Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - a trip down memory lane (a review)
The return to a favorite gaming city
**Warning: this Hub contains spoilers**
March 20, 2012 was an interesting day for Resident Evil fans. A long-awaited new title in the popular survival horror series was released in North America. A project co-developed by Capcom and Slant Six, not much time passed before the critics and fans alike shredded the video game all over the Internet like a hunter on a rampage. Review scores ranged from 3/10 all the way up to 7.5/10, which still is not a desirable score. With the next release for the RE franchise just days away, let’s take a look back at Operation Raccoon City and the positives of the game in light of the negativity it received.
Since the very first Resident Evil release, story has been an integral part of the game. Storylines have been woven very carefully into each title, with every game building upon (or supplementing) the one before it. As fans have watched the story develop over the past 15 years, they have been sucked into a zombie-infested fun fest with all kinds of crazy creatures and even different types of zombies.
The games, however, were not necessarily released in sequential order. Resident Evil Zero was released on November 10, 2002 when it took place before the events of the first entry into the series, simply titled Resident Evil. Operation Raccoon City likewise does not fit into title order; the story spans events in both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. As the players moves through the Raccoon City, they find themselves triggering key events in both RE2 and RE3, ones that they may have never questioned how they occurred in the first place.
There are two sides to the storyline: Umbrella Secret Service (USS) or Spec Ops Field Unit (Spec-Ops). Spec-Ops storyline is only available via downloadable content, so this Hub will focus on the story of the USS’s ventures through Raccoon City.
USS team meeting up with HUNK
William Birkin as G
Operation Raccoon City follows USS members as they meet up with HUNK, a mysterious character that was first introduced in the cinematics of RE2. HUNK also makes appearances in mini-games for The Umbrella Chronicles, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, and RE4. His biggest contribution to the storyline is in RE2, where we see him trying to obtain virus samples from Dr. William Birkin, the genius behind the hunters (which creatures we are privileged enough to battle in this installment). They must also stop the release of the G-virus and the T-virus. HUNK enters to see Dr. Birkin inject himself with the G-virus and mutates into the creature known as G in two different stages. The T-virus is smashed in the chaos, where it goes on to trigger the zombie outbreak in RE2.
This is one of the first scenes players find in Operation Raccoon City, and the player must fight off G until they escape. The game continues down this path of missions in which they cause the events in both RE2 and RE3. Some of the main events include the reanimation of Tyrant and injecting Nemesis with a virus that sets him back on his original mission of killing only S.T.A.R.S. members. There are also two endings from which the player can choose: save Leon S. Kennedy or kill Leon S. Kennedy.
The storyline itself is really intriguing and keeps players intrigued all the way through. Operation Raccoon City gives us a completely different perspective on the stories from RE2 and RE3, allowing players to find out what was going on behind the scenes. That players are able to put into motion the events of these other two games brings about a sense of nostalgia that is not often found in a modern video game. There is nothing like hearing Nemisis saying “S.T.A.R.S.” for the first time and knowing you are responsible for setting the fearsome creature into action to track down Jill Valentine. The heart-wrenching ending of trying to decide whether to kill or save our beloved Leon S. Kennedy is a fantastic new twist on an old familiar tale.
There are 12 characters that players can access, six on the side of the USS and six on the side of Spec Ops.
Lupo (Karena LesProux) – team leader
Vector (real name unknown) – recon
Beltway (Hector Hives) – demolitions
Spectre (Vladimir Bodrovski) – marksman
Bertha (Michaela Schneider) – creepy medic who enjoys her job a little too much
Four Eyes (Christina Yamata) – field scientist
Dee-Ay (Crispin Jettingham) – team leader
Willow (Caroline Floyd) – recon
Tweed (Marissa Ronson) – demolitions
Party Girl (Sienna Fowler) – markswoman
Harley (Erez Morris) – medic
Shona (Lawrence Kimbala) – scientist
Each character is set up with special abilities that can be employed in the game. Vector, for instance, has a cloaking device. Bertha has the ability to carry two first aid sprays, unlike other characters who are limited to one.
Outside of these new characters, players also interact with familiar names: Leon S Kennedy, Clair Redfield, Jill Valentine, Ada Wong, Sherry Birkin, Carlos Oliveira, Nicolai Ginovaef, and of course HUNK.
A familiar face: Leon S. Kennedy
Again, seeing the characters from RE2 and RE3 from a different viewpoint makes the series all the more fun. The new characters in themselves are interesting and take on a life of their own. They have a bad-guy personality that can sometimes upset the player that they are doing things that may potentially harm our favorite good guys. The minds of the new characters are so much fun to dive into. Bertha, for instance, is a medic that reminds one of a crazy doctor who enjoys hurting her patients. Leave it to the RE world to give us even more colorful villains than we already had.
Gameplay is smooth throughout the game, with weapons, health and anti-virus readily accessible. While it is easy to find and use items, the difficulty with gameplay comes in the number of items one is allowed to carry. For example, unless one plays as a medic, they are only allowed to carry one first aid at a time. They are also only allowed to carry one anti-virus at a time unless playing as a field scientist. This makes the overall gameplay a little more difficult throughout the game.
The gaming style itself is a shooter-action game, omitting any of the puzzles that one can find in other RE titles. It retains a survival horror feel in that one is constantly being attacked by zombies and other creatures, but it is primarily a shooter game. Playing through the campaign as a USS team member, the player finds themselves not just battling zombies but also battling Spec-Ops members. Having to battle it out with the living as well as the dead adds additional challenges to the gameplay.
A room filled with lickers is no place to be
The difficulty of the game (even on the easy level) is the most frustrating part of Operation Raccoon City. In one level, the player is overwhelmed by an extraordinary amount of lickers in a room, fighting them off one by one as they run around fire in order to get a keycard to take them into the next room and away from the madness. In another scene, players are met with not just one but two Tyrants. In a showdown with Leon S. Kennedy, the player is not only shot at by Leon, but met with droves of zombies attacking in rapid succession and not letting up for even a second. While a certain degree of difficulty is warranted, there are times in the game when it is almost too much. Despite the difficulty level, the idea that if you bleed you attract zombies adds a new level of fun to the series.
Overall, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is not a game to overlook simply because of bad reviews. Despite being a completely different type of gameplay than fans are used to, the game in itself lends a lot to the series and allows players to see things from a different side of the RE world. Any hardcore fan of the series would be remiss if they don't take the time to play this one.