When Umbrella Corps was first announced I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. A competitive shooter in the world of Resident Evil? After the mixed reception earned by Operation Raccoon City, I couldn’t help myself but think it likely that this game would follow the same path. Were my thoughts on point? Or was I not giving the game I had yet to play enough credit?
Let’s take a look and see!
In the Resident Evil universe, the Umbrella Corporation was known for its experimentation with biologic weapons which lead to among others, the Raccoon City incident. In 2003 the organization was brought down and now, in the present day, other corporations with interests in bio-weaponry have hired squads of special forces to send into virus infected areas to take place in experimental battles against other mercenaries.
It also just happens to be that many of these virus infected areas are right out of time, including areas like outside the Police Station in Resident Evil 2/3 and inside the station itself. Sadly, these aren’t exact replicas- as they have been altered to fit better into the play style of Umbrella Corps. While many of the areas in the game’s world have been re-created for these experimental purposes, it seems that at least the village from Resident Evil 4 that you travel too might actually be the same village– where it is said (according to the single player mission briefing) “The Plaga parasite hasn’t been fully contained”. The date on this mission is May 21, 2012- a whopping 8 years after the events that took Leon through it in Resident Evil 4. So just to be clear here, in the 8 years since RE4, no one has gone through this area and run clean up? It’s still being used for experimentation on the parasite? Ok.
The single player campaign in Umbrella Corps fails to deliver any kind of meaningful narrative. One mission had my character going into an area with a shotgun because:
According to the BSAA battle manual, the wide spread of the shotgun is more effective against the infected than high-precision weapons. Well… we’ll have to put that theory to the test then.
The maps in Umbrella Corps vary from “small” to “slightly bigger” which I’ve found creates problems upon spawning. During my time with the game I often found myself witnessing re-spawns right in front of me. Which is great for me, I need the kills, but re-spawning right in front of an enemy combatant isn’t good design. Another example was during a domination round where I spawned quite literally, right next to the domination point the game wanted me to capture. The visuals on the levels themselves (as well as some enemy models) can be questionable as well. I personally found the look and feel of the village level (taken from the village in Resident Evil 4) and its Ganado occupants to be of lesser quality than the original. Something just looked… off. Maybe it was the rendering done by the Unity engine the game runs on, or perhaps it was missing that atmosphere of the original.
Once you leave the timeline and level design out of everything, we get to the gameplay, which sadly, I didn’t find any better.
Of course, in order to even participate in the online matches you’ll first need to be paired with other players. Often times I’ve found the wait to be a couple of minutes if not more to gather up enough players for a game. I would hate to think that a game that just came out is already not having enough people play it to have quick match times.
The game puts you in an over the shoulder third person camera view that many fans of the series may recognize- although this time around, the camera is zoomed in quite a bit which makes your character take up more of the screen that most would like. When playing online, you’re matched into 3v3 matches which will contain modes like domination as well as modes where you’re tasked with killing the undead enemies on the map, or a specific, stronger infected enemy. Each player is equipped with the “zombie jammer” which will allow players to navigate each area undetectable by the undead. However, an enemy on the other team can damage your jammer, making you noticeable to the infected in the area which will then start to run towards the player. It’s an interesting mechanic, and can be quite a hindrance.
Sadly, the undead aren’t the only hindrances you’ll face during a multiplayer match. The “brainer”, a melee weapon that actually just looks like a climbing axe, feels incredibly overpowered at this point in time. Many of the games I’ve played simply had people running around with the brainer equipped and animation locking their kills in with it. Additionally, the cover system in Umbrella Corps feels quite clunky. As you move around each level you’ll see sections of walls or other obstacles become highlighted, letting you know you can use them for cover. Unfortunately once you’re in cover, the controls aren’t intuitive enough to make it feel like taking cover is actually beneficial.
One of the things I will say I enjoyed with this game was the character customization. You can change many parts (and their colors) of your equipment including your weapons. Once they start being used in combat, your weapons will level up, unlocking new sights, scopes, silencers, and color schemes. The same goes for your personal equipment, the more you play the game and level up, the more customization opens and weapons you’ll get access too. The only downside to that is it requires you to actually play the game in order to unlock them.
At the end of the day, Umbrella Corps was a game that nobody asked for. It’s bad outweighs the good and because few people are playing, has longer wait times than a two day old competitive online shooter should. The only saving graces this game has is a host of decent customization options and the fact that at $29.99, it’s not a full price game. Though I would argue that even at that price, Capcom is asking too much.
Capcom provided us with a copy of Umbrella Corps on the PlayStation 4 for review purposes.