchise were made between Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil Code: Veronica were the only games I bothered with among the list of pointless titles released in the six year gap. When Resident Evil 4 was finally released, I was utterly disappointed. The game had been changed totally, and it was from that point on that Resident Evil became less of horror/survival and more action/shooter. The focus was more on getting awesome headshots and racking up points than the original frights and survival of Resident Evil.
One chance for redemption
Another six years and four more Resident Evil titles later Capcom are working with Slant Six Games to bring us Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and at first glance it looked quite promising. The events of Operation Raccoon City run parallel to that of the events in Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Raccoon City has been engulfed in the outbreak of the t-virus, a biological weapon being illegally produced by Umbrella Corp. Inhabitants of the city have been defiled by the virus and turned into flesh hungry creatures lurking around the streets looking for their next meal. In an obscure twist you will not be playing a hero police officer or kick-ass female lead: for the first time in Resident Evil history you will play as the bad guy, opposing the likes of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Umbrella Security Service (USS) have been called in to clean up the area and destroy any evidence of Umbrella's involvement in the outbreak including survivors.
Get to know the team
The player will assume the role of one of the six playable USS officers. As per usual in a multi-character game, each individual character has their own unique abilities and they all go by code names which are Vector, Spectre, Beltway, Foureyes, Lupo and Bertha. Vector is an expert in recon and comes with a mysterious cloaking ability whilst Spectre is the Surveillance class as well as the sharpshooter within the team. Beltway is the boom guy, specializing in explosives and Foureyes is the team scientist who can program the bio-organic weapons (BOWs) and deploy them against other creatures. Bertha is the medic of the group and finally Lupo is the assault class of the team and the team leader.
As well as the single-player mode, Operation Raccoon City will feature a four-player co-op mode where the USS go head to head against the US Special Operations task-force. I'm a huge fan of co-op play but sometimes I can't help but think there's not enough effort put into the single player mode. With all the other huge titles that feature co-op I honestly don't think this game needed the feature but only time will tell and even still, I will probably enjoy the co-op play.