Pax South 2016- Umbrella Corps Impressions

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One of the unexpected highlights of PAX South 2016 was getting some hands on time with the latest title in the long-running Resident Evil series, Umbrella Corps. Perhaps it’s due to my own slacking on the gaming news front (very likely) or maybe it’s due to weak effort on behalf of Capcom’s marketing team (not very likely), but prior to passing by the Capcom booth on the Exhibition Hall floor I had never heard of Umbrella Corps. I’ve been familiar with the Resident Evil series since the inaugural entry (and to this day I’ll still quote lines like “You, the master of unlocking” to my sister and cousin) so whenever a new entry is announced it tends to pique my interest. Needless to say, the opportunity to get some hands on time with the latest entry was one there was no way I was going to pass up.

The last entry in the Resident Evil series I spent any significant amount of time in was Resident Evil: 5. Having been away from the series so long, I was surprised to see a competitive multiplayer title on the horizon. That being said, given the variety of weapons at a player’s disposal in each title, I was excited at the prospect of a competing against other players in a title set in the long-since established universe. However if there’s one thing the good folks at Capcom know it’s how to create some fantastic mood-setting art, and the cabinets housing Umbrella Corps kept the hype-level up.

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My time with Umbrella Corps consisted of what essentially equated to a three on three deathmatch, albeit with the added environmental hazard of zombies roaming the arena. Each player had one life and the victor was determined by eliminating all of the opposition (Spoiler alert: my team steamrolled and didn’t drop a single round. Second spoiler alert: I was the only member on my team to die in the second round). Points were doled out for killing the zombies littered throughout the arena, although since the primary objective was to eliminate enemy players the zombies served more as a minor threat to be cognizant of at all times.  Each player started the round with a “zombie jammer” (essentially just a passive boost) which allows you to weave through the zombie-hordes undetected, although as the player takes damage their “invisibility” to the zombie decreased. Truth be told neither round lasted long enough for us to allow the zombies to play a larger role in our firefight.

The arena of battle-while not immediately recognizable to me (probably because I’ve been away from the series for so long)-felt like an authentic Resident Evil environment. It appeared to be some type of underground lab I’m sure the types of William Birkin would’ve been right at home in. The lighting set the mood perfectly, and the entire arena looked disheveled, as if it were still reeling from the effects of a recent zombie outbreak. The characters themselves had the instantly recognizable Umbrella Corp operative garb, and each of the firearms (including the riot shield) looked sleek, efficient and contributed well to the overall “feel” of the game. While the environment maintained the dreary, worn look those familiar with the Resident Evil series are accustomed to, the sharp character models and weaponry looked as if they were straight out of a Tom Clancy game-and that’s a very good thing

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Considering the Resident Evil series has long since abandoned the slow-trudging gameplay of its inaugural entries for a much quicker pace, I went in with fairly high expectations. The game moved quickly and precisely, again echoing the feel of more militaristic shooters. The action was quick and precise-when I did get taken down I can readily admit this was due to my own miscalculation, and not due to any error in the game’s control scheme. Although y’all know the only console I game on (other than the 3DS) is my Xbone, I felt right at home using the PS4 controller. Although I’ve never been a big fan of third person shooters, the ability to quickly aim down the sights of a weapon felt natural and functioned much more comfortably than I would’ve expected of a title bearing the Resident Evil moniker.

Overall, Umbrella Corps was an unexpected delight of PAX South 2016. The action was quick, precise and essentially handled like every other shooter I’ve played besides Resident Evil-that’s a very good thing. While I’ve always enjoyed the single-player aspects of the series, when delving into the PvP realm I for one prefer the action to move quickly and to provide for precise controls. Considering the popularity of titles such as Call of Duty I’d suspect I’m not in the minority when it comes to my personal predilections for PvP virtual combat. The unmistakable Resident Evil theming provided a unique twist to the game, one I’m sure longtime fans of the series will appreciate and hardcore fans of the shooter genre will be interested in. As long as there is a single-player component-however slight-I’m fairly certain I’ll be picking up this downloadable title when it drops later this year. Until next time, Bros!

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