I know, I know. The title of this preview alone may lead you to question my standing as a Resident Evil fan, especially after the uproar the game’s reveal was met with due to it being a squad-based third person shooter. But let me explain.
My time with Slant Six’s take on the Resident Evil universe was more than just great, it was quite simply amazing. Like Revelations, I played through this demo more than once: the first time being out on the show floor (in which I obtained a special collectible USS pin for playing) and the second time was in a private area in Capcom’s booth. So, how do I feel about the game now that I’ve had some extensive hands-on time with it?
The demo kicked off with a beautifully recreated scene from Resident Evil 2 that depicted Leon and Claire crashing their car and quickly jumping out to avoid the incoming crazy truck driver. Then Leon tells Claire to go on ahead to the police station and he’ll meet her there. Then we see the USS squad stalking Leon, it seems that they weren’t all that far from the crash site to begin with. “Kill Leon” becomes the main objective for this playable mission and I was able to tackle it in both single-player and co-op.
Right after the opening cinematic the demo begins with quite a bang and I, along with three other players, was met with hordes of zombies. Our objective was clear thanks to the on-screen map on the top-right corner that clearly indicates where you should be going. At first, back when the game was first revealed, I thought it would be quite tedious to get from objective to objective due to my initial idea of this being a pseudo-open world affair with the whole of Raccoon City open. Thankfully, the linear nature of the series is kept here and it works as you’re quickly pushed from one action-packed scene to the next taking on countless amounts of zombies…and soldiers.
We already know about the triple threat at the center of Operation Raccoon City, it’s the USS squad going up against the Spec Ops with BOW’s throw in the mix to make things harder, but actually playing through these heated battles proved to extinguish any initial concerns I had regarding this notion. I was used to Resident Evil always pitting me in battles against BOW’s not actual, gun-wielding, soldiers. So, I was relieved that the zombies still stole the spotlight in terms of enemies due to the Spec Ops’ numbers paling in comparison to the amount of undead roaming the torn-down streets of Raccoon City.
I played through the demo as both Vector (in co-op mode) and the just-announced leader of the squad, Lupo (for my single-player demo). Using both character’s respective special abilities was really satisfying and quite useful in the heat of battle. I used Vector’s cloaking ability to my advantage in order to get around the battlefield to take out Spec Ops members to leave the zombies to the wrath of me and my team. Then for my single player demo I was really pleased to use Lupo’s special which consists of her fire-arm turning gold and you gaining infinite ammo for a limited time, which gives you a very good oppurtunity to take out hordes of zombies standing in your way. Then the lickers came bursting into the scene.
Zombies and Spec Ops soldiers are one thing but a horde of Lickers is another. These classic BOW’s made their entrance in a huge parking lot. They came in packs too, not opting for a lone debut like in Resident Evil 2. When I was playing the demo with three others things became intense with the Lickers thrown into the battle. We all had to be quick and make sure noone was being grabbed by one of the Lickers. After clearing them all out we opened the lot’s garage door and proceeded on with our objective still chasing Leon through streets and alleyways.
Surprisingly, while playing the single-player demo I never felt like the other sqaud members’ AI was poor, they always proved to be quite attentive to their surroundings and thus didn’t hinder my single-player experience. Playing by myself also proved to be a much more tense experience, knowing that I was mostly doing all of the work. And yes, I did die several times both in co-op and by myself, thanks in large part to the very neat “bleeding” feature in which once enough damage is inflicted to you the blood pouring out of you attracts nearby zombies. This is a very intuitive feature and adds yet another layer of tension to the experience, because the zombies come at you in terrifying full force once you start bleeding out. Then the capsules came down from the sky.
You gotta love the Hunters, and how they make their entrance in the demo, via capsules that made me think I was about to face multiple T-103 tyrants. The Hunters quickly tore through everything in their path, with the USS squad being their main meal of choice, and things got hectic in mere seconds. While I wasn’t playing as her in both the single-player or co-op demo, selecting Four Eyes (the team’s field scientist) as your character gives you quite an edge against the hunters and all other foes as well. With her you can take control of the hunters (and other BOWS’s) and use them to tear through any foes in your immediate surrounding.
I was Lupo, so I had to make the most out of her special which also gave me a reasonable advantage over the Hunters and accompanying zombies. Even Vector’s cloaking ability was put to good use as I enabled it and started beating the hell out the Hunters and the other accompanying zombies and Spec Ops soldiers within the vicinity with melee attacks and the occasional burst of gunfire. Every character’s special ability adds a satisfying level of strategy into the experience and encourages you to not opt to simply run and gun your way to the next checkpoint marked on your map. Now comes the bad news…
As aforementioned, “Kill Leon” was the main objective for this mission and I, unfortunately, couldn’t succeed in doing so both in my co-op and single-player session. While playing co-op me and my team actually made it to the demo’s major boss fight, the T-103 tyrant, but we only got as far as the tyant’s entrance cinematic then the demo’s timer ran out. We were commended, though, for being the first team on that first day of E3 to make it that far (we were also told that no team was succesful in killing Leon before us). So sadly, I can’t tell you how the actual boss fight with the T-103 tyrant played out.
I was extremely surprised as I was playing through this demo. I didn’t really expect I would end up loving it this much, and this is just from a small demo! So, you may be asking, how does Operation Raccoon City still feel like Resident Evil? Well, besides zombies and other iconic BOW’s making their appearance in the game the tension brought about by the classic Resident Evil games was still present here in this demo. You still had to collect herbs to replinish your health and you still had to make sure you’re not carelessly wasting ammunition. Yeah there’s actual soldiers in the battlefield, making for gunfights that aren’t exactly common in the Resident Evil universe, but you’ll be happy to know that they never felt like the real threat. The zombies and BOW’s really stole the spotlight here and I’m really excited to see how this sense of tension and dread carries over to the full game when it comes out this Winter.