Longtime fans of the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise likely had high hopes for 2012. The year promised three major releases of varying styles from the signature horror series. Expecting three AAA-caliber games from one publisher, all drawn from one series, is asking too much.
The absurdly low quality of ‘Operation Raccoon City’ seems almost like a subversive attempt by ‘Capcom’ to continue the legacy of substandard experimental games in the series, such as the much-loathed light gun games ‘Dead Aim,’ and ‘Survivor.’
It’s more likely the good folks at developer ‘Slant Six Games’ had to leave the office early and slapped ‘Operation Raccoon City’ together with spare parts from the circular file and then retro-fitted the ‘Resident Evil’ name on it. Not a single element of the game appears to have received any thought, care or polish.
The game simply cannot function with human teammates. That’s not necessarily a flaw, assuming the game is ‘Gotham City Imposters,’ and is appropriately billed as a multi-player only experience. ‘Resident Evil 5’ was difficult to play without a human partner, but remained beatable because the designers paid attention to battle layouts and level design. The gunfights here range from insultingly simple-minded to frustratingly unfocused.
‘Operation Raccoon City’ features some of the worst level design choices and poor gameplay decisions in recent memory. An early mini-boss forces the camera to change perspective, and then holds it in place. Instead of fighting the boss, the player must run away while the camera looks back. Most gamers instinct would be to turn and fight, but the controls are locked and you’ll likely get run down before you figure out what’s happening.
The use of ‘auto-cover’ is especially misguided, essentially forcing the player into cover whether they want to or not. Other developers have made excellent use of cover systems in games, from ‘Brothers in Arms’ unique mix of first- and third-person shooting to the smooth gunplay mechanics of ‘Red Dead Redemption.’ ‘Operation Raccoon City’ decides to blaze a trail, and blazes it right off the edge of a cliff.
Very little about the game is connected to ‘Resident Evil.’ When a recognizable character appears you mostly feel bad for him/her and inevitably wish you were playing ‘Resident Evil: Revelations.’
There are undoubtedly many deserving titles for worst game of the year, but ‘Operation Raccoon City’ failed to take advantage of an iconic brand name rich with history or even provide a consistently playable experience.