E3 2011 hands-on: Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

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If you feel like playing Resident Evil, but your friends won’t leave the house, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City may be for you. Looking back and forward at the same time, Capcom has decided to revisit the events of Resident Evil 2 in a “what if” scenario while substantially altering the controls of the series. For the first time (that I know of), ORC lets you walk around and fire your gun at the same time.

We had a chance to check it out at E3 and walked away impressed, sort of. The game looks very much like Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5, with crisp textures and detail-rich environments, but everything about it has been amped up for speed and scale.

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In the 10-minute Xbox 360 demo we played through, you play as special Umbrella agents tasked with ridding Racoon City of its zombie problem. Three other players joined in LAN to co-op our way through the scenario, which had us looking for Leon Kennedy and, well, shooting a lot of zombies and Lickers (T-Virus mutations that have a big tongue and tend to walk on the ceiling). Like previous RE games, you control your character from a third-person viewpoint, but this time you have a visible on-screen reticle to guide you and full FPS controls, complete with running, melee, grenades, a radar map, and special “skills.” My favorite abilities were pressing A to stomp on a zombie’s head and a fun one-hit kill melee attack that can be pulled off with the B button and a little time and luck. If you run out of ammo, you also have an emergency pistol which appears to auto target the nearest zombie in your field of vision. Fans of the RE fans will be happy to know that the pistol has a laser sight.

In our demo, we could choose from six characters, each with their own skill sets. A choice of eight to 10 basic weapons were also available. Capcom representatives told players to try to work together, but the teamwork appears to mostly come down to everyone shooting as many zombies as they can without being bitten. When we cleared out our first city block, we all had to enter a garage together where Lickers attacked us. Once they were dealt with, we entered our last area, which threw even more zombies at the ‘team’ from all directions.

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There are a lot of zombies. The infected masses are everywhere and seem to look and act somewhat more like the speedy braineaters from Left for Dead than a typical Resident Evil game. It’s a lot easier to mow them down than it has been in past games in the series as well. While we might be inclined to complain about this, reps told me that as an Umbrella special forces team, you’ll also have to face off against government soldiers and agents as they attempt to deal with the mass zombie epidemic themselves. We don’t yet know if the multiplayer is playable over Xbox Live, but we are hoping it is. The campaign mode definitely supports solo and LAN for up to four players.

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City will hit Xbox 360, PS3, and PCs this “Winter.”

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