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Jon Blyth

Aug 05, 2012

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

Telltale signs of a thoughtless port: #12 Menus that don't respond properly to your mouse; #25 D-pad overlay on the UI with no gamepad plugged in. #33 A symbol that implies you should be wiggling your keyboard. #66 Backspace and Escape taking it in turns to do the same job in menus. All of these things are superficial, and none ruin the enjoyment of Raccoon City as a shooter. It finds far more substantial ways to do that.

Operation Raccoon City is an evil four-player co-op shooter. You play as members of the positively rude Umbrella Security Service. This is all good. Resident Evil has longfetishised its villains as much as its heroes, and recognises that people want to play Wesker, HUNK, and the ambiguous Ada Wong. So Operation Raccoon City is a good fit.

Resident Evil Operation Racoon City review
No blood spatters, no damage animations – they attack, and they die.

Unfortunately, your opponents are the all-new Delta Team, and they're generic nobodies playing second fiddle to a cast of unsatisfying cameos. Classes offer some unique powers, but teamwork is no more sophisticated than stick together, don't hog the ammo, and if you're going to use a first aid spray, do it together so everyone gets some.

The story is functional, and certainly not good or important enough to be forced on you. It's no coincidence that Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service shares an abbreviation with Unskippable Bloody Cut-Scenes. On top of that, the sound design is positively deflating. You can't take a gun seriously when it sounds like someone making popcorn, and only the zombies and spec-ops enemies seem to have 'being hit' animations. Shooting larger enemies is profoundly unsatisfying.

It's not meant for solo play. If you thought RE5's Sheva was an amusing liability, you'll love watching your evil AI teammates deliver melee attacks to enemies who explode on contact, blithely trip mines and utterly fail to revive you. Fill up the slots with real people, and you've got a fast and flimsy shooter that's just pacey enough to blind you to its faults.

Resident Evil Operation Racoon City review
In my day we had to go to work on fire, and we paid for the privilege.

Moments of thoughtfulness and love appear like unconnected holes in a cheese. There are a couple of interesting competitive modes, starring familiar characters from the series. Survivor involves beating back zombie waves before deciding who gets to take the limited rescue seats, and Biohazard involves bringing G-Virus drops back to your base.

But the good stuff is all swaddled in that weak gunplay, an annoying automatic snap-to cover system, and moments like the Birkin-G battle – a fight so poorly communicated and unfair that you'll wish computer mice still had balls, so that you could rip out your mouse ball and chew it while slobbering all over yourself. It'd be worth going back to picking matted filth off your mouse's rollers just to be able to make that frustrated gesture. What goodwill Raccoon City inherits and generates, it quickly pisses away.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

A Weskered development gives us the Wong game. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is evil in the wrong sense.

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