The madness of Raccoon City, bottled.
A zombie outbreak is a messy affair. While you were busy exploring Raccoon City after the viral pandemic in Resident Evil 2, there was a war going on in the streets. How the hell did you miss it? Mercenaries and government agents were trying to blow each other sky-high, not to mention all the bloodthirsty hordes of zombies. You really didn't see all that?
Maybe it's because Operation Raccoon City's pervasive darkness makes it nearly impossible to see anything at all. Unless you turn up the game's brightness to its maximum setting, you're likely to miss key gameplay elements… and nearly everything else. I mean all the way up. Don't stop at half.
There's a lot to gripe about in RE: ORC, but the lack of visibility is easily the most pervasive problem. The darkness makes it nearly impossible to play the game with any sense of what's going on right off the bat, but the glitches only add to the confusion players will have.
The very first game I played had a glitch where an exact duplicate of my character was running around on my behalf, mimicking my movements and taking damage for me. The next game made me think I was invincible, taking out zombies and opponents alike, but in reality the match was suffering from crippling lag.
It didn't stop there. Other matches produced zombies that wouldn't die or geometry that hadn't been rendered. The ability to turn yourself invisible is incredibly easy to abuse in Versus multiplayer and new players will find the climb to a competitve level far too daunting.
While the campaign has its ups and downs and might be considered canon in some part of the world (where they don't have the other Resident Evil games), it's a totally skippable affair. You can play cooperatively with three other friends, but you might have to buy their copies for them because I'm recommending they don't join you (and even you do, they will have better things to do).
Even the controls are frustrating and unintuitive. Sticking to cover isn't controlled by the player whatsoever, which in competitive multiplayer games is Cardinal Sin #1. Players can knock their opponents down and proceed to empty magazines into the decked victims, but they STILL WON'T DIE.
In fact, you can become infected and your health will slowly tick down until you become a zombie too. At this point, players can no longer control themselves and are left to watch as they run around hungry for brains. Your opponents can shoot you, while your teammates can shoot you or spray you with anti-viral spray. Guess what your teammates are 10 times more likely to do.
These are creative mechanics, if anything else. The problem isn't with Operation Raccoon City's premise. There's plenty of excellent games that came before and are very worthy of mimicry (Left 4 Dead), but the execution here is all off.
For one, it should never have had the Resident Evil name attached to it. It smacks of purely business-oriented decision-making. Players are guaranteed to walk into the store and see that name and expect something completely different. It's not fair to consumers and Resident Evil fans alike.
Second, much more thought should have been put into the way the game looks. There's a level of style that any developer wants to bring to the table, but it shouldn't get in the way of someone playing the game, which is exactly what the grainy, muddy, darkness in ORC does.
Third, Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City feels like an experiment, one with a poor hypothesis. With Capcom's push to promote the Resident Evil brand as a blockbuster franchise across platforms and in the theater, they've created a monster that shouldn't have seen the light of day.
I'm fine with multiplayer Resident Evil games. It's been done properly with co-op and even in the PS2 days with the Outbreak series, but if you're building a multiplayer component for a future release (like Resident Evil 6) don't let us see and play the rejects for ourselves. You'll only serve to hurt that brand you're relying on so heavily.