There is no denying that the multiplayer space has been chock full of cooperative multiplayer in recent years. Between Gears of War, Halo, Borderlands and now Mass Effect, teaming up with friends to save the world is, if not taking over, giving the traditional lone-wolf style of gameplay a run for its money. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is no different. It’s designed from step one to be played in a group. What Slant Six forgot was that step one needs to be fun. Aping what has worked for others is no guarantee of success, and ORC is not a successful team-based shooter.
There has been shooting in every Resident Evil to date. There are some that are all shooting all the time, like Resident Evil Survivor, Resident Evil: Dead Aim, and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, but by and large RE games are more about atmosphere than they are about shooting. That’s why the mainline series entries can still get away with a slow and clunky control scheme. The protagonist has a gun, but players are there for the atmosphere and the narrative.
Raccoon City weaves through RE2 and 3 without ever telling a compelling story of its own. It relies on showing the player setpieces from previous games to cover up the fact that there is no narrative value to be found of its own. Lack of a gripping narrative would be fine if the gameplay was compelling, but with lackluster gunplay and boring, repetitive enemies, there isn’t a whole lot to draw you back. You’ll only run through the campaign once, and that’s only if you have a full complement to fill all of the spaces that would be taken up by AIs if you were playing alone.
What Slant Six could and should have done was crib more closely from Valve’s Left 4 Dead and give us unique baddies for each faction (human special forces, zombies, and BOWs) instead of just throwing wave after wave of the same tired mook enemies at the player through each hallway, lab, and dilapidated city street. ORC does feature one neat element: it is possible for teammates to become infected, and the remainder of the team has to put them down before the transformation is complete because the danger they pose post-transformation is immense. Where ORC falters is that, as soon as an infected teammate is downed, they can be immediately revived with no sign of infection to fight alongside you once more. It serves gameplay because you have the chance to keep yourself from losing a teammate, but it robs the event of any significance along the way.
Operation Raccoon City also features traditional multiplayer. It fares about as well as you’d expect, with one key exception. ORC cribs its deathmatch from Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Conviction, and it is better for it. In addition to earning points for killing the opposing team, there are zombie enemies scattered about the map that are hostile to both sides. While the opposing side is worth more points, it is completely possible to win by clearing out zombies or using them to your advantage by getting an enemy on the run, herding him into the clutches of the zombies, and the finishing him off while he’s distractedly trying to defend himself from the zombie horde.
There just is not enough here to make ORC a compelling buy for either fans of Resident Evil or cooperative shooter gameplay. Regardless of which itch you want scratched, there are titles out there that fit the bill better.
Pros: Cooperative shooter gameplay, interesting deathmatch mode
Cons: Poor level design, not much variety or story