Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City - Hands on-with Versus mode

Going multiplayer with team good versus team evil

As well as an extensive campaign mode where you get to step into the leather clad shoes of the Umbrella Security service during the Raccoon City Outbreak, plus some interesting co-op variations, Operation Raccoon City features extensive Multiplayer and Versus modes that allow you to explore some interesting team game mechanics.

We recently took an extensive hands-on tour of duty through these very modes, which support four versus four team battles playing as both the thoroughly evil USS and the clean cut, square jawed Special Forces sent to thwart them. Here's what we discovered...

Just like in the main campaign game, you start by picking your character, each of which boasts a special ability. We were particularly fond of recon specialist Vector, who's ability to cloak in and out is great for ambushes and sneaky backstabs, but in the end we stuck with team leader Lupo who can activate a concentrated 20 second rain of fire on anyone unfortunate enough to get in her way.

You can also customise your weapons and load out too, with a good selection of assault rifles, SMGs, pistols and grenades. Once you're kitted up it's straight into the fray with ORC's versus playlist, where different game types are cycled through to keep things interesting.

First up was Biohazard mode on town hall, a kind of treasure hunt conducted in the gloomy corridors and sweeping hallways of the old town hall. It plays a bit like capture the flag, or in this case capture the virus, as you hunt out individual samples of the G-virus and then return them to your home location for safe retrieval.

USS and Spec Forces each has a different spawn point and a floating icon leads you track down individual samples, while keeping a wary eye out for the opposition. This quickly becomes a real tussle with multiple choke points, as try to snatch the sample, evade the opposition and dodge any stray low level Infected who happen to be stumbling about. A real pro tip for this mode is to shoot to wound rather than kill your opponents, then run away sniggering as the Infected zero in on them like blood-crazed crack addicts - leaving you free to smuggle the virus sample back for a score.

Next up was Survivor Mode on Blood Drive, probably our favourite versus mode of all as it affords the maximum opportunity for sly tactics and sundry giggles. Blood Drive is set in Raccoon City's hospital level and has you race through the burning wards in a desperate sprint for the last helicopter out of Saigon, while simultaneously evading infected, lickers, hunters and the opposing team.

Highly competitive and enormous fun, it's particularly satisfying when you elbow one of your opponents out of the way just as they think they're climbing aboard, claiming that vital last slot and get choppered out into the sunset. Hands down probably the most fun of all the various versus modes, as it affords the most opportunity to make the special forces look like fools.

Team Attack on Train Wreck was pretty much your standard straight up balls out team deathmatch, but actually none the worse for that, with the idea being to just frag the special forces as many times as possible. The train yard, which was an evacuation point for survivors during the Raccoon City disaster, is a maze of box cars and wrecked locos with a few higher vantage points which you can reach by ladder and snipe down at the opposition.

It's very easy to get caught up in the carnage here with hordes of hunters being a particularly difficult foe to avoid, but with a few well placed grenades you can usually clear a bloody path to your goal. Crunchy and visceral, team attack is well placed for some optimal four versus four carnage and the train wrecks and carriages provide a good ahem platform for some traditional old school shooting fun, with wide open spaces interspersed with tight close quarters combat opportunities.

Next step on the Operation Raccoon City level randomiser thrust us into the Heroes mode where you can choose some of the iconic characters from the whole series like Chris Redfield, Ada Wong, Jill Valentine and Lone Wolf.

Handily we managed to secure one of our all time favourites Hunk and with a mission brief to take down the opposition's squad leaders, there's no denying, it's a great deal of fun to do battle as some of Resident Evil's most famous characters.

In the narrow walkways and confined galleries and gantries of Lock Down, which is an ultra secret Umbrella warehouse, where they keep all their most secret experiments, your melee attacks can be devastating, so don't be afraid to get up close and personal for some proper knife-wielding mayhem. Just to make things even more interesting a chain-gun wielding nemesis was suddenly thrown into the fray and ducking between his attacks while still hunting out the opposition made for some interesting tactical choices, with all four heroes teaming up to deal with the mutual threat before settling their own differences.

Scattered throughout ORC's versus modes are also a bunch of special weapons crates which you can break into to supplement your own standard ordinance. These can really tip the balance in tight matches so, we advise filling your boots as soon as you discover one of these beauties. During our time with the Versus mode we came across a particularly handy grenade launcher which was excellent for bouncing explosive pineapples into your enemies' faces, but by the far the most devastating weapon had to be the flame-thrower, simply point and toast to sow utter confusion amongst the special forces.

If perhaps you had to level any criticism at Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City's versus modes you might say they're perhaps the deepest and most profound online shooting experience you'll ever have, but that doesn't stop them still being tremendous fun. Not very deep but still very engaging is how we'd put it, especially if you love the whole RE universe.

Quick matches and rapid rounds give the game real pace and keep your interest alive - you're never out of the game for too long - and there's good variety of game types, weapons and characters to explore. It may be very different from your standard Resident Evil experience, but it's none the worse for all that and as fans will find once they've completed the story campaign, the various multiplayer and versus offer more than enough to keep you going.

As producer Masachika Kawata recently told us, the development team thought it was "important to broaden our market by creating spin offs" and with OCR's extensive multiplayer options, on this evidence we'd say they've succeeded admirably.

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