The Resident Evil games have often been held up as the gold standard of survival horror games, with a series that has evolved over the years to try and reach new audiences and meet new gaming expectations. Sometimes this works well and the game is universally loved, such as the remake of Resident Evil 2, but other times the game ends up a bit of a mess that the majority of fans dislike ((we’re looking at you, Resident Evil 6). But one game that I’ve seen consistently getting mixed reception, either being loved or hated, is 2012’s Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City.
As the title suggests, the game is set during the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3, in the fictional town of Raccoon City, as a deadly zombie virus runs rampant. The game puts you in control of one of the members of Delta Team from the Umbrella Security Services, a team of specially trained soldiers who are sent to the secret lab beneath Raccoon City to assist Alpha Team in stopping scientist William Birkin from selling his research to the US military. Teaming up with Hunk, a USS character from Resident Evil 2, the team is able to stop the sale from going through; however, Birkin is able to infect himself with the G-Virus, mutating into a rampaging monster that causes the full-scale outbreak across the city.
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From here Delta Team are tasked with moving through the city and removing evidence of Umbrella’s involvement in the disaster. This will see the team visiting locations that fans of the series will recognise, including the Raccoon City Police Department, the cemetery, and Raccoon City Hospital. Along the way Delta Team will have to fight through hordes of zombies, bio-weapons, and tyrants before their mission comes to an end, and a few familiar faces will make appearances along the way too.
Developed by Slant Six Games, the studio behind the SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs game series, in partnership with Capcom, the game began life after the popularity of the cooperative game Resident Evil Outbreak, which saw four players taking on the roles of survivors during the disaster in Raccoon City. With following instalments in the series taking a more action-oriented approach, and the popularity of the two player co-op in Resident Evil 5, Capcom chose to develop a team based cooperative shooter.
Slant Six Games spent two years developing the game, using their experience on the SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs games to create the four player squad-based game. They also filled the game with a number of locations and enemies from previous entries in the series. Long time fans were pleased to be able to find that Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City allowed them to return to some locations in interesting new ways, such as the Raccoon City Hospital that appeared briefly in Resident Evil 3.
The game also involved a lot of street sequences, where players would find themselves in the middle of huge pitched battles between military forces and hordes of monsters. Players had the option to use the skills and equipment of the USS team to their advantage in these large battles, taking momentary control of some creatures such as Hunters, sending them towards enemy squads in order to take them out.
The game featured a large variety of creatures too, one of the bigger rosters of monsters in a Resident Evil game. There were the regular zombies and infected dogs that have become a staple of the series, but also some of the more iconic creatures, like Hunters and Lickers, and even Crimson Heads (specially mutated zombies that appeared in the Resident Evil Remake). Most excitingly, the game featured some big boss monsters, and there would be times where you would find yourself having to fight against Nemesis, or being pursued by multiple Tyrants at the same time.
Despite all of these good things, the game was far from perfect. The level design relied on nostalgia a lot of the time, taking you to locations that you were already familiar with, and having them as the reward for traversing ruined streets or underground tunnels for long periods of time. Whilst the combat was fun, and made a big change from the regular Resident Evil formula, it wasn’t completely polished, and there would be times where you’d find yourself glitching into cover, missing your enemy wildly, or having issues with the AI-controlled squad members if you were playing offline.
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Despite these issues, the game did receive some positive reviews upon release, and sold more than two million copies within the first two months of release, and is still within Capcom’s top twenty selling titles. Some people didn’t like this weird ‘What if?’ game, where you were able to mess with the Resident Evil story and play as the villains, but I had a ton of fun with this title when it came out, and still think that this is one of the better spin-off titles in the Resident Evil catalogue, and is still a lot of fun to play.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was released in the UK on 23rd March 2012.