HAVING FINALLY gotten our hands on Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, we’re pleased to confirm that letting you play as the bad guys isn’t the only change Capcom’s made in its new zombie laden shooter.
Sidelining the bicep-heavy he-man that is Chris Redfield from his exploits in Resident Evil 5, Operation Raccoon City is set between the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. A step away from the original games, Operation Raccoon City tells the story of six of the company's Umbrella Security Service (USS) para-military force. Sent in to “clean-up” the city, destroying all links tying Umbrella to the incident, the game’s campaign takes a mission based format, each with its own set of objectives and goals.
At the start of every mission you’re offered a choice of six agents, each with their own name, back story and special abilities. In this context, Vector takes the role of the teams recon expert, Beltway its demolitions, Bertha its medic, Spectre its surveillance, Four Eyes its science expert and finally Lupo its Assault team leader. As well as your choice of character you’re also able to pick which weapons you’ll be taking into the fray - though it’s important to note that unlike other Resident Evil games which let you store whatever you could in your inventory, Operation Raccoon City limits you to taking one primary and one secondary weapon.
Once in the action the game’s story does little but set the context, explaining why you’re in each area. The mission objectives don’t tend to change that much, mainly asking you to get from A to B or collect a number of items before leaving the area. Being blunt, the story and mission dynamics are only really important in the sense that they act as a setting up point for the game’s primary strength - its combat.
Operation Raccoon City houses a re-worked combat system designed to stream-line and tailor the experience towards a more action heavy, team-based mechanic. Three of the biggest additions are the game’s new cover system, actually effective melee attacks - including nicely gory finisher moves - and the ability to walk and shoot. One of Operation Raccoon City’s biggest accomplishments is how it encourages and rewards team work. In each level the sheer number of zombies and invading special ops soldiers force you to consistently use cover and rely on the support of your comrades in arms.
This is particularly exemplified by the slowness of each character’s movement. While you can shoot while moving and duck under cover, your character is far from invincible and isn’t all that light on their feet. Running is fine, but Operation Raccoon City doesn’t have a roll or dodge button. While this sounds minor, it actually makes for some fairly intense stand offs. Because you can’t simply roll away from a zombie after it’s gotten close to you, every encounter with a horde rapidly becomes a stand off, with you having to blow them all away before the reach you, or literally turn tail and run - thus leaving you open to attack.
This excellent power balance is nicely complemented by an intuitive control system. Operation Raccoon City’s cover system doesn’t use any buttons, instead simply requiring you to push forward on the joystick when near your intended source of cover. Melee combat is similarly easy, being primarily controlled by the Xbox controller's “B” button. As well as the primary melee attack you can also “finish” an opponent performing a brutal execution with a push of the “Y” or “A” buttons.
Another nice touch is the game’s “bleed” mechanic. Whenever you get hurt or wounded to a certain degree, your character begins to bleed making zombies in the area’s interest in you peak, as they get the scent of your tasty blood.