The Resident Evil series has been subjected to many different sequels and spin-offs, each with varying success. Umbrella Corps, Capcom's newest venture, completely disregards the Resident Evil formula in favor of a fast paced multiplayer-centric shooter that attempts to rival games such as Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, and the like. By no means is changing the game’s main formula a bad thing, but Umbrella Corps lacks the polish and substance for it to remain a contender in such a competitive genre. Though, in Capcom’s case, they must have figured that any game with the Resident Evil label would make them money, and it is quite clear that they did not put any effort into creating a true quality title.
From the moment I started up Umbrella Corps, I checked all of the options and menus only to find a multiplayer menu with two different 3v3 game modes, and a single player mission mode called ‘The Experiment’ that is essentially a horde mode. The single player missions can consist of one or all of the following goals: defeat a certain number of enemies, capture a certain amount of flag points, or collect a certain number of ‘briefcases’. This may sound like a lot of variety, but with over 20 different missions to play, they’re all pretty much the same. To make matters worse, they get increasingly difficult to the point where it becomes virtually impossible to make small mistakes without major consequences. The story of The Experiment is quite simple. You’re some average mercenary being put through a bunch of tests to see if you can handle the fight. Realistically, this doesn’t make any sense as it claims to take place after Resident Evil 6 and nothing happens as a result of the testing. The narrative takes place in small text bits before each mission, but it doesn’t motivate you to complete your tasks, as it just frivolously adds plot to your pointless escapade of mindless violence. You’re just a nameless character that was made for a bit of extra cash.
Ultimately, Capcom wanted the main focus to be on the competitive multiplayer aspect of the game, but this mode clearly received the least amount of work. More or less, it’s the exact same thing online as it is in single player except you are on a team of three competing against another team of three. To add some variety, there is an additional, online only mission that involves killing a selected target five times. Each team has a different target on the enemy team that rotates every time that the target is killed. The mission ultimately ends after the fifth point is earned by one specific team. The fun is even more disturbed with a ridiculously large amount of zombies around trying to kill you on top of the other team. Thankfully, the AI is dumbed down online but the scores aren’t even calculated based on your skill during the game; it’s all based on how many zombies you’ve taken down and how many deaths you’ve accumulated. This completely defeats the purpose of competing against an enemy team to see which group can complete the tasks better. Of course, there is another mode in multiplayer which is a bit different, but it’s still very flawed and exceptionally boring. This game mode is your basic Deathmatch with only one life per round. That means if you die once, you’re out until the round is over. Other than that, there really is no more variety, giving you a very small amount of freedom during your gameplay.
While the visuals aren’t that bad, the animations are absolutely pathetic. I’ve seen animations on early PlayStation 2 titles that make this game look like a complete joke. When you run, your character looks like he is being forced into a simple animation that took but a few seconds to create. When you turn the camera, there is barely an animation to be seen; the camera basically just turns. Speaking of the camera, Capcom couldn’t place the camera in any worse of a location. It is very difficult to spot any incoming infected enemies coming from the sides or behind you since the camera is mounted on your shoulder. Another odd design choice is that your character is on the left of the camera by default, though it is just a small nitpick. You can change this, but it is certainly a little shocking at first if you’re not expecting it. The HUD is an utter mess to look at, and overall makes the game look a bit more unprofessional. Some of the effects are kind of sad, and the sound quality is not the best either. Shooting your automatic rifle sounds more like a woodpecker than a machine gun, and the music is so quiet and bland that it’s almost as if it weren’t even there.
Where mainstream competitive shooters have the advantage over Umbrella Corps is that their games control and play well. The main issue with Umbrella Corps isn’t the idea, and honestly I would appreciate to see the competitive shooter genre fit into the franchise, but the game doesn’t control well at all. Aiming is way too finicky, making it extremely difficult to hit a target down the sights, not to mention that the gun is generally not the best option when fighting hordes of enemies. This is due to the low damage output mixed with the generally bad control scheme. Ideally, when going through hordes of enemies, you should take out your dedicated melee weapon and kill every enemy in your path with just one blow. The only time this doesn’t work is with the mutated zombies that appear every once in a while, or when dueling it out with other players online. Overall, playing the game isn’t too hard. You can easily run forward, slice up the zombie in front of you, move back, and repeat. What does make the game hard in the later stages of The Experiment is the lack of safe areas to wait for your health to recover. While I recognize that the game is intended to be a horde survival shooter, the later missions make it very difficult to stay alive, especially if you’re forced to hold a point in one area for a certain amount of time. The only helpful bug I found that makes the missions easier is that the AI cannot reach you if you stand on top of the cars. This only helps for a little while, as when you get off of the vehicle, you’re completely vulnerable to enemy attacks.
In Multiplayer, you’re basically just forced to run around and kill the opposing team. The game tries to fill in the empty space with missions that you compete against your enemy to complete, but it ultimately just results in trying to find the enemies and killing them. There is no depth to gameplay as the weapon loadouts don’t make much of a difference, and there isn’t much variety in that anyway. There is a useless cover system that barely functions, and there is no reason to strategize any kind of tactics. The only freeing mechanic is the ability to customize your character’s colors, and that’s not enough to be a saving grace. At the end of it all, Umbrella Corps desperately tries to follow the conventions of a competitive shooter, but nevertheless fails to succeed.
Umbrella Corps absolutely is the worst game to be released during this generation of gaming. The controls are an absolute nightmare, the premise adds no depth to the series whatsoever, and worst of all, the only distinguishable feature making this title a Resident Evil game is the rehashing of areas and enemies from previous games. Seeing Capcom’s fingerprints on this title really makes me worry for the future of the Resident Evil franchise. Sticking to the roots of survival horror might not be the most varied option for the series, but if this game is any indication of the series’ direction, it might be best to stick with what Resident Evil has always done. Even though it is only a spin-off title, hopefully Capcom can use Umbrella Corps as learning material in order to make Resident Evil 7 and all future titles much better. It is uncertain what influence this game will have on the future of the series, but what we do know is that this competitive multiplayer shooter is a colossal waste of time, and a total failure.
Most of my time is dedicated to tearing apart games and movies, then telling you what I think about it. I've been a gamer since birth, practically born with a controller in my hand. I've always spoke my mind, so critique was a natural fit. Twitter: @Jsrf38