I can’t imagine how the pitch meeting for Umbrella Corps initially went at Capcom. “Hey, we should make another competitive Resident Evil game.” “Um, didn’t Operation Raccoon City only sell moderately for us?” “Yeah, but look. Call of Duty has big multiplayer numbers. If we tweak our formula just enough, we can have that kind of success.” “Well, shoot, what can go wrong?”
What, indeed. It’s almost like Capcom didn’t really learn from the mistakes that overtook Operation Raccoon City at times, and instead managed to make something even worse with Umbrella Corps. There are some appealing factors here, like a number of upgradeable items and support for single player missions, but it’s all buried under clumsy, unlikable gameplay that doesn’t really do the material justice.
The game takes place a couple of years after Resident Evil 6, where you play some no-name character that’s trying to hunt down some research hoping to chain together what happened at Umbrella. Of course, the story doesn’t really have much to offer here, since there aren’t too many recognizable characters from the Resident Evil world. In fact, this is about as “one off” as you can really get, and it’s bound to be annoying for fans – especially after the $50 price tag.
First, let’s talk about the perspective. The game is third person, but Capcom somehow made things worse with Umbrella Corps. Whereas the previous game had a good third-person camera, this one is just awful, with your character having major presence on the screen. This gets in the way of you trying to do any reasonable aiming or, worse yet, missing out on any zombies that are crawling on the ground until they’ve already attacked you and done their damage.
But that’s just a small part of the problematic gameplay. The shooting doesn’t feel fun whatsoever, as you’ll struggle a good amount of the time with the traversal system, the shooting and even the cover techniques. That’s right, you get behind cover and find that, most of the time, it doesn’t even work to your advantage, resulting in a whole lot of accidental deaths and major frustration. Even experienced shooter fans will be scratching their heads and going, “Is it me?” No, no, it’s not, player.
The game is split into two parts. The first is single player, which is monotonous and boring, with no real compelling story elements to move things forward. It’s just a wave-based affair where you fend off zombies and whatever else comes your way, including an incredibly unfair Brainer that takes a massive amount of damage to bring down.
The other, which is even worse, is online. The game does feature some match-up variations, but, seriously, you’ll be lucky to get into a match within a matter of minutes. Capcom’s matchmaking system is beyond broken, with nothing to really make it worthwhile. While the maps are impressive, with locations taken straight from Resident Evil games (but, again, no real characters), getting into a match with one of them isn’t really worth it. It’s like waiting to get a gourmet meal, only to find that it’s lukewarm.
The presentation is rather ugly – in fact, even below the standards of the HD version of Resident Evil 6 that we checked out. The graphics fail to impress, looking something along the lines of Operation Raccoon City (if it went with more traditional map design); and the sound doesn’t do much either, with poor voice acting (where’d Rachel Lara go from Raccoon City? I miss her) and below-average music. It’s like the developers didn’t even try to up their game.
The only real merit that Umbrella Corps has is with its upgrade system, as you can purchase a number of weapons and decals, and customize your character in a number of different ways. However, it’s a completely moot point if the game just isn’t fun to play – which Umbrella Corps just isn’t.
I’m not sure why Capcom thought it could try to catch lightning in a bottle with this formula, because it can’t even muster a little storm. Umbrella Corps feels like a waste of development time and effort, and isn’t likely to please anyone, save for the Resident Evil fans that were wondering, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if Capcom made a competitive game?” And for the two of you wondering that, hey, you already got Operation Raccoon City and its co-op support. Enough is enough.