’s review of Resident Evil: Raccoon City
It’s always just a matter of time before a popular franchise dilutes its main canon with side stories, spin-offs, and titles filled with gameplay that diverges widely from the more popular entries. Final Fantasy VII was once one of crowning jewels of the franchise, a stand-alone title that contained the best that the series had to offer. Now it’s a veritable industry unto itself.
If there’s one series capable of giving Final Fantasy a run for its spin-off money, it’s Resident Evil. It used to be an easy-to-follow series, but with numbered entries and the occasional Code: Veronica, the Resident Evil franchise as ballooned to enormous proportions. The floodgates have been opened and players have had to survive such mediocre games as Outbreak 1-2, The Darkside Chronicles, The Umbrella Chronicles, and the absolutely horrendous Dead Aim. These projects, most of them non-canon, have tried to inject new gameplay elements in a series known only for one thing: survival. Unfortunately, with the 2009 release of Resident Evil 5, a series long known for creepy atmosphere, slow exploration, and ammo conservation is now being retooled into an action-heavy, third-person shooter.
Which brings us to the topic of this review, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, which is the purest, action-oriented entry in the franchise yet. Are you a Resident Evil purist, like your faithful reviewer, who believes that the series reached its zenith with Resident Evil 4? Or are you a newcomer, willing to give the series’ new attitude a whirl? Either way, this is Yell! Magazine’s review of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, currently available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. PC gamers will have to wait till May for the Windows version. For review purposes, theversion was used.
Depending on how you approach it, Raccoon City is many things. It’s either a side-story, taking place during the events of both Resident Evil 2 and 3 or it’s a retroactive, alternative take on previously established canon. Either way, you won’t be popping a Resident Evil game into your console expecting a deep story concerned with the philosophical struggle between humans and undead. RE games have never been paragons of stellar writing and the paradigm remains unchanged here. If anything, Raccoon City is a step back in quality storytelling from the last two official entries in the series: Resident Evil 4 and 5.
Contrary to prior games, you’re not playing as the good guy or desperate survivor just trying to make it out of a-infested Raccoon City. Instead, you play as a faceless member of an Umbrella retrieval team, which counts fan-favorite character Hunk among its numbers. We get to see Hunk’s ill-fated attempt to steal the T-virus sample from Dr. Birkin in greater detail here. Following the bungled attempt, Hunk and company proceed to participate in events that took place just “off camera” from Leon/Claire or Jill’s point of view during their individual campaigns in RE2 and 3. It isn’t until the story line’s final moments that the player can actively change what happened to the aforementioned characters. However, seeing as how every RE fan knows that that Leon, Claire, and Jill made it out alive, having the option to execute them is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
As a whole, there’s isn’t a lot to chew on here. Minor dialogue sequences are nothing but brief interludes between major shootouts and nobody has much of a personality to speak of, in part because of clichéd action movie writing and in large part because of the franchise’s trademark pitiful voice acting. All told, if Raccoon City had been a retelling of the events of RE 2-3 with updated graphics, I could have had some fun with it. Stepping into Leon’s, Claire’s, or Jill’s shoes for an additional go at one of the more iconic locales ingaming would have been somewhat worthwhile.
Read about the game, presentation, and verdict after the jump…
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Published by:
- Developed by:
- Slant Six Games
- Year Released:
- March 20, 2012
- Also Available On:
- PC, Xbox 360
- Action Adventure
- Official URL:
- Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City