Raccoon City Reunion
Of zombie gang bangs and group aerosol spray-downs...
Published: February 10, 2012
Now, at first thought, this seems mildly cool. Not only does shooting zombies waste my ammo, it gives away my position to the opposing team. This presents a problem that could be interesting to solve. Maybe I should pack a silenced weapon as a sidearm to take them out without alerting other zombies or the opposing team? Or instead, I could use my shoulder tackle to knock the zombie down and then stomp him out before he gets up to stay quiet AND preserve ammo. These would all seem like good ideas...if the zombies weren't dumber than...uhhh, zombies?
These aren't your typical brainless zombies. No sir. These are special education, assisted living zombies. They failed to even notice me while standing right in front of them, let alone get aggressive on me. They're all painfully slow too, except the occasional Hunter who would appear out of nowhere to knock me to the floor, only to stare blankly at me before barreling off and letting me live.
This presents a much bigger problem than you might think. Compounding the issue is that your XP gain for killing zombies is almost non-existent. No reward for killing them + them being too dumb to be threatening = the best answer to zombies is IGNORING them. Considering that dealing with the zombie threat was the main thing separating this game from the sea of multiplayer shooters out there, that's not a good thing.
It also has the unfortunate side effect of rendering classes with zombie related abilities worthless. I mean, mutating a zombie to be your ally sounds pretty cool, until you actually do it and watch him flail about pointlessly doing nothing for you. Zombies are also responsible for infecting player characters, which should, in theory, make the medic's infection healing special ability vital to a team's survival. But since the zombies can effectively be waltzed by, infection ends up being a non-factor, making the medic's ability worthless.
Which leads me to another gripe I had. Classes don't feel "classy" enough. That is to say, they don't feel specialized like in Team Fortress 2 or even Battlefield 3. The different guns don't feel distinct enough, and outside of that, the only thing that makes a class unique is it's special ability. For instance, the only thing the medic has going for him outside of being able to deal with infections is that he starts with a one use green herb aerosol spray that heals hims and any surrounding allies. It's the same healing item that anyone can pick up off the ground in any of the maps. So as a medic, I've got a useless ability, and one use of an item that any other class can easily gain access to. Not really what I had in mind for a dedicated healing class.
All the other classes feel similarly under developed. Most of the special abilities have such a marginal effect on how you play your character, that things quickly devolve into standard multiplayer shooter fare, and from what I experienced, Raccoon City's mechanics in that department just aren't strong enough to carry the game. Aiming is decent, but a far cry from the fluidity and accuracy of the Call of Duty franchise, and the cover system is outright painful. Whenever you get near a wall, the game automatically puts you in cover, leading to awkward movements at the worst possible times.
I could go on and tell you about the dropped frames during busy firefights, or the so-so visuals, or even the ho-hum map layouts, but there's little point in doing so. The core mechanics in Raccoon City are half baked, leaving little reason to sweat details. It's a shame too. There are some interesting concepts at work here and with more polish and follow through, this could have been something unique. Sadly, I came away feeling like I had played a mediocre multiplayer shooter with a Resident Evil skin slapped on. Not even a Wesker cameo could salvage this one, I fear.
Oh well, there's always the single player right? Right?!