Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (360[reviewed]/PS3)
Developer: Slant Six Games
Release date: March 20, 2012
There's something unbelievably satisfying about a really good action game. Explosions near and far, the battlecries of friends and enemies, the sounds of bullets ripping cloth and flesh and bone—it's something that Call of Duty does particularly well, which may account for some of the series' success. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City doesn't get it down perfectly, but it's close enough for me.
ORC tells the unnecessary (though not unwelcome) tale of Raccoon City's zombie virus outbreak. Yes, this event has already been covered, originally in Resident Evil 2, and then again in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles. Should Capcom be coming up with original stories instead of continuing to give us alternate versions of stuff we already know about? Probably. But then again, Capcom's last attempt at an original RE story was the unimaginative turd known as Resident Evil 5. And let's be clear: I'll take ORC over that any day.
You play as the Umbrella Security Service's (USS) Delta Team, tasked with infiltrating the city, retrieving samples, eliminating survivors, and covering up the corporation's presence there. You're the unapologetic bad guys, clad in black, there to do a job for money because you really don't give a fuck. Anyone standing in your way is an obstacle to be overcome, and anyone who doesn't share your ideology is a liability.
Characters and enemies from past games make regular appearances, like gun-toting olive branches for classic RE fans willing to try out something more action-oriented. Capcom doesn't want you to be left in the dust. Like the series' G- and T- and every-letter-of-the-alphabet-virus-infected monsters, you've just got to adapt.
Were it not for a few glaring flaws, the game's combat—its only real element, lacking exploration, puzzles or dialogue—would be perfect. As it is, it's visceral, loud, crunchy, exciting, and thoroughly enjoyable. There's a large selection of weaponry, from lowly pistols to tommy guns, sniper rifles, heavy machine guns and grenade launchers. They all feel sufficiently unique, with detailed stats granting each specific strengths and weaknesses. It's often difficult to decide which to purchase next with the experience you gain after campaign and versus matches.
Melee combat allows you to pull off some brutal up-close kills, while holding the melee button takes a zombie as a meat shield. The "quick draw" action pulls out your sidearm and lets the game aim for you. It's faster than reloading your primary weapon, and it's a valuable ability in lieu of a quick-turn function. Sprinkle in some extremely liberal auto-aim—which many will no doubt count as a flaw—and you often don't have to aim at all.
But the real flavor of this experience—the 21 seasoning salute to its action-packed flank steak, you might say—is the class system.