On this date in 1998, the (thankfully fictional) T-virus was ripping through Raccoon City, turning humans into mindless zombies and unleashing untold horrors on what few survivors remained. From September 22 to October 1, the outbreak spread and escalated to the point where the US military stepped in and “sterilized” the entire area. And by “sterilized” I mean “nuked to the ground.”
That one intense week has since powered not just Resident Evil 2, but also RE3, both Outbreak titles, the revisionist Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles games and is the backdrop for Operation Raccoon City. It’s not hard to say this is the series’ defining event, so let’s take a moment and run through this gruesome timeline, shall we?
This is by no means complete – there’s so much plot crammed into this week that we’d need pages upon pages to get it all in. But for the sake of refreshing everyone’s mind during the actual week it “happened,” here’s the quick version:
Sep 22: Umbrella Security Service’s Alpha Team (which includes HUNK) steals G-virus from William Birkin; the battle leads to the T-virus spreading through Raccoon City’s sewers, infecting rats and polluting the water.
Sep 24: Just two days later, the city is overrun with zombies. Derp.
Sep 25: US Army arrives to evacuate survivors, suppress zombie outbreak, quarantine area. It doesn’t go well, as thousands are still trapped within the city, ready for infection.
Sep 26: RCPD station compromised. Umbrella sends in UBCS mercenaries to retrieve virus samples and take battle data of BOWs as they rampage through the city.
Sep 27: Escaping RCPD officers killed by zombie horde. A few survive, namely Chief Brian Irons. Meanwhile, the UBCS mission is not exactly going according to plan, as Raccoon City is thoroughly infested. Jill Valentine leaves her apartment in an attempt to escape the zombie mob.
Sep 28: Most of Umbrella’s UBCS agents are dead, and all other suppression efforts are failing. The few UBCS who remain end up helping Jill Valentine out of the area.
Sep 29: Situation deteriorates further, US military barricades city. RCPD officer Leon Kennedy (reporting for his first and only day on the job) and Claire Redfield mistakenly enter the city via broken barricades.
Sep 30: Zombies and BOWs are on the verge of escaping; US military decides to nuke Raccoon City to contain the situation. HUNK finally escapes the sewers with the G-Virus, ensuring more Resident Evil games. Leon and Claire escape Raccoon City via train.
Oct 01: Raccoon City destroyed at dawn via an air strike; sometimes it’s one nuke, other times it’s several missiles. Reports are kinda hazy from that day, as the SKY WAS ON FIRE.
That’s more or less how it went down in RE2 and RE3, but Operation Raccoon City adds a new element to the mix: USS Delta Team, which is sent in to clean up the T-Virus mess, contain any survivors who could spill the beans on Umbrella and prevent any US government types from snooping around. You’re also able to alter the canon by killing Leon or Claire; this isn’t a retcon, just a cool “what if” scenario to play out.
As you’d expect, the Resident Evil Wiki has a big ol’ section on Raccoon City , so I nicked a couple of images from it and am happy to link back. After all, we may have made the games, but you guys power the Wikis!