Hands on with Umbrella Corps: A nice addition to the Resident Evil franchise
Capcom’s latest entry into the Resident Evil franchise isn’t so bad -- even if Umbrella Corps isn’t really a Resident Evil game in the first place. Umbrella Corps drops the horror tag in favor of being a multiplayer shooter action game. Players fight against other players while defending themselves from zombies. From what I saw at PAX South, I’m interested and waiting for more info.
This isn’t Call of Duty: Resident Evil Edition
So why would Capcom leave the trendy horror genre for the overcrowded shooter genre? Because they know they had a chance to do something different with Umbrella Corps. If you’re used to playing Call of Duty, great! This game is a chance to try something new. If you’re used to playing Counter-Strike, even better -- you’ll be more comfortable with Umbrella Corps.
Umbrella Corps has a lot of emphasis on teamwork. Before a match starts, players are given an opportunity to discuss strategy. For players without a mic or headset, there is a radial wheel with strategy options. Making a selection from this will give your team an idea of your plan. Solo play isn’t the worst option, and the maps are designed so that having a teammate handy can help open new paths or get in position for an ambush.
It’s not just zombies and teamwork separating this from other games. Probably the most interesting aspect of the game was the zombie jammer. Every player starts every round with a jammer on their back. This is your camouflage from the zombies. As long as yours is functioning, zombies will wander aimlessly around the map. I was skeptical when I first heard this, but after running through a crowd of zombies...I was sold.
Here’s where the game gets fun. Other players can damage your jammer, causing the undead to come your way. A firefight doesn’t have to end with a body on the ground. On many occasions, my attackers would flee after confirming my jammer's destruction (their mistake). Of course, it’s not game over when this happens, but you then have to deal with the zombies you could previously ignore. If you’re like me, you'll become a little more lethal when you’re being chased by ten or so zombies.
Controls were rather sticky, and I wished for a lock-on button or smoother scoping. I was attracted to some mechanics more than others, but the game worked to entertain me. The analog aim and cover system worked well. Finding cover is easy, and leaning or adjusting your height allows more precise control. Additionally, fun combat gadgets like the Brainer Combat Axe and Tactical Shield Terrain Spikes keep the game interesting.
The game is straying away from traditional game modes in favor of more original offerings. One Life Match is a quick game mode that can turn into hours of play. Two three-man teams go head-to-head in a best of five competition. Rounds rarely lasted more than three minutes, which is great for keeping my attention. Small, tight maps make you think about strategy and how you want to move around the area.
Before the game releases in May, the controls need to be improved all around. While the game is currently lacking a story or campaign mode, I'm told there will be a solo survival mode that adds a backstory. The game is striped down to only the necessities, but made just right for its lower price point. It will only be releasing for PS4 and PC.
If I had to give an answer from what I saw at PAX South—I would buy Umbrella Corps soon after it releases.