From the moment I purchased my first PlayStation for the sole purpose of playing the original "Resident Evil," Capcom's survival-horror franchise has held a special place in my heart. The recent shift to a more action-oriented experience has left that relationship somewhat strained, but I will always be a "Resident Evil" fan.
But in spite of all my affection for the series, I just couldn't come to love "Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City," the squad-based third-person shooter set during the events of the original outbreak.
As a fan of the series, I was thrilled at the possibilities that "Operation Raccoon City" offered. The thought of being able to experience key moments and revisit familiar locales as a member of the deadly Umbrella Security Service had me genuinely excited for "ORC." And I relished in the many references the game made toward its predecessors. But that nostalgia can only carry "Operation Raccoon City" so far.
What lies beneath all of the admittedly cool "Resident Evil" trappings is little more than an average squad-based shooter with a hit-or-miss automatic cover mechanic. After choosing your character and assembling your team of unique USS operatives, it's a straightforward march through hordes of zombies and opposing soldiers.
The game's biggest shortcoming, the wonky AI of your CPU teammates, can be eliminated by inviting three friends to your game and tackling the story mode in co-op, but playing solo can be frustrating. The real fun here lies with the competitive multiplayer modes, which range from the standard deathmatch to a "Resident Evil"-inspired take on capture the flag in which you fight through clusters of zombies to retrieve vials.
While "Operation Raccoon City" probably isn't the "Resident Evil" game most fans have been clamoring for, it should at least sufficiently hold them over until "Resident Evil 6" arrives later this year.
"Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City"
Developer: Slant Six Studios
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 ($59.99)
Rating: M for mature