Current SOCOM caretakers Slant Six are the first Western developers awarded custody of a Resident Evil title, the non-canonical spinoff, Operation Raccoon City. And according to publishers Capcom, it's in very safe hands, with producer Masachika Kawata telling Eurogamer the team's history of multiplayer-oriented shooters convincing the Japanese juggernauts they were the right choice for retrofitting the nominally survival-horror franchise for a shoot 'em up audience. It'll be their best game, too, apparently.
Set during the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3, Operation Raccoon City is an entirely tangential plot, with Slant Six dismissing canon for an action-centric approach centering on an elite Umbrella spec ops unit dispatched to the titular city to wipe out evidence of the company's involvement. It's a class-oriented affair, with the Umbrella group comprised of four members; Vector, a stealth-specialist with a cloaking ability; Specter, a surveillance expert who can sight enemies through solid objects like walls; Bertha, a medic who can inject teammates with an adrenaline shot that boosts speed and accuracy; and finally Beltway, a burly damage-dealer who can soak up considerable punishment.
So far, not very Resident Evil, at all. The anachronisms extend to gameplay itself, which is nowhere near as sluggish or restrictive as past RE titles. You can strafe and shuffle while shooting, duck into cover smoothly and perform complex CQC takedowns. The gunplay is said to be as smooth and tight as you'd expect from the developers of SOCOM.
Raccoon City is as you might expect, however, crawling with zombies and desperate survivors to sweep under the proverbial rug. You'll face off against the usual rabble of slack-jawed, brain-dead shufflers - which is decidedly easy, according to early reports - but Slant Six are shaking things up with the introduction of B.O.Ws; Bio Organic Weapons like the T-103 Tyrant, which act similarly to the special-type zombies in Left 4 Dead.
Operation Raccoon City is shaping up to be a very interesting addition to the Resident Evil franchise. It's a bold move from Capcom, not only in passing development duties to a developer - a Western team, no less - but also in completely tossing out the usual RE tropes, like survival-horror and restrictive controls. We'll keep our eyes on this one, you can be sure of that. [Eurogamer]