Did you ever wonder how the viral outbreak that consumed all life within Raccoon City got covered up and hidden from the public? Well Operation Raccoon City may just give us all the answers, but with a twist; this time you don’t have to face the horror alone. You are part of an elite task force sent in to assist the fan favorite HUNK (aka Mr. Death) in retrieving the worlds most potent Bio-organic weapon; the G-virus, which is capable of turning almost anything it consumes into grotesque mutated killing machines. No amount of training however could of prepared Delta Team for the unnatural events they accidentally set in motion.
Capcom have revisited the decaying corpse of Raccoon City several times recently, with the rerelease of Resident Evil 2 & 3 on Playstation Network, the On-Rail Shooters Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles for the Nintendo Wii, and now with the help of Slant Six Studios they are offering to take you on a trip to see the tragic events of 1998 from the point of view of the series original bad guys; the infamous Umbrella Corporation.
The voice acting in Operation Raccoon City is nothing to write home about and despite being cheesy at times by referring to other media with stale old jokes (‘It’s over 9000!’ comes to mind), it is fit for purpose and gets the job done. Strangely, the character Leon S. Kennedy is now voiced by Christian Lanz and while he does do a good job, loyal fans of the series will be both confused, as he sounds painfully similar to the voice actor of Chris Redfield (Roger Craig Smith) and angry at the departure of Paul Mercier who suited the role perfectly in Resident Evil 4.
The sound effects are where the audio really shines, from the crisp clean sounds of bullets tearing through flesh, to the nostalgic shrieks of the feral, twisted Lickers, everything sounds very well done and to a high standard. Sadly however there is a near game breaking issue with the audio of the PC version; gunfire is unnaturally quiet, and even silent at times, which to date has not been resolved. The music suits not only the game itself but doesn’t feel out of place in the series as whole, while staying unique and separating itself from the other titles which was surprising as it is one of the last things you’d expect to remember after walking away from an experience like this.
There isn’t a huge amount of things to say about the graphics, while on the technical side they won’t be taking home any awards, they do look very pretty in several aspects. The most impressive one being the lighting and despite the fact that the fire effects look very last generation, the shadows and reflections look outstanding, it will be one of the first things you notice when you play the game as the light shines on the character’s armor and weaponry. One aspect the game seemed to do the poorest in was the Anti-Aliasing (the art of fooling the eye that a jagged edge of a building or even a person, is smooth and life-like), as heavily detailed environments like the city itself felt slightly out dated and underwhelming, but do not be put off as this is the best Raccoon City has ever looked.
Fans who like myself; have grown up almost living a double life in Raccoon City repeatedly experiencing the events of Resident Evil 2 and Nemesis will be overwhelmed by the nostalgia of fighting their way through classic buildings such as the R.P.D Police Station, the Raccoon City Hospital and the iconic Clocktower (which assaults the player with a double whammy of nostalgia as Beethoven’s classic Moonlight Sonata from Resident Evil 1 is flooded into your ears upon entering).
Overall the story is the games weakest point, and perhaps the biggest disappointment. It is entertaining and a nice gimmick that you get to mess around with the Resident Evil universe in the way that you can but it really feels like they missed an opportunity to release a real, solid canonical chunk of the Raccoon City Incident which has been desperately calling out for some closure as the series has grown and matured over the past 14 years, not to mention it is also one of the most well known stories in all of gaming. You never got to see what Umbrella actually did in the original titles except callously turn their backs on their employees and leave them for dead, and drop in a few mutants to make sure they ended up that way. It was never explained how they got away with it and neither was the their eventual downfall, Operation Raccoon City was given a chance to improve upon greatness but decided to instead confuse the player with a solid, believable storyline that tied up many loose ends but was made unbelievable the second the game ended.
The tale they did create may not have been particularly abysmal, but as an individual story it just fell short of delivering what was expected. That together with the fact they missed a prefect opportunity, and have potentially closed all doors and sealed away any chance of tidying up the chapter of the series that is truly the godfather of zombie survival, makes this aspect of the game very underwhelming.
Despite this however it isn’t unreasonable to suggest that Operation Raccoon City needs to be treated in the way that the Outbreak titles of the series should have been; as nothing more than a casual romp of zombie genocide. Much like the Outbreak series, too many fans went into the game expecting something different, despite the fact neither of the two promised anything else. So it may not have ruined the game, but it hasn’t done it any favors.
By far the best part of the game is its gameplay, it may not be anything revolutionary or innovative, but it is a lot of fun. There is just something about taking on a horde of zombies with potentially nothing more than a handgun and decimating the entire pack with a series of well placed headshots that never gets old. Only a handful of video games can truly say they can offer that experience, and most of which do not offer the quality that this game has achieved.
The controls are very easy to get to grips with, and the game feels smooth as you take aim and fire and almost seamlessly shift from gunplay to hand to hand combat. Another thing the game offers is a feature which is an obvious shout-out to the control style of the original titles; it allows you to instantly draw out your pistol, zoom out from your character and auto aim at nearly enemies. It may not sound revolutionary, and in fact it isn’t, but it feels very convenient when your low on ammo or carrying something like a grenade launcher or a sniper rifle, and a walking sack of rotten flesh tries to invade your personal space.
Operation Raccoon City does have some of its fair share of weird, confusing and just downright unexplainable happenings; such as when the character takes a viscous zombie as a human shield, despite the fact zombies are well known in media to be superhumanly strong, and this is proven throughout the series as they overwhelm anything they get close to. It is even shown in Operation Raccoon City as they have the strength to ragdoll even Beltaway, the largest member of Delta Team with little to no effort.
There is also the fact that your team-mates can get infected and transform into the undead, which by itself looked like a promising feature but was very disappointing as you have no control over your character after it happens, and this is also the catalyst for the wackiest thing in the game. Your team-mate is sprinting towards you, foaming at the mouth with the only intentions of tearing the flesh off your face. So naturally you place a round or two in his/her head, dropping them instantly, or even completely blow their entire upper body apart with a shotgun; leaving only a pair of legs on the floor. Then you walk over to their corpse (or whatever is left of it) and it pops up ‘hold x button to revive’ which just leaves you thinking to yourself; ‘wait, what?’ as you can actually bring them back to life after this, as good as new, just what are they feeding them over at Umbrella HQ?
Overall, the gameplay should also be taken in the same way as the story to truly see what Operation Raccoon City has to offer.
Operation Raccoon City does exactly as it advertised, but sadly nothing more. Overall it is riddled with confusion in both game mechanics and the storyline, but that doesn’t stop it from being very fun both solo and with up to three friends, it is a decent title that wouldn’t look out of place in anybody’s collection.