For the sake of this review, I’m going to do a little role-playing. Let’s just say that I was an indie game developer working out of my garage, and I wanted to make a game. We’ll call this upstart company: Two Cents Interactive, just for the sake of this article. Now, we’re not going to make just any game, we’re going to make one that is a bit of a mish-mash of tried and true conventions that gaming folks have pretty much seen before. You know, we should just play it safe.
Let’s say my little boilerplate masterpiece would include zombies, which by now are about as stale as an undead creature’s fart. Then we’ll toss in some hackneyed special forces-esque combatants which look so generic that they could quite possibly be the amalgamation of every military-type shooter from the last ten or so years.
Now this is the part where things get really clever. Let’s say as an indie developer, you don’t have the deep pockets and clout of a triple A dev-team. Hmmm…I think we’ll just compensate by using re-hashed environments that we’ve used before, and maybe throw in a new one just to be nice. Who cares if they look tonally vapid and blander than a waterlogged biscuit—I mean, who expects an indie outfit to have impressive graphics anyway?
Alright, so we’ve spent relatively minimal effort in bringing this product to life, so to speak. The next step is that we take it to a game publisher in order to see if we can get them to do all the serious work of marketing it and getting it out to the masses. Unfortunately, the result becomes a total disappointment, as every game publisher we approach turns down our offering—big, medium, and small. They all seem to site it as being “too derivative,” “trite,” and “amateurish,” among other, less printable adjectives. In other words, ironically, we couldn’t make two cents out of our project.
Now imagine the same lackluster effort, along with a stripped down, bland game, but in reality. That’s what you have in Capcom’s new offering, Umbrella Corps, and that’s what we’re dealing with here. In this case, Capcom does not have to rely on any outside game publishers. That’s because they have the investment capital to not only develop their own games but also to publish them. In other words, Umbrella Corps seems more like a cash grab that relies much too heavily on elements used in many of their Resident Evil games, than anything else. Toss that into a blender with just about every other generic shooter convention known to man, and you’ve got this game.
Let’s start with the “backstory” first. You play as a nameless Umbrella Corporation (get it? Umbrella Corps?) operative who has survived the defeat of said dastardly organization, and now you have to go around and collect DNA samples from bio weapon creatures. That’s it. And by bio weapon creatures, I mainly mean zombies. The others are merely the same tired creatures that we’ve all seen before in previous Resident Evil offerings, which is the universe this game is based upon. Okay, so who needs a story, right? Let’s talk about the goods—combat and gear and lots of blood…and stuff.
While to its credit, Umbrella Corps does offer a pretty decent gear, weapons, and upgrade system, how they are actually implemented into the game is laughable. Which takes us directly to the meat of the game—the game mechanics themselves.
Umbrella Corps is basically a third person shooter. Well, you can switch to first person briefly for better aiming (I guess) but then the aiming reticule becomes huge-mongous. Therefore, I preferred to stay in the third person mode while playing. But then there’s the size problem. Your commando is frikking gigantic. He literally takes up around a third of the screen. This made it very difficult for me to see any enemies on that side of the screen. Along with having some other, rather invasive HUD indicators, along with frequent warnings such as “BRINK OF DEFEAT/VICTORY” which gets plastered across your screen, and I could barely see what was going on half of the time.
The game features a single player mode, where you basically run around in various timed missions in order to collect the aforementioned DNA samples. You do this by shooting baddies and then reducing them into puddles of goop. Sometimes, said baddies spontaneously manifest from these pools though, so you have to constantly be on guard. Yeah. You perform these oh-so-exciting missions on rehashed Resident Evil maps, only with lower-quality textures.
Which brings us to Umbrella Corps’ main focus: Multiplayer mode. I will give Capcom props here for coming up with a good concept—three-on-three battles between military types across small maps (cough*Rainbow Six: Siege*cough) with no respawns. This could have been good. Operative word here: Could. Unfortunately, however, what we get in Umbrella Corps are super-small maps and super-fast movement speed.
That’s right, your avatar’s speed is so Speedy Gonzales-like, that it makes any modern Call of Duty game look sluggish by way of comparison. Also, while you’re moving it looks like you’re floating along on a skate board. So, I thought to myself, go prone and that’ll maybe slow things down a bit, right? Wrong. Your prone crawl-speed is just about as fast as your upright speed so all it gives you is the impression that you’re cruising along on a surfboard—except they’re no water. Just puddles of goop.
They have added zombies into the mix during multiplayer matches, which are played across the same boring maps of course. But all they do is further clog up what little viewing room you do have, and rarely attack you. But hey, they’re useful for shooting and then turning into pools of goop. Maybe they should have called this game: Goop Corps.
Umbrella Corps is a pretty dismal offering that doesn’t have much going for it. Well, if you have some unusual predilection or esoteric fondness for turning things into goop, then perhaps this just could be for you. But unless you like floating around on tiny been-here-before maps and barely being able to see anything onscreen, then you may have to look elsewhere. I’m just happy that I got to experience this little gem (or more appropriately: this small nugget-type thing) through a review copy. I would have been rather upset it I’d had to have even paid two cents for it. Let’s just say that playing Umbrella Corps, I felt as though I’d been smeared in goop and so made a bee-line for the shower.
If you are a diehard Resident Evil fan and like super-spastic movement speed, who knows, Umbrella Corps could be for you. Of course, in order to get a decent framerate you may want to invest in a decent gaming PC:
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