Seriously, what the hell were you thinking, Capcom? Having had its once-legendary name besmirched and dragged through the much, we thought Resident Evil was finally on the road to recovery. If there’s one thing fans took away from this month’s announcement of Resident Evil 7, it was Capcom’s seemingly renewed effort to protect what little remains of the horror giant’s legacy.
However, with Umbrella Corps, it feels as if the publisher has gone for one last hurrah before (hopefully) stamping out this action-heavy era in the franchise’s troubled timeline. With Resident Evil 7’s unveiling fresh in everyone’s minds, there are no doubt plenty of fans eyeing up Umbrella Corps despite the usual pangs of trepidation. If you’re one of those with your finger on the trigger then please stop. Stop right now. Umbrella Corps is the epitome of everything that has become so rotten about Resi. It marks a baffling, laughable all time low that isn’t fit to be a throwaway free-to-play experiment, let alone a premium download.
Three-on-three multiplayer faceoffs are the name of the game here, set across a spread of familiar locales. From the infested shanties of Kijuju to Raccoon City, Umbrella Corps isn’t afraid to use past games as a thematic canvas on which to spew its brand of online action. These throwbacks also crop up when surfing the game’s current spread of downloadable content, with masks portraying several key characters – but we’ll get to those later.
Currently there are two game modes which can be accessed through ranked and public play. These include One Life, a straight-up team elimination mode, as well as Multi-Mission, which tasks both teams with carrying out a different objective each round with the added perk of being able to respawn. Multi-Mission matches are fought until one team secures victory across three of the back-to-back rounds.
In truth, there’s really not much to it. That said, having a shortage of available game modes isn’t the be-all and end-all for every online shooter. Where Umbrella Corps really starts to come apart, however, is with its core gameplay, dragging just about every adjacent part down with it. From the awkward movement and highly selective cover points to the dull shooting and overpowered melee attacks, this is one of the messiest, most inconsistent multiplayer games we’ve ever encountered.
What’s really disjointed is how traditional elements taken from the online shooter genre are juxtaposed with Capcom’s own poorly considered ideas. For example, the inclusion of zombies feels like a token gesture, as if they needed to be there for Capcom to use the series’ characters and settings. They roam the map aimlessly, only attacking players when their “jammers” are disrupted, either through special grenades or sustained gunfire. Otherwise they serve as a brainless bit of window dressing that can occasionally be killed to fulfil certain objectives.
Capcom’s worst mistake, however, is in its zombie-hunting instrument, imaginatively named the “Brainer”. Wielding it amplifies the carrier’s movement speed considerably, allowing them to dart from one end of the map to the other in a matter of seconds. Its main perk, however, is being able to deliver one-hit kills no matter who the intended target is. With such speed and lethality, the Brainer supersedes any form of ranged weapon in just about every situation.
On one hand this creates an interesting dynamic. Instead of luring enemies into an ambush, teams can trigger an all-out blitz attack, charging their foes and hewing them down in a flurry of well-placed blows. However, in practice, the Brainer all but ruins any attempt at subtlety or tactical nuance. Almost every match would descend into a melee frenzy, as players literally queued up to kill the target in front of them once their kill animations had finished.
Even if Capcom were to completely gut this tool from the Umbrella Corps arsenal, the game is still rife with problems. The clumsy transition between cover-snapping, running, and shooting, not to mention the misused shoulder cam, feels contemporary yet outdated at the same time, as if a Japanese studio has failed to understand what makes western shooters so sharp and fun.
Away from all the multiplayer action is a solo segment dubbed The Experiment. At this point in the review, there’s no point in sugar coating what is essentially the world’s dullest extended tutorial – a braindead series of mindless shooting galleries devoid of challenge or character. There’s honestly no reason for players to even bother accessing this part of the game.
What’s most upsetting about Umbrella Corps is that Capcom expects punters to pay £24.99 – for that price, we’re looking at the top end of the market for digital games. However, even if Umbrella Corps wasn’t dreadful, that’s an eye-watering sum of money for the content on offer.
While there’s a plausible spread of familiar backdrops, this translates into only a handful maps and very basic ones at that. Fans will also be disappointed by the sparse amount of cosmetic options on show. Unless you’re fooled into buying a deluxe copy of the game, prepare to spend the entire duration as a generic grunt, complete with standardised ballistic helm and gas mask.
There’s not much else to say – Umbrella Corps is a downright awful dagger in the hearts of Resident Evil fans. We can only hope that, with one final nail in the coffin, Capcom will bury this tragic era and leave it dead forever.
Version Tested: PS4