|Box Art N/A|
|Platform Win, PS4|
Umbrella Corps is the last gasp of a disastrous era in Resident Evil history. At least I hope it is.
There was once a time when every Resident Evil release was trumpeted as a BIG DEAL. The games would be announced years in advance and fans would pore over every trailer like it was the Zapruder film. But starting with Resident Evil 5, the franchise began to take a turn. Rather than the slow, scary games of yore, Resident Evil became all about firepower and body counts. The games got faster and more action-heavy, with maligned releases like Resident Evil 6 and Operation Raccoon City bringing the once-untouchable franchise to its knees. Umbrella Corps is yet another step in that direction and hopefully the last we’ll see in a while.
The guns feel puny and the controls feel like you’re walking on ice skates.
Umbrella Corps is a multiplayer shooter, placing you in the role of a mercenary seeking to profit off of the remains of the star-crossed Umbrella Corporation. You’re sent in with two other identical-looking soldiers to battle it out against three other identical-looking soldiers in a variety of locales set across the franchise’s storied past.
Backstory is pretty minimal here, save for some text crawls giving fanservice nods to important dates and viruses. It’s really just an excuse for these 3v3 matches to take place in the village from Resident Evil 4 or the remnants of an Umbrella lab. If you’re looking for additional insight into Wesker and the gang, you’ve come to the wrong place.
The same can be said if you’re looking for an enjoyable multiplayer experience. The game’s default mode is a simple deathmatch with no respawns. Theoretically this would lead to tactical movement and planning, but players in Umbrella Corps move and die so quickly that these multiplayer matches end in less than a minute or two, booting you back to the lobby screen with the hope that someone will join and fill the required six slots. Cover-based mechanics imply that the developers at Capcom expected longer, more drawn-out fights, but the game they designed simply doesn’t allow for them.
The only other multiplayer mode in Umbrella Corps is called Multi-Mission, and it encompasses a variety of simple multiplayer staples in a single match. One round might be straight deathmatch, while another has players trying to kill marked VIPs. Mercifully these rounds are longer, with respawns, so at least you can get some momentum going, but they don’t feel remarkable in the least. If you’ve played a multiplayer shooter in the last five years, every familiar mode is represented.
The minute-to-minute gameplay is equally dull and often frustrating. Umbrella Corps plays from a third person perspective but it gives you no real vision of your surroundings outside a very narrow cone in front of you. It’s as if the camera is glued to the soldier’s ear, and that lack of vision often results in unheralded death. Meanwhile, the guns feel puny and the controls feel like you’re walking on ice skates. It’s abysmal.
The one mechanic that does attempt to set Umbrella Corps apart is its inclusion of zombies in multiplayer. Undead creatures are scattered about multiplayer maps. They will ignore you so long as you don’t antagonize them. But if you’re shot by another player in the head or neck (assuming you don’t die), your zombie distraction system will malfunction and suddenly you’ll become a target for any brain-eaters in the vicinity.
It’s an interesting mechanic that probably belongs in a better game. The drab, frustrating action of Umbrella Corps means that this adds to the number of things that can potentially kill you while your cumbersome head is turned the other way.
These zombies are also prevalent in the game’s "single-player campaign," which is a generous way to describe the mode provided. Set across the game’s multiplayer maps, you’re tasked with collecting DNA from dead zombies, over and over again, until you play enough levels to unlock a new, dull objective to complete across a different multiplayer map. It’s torturously boring and shouldn’t be experienced by anyone except the poor QA testers who were paid to do so.
A crummy ripoff for Resident Evil fans and newcomers alike
It’s hard to imagine anyone beyond the most die-hard Resident Evil fans picking this game up, and even they will likely leave feeling ripped off. Umbrella Corps feels like cheap, soulless fanservice in a tactical-action package. The only good news: If the demo is any indication, Resident Evil 7 looks nothing like this.
Umbrella Corps was reviewed with a PC copy of the game supplied by Capcom. You can find additional information about Polygon's ethics policy here.About Polygon's Reviews