reHorror: What went wrong with Operation Raccoon City

Before I get started. I know there’s bound to be a few smarty-pants comments below proclaiming: “what didn’t go wrong with ORC?” So, yeah, I’m prepared for those. Just sayin’.

And I’ll also say, like I stated in my review of the game, that I did enjoy my time with the campaign and continue to find myself sucked into its multiplayer suite. But I’m no fool. I’m not oblivious to all the things that went wrong with the game. So I’m going to talk about the most annoying issues I came across, issues that at times made me want to stop playing completely and head back to Resident Evil 2 and 3.

I’m also more than aware that this game was designed as a co-op/ multiplayer experience, with that in mind throughout the entirety of its development time from Slant Six. So, me judging it by my time playing the campaign solo may seem somewhat unfair. To those that have told me that after reading my review, I’ll say this: To me, despite what the developer’s intentions are, Resident Evil is always a single-player experience first and foremost. So, having said that, on to the list of ORC’s most frustratingly apparent flaws!

The Atmosphere, or lack thereof

Here’s my number one issue with ORC. What in the blue hell happened to the city I used to call home? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are a small number of standout moments like a trek through the town’s cemetery and moments where you’re fighting back hordes of zombies and Spec-Ops soldiers in fiery streets and even part of a building caught on fire. But most of the time, the game lacks the atmosphere we’ve come to expect from the series– especially from the titular city.

It’s a shame really, especially since Slant Six opted to bookend the game’s plot (something we’ll be getting to momentarily) with two survival horror classics: Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. Two games that did a much better job of letting players explore Raccoon City (with RE 3 offering more in terms of city exploration than its predecessor). But man did they screw up here.

You can’t go into Kendo Gun Shop– a place I really was expecting would serve as a safe house where players could stock up on ammunition and fend off hordes of zombies trying to bust through in what could’ve and should’ve been an epic set-piece moment. But, nope, can’t go in there. Really? Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t expecting to go in every building still standing in Raccoon City, but not being able to explore the interior of one of the most memorable (despite only being traversed briefly) locales is very, for lack of a better word, infuriating. Especially because it’s right there!

Then we have the truly iconic RPD station which sadly got royally, anally raped. I just can’t get over the fact that they screwed up this locale. Like I said in my review, when I got to that point, late in the game, I was livid. Granted, the overall structure is somewhat faithful, somewhat, but go through the rooms (of which there are only a few open) and you’ll see why any diehard fan of Resident Evils 2 and 3 (mostly 2) would be crying foul at the treatment this key locale received in ORC. I’m usually not one to be bashing something, especially not when it’s RE, but come on, this was just absurd.

I know this is primarily an action-oriented, squad-based third-person shooter, but I was just expecting at least a minimal sense of that classic atmosphere from the good old days. Instead, we got a Raccoon City that looks as generic as any ol’ level from any ol’ modern shooter. Oh yeah, it doesn’t help that the visuals weren’t all that hot either (which I’ll get to really soon). But keeping in line with the atmosphere and the game’s locations, let’s go to another part of the game which should’ve been something special, but sadly wasn’t.

City Hall

If there was one location ORC could call its own it definitely could’ve been City Hall. Ever since seeing the building in Resident Evil 3, I’ve always wanted to explore the interior, and take on the undead that roam its halls. No game in the series has ever given players the chance to do so, until ORC that is. But, as expected, it wasn’t anything special whatsoever.

I mean, I’m no architect nor do I have any firm understanding of interior design, so I’m sure City Hall as it’s presented here is like a City Hall should be, but still, it could’ve been a little more…atmospheric. Going through it, I really felt like I was going through the same halls and rooms over and over again most of the time. It really bothered me because for years I’ve always wanted to explore this place, thinking that once we all had a chance to do so it would be treated like the RPD station and even the classic mansion, amounting to yet another iconic RE setting. But, nope. Just another generic-looking building. Then there was the story potential that was tossed out the window…

Fans who’ve played RE 3 know of the town’s mayor, Michael Warren, and how he hid in the building with his daughter during the beginning of the Outbreak. After zombies started to pour through he opted to send his daughter to the RPD station. How cool would it have been to run into Mr. Warren and his daughter while exploring City Hall? Or at least see them running  through it, while the USS squad is busy holding back the zombies and, of course, Spec- Ops soldiers. I know, I know, ORC’s plot isn’t entirely canon, but finally opening up City Hall to fans could’ve definitely been better, both from a design and plot perspective. I really wanted to love the mission in the game set entirely within its confines, but I just couldn’t: it was just a dull mission to me.

Faulty Presentation

When it comes to Resident Evil, every home console release (with a few exceptions like the Wii titles, for obvious reasons) sets the bar up high for the series when it comes to visuals and the overall presentation. With Operation Raccoon City, this wasn’t really the case. Don’t get me wrong, I know this isn’t a numbered entry, but still, after Resident Evil 5 saw release back in 2009, it’s surprising to see ORC’s overall presentation be of a much lesser quality, 3 years later.

Look at the image above. That’s none other than Claire Redfield, of course. But think again. Sure in this particular image she looks pretty much how she’s supposed to, and in some of the game’s cut scenes as well (which were created by the same team that handled Darkside Chronicle’s cut scenes), but just wait until you see her actual in-game model…Claire, is that you? That’s pretty much what I questioned out loud once I saw her in the game, running around with Leon and Sherry (!). I’ll leave it at this, since me going on about this may seem a bit juvenile to some of you: ORC’s in-game Claire model pales in comparison to some of her most devoted fans roaming the innards of the Javitz Center during NY Comic-Con in full costume (Hell, I took a picture with a Claire cosplayer that looked better than ORC’s!). Seriously. Oh, it’s not just Claire! She just happens to stick out the most, but most of the classic characters’ character models all suffer from a strange and almost unfamiliar design. They got HUNK right, though, thank God. I mean, how can you screw that up, right? And it doesn’t end with the unfortunately shoddy character models and repetitive zombie models. Oh yeah! That reminds me. About those zombies…

Don’t get me wrong, I was in no way at all expecting every zombie to differ in looks from one another, but I was expecting something…more. They look great, and I do love the inclusion of the female zombies from Resident Evil 2, but you’ll see what I mean once you start seeing that Hunter (Left 4 Dead fans what up!) reject show up for the umpteenth time (you need to put the hood over your head and lose a few pounds, buddy!). Also, I think it’s a neat detail to have corpses littered around, but upon closer inspection, you’ll start to notice they’re pretty much only a few models being recycled throughout the whole game! I liked the one body (as sick as this sounds) that was all torn up with the guts all out and decapitated, but that “oh, this is awesome!” feeling went away after seeing it REused many times afterwards. Again, this may sound like I’m just intentionally mining for flaws, but I wasn’t, they just really were apparent to me throughout my experience with the game.

As aforementioned back in the “atmosphere” section, the level design didn’t really impress much either, sadly. Not to go on endlessly about it, but really, it just angers me to no end to have a setting as iconic and important to me (and many other RE fans) end up looking generic in a current-gen game. This was never intended to be a full-blown, traditional survival horror experience, but still, it’s wrong to take a generic approach to the design of such a beloved fictional town, it just is. At various parts of the game I really was contemplating taking time away from it and going back to Resident Evil 2 and 3 for that authentic Raccoon City experience.

The Wolfpack

When it comes to the Resident Evil series, there’s bound to be some truly memorable characters within each game’s cast. Sometimes there’s only a couple, and other times there’s more, but with Operation Raccoon City (excluding the classic faces, of course) there’s really none. Yeah, despite playing as the squad doing Umbrella’s dirty work, the game fails to add any truly memorable characters to the series’ overall roster of all-STARS.

The Wolfpack is comprised of 6 USS operatives: Beltway, Bertha, Four-Eyes, Lupo, Spectre, and Vector. Sadly, that’s all they really are, names, with some cool abilities to go along with that, nothing more. These operatives lack any form of personality and they’re pretty much as generic as a group of soldiers in any ol’ first-person shooter. But like I said, some of them do bring forth some really awesome abilities, especially Vector and Four-Eyes with the ability to turn invisible and manipulate BOWs, respectively. If only they more than just empty characters intended to fulfill each of the game’s classes.

I mean, this is a game where we’re experiencing the Raccoon City outbreak through the perspective of Umbrella. There’s just so much character potential with that concept! And I’ll delve in deeper when I talk about the game’s plot and how I found it to be another one of its weaker aspects. But I really was hoping I would totally love these new (masked) faces. My favorite is Vector, because of his connection to HUNK which gives him at least some sort of significant relevance. The same doesn’t apply to the rest of the Wolfpack though. It’s quite unfortunate. But I’m quite sure we’ll still see fans cosplay as them in the ‘Cons to come!

 The Bosses

The game starts off with an epic chase sequence in which you and your comrades, following HUNK’s lead, are trying to escape a mutating William Birkin. This occurs after Mr. Death himself takes the doctor’s precious G-Virus, and hearing this classic scene play out from outside Birkin’s lab (yeah, you don’t actually see it like we did in RE 2) was exhilarating because we all know what happens next. Then Birkin gets pissed, of course. While not really a boss fight in the traditional sense, this boss “encounter” was very intense and just an utter joy to take part in due to my enormous love for RE 2 (a sentiment I’m sure is shared with many others). But the boss encounters that follow are…quite dull, for the most part.

There aren’t many boss battles in the game, which is a major problem in my eyes, but the most disappointing one is definitely the one with Nemesis. Form all the promotional material and the video from the game’s viral site (which I’ll talk more about in a bit) I was really pumped for one very crazy, memorable encounter with Mr. STARbucks himself, Nemmy. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Yeah, it is quite an intense battle because of the Spec-Ops soldiers also being in the fight along with zombies, but Nemmy himself is just so robotic. Which should make sense since he is a BOW created to obey orders, but still, I wish he would do more than just move around, stop, and spray bullets from his mini-gun at you. Story-wise, I guess it makes sense, since he doesn’t have the control agent from the T-103 Tyrant injected that’s needed for him to obey Umbrella completely. I was just expecting much more from this fight, or better yet, why not have an encounter with him later on in the game, after he’s already run into Jill a few times?

The T-103 Tyrants are the main focus here when it comes to bosses, and pretty much the much focal enemy as the game’s cover rightfully displays, and the battles against these brutes are truly blood-pumping and not unlike battles with Left 4 Dead’s Tanks in terms of tension. The last encounter with this Tyrant is notably epic, and is set to a classic tune from RE 2. But really, that’s all there is when it comes to notable bosses.

There was so much potential here, and with the game’s plot not being entirely canon, Slant Six could’ve gone wild with their own boss ideas (a new, bigger form of Licker or Hunter, anyone?). But keeping things in line with the games ORC borrows from, why not use some of the other bosses included in RE 2 and 3? Where the hell was the Grave Digger? A boss battle against Raccoon City’s detached phallic structure would’ve been hugely satisfying to take part in with three other buddies (or strangers) online. A big missed opportunity. Hell, Slant Six could’ve even introduced their own unique Tyrant and pit the Wolfpack against it in the game’s final level (a Tyrant “prototype” perhaps that no one ever face before in the city).

It’s sad to see that the traditional concept of boss battles has been degraded as the years go by. They don’t make them like they used to. Where before these encounters would be something to look forward to at the end of each stage/level/chapter in a game, nowadays developers just seem satisfied to pit players up against hordes of enemies and have that replace the satisfaction that was once found when fighting actual bosses. Either that or they opt to just half-ass boss battles in general, making them afterthoughts. That’s just my whole stance on it, though. And since Resident Evil has a wealth of memorable bosses throughout its history, I was truly disappointed to see ORC not following tradition.

The Story

When it was first officially revealed, it’s always been known that ORC would retell the events of the Raccoon City outbreak, but this time through the goggled eyes of Umbrella’s USS team. It was also revealed that players would be able to kill Leon, leading to an alternate canon altogether. Fans were eager to see what else was in store that could lead to the overall story of the series being drastically changed. If Leon was dead, there would be no Resident Evil 4, or at least not the way it ended up being. And if Leon was dead, then what would happen of Claire and Sherry? It was queries such as this that had fans speculating, excited to see what other choices we would be able to make. Would we be able to kill Claire, too? What about Jill and/or Carlos? Well…not exactly.

Not only did Slant Six fail to meet their initial promise of being able to alter the series’ lore, but they also missed the mark completely when it comes to retelling the events of the outbreak through Umbrella’s perspective. There was so much more that could’ve been done here, ORC could’ve brought forth a wealth of revelations, showing us what was going on behind the scenes while we were taking on the roles of Resident Evil 2 and 3’s main characters. Why was I expecting all this? Well, the game’s viral site sure made it seem like the story would be a much bigger focus than it ultimately ended up being.

I remember the fun I had with every clue released on the game’s viral site, Inserted Evil. With each clue we would uncover more secrets having to do with Umbrella and their link to the outbreak. Sure, devoted fans already knew about most of the unearthed files and content, but still, it was nice to participate in something so engaging, and get rewarded with information to keep the anticipation high until the game’s release. I remember being so excited when the Nemesis Awakening video was unlocked, and from that point on I was expecting him to play a much bigger role than he ended up having. Quite simply, I got my hopes up and ended up being disappointed, as I’m sure many fans did also.

More interactions and run-ins with classic characters would’ve been very nice, too. I was expecting something like branching paths, with different routes being open through the game depending on which character you decided to help/kill. We got none of that. Don’t get me wrong, I know this was meant to be a game to cater to the multiplayer-craving crowd, or simply, the Call of Duty fanbase. But if you’re going to revolve a game around Umbrella and their USS squad, then why not go all out and offer a story worthy of the pharmaceutical corporation’s importance to fans and the series? Nicholai ended up being the only character that really had some weight to him, with others showing up and leaving before you knew it. And then we have the absence of Jill and Carlos, which leads to another fault with the game’s story.

ORC is a short game, there’s no denying that. It is extremely replayable, though. And I’m currently in my third play-through trying to conquer professional mode. But it’s short game because…well…it’s missing the other half of its campaign! Yes, the USS part of the campaign is only one half of the game’s entire plot. The last half resides with the Spec-Ops and their respective story (did you notice all those Echo Six trophies/achievements?). And guess what? That happens to be the DLC campaign we’ll be getting soon, with it being set in motion with April’s free, singular Spec-Ops mission DLC in which we’ll be seeing one of Nemesis’ encounters with Jill. Then you have the rest of the Spec-Ops’ campaign which may not be as long, mission-wise, as the USS’ but will still carry some level of importance. Jill and Carlos? Yeah, they’re going to be in the DLC campaign.

I’m excited about the Spec-Ops campaign, and I really want to see their side of the story. And I also get a feeling that their scenario may be a bit more RE than the USS’ was, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

After reading all this, you may be wondering why I ended up giving the game a 7 out of 10 if I found all these issues with it. Why not lower? Well, like I stated in my review, despite all its flaws, ORC still manages to be an enjoyable experience both online and off. It could’ve been so much more, though. So much more.

It really does seem like Slant Six took the easy way out, and yes, they did succeed in accomplishing what Capcom asked of them, but they didn’t succeed in offering an experience worthy of its title. Operation Raccoon City? With the way the city is presented, along with its locales, the game should’ve been called something else entirely, maybe Resident Evil #Team Umbrella?. But again, it’s a fun game, and I’m still playing it. After beating it once though, I went straight to Resident Evil 3 so that I could REvisit the city I grew up in the way it should be.

 

               
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COMMENTS

  • Guest

    Agreed about the bosses (and, well, everything really); Grave Digger would’ve kicked ass. I also wish they had included many more Raccoon City monsters, like Drain Deimos and Brain Suckers.

  • The game isn’t finished though. We still have the upcoming Spec Ops campaign being released on April 10th (?) which is supposed to intertwine more with Jill. Slant Six could very well release more of these ‘episodes’ to help flesh out the story a little more, but It still feels like they really dropped the ball here as far as a ‘final product’ goes. I wouldn’t get my hopes up but there is still more to come.

    • “The game isn’t finished” is a ridiculous excuse. The final product was released. DLC doesn’t count, because DLCs are add-ons or expansions, the newest clearly being the latter.

  • ohshitson

    im cumming

  • StuntmanSnake

    I agree with you completely, Jorge.

    Kendo’s gun shop would have been awesome to explore and to hide out in.

    Also, how in god’s name was the R.P.D. excluded from multiplayer? That just screams multiplayer map.

  • AlanPartridge

    Actually Michael Warren fled the city and abandoned his daughter at the very beginning of the outbreak so there was never any chance of running into him at City Hall.

    • windice

      He gave his daughter to the chief

  • WyrmKing

    I disagree about the Wolfpack. They have as much personality as Chris, Jill, Leon and Claire.

    Let’s not fool ourselves. This is Resident Evil and characterization isn’t exactly high on the list for characters.

    • windice

      no they dont they have like no feelings at all wich is what they are supose to be. they are soldiers. when you think of clair you think of a wild girl who will do anything to find her brother. she acts tuff but has a nice soft side.

  • Henrik

    Finally gotten my version yeah a bit disappointed too.

    What got me interested me first about this one was the chance to change story.

    I had looked foward to kill off Leon/ Claire and she how story unfolded.
    Like I said here before if those two gone who would cure Sherry.

    Would love too seen a G-virus infected Sherry battle.
    Or zombie Jill if Carlos was out of the picture.

    Well had also hoped this to be the equelant of Left4dead set in RE univurse.

    Which is a action game set in a horror setting I loves.

  • Woekerini

    Though the campaign didn’t turn out how I had envisioned it, I still applaud Slant Six’s work. Like Zachary mentioned, we still have the Spec Ops campaign, which will (hopefully) add another 7 episodes to the story.

    Have to agree with Stuntman Snake on the minimal attention that the RPD station gets. Of all RE locations, the police department is my top favorite, but we come across it like “Hey, let’s take a shortcut through the RPD station…”. I hope the station gets a multiplayer map in future DLC (Spec Ops perhaps?….please?), like it deserves.

    What truly annoys me, are the technical issues. I’ve encountered several bugs & glitches, especially in the multiplayer. This is not new, I had already read about them before I encountered them, but they are real and they have to go. Luckily, they can be fixed and I heard Slant Six is working on them.
    What they can’t fix, however (sadly), is the lack of a splitscreen multiplayer. I was convinced that it would have a splitscreen, even if it were only for the campaign and limited to two people. RE5 had it, why not RE:ORC?

    Long story short (before I get ‘tl;dr’-ed): It’s a great game. They still owe us the promised Spec Ops campaign and there may be even future additions. Fix the fixable disturbances and I shall remain a loyal fan to the series.

    • Red-Dragon-Cro

      It will be 6 missions i think.

      Eventualy i agree with the most stuff up there writen,what realy bothers me is that the story was so short and altered while they could have made everything in original state(story wise,locations design,…) and still to keep everything fliudly working.Expected aswell more run-ins with classic characters and being given the choice to keep it canon or alter by trying to kill the characters or chasing em.They quite dissapointed me with this but overall the its a fun game to play,especialy in MP.Controls are quite compact tought placing dive with the same button as the action is a little mistake.

      Eventualy i belive that there may be a DLC for the USS Delta team that continues the story as by only less than half of it has been touched up in this story.

  • The night begins

    no way i’m buying this shit

  • liam

    dont give a crap what anyone else says, im enjoying this game more then re5 but not more then 4, its great game Im lucky enough not to have any gltiches yet, im on my 8th playthrough so to me NOTHING WENT WRONG with this game , everyone just decided to bash the game because resident evil was trying something different.

    • windice

      did you not read what he said. he makes some good points and i totally agree with him.

    • agree man , kids these days are just dumb , they dont know what they want anymore , if the game is like RE5 they bash it cuz its the same , nothing new , if its something new they bash it because its not like RE5

      • Katarokinimoto

        Or maybe they bash it because it’s a half conceived piece of crap? I mean honestly the game is SOCOM with resident evil characters and settings pasted in, ooooooh innovative. they might as well of saved on packaging and released it as DLC for SOCOM. Now maybe if they had set is as BSAA take down operations vs USS assassination squad it would actually be more fitting in terms of gameplay. But Raccoon City is a survival setting, whether they’re a super high tech team armed to the teeth or not.

        tl;dr:the game IS flawed and you don’t have to be a butthurt RE fan to see that.

    • I enjoyed the game too, but I am not blinded by my enjoyment. I am aware of the flaws and can ignore them while I play. This article doesn’t “bash” the game mindlessly; it gives legitimate reasoning for why it’s a poor release.

  • windice

    oh yea and i kept asking what the hell is up with clair face. it looked so funny and her actions just seemed so stiff.

  • SpeakerPatrick

    The only real saving grace for this title could be if the DLC starts building on the groundwork from here. That’s a horrible business model, and really leaves us fans enraged, but it could be a last effort to give us the game they promised. I hope with new DLC and scenerios that they deliver.

  • The game owns , i agree with liam 100%.

  • joe

    I agree with all you said I sold the game after 1 & half hour of playing it

    Capcom dose not care about horror & Survival anymore

  • Ccrogers15

    They should of just made Resident Evil Outbreak file 3. There are about 8000 sigs so far on the petition for Support Outbreak. 10000 is coming soon. They better release outbreak 3, or at LEAST an HD collection, since they made the chonicles and RE CV and 4 in HD, they need to work on outbreak.

  • They didn’t give us a complete game, that’s it. I am starting to hate Capcom more and more.

  • Imperial

    Yeah I can understand the devellopers too. I was mapping abit for HL2 and Unreal engine ( atleast I tried my best ), and believe me: its a damn lot of work!! To have a map with that many details like in capcoms Games. Because they have insanely much details.

    The game certainly had a time budget, they were to finish the 7 maps and to make them playable, but they didnt took the 4x more time it takes to make a level actually look atmospheric and detailed. Its way easier to just make a big hall, bashing some textures and props inside of that and tadaaa..

    This lack of detailed architecture bugged me aswell sometimes: These doors opening and hordes of zombies coming out of these small rooms ( when you walk inside you see they dont have any real function, besides of hiding the spawn of the Zombie units ), they at least could have added some toilets into them..

    This is what happens when the administratives are claiming to see more “progress”, which is quite pitty. You are right, some special places like RPD and the Gunshop are lacking of love for details and atmosphere.

    Regarding the quality: Slant six games, it seems, was a smaller studio with a limited amount of resources that did most of the work on this game for capcom. They gave theyr best for sure, and the game is quite nicely scripted. Altrough it is quite buggy and the dodging/combat system reeeeeeealy sucks!

    I loved theyr concept for the minimap at the top right side. But I hated that they dont save my inventary after respawning, thats odd. And yes, theyr character models of the heroes are realy unaccurate.

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