13th Sep 2012
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PS3)
Developer: Slant Six Games
Genre: Action \ Third-Person Shooter
Platforms: PC, PS3, X360
Release Date: 23rd March, 2012
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (ORC) breaks tradition by letting you shoot and scoot. The idea here isn't to conserve ammo or derive thrills from the typical jack-in-the-box trickery. Think of this as a mix of classic Resident Evil characters, populating a world woven from the gameplay elements of Syphon Filter, with the pacing of Left 4 Dead. The lack of an RE-style inventory screen is the most significant change here. It's clear that this instalment emphasises action over the traditional survival-horror elements.
There are a total of six playable characters, each specialised in different combat disciplines and bearing unique abilities. You have a recon expert capable of invisibility, a scientist with the ability to reprogram BOWs, and a demolition expert who can, you know, demolish shit.
Looks like someone got beaten up with the ugly stick.
The preview version starts off in an Umbrella Facility, where William Birkin from RE2 injects himself with the deadly G-virus, thereby setting up a boss fight. The faster pace of the combat and added agility still doesn't take away the familiar feeling of helplessness when facing off with the heavies. In case you're unsure, that's always a good thing in a survival-horror game.
Like Left 4 Dead, ORC is built from the ground up for co-operative gameplay. This includes online as well as offline co-op action, with bot support as well. Unfortunately, the preview offered neither online nor offline co-op modules. What I could play however, was a co-op campaign with bots for company.
Capcom has added an interesting gameplay twist in the form of infection. Once that happens, you have limited time to find and use an anti-viral spray. Either that or you turn into a zombie. Other twists include susceptibility to bleeding, which makes you the prime target for zombies over your teammates. Little details like these make the co-op experience quite enjoyable.
Who's watching your six, fellas?
I hope the retail version's offline co-op mode includes the ability to share a controller with a human friend as well. I say this because I found the bots to be rather lacklustre, if not downright incompetent. My AI buddies often rushed towards submachine gun wielding foes to hilarious effect, although they held up surprisingly well against boss enemies.
That being said, let's not knock over the devs for a preview build. On the bright side, the action is fast and the controls fluid enough for fun firefights. Even the cover mechanics are pretty intuitive, which should make for interesting PvP action. Little niggles aside, the preview version seemed pretty fun. However, I can't really vouch for the game till I've tried out the crux of the experience - the online co-op mode. I hope Capcom has spent the final development time well to prevent another Resident Evil: Outbreak.
Asura's Wrath (PS3)
Genre: Action \ Third-Person
Platforms: PS3, X360
Release Date: 24th Feb, 2012
What do you get when you put God of War (GOW), Dragon Ball Z (DBZ), and Rajinikanth in a blender? Nothing, because it's impossible to blend Rajini Sir! However, if it were possible, you'd get Capcom's upcoming button-masher Asura's Wrath (AW). This is a popular genre and the Devil May Cry-maker has stuck to the basics.
Like GOW's Kratos, Asura is a demigod betrayed by his peers, which is just an excuse to play the angry protagonist card. Our hero's rage is matched by a simplified combat system replete with over-the-top attacks and a seizure-inducing light show. The few levels that I tried in the early preview build ticked the laundry list of genre staples such as a flashback-based narrative, quick-time events, insane attack combos, and a healthy mix of cannon fodder as well as the mandatory oversized bosses.
The boss enemies are downright humongous.
Combat is easy to get a hang of and involves the usual light and heavy attacks, in addition to projectile-based and supercharged strikes. The preview build seemed quite lenient, to the point that some of the quick-time events were triggered even when I pressed the wrong key, or nothing at all for that matter. The game is obviously a work in progress, which might explain why the build that I tried didn't have as many combos and damage multipliers as the average button-masher. Hopefully, the devs are working towards adding more complexity and depth to the fighting mechanics.
Thanks to a story interspersed with flashbacks, the levels and gameplay elements tend to shift wildly as well. In one chapter, I battled a colossal demon elephant, whereas the next one had Asura flying into attacking warships in a modern-day, bullet-hell implementation of Space Invaders. The final release is expected to modify gameplay and fighting elements, based on Asura's state in the story. For example, in one part I kicked demon ass with six arms, while in another chapter, I was reduced to the usual two.
Yeh haath mujhe de de, Thakur!
If the name didn't tip you off yet, the game borrows elements from Indian mythology. However, don't expect the dark and terrifying depiction of Agni, Rudra, and Vajra like in Capcom's other action title Devil May Cry 3. AW's character art is a strange mishmash of Indian mythology and DBZ, with steampunk elements thrown in for good measure. The result is quite unconventional, if not outright interesting. However, I personally would have preferred it if Capcom had stuck to the brand of Indian mythology it used in DMC3.
What the character design lacks in badassery is made up for by a huge dollop of manga reminiscent of DBZ. Unfortunately, I found the cutscenes to be rather long and pointless. Hopefully, this will be fixed with tighter editing in the retail version.
The cheesy dialogue and voice acting is another thing that needs attention, but I'm afraid it isn't something that can be fixed without a lot of work. However, considering the rich source of mythology and the dependability of the genre, there is a lot that Capcom can do to polish AW into a competent action title. In its current state, the game's merit depends upon how you look at it. As a GOW clone with an Indian theme, it doesn't look all that promising. However, if you enjoy the over-the-top action and pacing of DBZ, this button-masher should get your juices flowing.
The five-crore question is: do we have a GOW-killer on our hands? No, not unless Capcom can pull off a miracle in the final development stages.
Hands On — Resident Evil: ORC, Asura's Wrath (PS3)
A sneak peek at two upcoming PS3 games - Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and Asura's Wrath.
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