Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City hands-on preview

Not long ago, our sister magazine OXM revealed Operation Raccoon City as a third-person shooter that takes place in the ravaged Raccoon City seen in RE2 and RE3. But instead of controlling a hapless RCPD officer caught in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, you’re part of a team of Umbrella specialists sent in to clean up the mess their company accidentally started. That means killing not just zombies, but also anyone who’s survived, including innocent bystanders and wayward cops – specifically one Leon Kennedy, who could escape and tell the world exactly what went down in Raccoon City.

Above: Not messing around

The mission involves four Umbrella operatives: Vector, a stealth expert and protégé of Hunk who can mimic enemy abilities; Specter, surveillance soldier with infrared and sonar-based tracking abilities; Bertha, the team medic who can also give teammates an adrenaline boost that increases accuracy; and Beltway, a demolitions expert. In addition to their unique abilities, each can equip a custom loadout of weapons ranging from pistols to shotguns to rifles. Again, these four are the best Umbrella has to offer, able to use their special abilities alongside a customizable loadout of the usual firearms (shotguns, rifles etc).

The focus on shooting, special abilities and co-op interaction is decidedly atypical for the RE universe; there’s no conserving ammo, no turning with your tail between your legs, just balls-out violence against a sea of shambling undead. Yes, that does mean you can move and shoot at the same time, something even the action-heavy RE5 didn’t support.

We only caught a brief glimpse of the main game, which follows the Umbrella team as they enter Raccoon City on a search and destroy mission. Most of the time there’s little suspense; the crack team cuts through zombies as if they were nothing, using plentiful ammo and brutal close-quarters moves (like Gears-style curb stomps) to sweep the streets clean. It’s not nonstop action though – the quartet will still find themselves in a dark alley, or suddenly quiet part of town, suggesting something big (and bad) is about to go down.

That’s when we saw the imposing Mr. X drop from the sky and calmly walk toward the team as it fired a hail of bullets at him, with no effect. Fade to black, demo over. We hope there are several moments like this, ones that highlight iconic enemies in a way that makes them frightening even when you’re armed to the teeth. Granted, the focus is more on action than horror, but we still need to feel tension and apprehension when facing a monster like Tyrant or Nemesis (who’s so far MIA).

Above: Mr. X appears in all his stoic glory, ready to crush some bones

As for the “kill Leon” angle, developer Slant Six has said it’s not re-writing RE canon. However, the mission we saw made specific mention of Leon, and we did see a cutscene suggesting Leon takes a bullet to the face. So what gives? Apparently there’s a canon way through the campaign, and then there’s the possibility to alter the storyline and, just maybe, kill Leon. Slant Six said that path is more “fan service” than true outcome.

This demo (and pieces of the new trailer) suggests Operation Raccoon City will indeed be a completely different experience from earlier games, but will still retain the general Resident Evil vibe; even with guns blazing, running through Raccoon City with zombies up to your eyeballs while you chase Leon Kennedy is a scenario that’s uniquely Resident Evil. All this, however, relates to the main game which is 1-4 players, each taking control of one of the four Umbrella specialists. Our hands-on time was entirely with the 4-on-4 multiplayer, which we’ll detail on the next page…

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  • nightmare12 - April 14, 2011 2:37 p.m.

    tifanity- yeah it seems like RE2-3 were the main stepping stones of this series. so what i think sequel games are doing today are getting back intouch with what made the games so great in the first place
  • tifanity - April 13, 2011 3:33 p.m.

    It's funny how it always goes back to RE2 and RE3. I love the Resident Evil franchise but I feel this is done way too late... Still going it get it though =3
  • philipshaw - April 13, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    Good preview, sceptical about this game because of the developer but the idea seems interesting
  • nightmare12 - April 13, 2011 1:52 p.m.

    zenrobot- i agree condemned did a pretty alright job but that story kind of gets old after a while. but i dont think resident evil would be very good in a FPS mode because that would basically turn it into call of duty :black ops's zombie mode in a way.
  • nightmare12 - April 13, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    I for one am glad they made yet another resident evil game because this story line cant just end with the killing of wesker, there has to be other leaders not just the one.but i think its interesting that they brought back the hunters. those things i think were the most scary things in the resident evil saga (even with the terrible graphics).but one thing i do not like about the resident evils now a days is that they put a player vs player mode in them. i mean resident evil is a team based game and if you pit everyone agenst each other then ALOT of people are gonna find it not very entertaining.i also didnt expect that in this one they made you one of the umbrella operatives instead of S.T.A.R.S.
  • ZenRobot - April 13, 2011 8:52 a.m.

    dont know why, but i cant get excited for this. i love survival horror games too much to see them lampooned in the image of modern action games. its sad. and dead space 1 and 2 were cool, but still not quite what i'm looking for. I want a 3rd person or FPS pixel hunter with sporadic fight sequences that aren't the focus of the game, but rather diversions along the way of a mysterious adventure. I think that "Condemned" and its sequel were onto something. I wish someone would take that and expand on it.
  • BladedFalcon - April 13, 2011 3:22 a.m.

    The only game that has ever managed to scare me was fatal Frame, not even Dead Space gets more than some tension from me. So I'm really not against the idea of RE becoming more involved and serious when it comes to action. However... The focus on co-op is a downer. Fucking hell, I really wish developers stopped steering main campaigns to be played with others. What about us bitter loners that prefer to play alone? ): (And yes, I'm aware you're probably gonna be able to play on your own if you wish, but a lot of games like this, like L4D and such, really don't shine if you're playing them alone.)
  • Z-man427 - April 13, 2011 1:50 a.m.

    Wait... Third Person? I thought it was an FPS. I'm slightly more interested now
  • Danielmemo - April 12, 2011 11:44 p.m.

    I'm only excited about this because of the references to all of the other games. I'm not sure about everything else yet. I'm not as excited for this game as I was for any other Resident Evil. In fact, I think the only opportunity I'll give this game is when it is in the bargain bin
  • Yeager1122 - April 12, 2011 11:14 p.m.

    These sounds pretty good multiplayer sounds intresting with a few new things thrown in to keep it fresh instead of the usual boring team deathmatch.
  • xlyesterdaylx - April 12, 2011 10:54 p.m.

    I'm looking forward to this. I hope it doesn't flop.
  • crumbdunky - April 12, 2011 10:21 p.m.

    If we have the chance to kill Leon will we also be expected to slice up Ada? I'll kill Leon if they make it worthwhile but I'm just not keen on messing up Ada's heels and cocktail dress combo for anyone.
  • gamingfreak - April 12, 2011 10:07 p.m.

    The multiplayer sounds surprisingly good to me. It's a good idea and slightly different than your typical multiplayer (even if it sounds a bit like L4D). Looking forward to it.
  • jackthemenace - April 12, 2011 9:56 p.m.

    Whoa, that sounds awesome. Someone give me teh moneyz? Honestly, I hope there is no option to kill Leon. Not only is Leon THE best Resi character out there, that method would totally screw up the story of Resi 4. I mean, how is Ashley supposed to get her skirt looked up without us being able to play as Leon?
  • NeelEvil - April 12, 2011 9:22 p.m.

    "Naturally that puts the four Umbrella operatives in their sites" Should be sights. Not really interested in this, co-op play on consoles generally descends into every man for themself quicker than you can scream "MEDIC!".
  • F4G1TR0N - April 12, 2011 8:54 p.m.

    @Gilgamesh No I haven't played haha, I actually don't play a lot of scary games, my last one being Resident Evil 1( Playing a year ago nonetheless). I was born too young to know about most of the scary games, and I understand that there are some new ones. Lol maybe I will pick up Amnesia.
  • darksongbird - April 12, 2011 7:49 p.m.

    Is this going to be for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 again? Anyway, the game looks pretty decent. I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy it.
  • SUSMaker9 - April 12, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    Lookin' good. Multiplayer seems the most intresting, though I hope Vector can't stay invisible and attack in multiplayer. Hopefully, they'll work a system like the Spy in Team Fortress 2, though not as under-powered.
  • codystovall - April 12, 2011 6:33 p.m.

    I was worried but it seems to have an heir of spook so fine. Heres one win for the bad guys!
  • gilgamesh310 - April 12, 2011 6:19 p.m.

    F4G1TRON, I agree with everything you said but have you played Amnesia? That's scary as fuck and proves that the genre isn't dead yet. There is no need for RE to be scary any more though. It should just concentrate on doing action properly.