Resident Evil © Capcom

In this week’s Red Bull Gaming Blog, Glen Ferris goes back to the scene of the original outbreak with Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City before checking who won what at the Gaming BAFTAs and marvelling at some new footage from DiRT Showdown and F1 2012.

Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City – Review

If you’re one of those people who fear change, then you may not like what’s been done with Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City.

Aside from a few recurring characters, the requisite crappy dialogue and the classic deep-voiced “Resident Evilllll!” that welcomes players to the menu page, it’s all change. Gone are the finite ammos supplies, absent are the slowly opening creaky doors and lost is the creeping sense of impending doom.

What you’ve got instead is a brand-new spin on the age-old survival horror formula that expands on the co-op play from Resident Evil 5 but relocates the action to a spin-off tale from the original Racoon City outbreak previously explored in Resi 2 and 3.

The company that gave us a pair of SOCOM iterations, Slant Six, have taken the reigns of this non-canonical story and subsequently introduced a whole new style of play -gone are the lone-wolf stylings of earlier instalments and introduced is the spirit of co-operation as you and some buddies or online players team up to join an Umbrella Corp clean-up team tasked with destroying all evidence of company complicity in the humanitarian disaster.

Up to four Wolfpack team members (from a total choice of six) enter the tale just as the loony William Birkin has injected himself with the G-Virus, the catalyst for the whole damn FUBAR. The single campaign finds you choosing one player while the rest of the team is controlled by the computer – the AI of which is pretty impressive, save for the odd occasion when a colleague stands around doing nowt in a zombie-infested firefight.

Unusually for a Resident Evil game, ammo and health is plentiful as the emphasis is firmly on action rather than survival. This could well piss off the RE faithful but it makes for a nice change to be cocked, locked and ready to rock rather than being caught in a room with a Licker and a single bullet following an ill-advised save point.

That’s not to say Operation Racoon City is a complete fragfest. The mix of various foes – be they human or otherwise – means you often have to think before you shoot. This is where the team play comes in to its own as real players can strategize their next salvo instead of simply going in all guns blazing. The more damage you take, the more hordes are attracted to the scent of your blood, so tact and forethought is advisable ahead of gung-ho behaviour every time.

Graphically, the in-game action is liable to occasional dodgy pixilation and too many impenetrably dark corners, and it doesn’t stand up to well compared to the excellently polished cut-scenes, but such is the pace of the action that you don’t really care about how pretty anything is.

Owing a debt of gratitude to the Gears Of War series, Operation Raccoon City nevertheless provides its own unique jollies. A fine single-player campaign mode and an excellent series of multiplayer games (including the likes of Heroes, Biohazard and the Xbox 360-exlcusive Nemesis Mode) proves that change can occasionally be a good thing… Well, at least until Resident Evil 6 hits our shores later this year.

Byte-Sized News

  • Just when you thought the red carpet was rolled up and the pricy tuxedos were put in mothballs, Awards Season has briefly bobbed back up to the surface with the prestigious Gaming BAFTAs. To keep a short story even shorter, the London-based event saw the likes of sci-fi puzzle shooter Portal 2 grabbing the Best Game, Story and Design gongs, while Battlefield 3 was named best game for Online Multiplayer and Audio Achievement while also taking home the GAME award (an extra special trophy as it was voted for by the British public). Most deserving of all perhaps was erstwhile Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, who was declared Best Actor for his sterling work as The Joker in Batman: Arkham City - a game which also won the Action award. Check out the complete list of winners and losers here.
  • The latest trailer for the upcoming DiRT Showdown plays like the stuff of which Michael Bay dreams about after he’s eaten too much cheese. A nightmarishly brilliant conflagration of head-on crashes and twisted metal, the clip is comprised of some awesomely brutal gameplay from Codemasters’ break from the rallying norm. The game is set to debut in May on Xbox 360 and PS3. Check out the Massive Damage video right here…

  • Considering the huge success and critical acclaim for F1 2011, it’s little surprise that Codemasters are already hard at work on F1 2012. The game, which is due for release in September across all the major platforms, will be aiming for an even higher level of realism than last year – a pretty tough call when you consider how true to life the last instalment was. In fact, many drivers – including the likes of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Stefano Coletti – have used the game to enhance their circuit knowledge, as F1 2012 Creative Director, Stephen Hood, discovered when he travelled to the Yas Marina Circuit (home of the Abu Dhabi GP) to talk to the next generation of Formula One drivers…

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