Umbrella Corps Hands-On Impressions: Don't Fear the Dead

Shacknews goes head-to-head in Umbrella Corps, a competitive team based multiplayer shooter based in the Resident Evil universe. As expected, things can quickly get out of hand when zombies are wandering around nearby.

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Deadly competitive multiplayer action infects the Resident Evil universe with Umbrella Corps. In it, two teams of mercenary groups battle it out in close quarters combat while zombies wander around in the background. While attending the 2015 New York Comic Con, we get to try out our combat skills in a 3v3 match with only one life for each player.

Umbrella Corps plays a little like Counter-strike, but with a zombie twist. The objective of One Death mode is simple: wipe out the opposing team and win best 3 out of 5 rounds with no respawning. Each player is equipped with a gun, a grenade, and a special melee weapon called the Brainer, which can be charged up to deliver a 1-hit kill to opposing players and zombies alike. Players have a Zombie Jammer strapped to their backs, which keeps the zombies from noticing you unless you bump straight into them or otherwise mess with them. However, the jammer is extremely fragile, and just one shot from the enemy will disable it.

Once the match begins, players need to move forward and take cover behind walls. You don't have to worry too much about the wandering zombies, thanks to the jammer, but they will be attracted to the sounds of gunfire. However, you can use this to your advantage by disabling an enemy's jammer and hoping that the zombies will come in and provide distraction. The undead found in the match I played were too weak for me to hope that they'd kill my opponents for me.

Players also have sound detectors, but the map we played on was small enough for it not to matter much. Without health pick-ups, matches went by very quickly, since it only takes a few shots to kill you. Our biggest obstacle was in learning the map and gaining a sense of teamwork.

My team was wiped out during the first round because we drew too much attention to ourselves by shooting at zombies. Dead players have a full top-down view of the map, complete with all player and zombie positions, so it might be possible for a fallen player to act as a spotter for the rest of the team.

We quickly figured out that we didn't have to worry much about them. Additionally, we I purposefully fired off a few shots and retreated, hoping to draw opponents and zombies into an ambush. It worked in principle, but so many enemies showed up that I was quickly overwhelmed by them. My team ended up winning the second round, but only by the skin of our teeth, because we were down to one player.

My team played much smarter in the final round. A teammate and I lay prone in a sniper position while our third player dropped below to draw enemies in. Sure enough, they showed up and we blasted them away. Their third player, drawn in by the noise, came to investigate, and was promptly mowed down too.

Judging from this short experience, I wouldn't go so far to say that Umbrella Corps is one deepest team based shooters I've ever played. Its dark environments and wandering zombies certainly provide a nice twist, but it's not like a zombie boss ever came rampaging through. There are plenty of clever ways to get around the map, such as crawling through ducts, but strategy always leans heavily toward surprising the team with gunfire before they can do it to you. This left little chance to put melee weapons like the Brainer to use.

I'm hoping that Umbrella Corps has a lot more up its sleeve than the relatively straightforward One Death mode. Additional modes should be revealed between now and the game's release next year, and I'm guessing we might find out what these equally matched opposing forces are fighting over.

Umbrella Corps will release digitally in the early half of 2016 for PS4 and PC.

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