Recently Completed:Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, the Steam “Complete” edition that includes all DLC.
Time Spent:Just under 20 hours so far though I’ve done none of the multiplayer yet and still have skills and weapons to unlock so I’ll probably be playing it for a while yet. This solely covers the original U.S.S. and the DLC Echo Six single player campaigns. The 20 hours does include replaying a few of the missions and dicking around with different loadouts and characters.
The Story: You are back in Raccoon city with a chance to play as the bad guys! Ever wonder what it would be like to be on Umbrella’s side? Ever want to shoot that pretty boy Leon Kennedy right in the middle of his stupid haircut/face? Here’s your chance.
The Disclaimer: Before I get into the review I want to give a little bit of my own background with the RE: Series. Way back in the predawn mists of time I didn’t yet have a Playstation. I did have a Sega Saturn though (yes they really existed) and someone gave me a copy of the first Resident Evil Saturn port for either my birthday or Christmas when it first came out. This was back when the original PS One version of RE had green blood or some nonsense and the Saturn version was considered awesome because it had red blood. Long story short I played the shit out of that game. (And played it even more when the dual shock director’s cut eventually came out on the PS One.) and by the time RE two came out I had a PS One and a brand new shiny copy of Resident Evil 2. I loved RE:2, in many way I still consider it to be the best in the series and I literally lost count of how many times I played it. That first foray into Raccoon city is burned indelibly in my mind. RE: 3 had me back in Raccoon City again facing Jill’s Nemesis and I also played that game into the ground (culminating in an epic session where I beat the entire game in less than two hours without saving and a friend who sat there watching me do it was like, “did that just happen?” Yes it did and it was awesome.) I of course went on to play Code Veronica when it came out on the PS2 but the next games in the series that REALLY sank their hooks into me were again set in Raccoon City, the Outbreak Files. I played those games (especially the first one) obsessively, collecting as much of the minutia as I could and grinding XP to unlock all the characters and character alternates. The online multiplayer was a BLAST and I really wish Capcom would re-release the Outbreak games for Xbox live or something so they could be experienced again the way they were meant to. The point I’m getting at is I’ve been a LONG time Resident Evil fan and as far as fictional locations go, I can’t think of one I’ve spent more time in than Raccoon City. So I was pretty excited when I heard about RE:ORC. But then I kept hearing pretty negative reviews and held off buying it until it was recently on sale. I can say right off it was well worth the almost fourteen bucks I spent. But did it really deserve the harsh reviews it’s received? Let’s take a look.
+ The graphics are serviceable. Aspects that could have used improvement are character animations for enemy soldiers (they almost always look stiff and unnatural) and the zombies could have used some more model variety and more varied animations. Some areas appear too shiny, which I wasn’t sure if that was a side effect of the graphics engine or if they were stylistically trying to make it look like it had just finished raining. Some light sources cause excessive lens flare which normally is a nitpick but in one area it actually impacted your ability to engage the enemy. But overall it ran smooth, I didn’t see any real graphical glitches and the main characters were animated well.
+ I never have gotten the hang of playing third person shooters with a mouse/keyboard so once again I used my 360 controller. Controls took a little to get used to but they worked. Aim seems sort of “floaty” sometimes but a lot of engagements are fast paced at minimal range so it rarely feels like an issue. I will say I liked the variety of moves available. Which I’ll touch on in the next section.
+ Weapon variety is good. It’s probably become fairly apparent from my reviews but I like games that give me a broad choice of weapons. This game quite literally has it all. Assault rifles, the classic tommy gun, sniper rifles, SMGs, pistols, suppressed variants of almost all the above, shotguns and LMGs. You can also get your hands on rocket launchers and grenade launchers throughout various missions. The flow of combat once you get used to the controls is smooth. RE:OCR uses a cover system very much like the one in the new Tomb Raider where there is no “locking on”, you just move to cover or away from it. Aim/fire is pretty standard, the innovations I liked were the “quick draw” and the close quarters combat or “CQC” mechanics. Normally to switch from your primary to your second weapon or back you tap the weapon swap button. “Quick draw” allows you to hold the weapon swap button and you instantly draw your sidearm. Where this differs from normal sidearm use is instead of aiming and pulling the trigger you merely point towards the enemy (in an almost 360 arc around you) and you auto fire at available targets. It’s hard to describe but it 1, looks cool and 2, can be a fast way to clear a path. This maneuver is especially handy when you run your primary weapon dry because it is substantially faster than reloading. I liked the CQC because it offers more variety than simply “mash b to stab with your knife.” In addition to mashing b you can perform “brutal kills” where you grapple with an enemy then finish them off or grab enemies (including zombies) and use them as shields. You can also shoulder ram to get past enemies blocking your path or dive for cover.
+ Gadgets and skills are somewhat related so I’ll cover them both together. There are three basic gadget types. First aid sprays, anti virus sprays and grenades (stun, incendiary, fragmentation and flares.) What class you choose effects how many of each you can carry. For instance I usually use the recon class which can only carry 1 first aid spray (which heals most damage and can also heal nearby partners) and 1 anti virus spray (which cures infection and has a similar area effect.) Medics can buff their skills to boost their aid spray capacity and even start with a spray by default. The six classes are Recon (can turn invisible and mimic enemies among other things) Surveillance (have perks for finding items and enemies) Medic (pretty self explanatory) Field Scientist (carries more anti-virus sprays and has abilities to control zombies and such) Assault class specializes in combat skills boosting accuracy and damage and there is a Demolitions class that can defuse bombs faster, disarm the laser trip mines you’ll encounter and I believe they can carry more grenades though I’m not sure, haven’t used them yet. In single player you don’t really get the benefit of having multiple classes since the AI is dumb as a post but I can see how good teamwork can greatly improve the chances of survival.
+ Level design is adequate. Nothing really fancy, if you’ve spent a lot of time in Raccoon City before you’ll recognize some of the areas which is cool but if you haven’t it’s just a lot of urban hell and some high tech labs infested with bad things.
+ Cameos by “big name” characters. While I was disappointed none of the characters from the Outbreak games made any kind of appearance you do encounter Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, Carlos Olivera, Claire Refield, Sherry Birkin and her dear old dad, and some of the lesser well known but still appreciated characters like HUNK. Of course the Nemesis rears his ugly stapled head a few times as well. And you’ll get an even greater appreciation for his ridiculous durability.
+ Mission variety. While there aren’t enough missions in my opinion they did at least give you a pretty wide variety of things to do during them. One mission centered on reprogramming the Nemesis tyrant, another is about knocking out the power to Raccoon City. I enjoyed almost all the missions though I was a little disappointed that a lot of the Spec Ops DLC missions retread most of the same areas as the original game missions. Though I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised but at least the objectives were different and how/when you traversed areas was also different.
- Both campaigns are short. Only seven levels a piece and each level is between thirty to forty-five minutes, I did go over an hour a couple times when I was really scouring for items. I think a lot of this games replay value is supposed to be in the multi player modes I haven’t touched yet.
- Enemy variety was sparse. You have zombies a plenty but even there the zombies are surprisingly non varied, as in a small mob (less then ten zombies) you’re likely to see two or three of each model. Also the zombies move WAY faster than the standard Raccoon City era zombies did back in the day. There is another even faster and tougher “Crimson Head” zombie variant which is basically a palette swapped zombie. Hunters are encountered on occasion, lickers rarely, dogs even more rarely. You fight a surprising amount of humans (either us special forces or umbrella soldiers depending on what side you’re on) and tyrant variants pop up now and again. Oh, and head crabs. Those appear in this game also. You’ll also encounter some tougher palette swapped versions of hunters and soldiers on rare occasion.
- The game is officially considered non-canon. Really the only reason this was done was because while being given the chance to play the bad guys you can execute Leon, Claire and capture Sherry Birkin for Umbrella. Obviously this would significantly alter the Resident Evil Timeline. But calling it non canon kind of bugs me because it ultimately makes you feel like what you’re doing has no real impact in the RE world. Though I will say when choosing not to execute Leon and Claire and vowing to go gut Umbrella from the inside out made me REALLY want to play THAT as a sequel to this game. So put me down for “fingers crossed for bad ass sequel.”
- I think I mentioned earlier that the companion AI is dumb as a brick most of the time. For instance the medic class will hold first aid sprays when I’m on the edge of death and other times is very generous with their healing. I can’t figure out what triggers their behaviors. And occasionally the demo class will just spam grenades even when no enemies are around. That one I thought was kind of cool though, it reminded me of playing on Xbox live with retarded 12 year olds but without the trashtalking and racism.
A bit of discussion on the nature of Resident Evil games: I’ve heard the criticism in regards to ORC that it “isn’t really a Resident Evil game, it’s just a shooter with an RE paint job.” I’m not really sure how that criticism holds water though. For me the hallmarks of a Resident Evil game are as follows: Fixed camera, t (or g) virus zombies, obscure puzzles with cranks and whatnot. Resident Evil 4 broke away from almost all of those and last time I checked most people consider it a Resident Evil game. So maybe the secret is add Leon Kennedy? Well ORC has Leon so it must be a Resident Evil game.
Better Than: This is tough, ORC certainly doesn’t displace any of the classic RE games or 4. I haven’t played 5 or 6 (well I played a demo for five and that was plenty for me.) So I guess it’s better than 5?
Worse Than: Resident Evil Outbreak. Outbreak melded the “classic” Resident Evil with multiplayer in a way that still hasn’t been equaled and even the “offline” Outbreak was better because you had some level of control over your AI companions through the rudimentary order system.
Overall: B: While this game is certainly not perfect it really was nice to be back in Raccoon City again. And the game has intense nail biting moments, like luring the Nemesis between steel smelters while my entire team lay dead and I couldn’t even move because the zombies were packed in that tight around me. And I triumphed bitches, because I’ve been fighting zombies in Raccoon City for that long. Hopefully for even longer if they release a sequel…