Pre-rant clarification: I am not a Resident Evil fan. I’ve actually never played one before this because I never owned an original Playstation and even when I had a PS2 I quickly traded it in for an Xbox at the persuasion of a friend.
The first one to become available on the 360 was Resident Evil IV, and I didn’t see the point of playing the fourth installment (or rather something like the fifteenth if you count all the remakes and spinoffs and side stories and crap). So anyway, yeah, I’m not a fan or even a vet. It probably stands to reason, then, that I have no right to critique the latest installment in the series without knowing anything about the previous titles. But, I’m going to do it anyway.
Plot and Characters
Like I said, I know nothing about the series, so I’m speaking based only on what I was able to gather from playing Raccoon City. You play as one of several faceless mercenaries who have been hired by the evil Umbrella Corporation (for if you ask any form of media there is no such thing as a good corporation or even a neutral one) which is comprised of evil bastards whose experimentation with controversial drugs has led to a massive outbreak of zombies. Derp.
Problem one right off the bat is that all the characters wear sinister gas masks. Without faces, characters are dehumanized. And as per usual with Capcom, I’ve seen better writing in the works of Louis Sachar. Swallowing the horribly clichéd plot and the awfully-written lines was more difficult than swallowing barbed wire, although paying $60 for this game would take about the same level of insanity.
Part of the reason for the awful writing is that the player can choose any one of six operatives in the campaign. This means that their lines all have to be pretty much the same to keep the plot going in the same direction regardless of who you choose to play as.
Between this and the aforementioned masks, the characters aren’t relatable in the slightest. They serve their purpose a bit too well, so there’s no sympathizing with them whatsoever. They’re just robots off an assembly line, completely interchangeable with one another and really with any testosterone-overloaded soldier with a gun. It’s tough to be scared when I have no concern for my character’s well being whatsoever.
There’s another thing worth mentioning: this game is classified as survival-horror, but there’s nothing horrifying about it. Seriously, it’s not scary in the slightest. Your character wields a variety of machine guns, grenades, and a giant hand blade, he’s not relatable in the slightest so there’s no picturing yourself in his shoes (although that could just be because Grad School has sucked all of my imagnation away and replaced it with flowcharts), and the fact that there are six of you and your teammates can be revived an infinite number of times takes away any intensity.
This is not horror, Capcom. Amnesia: the Dark Descent, that was horror. You were alone, you had no weapons, and you barely caught glimpses of the demented monstrosities that were aching for your man bacon. Raccoon City gets none of that right. The only thing scary about it is that a board of execs somewhere saw this and thought it was good enough to release into the market.
There’s little to say. It’s just another bland third person shooter, another half-assed attempt to get a slice of the financial pie that games like Gears of War raked in. Every corridor and open space is littered with four foot walls to hide behind, there are ammo replenishers every few feet, even on hard, and you’ll spend your entire experience going from point A to point B whilst killing everything that moves along the way and occasionally backtrack to find arbitrary items meant to pad out the length of the campaign.
The one thing I do remember about Resident Evil IV from watching a friend play it was that the inventory system was pretty cool. You got a suitcase with a limited number of spaces arranged in a grid pattern. Every item and weapon took up a certain number of those spaces, so you were limited to the confines of your suitcase, but at the same time the option existed to rotate items and rearrange the to try and cram as much crap as you could squeeze in there like your mom tries to do when you go on vacation.
Anyway, I was kind of looking forward to that part, but lo and behold, Raccoon City says “screw that noise!” and cuts your inventory down to three slots on the D-pad, one for grenades, one for health spray, and one for anti-infection serum. You know, just like all the other boring shooters out there. I guess Capcom decided that we were too stupid to figure that part out, or more likely they just decided that programming the suitcase inventory was more work than they were willing to do. I understand that Resident Evil V did something similarly retarded with its inventory.
Inventory issues notwithstanding, the actual gunplay is as slapdash as you can get. You run, you hide, and you shoot. Occasionally you toss a grenade or blind fire from cover. Not grenades, though. No, your scholaraly character feels the need to stand and expose himself every time he tosses one from cover.
Zombies are pretty easy targets, but enemy soldiers can prove to be quite the pain. They’re heavily armored and have impeccable aim, even from hundreds of feet and through smoke. They can also shoot you when you’re in cover, which would be justifiable if they were to the side of me, but that’s not the case. It’s because your character is apparently too stupid to keep his head below the top of a piece of cover when he’s hiding.
The game occasionally tries to shake up the monotony a boss fight, but even then you’re still running and/or hiding behind cover and/or waiting for the boss to expose his weak point. It does pretty much nothing to make the game more entertaining, but it certainly makes it more frustrating and tedious, so congrats there.
You can play co-op online. You have the option of making your single player game public so that anyone can join you at any time. I don’t know if you can play against each other. Frankly, I didn’t care enough to try.
I’m sure I’m setting myself up for another flogging with this review, but this game was just completely awful. I didn’t bother to finish it because I found I couldn’t play it for more than an hour without getting bored into a zombie-like state.
The story is complete tripe, as are the characters’ lines, the gunplay is lame and totally unoriginal, and it’s not suspenseful or frightening in the least. I think I only got about halfway through. Maybe after that Raccoon City is nothing short sunshine and rainbows beamed directly to the happy gland, but the first half is worse than eating a brick after having your teeth drilled.
Investment suggestion: Take the money you would have spent on it and put it in a savings bond. If you must see it for yourself, however, then rent it. For a day or two. Any more than that and you’re taking a loss. Trust me, I had it for seven.
The above is only my opinion. It just happens to be right.