What happens when the tables are turned, you’re not longer saving the day, but instead fighting the lovable characters you’ve played as for the past decade? Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City happens. I need to get a few things off my chest so we’re on the same page here. Are you ready? This isn’t a traditional Resident Evil game, nor was it intended to be. Assuming you know that and, for whatever reason, you’re still expecting it to be, exit the page and be on your way.

This game is also developed by, wait for it…. Slant Six. You know, the ones who made that god awful game on PS3 by the name of SOCOM: Confrontation?  That game was unplayable at launch, riddled to hell with bugs and so on. Just seeing their name and logo still makes me cringe. Should you have doubt? Of course. As much as I’m wary of this company, I have to give credit where credit is due. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a surprisingly a good game, but is it the right one for you?

The story takes place between the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3. You play as one of six members of the U.S.S. Delta team (aka “Wolfpack”). In short, your mission is to retrieve the G-Virus. Shit goes wrong, the T-Virus has been leaked in the city and your job is to erase Umbrella’s existence in the role. This is the part where I sink the heart of all Resident Evil fans wanting this game solely for the purpose of single player. You’re not missing anything. The story is dull, the new characters aren’t memorable, and overall it’s not very interesting what so ever. The only memorable parts is seeing classic characters, like Carlos and Nemesis, return.

That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to play. The action is entertaining, and the boss battles can be epic depending on your love for the franchise, but that’s about it. The major problem with the single player is that it’s very short lived. I managed to complete the game on Normal, by myself, in less than 5 hours, while at the same time looking for collectables, since they grant you XP. You can also replay each individual level, which is a plus. Another issue is the AI. The enemy AI is pretty good; no real complaints there. However, your teammates are downright atrocious. Vector, the master of stealth is by far the worse. This idiot constantly finds corners to run in place. He runs through fire and trip mines, but is also by far one of the most useless characters in the game.

Don’t expect your teammates to heal you when you need it, cover your back or do anything remotely close to what a teammate should be doing. They’re so stupid that I actually forgot they existed. The only real use for them is a distraction so all the enemies don’t pile on you. Thankfully, the game offers four player drop-in / drop-out co-op with matchmaking. This, alone, makes the campaign portion of the game 100% more enjoyable. Working as a real team and using each character’s abilities to full potential offers a satisfying cooperative experience.

Finding which character suits you best is the most important part of the game. Each offers upgradeable passive and active abilities. The active skills range from body armor and reload upgrades, to item detection or running quicker depending on your class. The passive abilities differentiate things, though. Lupo, for example, is the assault class. Her three abilities consist of; Incendiary Rounds, Guns A’ Blazin’ and Super Soldier. Incendiary rounds are exactly what they sound like, lasting 10 seconds with a 30 second recharge. Guns A’ Blazin’ gives you infinite ammunition and improves recoil by 33%. Last, but not least, is Super Soldier. This ability nullifies the next three hits, damage dealt and weapon accuracy are also increased by 10% with a 60 second cool down.

Everything you do in Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City gives you XP. This system is carried across single player, co-op and multiplayer. XP is also used as the game’s currency. Buying basic abilities doesn’t cost much, but upgrading sees the prices skyrocket. You can also purchase a wide variety of weapons that will also set you back a pretty penny. Some weapons can cost up to 25,000 XP, and on average, for a multiplayer game you’re looking at 1-2,000 XP. There’s quite a bit of reward to be had here, assuming you continue playing. The only real flaw is that players can easily replay a certain mission (no, I won’t tell you which) in co-op to achieve a high amount of XP. Of course, it’s up to you if you wish to ruin your replay value by using exploits.

As mentioned before, this is made by Slant Six. So the big question is, how does it play? Seeing how their last title was an abomination, skepticism is reasonable here. As a person who is still sore from my last experience with the company, they’ve done some impressive work here. The controls are responsive and intuitive, so a high learning curve is not needed here. You have your traditional sprint button, fine aim (over the shoulder) etc. The game’s manual suggest you can also dive any direction by holding the left stick and hitting A. So far, that hasn’t worked as advertised. I’ve had to begin sprinting to be able to dodge anything. With a quick press of the left stick followed by the A button, you’ll be able to dodge bigger enemies no problem. It’s a little clunky at first, but after an hour or so, it feels natural.

There’s also a slide in-slide out cover system. Meaning no button press. Simply walking into a wall will provide cover. The interesting part about this, compared to other games, is that it doesn’t lock you in at certain points. Going too far left will result in half your body sticking out, as opposed to other games that keep you in a safe area. Caution is required. It’s not the most responsive system around, but it does get the job done when needed.On the technical side of things, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City holds up very well. During my 12 hours of playtime, I have yet to see any frame rate, screen tearing, or graphical issues. I’ve encountered a few minor bugs like enemies being stuck half way in a wall, but certainly nothing game breaking. Graphically, it gets the job done. It’s not a great looking game, but it’s not a bad one either. The environments are dark and detailed, but the character models often look “glossy.” Don’t expect super high-res modeled zombies, but with so many appearing on screen in certain scenarios, it will be the last thing on your mind.

Aside from the disappointing single player campaign, the heart of the game lies within the multiplayer. This is what should drive your decision to spend or save your cold hard cash. Versus offerings include four game modes: Team Attack, Biohazard, Heroes and Survival. If you happen to purchase the 360 version, you’ll also have the option of purchasing a fifth varietal: Nemesis Mode. Team Attack would be considered Team Deathmatch in any other third-person tactical shooter. In ORC’s case, zombies are added into the mix. This also applies to the other three game modes. You get 10 XP for killing normal infected, and up to 100+ for killing larger enemies, likes Lickers or Hunters. These don’t appear often, so if you want the most amount of XP, killing the other team is critical. Each player killed awards you 75 XP and is added to the overall score for your team. The first team to reach 4,000 XP wins, assuming time doesn’t run out first.

Biohazard is a simple game of capture the flag. Instead of a flag, though, your team must collect the randomly spawned G-Virus and return it to your base. There’s only one G-Virus deployed at a time, so you’ll need to work as a team to collect 5 and win the match. Heroes is easily the most interesting game mode. The match starts with each team selecting four heroes per side. These heroes have increased health and they don’t respawn. Even though every person starts as a hero,after your first death, you revert back to using the basic classes. The goal is to keep your heroes alive. As long as you currently have one living hero, you’ll continue playing. The second that final hero is eliminated, it’s game over. Personally, I’ve had quite a few kick ass shootouts due to increased health.

Last, but not least, is Survival. The name is a bit deceptive, since you’ll still respawn after death. Given that this is Resident Evil, there’s a twist. Each time you die, it takes longer before you will respawn into the match. Your goal is to avoid death for ten minutes until the helicopter arrives for extraction. The catch is, there’s only four seats available, and eight players in the game. This is where you have a choice to make. Run like hell to insure your safety and, in the process, screw your teammates over, or provide cover fire for your team as you all try to enter the helicopter. In the end, there are only four winners, the survivors.  Being extracted also awards you a big bonus in XP, so watch out for those greedy bastards.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a hard game to recommend. That isn’t because it’s a bad game. In fact, it has many redeeming factors. The main concern is the fan base’s willingness to accept this as a spin-off that doesn’t play at all like traditional Resident Evil games. At the same time, it may appeal to those that don’t enjoy traditional survival horror but are looking for something different from their third-person tactical shooters. Consider what you are looking for out of the experience, compare it to gameplay footage you’ve seen and draw your own conclusion. This isn’t a game for everyone. Many will love it. Many will hate it. Those looking to enjoy a fast paced, action packed third-person tactical shooter set in the Resident Evil universe will be satisfied. Others, not so much.

What I can tell you is, ORC isn’t worth your sixty bucks as a single player game. You’ll end up sending pieces of the disc to Capcom if you do. As a whole, it manages to satisfy my craving for Resident Evil in a different way. The multiplayer holds up well, it’s fun to play and with friends, you’re guaranteed a good time. I keep coming back for more just for the simple fact the multiplayer isn’t just like every other title out there. It offers a few unique game modes, along with zombies mixed in. Overall, ORC is a very solid title. It’s not greatest game around, nor is it close to being horrible. It does prove, however, that Slant Six is actually a decent developer given the right guidance. I’m looking forward to seeing what both Slant Six and Capcom provide in the future.

Here’s the Rundown:

+ Nemesis is back, bitches!
+ Very satisfying multiplayer
+ A game by Slant Six that’s actually playable
+ Captures the Resident Evil universe perfectly
+ Unique multiplayer modes offer something you haven’t played before
– Weak and short single player
– Terrible teammate AI
– It’s not for everyone

7 and 7.5 represent a game that overall manages to be worth a playthrough, just not worth the full price at launch. These scores are for games that are relatively good or even really good, but generally worth waiting for a sale or picking up as a rental when possible..

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City was developed by Slant Six and published by Capcom for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. It was released on March 20th, 2012, at the MSRP of $59.99. A copy was purchased by the reviewer for the purposes of this review.