Tech News on G4
Umbrella Corps: Been There, Done That
July 13, 2016
By Alexander Cattani - G4 Canada
At one point in time, the Resident Evil name was synonymous with innovative gameplay, spine-tingling moments and most of all quality. It goes without saying that the first few entries in the series set a benchmark for the horror genre. As time progressed and genre contemporaries adapted to the growing trends in the market, Capcom followed suit and began to incorporate more modern mechanics into subsequent releases. Additions such as a behind the shoulder camera, quick time events and more variety in regards to combat were among the new additions. These changes resulted in more action heavy experiences, which was a far cry from the plotting, methodical pace that defined the series during its debut.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the Resident Evil name has markedly lost influence, resulting in a series name that means something entirely different then it did a decade prior. Largely due to a mix of poorly received spin-offs and the immensely underwhelming sixth entry in the series, Capcom lost what they had with their former genre leading franchise. Whilst the recently revealed Resident Evil 7 looks to bring the struggling series back to its roots, Umbrella Corps sets out to do the exact opposite.
Umbrella Corps, Capcom’s team-based multiplayer shooter set within the Resident Evil universe takes inspiration from tactical combat heavyweights such as Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six but fails to add any nuance that sets its self apart from the aforementioned titles.
After a brief tutorial highlighting the game's basic mechanics, the ability to search for public matches becomes available. The multiplayer modes to choose from are Multi-Mission, a team mode in which objectives cycle at random, and One Life Match, a Counter-Strike-esque mode in which players are granted one life per round. Also, a single player wave-based mode entitled The Experiment is available for those who wish to warm up before heading online. The modes offer little in the way of variety but remain serviceable nonetheless. I often found myself alternating between game modes without ever gaining a preference for any one in particular.
Much like other tactical shooters, Umbrella Corps allows the ability to swap between both third and first-person views. Shooting in both modes is mostly responsive but can feel floaty at times due to how fast character movement is. Switching between the two views feels snappy and works as it should. However, the third-person camera is much too close to the character, which makes for an uncomfortable viewing angle.
During matches, the A.I. (mainly comprised of zombies and various B.O.W.’s from across the Resident Evil universe) will roam the environment acting as hazards to both opposing teams. While having a neutral threat present during a PVP mode is an interesting idea, the A.I.’s presence only ends up getting in the way of gameplay instead of adding to it. The A.I. that populates the field serves as nothing more than hobbling bullet sponges to either ignore or shoot at. Furthermore, since the majority of the maps are mostly small, their inclusion can often distract and cause congestion.
As I continued to reluctantly play Umbrella Corps, I found myself wondering why I wasn’t able to at least extract some enjoyment out of the title. The gameplay, while nothing special, was serviceable enough and the modes were more or less standard multiplayer fare. After some (very) brief deliberation, I came to the realization that everything offered in Umbrella Corps has already been done significantly better in titles that have preceded it. If Capcom were to release Umbrella Corps ten years ago, it may have had a better chance at standing out.
Umbrella Corps is a drab, lifeless and forgetful shooter but its existence is emblematic of a larger problem. The problem being how Capcom is handling the Resident Evil brand itself. The beloved franchise is seemingly dragged along for the ride with each and every release and I can’t help but lose some respect and interest in the series.
As a former Resident Evil fan, my time spent with Umbrella Corps left me disheartened. Hopefully in the future, maybe sometime after Resident Evil 7’s arrival, Capcom will exercise some much-needed restraint when it comes to releasing Resident Evil related content.
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