The latest Resident Evil thriller is a third-person, team-based shooter staged in the familiar environs of Raccoon City, the most zombified town in all of gaming. Set during the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3, Operation Raccoon City puts your team in the middle of the zombie hell your bosses created, with orders to eliminate all traces of their connection to the brain-munchers' march. It's a clever concept, and a rather dark one.
Unfortunately, the concept fails to blossom into a great game, or even a good one. A team-based game must have great ally and enemy AI; this one has neither. It's amusing to see your squad partners set off trip mines and scream in agony as they collapse on the ground in a burning husk, but those are the same partners you're relying on to have your back while your bullets inexplicably pass through your enemies' skulls or hit marks wide of the targets. You can revive your partners if they die, but why bother? They're as useless as a knife in a zombie fight.
Oh, except that in this game, your knife is Paul Hogan-powerful. As with the guns, melee attacks are a bit of a gamble, but you'll win big if you connect. In classic Resident Evil games, the knife was that thing you used only when you had no other choice. Now you can mow down enemies like weeds. Where's the fear in that?
The enemy AI is equally bad, with the ungodly zombie creations of the past games reduced to dribbling twits who are as likely to kill themselves by licking an explosive gas canister, or get trapped in a warehouse shelving unit, than give you any trouble.
Even the suspense is gone. It used to be that you'd fear what might lurk behind every corner. In this Raccoon City, you play a guessing game in which you open a door and wonder if you'll reveal brain-deficient zombies, brain-deficient soldiers, or a whole load of nothing.
Play this in the dark, turn the volume up, do whatever you can to make the conditions perfect for a good, old-fashioned fright fest in Raccoon City, because this game will not do it for you. This represents an opportunity missed, and a wonderful concept trashed.
Platform: Reviewed on Xbox 360, also on PS3