Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City hands-on preview

When your zombie apocalypse doesn’t go as planned, send in the cleanup crew

Not long ago, our sister magazineOXMrevealed 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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s survived, including innocent bystanders and wayward cops %26ndash; 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 prot%26eacute;g%26eacute; 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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s not nonstop action though %26ndash; 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%26rsquo;s when we saw the imposingMr. Xdrop 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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s so far MIA).

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

As for the %26ldquo;kill Leon%26rdquo; angle, developer Slant Six has said it%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s a canon way through the campaign, and then there%26rsquo;s the possibility to alter the storyline and, just maybe, kill Leon. Slant Six said that path is more %26ldquo;fan service%26rdquo; 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%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;ll detail on the next page%26hellip;

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