Resident Evil: Outbreak PS2 Review

Hearing word of an online Resident Evil game stumbling towards us had us quite excited to say the least. We’re sure the classic Resident Evil formula with the addition of team based antics would make for a fine online game, alas it was not to be -at least over here in Europe- as the very reason the game exists, namely online play, has been cut from the package. The question is: does Resident Evil: Outbreak still work as an offline game?

Rather than just giving you a measly two characters to play with, Resident Evil: Outbreak instead gives you a rather generous eight to choose from. The difference being that the majority of the bunch are average civilians rather than soldiers or police officers (although there are a couple) covering a wide range of jobs such as news reporters, plumbers, doctors and waitresses amongst others.

Each of the characters has his or her own strengths, weaknesses and skills. For example, Kevin, the police officer, is a good character for beginners because of his high vitality and the fact that he starts out with a gun, whilst the waitress, Cindy, has considerably less vitality but begins with plenty of healing herbs to heal herself as well as others. But some of the skills would evidently work best in an online session, namely Alyssa’s lock picking skill. Unless you’re playing as the sneaky news reporter, you may miss out on some meaty weaponry or whatever, fortunately there’s never any item of real importance locked away that’s required to make progress in the game.

In each of the five scenarios, two random AI characters will accompany you on your mission. These guys and girls will explore rooms, shoot enemies, help you to your feet when you’re badly injured and even pick up and use items, which you can request from them if you so desire and they never refuse to give it to you, which is nice and a bit different to playing with real, less generous people who would be unlikely to give you well…anything. It’s also possible to give them simple commands by pressing the right analogue stick in various directions. They’re never going to replace real people, but all in all the AI characters do a fine job of simulating the actions of real people but sadly don’t solve tricky puzzles for you, damn.

Besides the usual guns, Outbreak also allows you to make use of everyday objects as makeshift weapons to conserve ammo or perhaps just for your own personal satisfaction. So for the first time you can whack a zombie across the head with such things as a steel pipe or a brush, giving a Silent Hill like feel to proceedings. Such weapons even bend convincibley and will eventually break completely after so much zombie bashing.

Another addition -but one that we are less impressed with- is the virus meter. This slowly begins counting towards 100% (which when reached will kill you) at the start of each scenario. Being injured by an enemy will rise the meter considerably. Furthermore once your health levels are on danger and you’re attacked by an enemy you’ll end up crawling, with the meter steadily rising, until another character assists you. Unfortunately this mechanic turned into a bit of an annoyance as we felt like we had to rush through the scenarios. There are items at hand to slow virus growth, but we do feel the series is better off without this addition.

Outbreak is easily the best-looking PS2 Resident Evil yet and isn’t a million miles away from the stunning Resident Evil remake and Zero, which were both released on the GC. It’s nice seeing many familiar locations from past games looking prettier than ever and character detail is impressive with fantastic animation as well as nice facial detail. Sadly the loading times are painfully long, lasting about fifteen seconds on average and the absence of the door opening animations that have just about always been a feature of the series doesn’t help matters whatsoever.

Although our disappointment of the game being offline only in Europe can’t be denied, even without this admittedly prominent element there is still much here to recommend Resident Evil: Outbreak to fans of Capcom’s masterful series. This is still classic Resident Evil, but with a new team based slant, and that is very much a good thing.