What Could Have Been: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

With Resident Evil 6 currently making a quazi-permanent home in my Playstation 3, I couldn’t help but find myself reminiscing about seven months ago, when my excitement for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City drowned out all of the negative chatter about it.

On March 20th, as I went to Best Buy to pick up my copy of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, I had a glimmer of hope in me that Slant Six Games would be able to pull off a strictly multiplayer Resident Evil title. To this day, I’m not sure if it was the pneumonia-driven fever or just blind naivety that led to my delirium, but I do remember how quickly my blind love for all things Resident Evil dissipated. You’re probably asking what the point of this article is, now almost 8 months after the games release. Sometimes a person just needs to get on the soap box and complain, and typically they’d like an audience with the desire and ability to respond.

To say that Operation Raccoon City was a complete failure would be pretty much on par with the truth. Slant Six’s complete lack of vision for the city of Raccoon City and apparent inability to implement solid gameplay left many, including myself, wondering why the developer even bothered venturing into Resident Evil’s waters. Operation Raccoon City didn’t have to be awful, though. The potential was there, and while the concept may not have been the best any developer could come up with, it could have rounded out to an enjoyable, lengthy play.

Imagine a game that seamlessly mixes heart pounding action segments with gut clenching horror. That image you have in your mind? That’s the game Operation Raccoon City should have been. Even with its heavy focus on multiplayer, Slant Six had the opportunity to develop a Resident Evil game that delivered for both the 3rd person shooter and survival horror audiences.

Raccoon City is, at this point in time, an iconic location; one that was already fleshed out in the now outdated Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. The broken down hospital, the antiquated clock tower, the atmospheric police station; each of these locations were given life during a time where gaming hardware was far more limited than today. So, how am I expected to wrap my brain around the reality that Slant Six thought that the alleyway-ridden iteration of the doomed city was a suitable replacement to the city we were introduced to over a decade ago?

Somehow, though, the ambitious developer performed feats far more unforgivable than the complete disregard for the series’ staple atmosphere. It created an action game that, for what it is supposed to be, is nearly unplayable. Throughout the game, I found that approximately 75% of my ammo – even the shots that were lined up with a long range rifle – decided to go around my target. Enemies don’t react when they’re hit, making it rather impossible to gauge whether or not any of your ammo is making it past whatever invisible barrier may be blocking your target.

My biggest pet peeve with this 1 star title, which has dropped from my original 3 star review (apparently I was in a giving mood that day), is the fact that, at no point in time, did I feel like I was in danger. There was very rarely that threat of a B.O.W. sneaking up on you in the middle of an action segment and, really, in a town as big as Raccoon City, zombies alone should have been quite plentiful. There was little peril, and no matter what you’re equipped with in a city overrun by unpredictable mutants and the swarming undead, you should never feel safe.

In summation, what I’m trying to get at is that Operation Raccoon City didn’t have to be awful, and thinking about it recently has made my little gaming heart sad. While many pegged it as such the moment the game’s synopsis hit the internet, Slant Six still could have delivered a multiplayer-centric, action horror Resident Evil title. Even as I make my way through Resident Evil 6, I find myself saying “Well, Operation Raccoon City could have used something like this…”