The lights are on
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City lets players explore key moments from the second and third installments of the series, with a significant pair of twists. Not only does Raccoon City transform the series’ methodical, scare-based gameplay into something more familiar to fans of traditional third-person shooters, but players will be stepping into the role of Umbrella Corporation operatives. As members of the Umbrella Security Service, your job is not to stop the zombie outbreak in the sleepy Colorado town, but to eliminate survivors—civilian, military, and anyone else—to ensure that the story itself is contained.The game is being developed with help from Slant Six, developers of several SOCOM games. They’re not exactly strangers to squad-based shooters, which makes them a particularly good fit for the project, according to Capcom. “We’re trying to combine that Capcom DNA and all the cornerstones of the Resident Evil universe with Slant Six’s knowhow and experience with online gameplay and their co-op, network-based engine that they have, and create something brand new—which is Operation Raccoon City,” says producer Masachika Kawata.Players will have their pick of one of four classes, each with special abilities and their own distinct personalities. Vector is the stealth recon class, with the ability to cloak himself or mimic enemies and allies. Bertha is a medic, and she can use an adrenaline shot to increase her survivability and combat effectiveness. Beltway’s mines can either stun or kill his opponents, making him the demolitions class. Finally, Spectre is the team’s surveillance expert, able to scan the city for threats using his infrared goggles. Capcom is only showing a few of the game’s perk-like player abilities, but the ones they selected were decent representations of what each class offers.Operation Raccoon City is interesting in how it positions players against a variety of threats. In the campaign mission we saw, the team of four had to work together to eliminate surviving police officers. Of course, there were loads of zombie milling around the streets and alleyways as well. When players are hurt badly enough, their wounds will hemorrhage, which is signified by a familiar bloody screen effect. That temporarily enrages nearby zombies, who accelerate toward the wounded player, swarming around them. That creates opportunities in co-op, where players can use that wounded teammate as a decoy, or in competitive play, where players can rush up and finish off opponents who might be distracted by the immediate undead threat.Big ticket enemies periodically make their way onto stages as well. We saw a few hunters and a glimpse of the notorious nemesis. These tougher enemies are different from run-of-the-mill zombies, in that they’re more interested in focusing their attention on players who are doing particularly well. As expected, they can take a considerable pounding before dying.
I got a chance to play a few rounds of competitive multiplayer in four on four matches. In these, the other team plays as generic military spec ops forces, with the same classes and abilities as their USS counterparts.The three-way battles worked surprisingly well, and I felt as though I was always contributing to our team’s success, whether I was focusing on our human opponents or blasting away at the hapless undead. As it turns out, that’s by design.“It’s a point-based game, where you get points for killing opposing players, but you also get points for killing zombies,” explains director Yasuhiro Seto. “So say there’s someone who isn’t necessarily really good at the multiplayer. They can just go around and try to kill as many zombies and hunters and monsters as possible, and they can actually be a valuable team member and get points for the team that way.”The environment I played in had Resident Evil 3’s Stagla gas station as a focal point, with various alleys to explore and roofs to perch upon. As you might expect, the pumps could be fired at, which results in a zombie (or human opponent)-charring blast. I bounced between each of the classes, but found myself having the most fun with Spectre. His goggles are handy because only humans give off tell-tale heat signatures, which effectively invalidates Vector’s cloaking device. I also had fun placing Beltway’s mines in some of the obvious chokepoints and then waiting until just the right time to detonate them. Don’t think that you’ll be able to camp out too long, however—zombies are constantly roaming the level, and players who stay too long in one place risk having their faces bit off.Overall, Raccoon City is looking pretty good. I’d like to see how the story is handled, and if players will be able to change events from the game’s lore or if it toes the canonical line. I’m a bit concerned about the game’s gunplay, too. There’s still plenty of time for balancing and tweaking, which is something the game is in dire need of. In their current state, weapons feel far too floaty and ineffective against even the lowliest zombie. It might contribute to the game’s tense atmosphere, but the firearms feel more like squirt guns than something that an advanced paramilitary force should be packing. If Slant Six and Capcom can iron out those kinks, they might just be onto something special.
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Looking good. I wonder how it will compare to RE5. That game was awesome.