If you need any more evidence to suggest that Capcom has its eyes firmly focused on appealing to Western gamers, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is it. Developed by the Canadian outfit Slant Six Games (most famous for their work on the SOCOM series) this latest entry in the esteemed survival horror franchise is the first to be developed outside of Japan. And, if early looks are anything to go by, Raccoon City looks set to deliver more shooting less surviving and more action less horror.
Raccoon City is set during the events of Res Evil 2 but doesn’t seem to bare much in common with the series elsewhere. This is a team based shooter, playable by up to four players who take on the roles of an Umbrella Security Services squad. Your goal is to eliminate the police presence from Raccoon City which, if you remember your history, is being overrun by zombies. And, yes, Leon Kennedy is a part of that police force. Can you kill Leon? Perhaps. If you can, then what more of a statement needs to be made about the change in direction for the series?
Despite the ‘squad based shooter’ tag, Capcom have been quick to reassure us long-term fans of the series that Raccoon City will boast a strong story that stands up to what we’ve seen before. For a series that is remembered as much for its characters as it is for its gameplay, Capcom would be foolish to have it any other way.
Rather than bow to the currently fashionable ‘character creation’ approach, Raccoon City’s four protagonists are distinct individuals with their own strengths and weaknesses. The recon specialist ‘Spectre’, demolitions man ‘Beltway’, stealthy ‘Vector’ and medic ‘Bertha’ (the single female of the troupe) make up your options and you’ll need to stick with your choice throughout the game – no changing characters after each mission (versus mode pits you against a US army spec ops team who possess the same skills).
Unsurprisingly, with a game that seems to be set on bringing so many changes to a distinguished franchise, it’s going to be some time before we get to grips Raccoon City, try to work out what Capcom’s plans for the game are and whether or not we appreciate the diversion. A co-op campaign in which we’re wasting zombies with our friends sounds fun, but is it fun enough to make us not mourn the loss of the survival horror gameplay we’ve come to love and, in all fairness, has impressively evolved over various iterations?
Let’s hope so. Let’s hope E3 addresses and calms some of our fears.