On March 20, 2012, Capcom released this Resident Evil spin-off, completing the shift from survival/horror (the firsts “true” REs) to action/horror (RE4 and 5, – RE6 came out later) to third person shooter!
As a matter of fact, I liked the idea of a TPS set up on the “dark side” since in this game you “take on the role of an Umbrella Security Service (U.S.S) Soldier and battle against all the competing forces at play in Raccoon City”. (from gamefaqs.com)
The game is set in September 1998 during the T-Virus outbreak in Raccoon City, basically right in the middle of the events depicted in RE2 and RE3.
Since the background was one of the best of the entire saga (and the games themselves still rule, IMHO), I was very curious about this game.
The first teasers I saw on YouTube were very appealing and, even if I know you mustn’t judge a book from its cover, I thought there were a lot of interesting ideas to come out with a good game. My only drawback was the fact that the game was specifically designed to be a co-op multiplayer and, as I said on my article on “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier“, I’m usually a “lone wolf”.
So I approached the game just to play the single-player campaign but, in the end, I turned out to buy a single headphone first, and a complete headset with separate channels for game sound and voice chat, afterward. Yes, I’ve been playing this game continuously for the last year or so!
Since the game came out some time ago, I guess you guys are all familiar with it and I won’t annoy you on the story. In short, you raid through the entire city “visiting” (almost) all the main scenarios of the saga (Town Hall, Hospital, Umbrella laboratories, power plants etc) trying to retrieve the Virus samples (Dr. William Birkin’s legacy), destroying every evidence of Umbrella’s involvement in the disaster and managing to stay alive while different types of enemies will hunt you down (zombies, B.O.Ws, Umbrella mercenaries and even a U.S. government elite team sent to determine the cause of the outbreak).
In this demanding task, you will be helped by other 3 team-mates in order to build the classic “party of 4”, chosen from 6 different characters.
A lot has been written on this game. Critiques range from very bad too (very) good and, for once, they are all true, mostly depending on why you are playing this game. The common opinion, though, is that this game sucks big time. Is it true? I’ll try to shed some light, with the disclaimer that this is just MY personal opinion.
Since I start to believe that many reviewers (even from very important magazines), don’t even play the game before writing about it, I will commence this article giving you a few statistics regarding my personal experience with RE: ORC…
Time spent in the game: 2 days and 7 hours (55 hours total, that is!);
Co-op campaign playing time: 2 days and 45 minutes;
Versus mode playing time: 6 hours and 24 minutes;
Enemy killed (zombies and such): 8578;
Brutal kills: 94;
XP point achieved: 530.687 (half a million!);
XP level reached (out of 99): 78 (and counting..);
The campaign played roughly over 20 times…
Having said that, I will confirm right away a few points:
1. the graphics part mostly appears low-end. It often looks like a PS2 game;
2. the controls are clumsy. The dorsal button is very good (L1 aim, R1 shoot, L2 switch weapon, R2 launch grenades, L2+R1 quick shot with the handgun (very good; often life-saving)). The others buttons, on the other hand, are horrible. In addition to what I said on an old post, the game uses “Triangle” both as melee attack finisher and as a special ability. The latter will take time to recharge after being used so, imagine you tapped “Triangle” twice in rapid succession but the first strike inadvertently killed you, opponent ……… Yep, special ability wasted!
3. the whole single player campaign is reported to last 4 hours max, but I can complete it in about 2H and 10min, mostly depending on the difficulty level chosen. There are only 7 missions in total.
4. in addition to the USS campaign, you also have the “Echo six” one (US gov special team). 7 more missions (the first is for free) that don’t really add much to the game, even though you get to see something else in Raccoon City and protect little Sherry Birkin from zombies. In this way, she will be able to grow up and to be the main character in RE6 (was it worthy, then? LOL). As usual, Capcom add-ons are well known to be expensive ….. Let aside “Dark Arisen“.
5. The Artificial Intelligence really feels like “Artificial Stupidity”! In the single-player campaign, your AI-controlled teammates will be the real nightmare to face, since they tend to be very slow in helping you up and, usually, they’ll try to “commit suicide” instead of taking cover.
I was never able to finish “Echo six mission 1” by myself (against Nemesis) since they all just died trying to kill Nemesis face-to-face. As a result, I ended up to be all by myself against him and hordes of zombies …..
a. the graphics part has its strong points. The game features a dynamic lighting that casts credible shadows all over the place. Unlike most games out there, you can actually shoot anything you see. Bullets will leave credible holes to walls and other hard materials and will crash almost everything else. You can shoot vehicle headlights and a flashlight or military light packs in order not to be seen. Every time you take a lamp out, the environment will get darker. You can shoot monitors, TV sets, surveillance cameras (you’ll get additional XPs here), street lightings or neon signs and it will all have effects.
You can also shoot fuel barrels and Gas Stations fuel pumps to achieve additional damage on enemies, both in the co-op campaign and in the versus matches.
Explosive grenades and flash-bangs will deepen your experience, adding a touch of tactical thinking to the game.
b. If you have the luck to play this game with friends, the experience improves dramatically. Co-op friends will help you out a lot, backing you up with health packs or anti-virus medicines and reviving you if you get killed. The voice chat allows for a coordinated action, so even Nemesis can, in the end, be killed.
c. most important of all, playing with human friends is fun and rewarding. In my experience it always feels like the good old times: you insert a coin and you are ready to start. You don’t even have to take turns since there is room for 4 people in “the party” and friends can join you even after game start without the need to get back in the lobby (just invite!). Now you would probably argue that the price of the game outweighs these benefit and you are probably right. From time to time, though, PSN has good offers and I recently saw the game on sale for just 14Euros (or so).
d. I love the background music, composed by Japanese artist Shusaku Uchiyama. I even bought the album on Amazon. It features a double CD package, one dedicated to USS and the other to Echo-six.
The overall length is over 2hours and even though a lot of tracks are just sound effects, there also are very inspired songs like “The U.S.S. soldiers”, “Wolfpack”, “Confrontation” and many others.
e. if you elect to play a “versus” match, there are a few different game modes you can use: “time attack” (classic battle match); “Survivor” where you have to resist until you can board a rescue helicopter; “biohazard” (a capture-the-flag variant) where you have to retrieve virus vials and take them to your base and “hero mode” in which you can play as Leon, Ada, Claire or Hunk (and a few others, including Carlos Oliveira).
Hunk has been a “mythical creature” since RE2 and here you finally get the chance to have it as a playable character. Too bad that Slant6 artists decided to redraw his main features since his face-mask now makes him look like a rat…
Now, in the end, should you play this game? My personal opinion is that (sadly) this game had very good intents but failed to realize most of them.
The campaign could have been longer (at least around 10 missions or so) since there were other things to do in Raccoon City. A better gameplay could have allowed for a much deeper need for strategy, for example covering your mate from a stand-off position o luring your opponents into explosive traps to secure your way out. All the needed weapons and abilities are already in the game, but at present, it does not make a big difference if you use them or not.
For all these reasons I guess I then should say NO! On the other hand, if you are an RE fan like I am, and you have friends to play with, that’s all a different story.
As a matter of fact, my session starts almost every night at 20.00 (Italian time zone) and now I’m getting ready for the next one. I got to reach XP Level 80, at least!
IT FEELS SO GOOD TO BE THE PREDATOR AND NOT THE PREY ANYMORE!
Edit 2017: In the end I did it. I reached Level 98 (see pictures below)