I stopped expecting Resident Evil spin-offs to remain true to the franchise years ago, so my first hands-on session with the newly announced competitive shooter Umbrella Corps wasn’t much of a disappointment. But it wasn’t that exciting either.
Capcom says that its new 3-vs-3 multiplayer-only competitive shooter takes place in the Resident Evil universe, but outside of the Umbrella name, a vague story nod, and a bunch of zombies, there’s not much here that feels like Resident Evil. It actually feels a bit generic at first, though you’ll be too busy running from both your enemy team and roaming zombies to worry too much about that.
Umbrella Corps pumps in some smart ideas to close-quarters team shooter play to turn up the heat and keep play times short and punchy. Small maps have plenty of places to hide from the enemy team, but zombies are roaming everywhere, adding a secondary threat level to the mix. Thankfully, each player is equipped with a Zombie Jammer, which makes the wearer invisible to the undead, but taking damage can knock the jammer out, leaving the player open to both enemies and zombies. Smart players will watch their own backs while trying to take out others’ jammers.
My play session took place in a lab, where medical tables, equipment, and air ducts provided plenty of cover. This allowed me to test the game’s variable cover system, which brings analog control to hiding, allowing the player to slowly peek in and out of hiding with subtle finger movements. It’s a neat idea, but actually getting into a cover state to use this feature was troublesome. Corners and edges of other surfaces light up to show cover-ability, but they weren’t sticky enough, and I found that it was just easier to avoid trying to hide.
After a few tries (and deaths) in a series of quick one-life-per-round mode games, I found that sneaking around was fairly enjoyable. Either crawling or walking slowly in a crouched state got me pretty far in matches, and for the rare times I was surprised by an attacker, the devastating Zombie Brainer melee weapon (a beefy handheld blade) saved the day. With my jammer on, I was able to crawl right past zombies and sneak in head shots, and I eventually learned to put the handheld headshot shield to use for defense in showdowns.
Umbrella Corps is fun in a simple laser tag kind of way. It’s fast and easy, sure, but it lacked any real depth for me. Worse, movement is light and skate-y, and the shooting felt washy and weak. It’s all serviceable, but nowhere close to memorable.
It seems like Umbrella Corps would be a good time for a few multiplayer matches, but there may not be enough here to keep things interesting beyond that. Hopefully there’s more meat on these bones.