E3 2011 Performance Review: Operation Raccoon City shoots, then shoots some more

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Honor your favorite series by hunting down and killing its main character!

Looks like Resident Evil‘s gone the way of Kingdom Hearts. With the future of its main numbered series of games in question, Capcom took the franchise on the “spin-off” and “spin-off on handhelds” route while the brass flounders about with what they need to do to make Resident Evil 6 a success. I offer one tip: Don’t make it like Operation Raccoon City.

At least don’t make it like its single-player mode. Or cooperative campaign. Or whatever it was I played at the Sony booth. It was called “cooperative campaign”, but I could’ve sworn I was just playing by myself. There was nothing cooperative about it, despite a few human beings playing the same game (maybe?) next to me. No team-up attacks, no recovering each other, no helping each other out in any sort of way at all. But then if we did all that we’d be playing a lousier version of Left 4 Dead then, wouldn’t we?

So, what makes it lousy? It feels just like we feared it would: SOCOM with zombies. The exact same controls, the exact same layout, even the exact samey-same way levels are laid out. Hide behind chest-high barricades, shoot braindead zombies, occasionally toss a grenade out or change weapons once in a while. The same cookie cutter template that was prevalent all over E3 this year. Is this the only way to revitalize a flagging franchise? Farm it out to the West and turn it into a shooter?

Resident Evil fans may be happy to play a SOCOM mod of their favorite series, that is, if they’re fooled easily by nostalgic throwbacks like a word-for-word recreation of the intro from Resident Evil 2 and a guest appearance from Kendo’s gun shop. Hunters and Lickers return, too. That’s cool and all if you like nostalgia-mining, but then the camera pulls back and there you are controlling some new faceless jerk no one cares about, who spouts macho curse words out in true cliched modern shooter fashion. Nothing feels very Resident Evil about that, and unless it comes from Marcus Fenix or Cole Train, I’m damn tired of it.

Maybe I’m burned so badly because this was the number one game I was looking forward to most at this year’s show. Maybe I just played the wrong demo. There was no “co-op” to be found in this co-op mode. Capcom’s booth had a different demo, a competitive multiplayer mode complete with an announcer shouting out the play-by-play. I didn’t play that one, but I doubt I would have really garnered that different an experience from it. Or maybe that really is the mode to play! It’s not like I ever touched Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood‘s single-player, and I love that game. So, I’ll try and keep a more open mind about this, but the fact that I knew exactly what Operation Raccoon City was going to be before even touching it left me disappointed, and maybe even a little disturbed. Am I that jaded or have games become that predictable?

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