Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City hands-on preview

Throughout the campaign, the Umbrella team will run into all manner of hideous creature. However, they represent just one faction in the siege of Raccoon City; a team of US Spec Ops soldiers are also on the scene, sent to retrieve Umbrella tech for government use and stop anyone who gets in their way. Naturally that puts the four Umbrella operatives in their sites, which nicely sets up a 4-on-4 multiplayer component where you choose a side and blow the hell out of each other.

Above: Spec Ops move in to steal any Umbrella tech they can

On the surface, the multiplayer feels like any other third-person shooter; run, take cover, hold L to bring up the sights and pop off a few rounds and so on. But what really sets this apart from similar shooters is the Resident Evil bestiary, which fills each map with zombies that’ll attack any member of any team. With all these flesh-eating monsters roaming the streets, you can’t stop moving for too long, as they’ll gang up on you and trigger a “blood sense” that alerts all baddies in the area to your precise location. It’s kind of like L4D’s boomer bile, except blood sense is activated when your HP runs low and not an enemy’s specific attack.

There’s another twist – every three minutes or so, a hunter will appear on the map and target the top player. As you’re probably aware, hunters can lop your head off in one swipe, so seeing one stomp in your direction is every bit as scary as it was in the original game. Even with a machine gun you’ll need help taking one of these things out. We hope more RE staples appear as dynamic, momentum-changing creatures for these multiplayer matches. Maybe Tyrant will roam in after a team gets so many kills? Sounds cool to us…

Above: When these guys show up… steer clear

The big takeaway was that neither the campaign nor this multiplayer felt like Left 4 Dead at all. It’s a fair comparison to make at first glance – both are 4-player shooters revolving around a zombie outbreak, but while playing the actual game, we never got a L4D vibe at all. These specialists are trained and capable, so you never get a true sense of fear, and there’s more emphasis on using your own abilities than reviving fallen teammates. That said, the class-specific abilities can stack, so for example Vector could activate his stealth camo while Bertha gives him an adrenaline shot, creating an invisible, highly accurate soldier. So you’ll want to keep your friends in mind, but not in a dire L4D kind of way.

We’re intrigued by the possibilities of Operation Raccoon City. If done right, it could be an intense, action-heavy take on the RE series that still pays respect to the monsters and scenarios that helped make RE2 such a memorable hit. This is going to be one of Capcom’s biggest games, so we expect to see much more at E3 in June, and likely even more throughout the year.

Apr 12, 2011