Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City is a brave new direction for the celebrated franchise. A team based third-person shooter, Raccoon City emphasizes action over the horror that has always been the series’ trademark.

For fans who worry that the new game just won’t feel enough like Resident Evil, Capcom has some good news. Familiar faces from the history of the franchise will be making an appearance in Raccoon City. In fact, they’ve got a game mode of their very own.

Heroes Mode, an online competitive mode for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, gives players the opportunity to take control of classic characters from throughout Resident Evil’s history. Leon. S Kennedy? Fear not, Resident Evil 4 fans — he’s in there. Jill Valentine? Check. Hunk and Ada Wong and more? Absolutely.

In Heroes Mode, these iconic characters square off in four vs. four online team battles. Yes, it’s a classic case of good versus evil, but with a Resident Evil twist: in addition to the other team, players have to contend with the threat of zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons. It’s a great set-up for what promises to be a visceral addition to an already action-packed game.

Take a look at the Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City Heroes Mode trailer below. Which side will you chose?

Sharp-eyed viewers hopefully caught the details on Raccoon City’s pre-order bonuses, unless the trailer’s searing action (seriously, that game looks fantastic, right?) burned the retinas right off their eyeballs. For a closer look at those classic Resident Evil characters, check out the gallery below.

While some  fans bemoan the flat-out action approach that Slant Six Games is taking with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, others (myself included) can’t wait to go hands-on with the game. Capcom has been clear that the game is for a new audience, but once longtime players get a taste of Raccoon City’s fast pace and modern control scheme, they might just be won over, too. And if not, hey, there’s always Resident Evil 6, right?

Ranters, what do you think of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City and the newly unveiled Heroes Mode?

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City releases March 20, 2012, for Xbox 360 and PS3. A PC date is forthcoming.

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