Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City – Review (PS3)

The premise of Operation Raccoon City is a great one – you’re a team of operatives that work for Umbrella, the evil corporation at the heart of all the trouble caused in the Resident Evil universe. So for one thing you’re seeing the universe from the other side for a change, add in the fact this is all taking place alongside the events of Resident Evils 2 & 3 and you have something full of promise.

The setting is pretty cool, obviously this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Raccoon City but the developers do a good job of bringing it (back) to life and it was interesting to see the more open, chaotic side of the virus outbreak as opposed to the tight corridors etc the genre usually introduces. Of course there are also enclosed environments but these were your standard internal locales.

Graphically the game wasn’t great – it certainly wasn’t terrible but no boundaries were being pushed here. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, it just meant having played games recently like Max Payne 3 and Mass Effect 3 that excelled graphically, Operation Raccoon City looked pretty flat in comparison.

One of the biggest pluses for me alongside the story was the soundtrack, which helped drag you in during intense moments. Sound effects in general and the voicework for the characters weren’t great though, which was a shame.

The game can be played as 4 player co-op although I’m not really sure how much this would really add to the experience. I already felt like I was doing the lions share of the work when playing on my own and not enjoying it massively, so would doing less be better or make it more boring? I guess it would depend on who you were playing with – regardless it’s nice to have the option.

The combat wasn’t great, with shooting in particular feeling slightly off. I couldn’t really put my finger on exactly what the issue was but it made for some frustrating gun battles. The melee combat was ok but if you get overrun it’ll likely be game over.

I like the idea of becoming infected if you get bitten but the mechanic here is simply ‘find and use a blue potion to cure yourself’ within the next 20 seconds or die. I would’ve much preferred them to explore a path whereby if you get bitten it can last for a few levels before you fully succumb to it – maybe give your character a slight shake as they aim that gets worse over time until you’re cured. Or have enemies appear that aren’t there as you unravel. I think it sums up the entire game that with all that potential the developers went with the easiest out.

As well as Zombies you’ll be facing off against special forces operatives (for story reasons that I won’t divulge) and these guys can be a real pain in the ass. Their AI seems to be much better than your team mates and at times I felt the game just threw loads of the special forces guys at you to lengthen some of the gun fights.

Overall then Operation Raccoon City is a great idea executed poorly. There were a few excellent moments but they don’t do enough to make this a must-play. Fans of the series will no doubt enjoy the crossover and nods to Resident Evil lore but the whole time I was playing the game I just couldn’t get over how stale it felt. Not bad, not good just… average.

Rating: 5/10

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Resident Evil 5 – Review (PS3)

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The Resident Evil series has been a staple of most gamers experience over the last 13 years or so.

Most people will have played at least one game in the series, most gamers will have played all of the main story games (i.e. 1,2,3 and 4) and the hardcore will have also played the numerous spin off games (Code Veronica, Zero etc).

It is a much loved series and for good reason – despite some difficult control issues and extremely hammy dialogue the games really developed the ‘survival horror’ genre and have given us some brilliant boss battles and a fair few genuine scares along the way. Resident Evil 4 remains the only game to ever make me yelp loud enough that someone in another room heard me 😳

And so I was greatly looking forward to the next instalment which had been in development since 2005 and teaser trailered since 2007!

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The game begins with Chris Redfield arriving somewhere in Africa and meeting up with his new partner Sheva Alomar. First thing I noticed was how impressive the cut scenes looked – this was consistent throughout the game and they have obviously done some great motion capture work.

You make your way through the small, run down shanty town to meet your informant. Things are given a sinister twist as you pass a group of villagers beating a man shaped body bag that is still moving. The fact they stop what they are doing and stare you down is a nice touch.

And so the game progresses from there, (very) different setting, same old Resident Evil.

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There were a lot of people complaining about the control system (myself among them) after playing the demo but having spent more time with the game it really isn’t that bad.

The game takes in various settings in Africa before moving indoors and to a night setting for the final third.

One thing that did cause a fuss from the trailers and even some reviews of the game was the racism angle.

I don’t believe for a second that Capcom intentionally made their game with racist undertones but I have to admit some parts of Resident Evil 5 seem to play to old stereotypes – for instance the tribal characters. Now I understand there probably are tribes in Africa that have similar looks to those in the game but the ones in Resi felt a bit like a caricature of a tribe.

However the worst offender for me is the baffling decision to make a woman being dragged screaming into an alley white. I don’t recall seeing any other white women in the zombie contingent (I could be wrong though) so it seems a bad choice to have black male characters dragging a white woman down the alley. Shock tactics? Perhaps, it just seems a shame if they honestly think we gamers wouldn’t have rushed to the aid of a black woman just as quickly as a white one.

These are minor gripes in my opinion and I don’t think any of this was implemented maliciously – just badly thought out.

And apart from the instance above I didn’t really notice who I was shooting – I just aimed at anything that moved 😀

The gameplay was what you would expect from a Resi game and if you liked 4 you’ll be well catered for here. Fans of the earlier games may find themselves disappointed as the series seems to be moving toward the action genre at breakneck speed.

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The pacing was generally fine but my one major complaint of the entire game was Chapter 4. The two parts of this chapter take place in an underground ‘Drake’s Fortune’ type of shrine. Pull this lever, make these stairs change. Move this mirror and reflect the light etc.

I just can’t help but think they got this far, thought “oh we need more puzzles” and just shoe-horned this whole chapter in. The puzzles were poor and easy – not much of a challenge and quite frankly I would urge people to get through this part as soon as possible and then forget it.

The game is great before Chapter 4 and improves more afterwards.

Your AI (or human if you’re lucky enough to get someone to play with you 🙂 ) teammate is more than adequate but a bit more communication might’ve been a help – in one instance I was running round for ten minutes trying to locate something I needed to finish off a boss only to realise Sheva had picked it up but hadn’t told me she had it!

The system works well and she saved me on more than one occasion. She sticks close by and doesn’t go off wandering too much so I’d say her inclusion is a positive one for the series.

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The boss battles are typically huge in scale and most enjoyable. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot and a few old faces turn up (as always 😆 ) – however the main twist is the most obvious plot twist I’ve seen in a long time and I was a little disappointed to be proved right.

Taken as a whole Resi Evil 5 is a brilliant game and one that I would recommend. Graphically it’s stunning and while it isn’t a hugely difficult game you’ll enjoy playing through and unravelling the story.

It survives the huge expectation of following Resident Evil 4… just. This is a game that everyone should play as Resi comes to the new generation of consoles. It’s not as good as 4 or, in my opinion, Dead Space but it is an enjoyable playthrough and well worth a (head)shot.

Rating: 8/10