Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Soul Not So Dark, and Raccoon City Under Siege Again, Film at 11

I gave up and traded Dark Souls in for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City after one final, earnest effort to get somewhere without wanting to ragequit the game. After ragequitting (again) and then moving on, I feel as if I finally got out of an abusive relationship. On the downside, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is not the stellar game I (didn't really) expect it to be, although it is fun. It's key problem right now is that it is a bit of a genre break from the traditional Resident Evil format, and so far after only a short time playing through its clear that the game is influenced a bit more by the amoral badassery of Milla Jovovich's character in the movies and slightly less so by the more plodding, sense-of-dread and threat ambience of the classics. It's also clear that this game is trying damned hard to inject a little bit of the RE universe into the Left 4 Dead/Call of Duty/Gear of War multiplayer co-op mode. In fact, just about every move you can make in those aforementioned games is available here.

RE:ORC so far underwhelms for two reasons, though: so far its a linear cooridor slog, and although it's trussed up nicely the fact that I noticed this about 5-10 minutes in is a bad sign of linear cooridors to come. There's nothing wrong with linear game design, I feel, so long as the game's level design does a good enough job of fooling you into not noticing; this is not doing a good job of it. It seems like a lot of Japanese-developed games (for example FFXIII) have this problem.

Second, and more importantly, the game feels kind of by-the-numbers, like the lead developer had a list that marketing gave him after they played L4D, MW and GoW and other games, of each game feature or element they wanted represented here. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it may be the reason the game feels less like an original romp, and more like a "trace"  of  these other games.

Also, there's a lot of classic "hide behind conveniently scattered industrial boxes while capping enemies too dumb to crouch low enough not to have their noggin blown off" gameplay.

It's too early yet for me to say anything else, but if it gets better I'll talk about it more. I do like the character models....the Umbrella goons in your squad are all a bunch of fine, evil looking/acting/talking psychopaths. And Hunk, the unfortunately named side character from the bonus quest in Resident Evil 2 (or was it 3?) shows up right off as a truly malicious patron/insitgator (and ally, at least for now) from the get-go. That part is a lot of fun, and distinguishes this game from the rest of the RE series in a cool, interesting way.

And for the record, as new co-op multiplayer games go, this one has other recent efforts (like the unfortunate Payday: The Heist) beat hands down with better gameplay and even better AI so far. On the other hand, like many co-op games these days its missing a split-screen mode, which disappointed my wife greatly. Not gonna go out and buy a second copy (or second Xbox) anytime soon just to play with her. would be a good excuse, though.....

It's kind of weird, really, it feels like the late 90's all over again with the old PS1. I have Silent Hill: Downpour, the Silent Hill HD Collection and now Resident Evil's latest game all sitting in my console collection waiting for Marcus to fall asleep so I can play. The more things change...

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