Umbrella Corps Lacks Horror, Appeal [TGS Hands-On Preview]

Try as Capcom might, it can’t make a deathmatch game on par with Counterstrike or Metal Gear Online.

I was led into a room to play Umbrella Corps with a bunch of other writers. The story goes that there are Umbrella Corpses all over the place, and the Umbrella Cops on the Umbrella Corps have to put down their Umbrella Cokes and put on their Umbrella Coats and load their Umbrella Colts to prepare for battle against other Umbrella Cops, after which they will file reports in UMBRELLA CAPS.

Umbrella Corps is a game in which nothing matters. There are zombies around; they don’t matter because they don’t really attack you. But you can wrestle the zombies and use them as shields; this doesn’t matter because that doesn’t actually help you. But you can destroy an opponents “Jammer” machine so that zombies will attack him; that doesn’t matter because if you have time to aim at the Jammer, you should really just shoot him in the head. Or anywhere.

The same went for the hybrid melee weapon and navigation tool “The Brainer.” While we got quite a long talk about it before the match, no one used it any more than any other melee attack in whatever other shooting deathmatch game. For navigation, perhaps some tricks might come along for very, very seasoned players, but for the group of us newcomers, that thing didn’t prove essential to victory.

In the mode we played at Capcom’s big gameplay event thingy, a single death meant you were out of the game. This, like everything, didn’t matter. It didn’t make anyone more cautious, they all still kinda runned and gunned. Wait, ran and gunned. Stupid verb conjugations. A few times, people (including myself) tried camping in a corner or key spot. I was on both the giving and receiving end of bullets to the head. I guess that’s kind of nice that you can’t just pick a spot and camp the shit out of it.

The developers want quick matches, in their own words. They told us that’s a key to the game, and that’s why they picked single death matches for us to sample at TGS. That’s exactly what it sounds like, a single death puts you out of the match. It did indeed make for quick matches, which felt pretty good. It makes comebacks a little tougher, but hey, different game with different rules, right? Impatient players might be bothered by the idea of dying once and then having to wait for both the match and the load times before being able to pick up a gun again, but I didn’t have any issue with the pace or flow.

We played 3-on-3, but after only a couple of fights, our third guy decided he would rather have a personal guided tour than play the game himself, so he dropped out, leaving me and my partner to fend for ourselves against a full squad. On one hand, it’s only a one-man advantage, but on the other, that’s 50% more manpower. So that was the beginning of our demise. We got handily slaughtered after that.

While not too shabby mechanically, Umbrella Corps failed to stand out or leave an impression that makes me want to go back. It seems like decent fun for a short time, but I can’t picture myself choosing to play it amid so many other great games.

There was also disturbing lack of umbrellas.