Um­brella Corps

Capcom di­ver­si­fies Res­i­dent Evil fur­ther

EDGE - - GAMES - Pub­lisher Capcom De­vel­oper Capcom Osaka For­mat PC, PS4 Ori­gin Ja­pan Re­lease Early 2016


The cre­ation of a droll pun al­most cer­tainly wasn’t di­rec­tor Shinji Mikami’s aim when he over­saw the in­ven­tion of Um­brella Corps, the malev­o­lent bio­med­i­cal com­pany that de­buted in 1996’s Res­i­dent Evil. But now Um­brella has be­come, well, some­thing of an um­brella moniker for Capcom’s in­creas­ingly di­verse suite of games set within the zombie-in­fested uni­verse, which now stretches from the creep­ing sur­vival hor­ror for which it’s best known through to light­gun games and third­per­son shoot­ers. This lat­est en­try, an­nounced at the Tokyo Game Show in Septem­ber, takes its cues from western mul­ti­player shooter clas­sics, com­bin­ing the claus­tro­pho­bic, duck-and-cover phys­i­cal­ity of Rain­bow Six: New Ve­gas with Counter-Strike’s quick-fire team-based pace. Lum­ber­ing zom­bies are lib­er­ally added to the mix, al­though ev­ery player starts the match with a Zombie Jam­mer, a de­vice that en­sures they won’t be at­tacked by the un­dead un­less it’s dam­aged or the player shoots first.

While Um­brella Corps might look like an off­shoot cu­rio in the Res­i­dent Evil tra­di­tion, the de­vel­oper is keen to em­pha­sise that, in terms of its fic­tion at least, it’s canon. The game takes place in the con­tem­po­rary Res­i­dent Evil uni­verse, set af­ter the events of the sixth game and the de­struc­tion of Um­brella Corps. The tim­ing pro­vides the nar­ra­tive premise: your team of mer­ce­nar­ies is one of sev­eral com­pet­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies hop­ing to be the first to pro­cure the se­crets of the de­funct Cor­po­ra­tion, whose ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and bioweapons are in­valu­able and freely avail­able to any­one who can find them.

The game, which Capcom hopes will help to re-es­tab­lish the mid­dle-sized mar­ket of

games, with a mod­est price tag to match (it will also be avail­able via dig­i­tal stores only), has been in­spired by the team’s love of ‘sur­vival’ field games in Ja­pan, the paint­bal­lesque sport in which play­ers wear body ar­mour to of­fer pro­tec­tion from the oth­er­wise painful pel­let guns. This much was clear from the only mode that was playable at this year’s Tokyo Game Show: One Life Death­match, a three-vs-three team game in which each player has just one life. Mak­ing sen­si­ble use of cover is cru­cial to mov­ing through the nar­row en­vi­ron­ment, and a so-called ‘ana­log cover’ sys­tem de­ter­mines the dis­tance you peek out of cover ac­cord­ing to how firmly you hold down the but­ton. A blue high­light tar­get pops up on the near­est piece of ma­sonry that can be snapped to and ducked be­hind. De­spite the seem­ingly de­fen­sive poise, the em­pha­sis is on speed and churn: one bumper launches a melee at­tack, an­other a gre­nade, and, other than be­ing able to reload or swap weapons, the only other con­trols are run, aim or (a very speedy) crawl.

Threats can come from any di­rec­tion, as the stages run ver­ti­cally as well as hor­i­zon­tally: play­ers may choose to camp above a stretch of cor­ri­dor, or jump down only when a tar­get passes be­neath. Tak­ing a mo­ment to check the map screen can prove deadly. Then there are those zom­bies, which can be used as a tac­ti­cal as­set. Pro­vid­ing your Zombie Jam­mer hasn’t been dam­aged by an en­emy, it’s pos­si­ble to blend in to a hud­dle of un­dead and wait for a foe. If an en­emy spots you and fires into the group, the zom­bies will lunge, not at you, but at the at­tacker, be­com­ing a kind of weaponised en­tourage. You can also lure a zombie with the pis­tol to latch onto the ar­moured bite guard on your arm, al­low­ing you to drag it around by the mouth as a thrash­ing, yet pre­oc­cu­pied, shield. The Zombie Jam­mer pro­vides pro­tec­tion but it’s a large and easy tar­get on your back. Man­age to dam­age a foe’s Jam­mer and they’ll be set upon by any nearby threats, con­tribut­ing to the chaos and al­low­ing you to use Res­i­dent Evil’s res­i­dent grunts in more in­ter­est­ing ways than usual.

The story is light – some­thing that may come as a re­lief to play­ers of Op­er­a­tion

Rac­coon City – but Capcom has clearly made an ef­fort to in­te­grate Res­i­dent Evil tropes into the me­chan­ics. The is­sue for the team, which is re­port­edly com­prised of Lost Planet and Res­i­dent Evil vet­er­ans, will be in im­prov­ing the gun­play, the stiff­ness of which works against the quick pace to­ward which the de­vel­op­ment team is aim­ing. Move­ment through Um­brella Corps is also snappy and lacks weight. How­ever, even if th­ese as­pects can be ad­dressed, there’s the broader ques­tion of whether or not there’s a sub­stan­tial enough au­di­ence for a fast-paced, close-quar­ters team shooter set within a uni­verse that’s not known for any of th­ese things. But what is cer­tain is that Capcom clearly be­lieves

Res­i­dent Evil’s sur­vival is de­pen­dent on con­tin­ued di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.

The Zombie Jam­mer pro­vides pro­tec­tion but it’s a large and easy tar­get on your back

Like the Flood in Halo:

Com­bat­E­volved, the zom­bies are in­tended to pose an un­pre­dictable third el­e­ment, adding ran­dom­ness that can be ma­nip­u­lated

LEFT Thanks to the zombie shield, Capcom wants the pis­tol to be the tac­ti­cal choice, rather than the last op­tion when every­thing else has run out of bul­lets.

BE­LOW There’ll be no cross­play be­tween PS4 and PC, an over­sight if the game fails to se­cure sub­stan­tial au­di­ences on both sys­tems

When you throw a gre­nade, a ra­dius out­line shows the ex­tent of the im­pend­ing blast, in­di­cat­ing clearly how far you must re­treat to exit the dan­ger zone

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