game formerly known as Biohazard/Resident Evil online was renamed
to BH/RE Outbreak, in wake of the inclusion of an offline mode,
and after being in development for 2+ years, it's finally released
in Japan. The core of the game is essentially the same as its
predecessors in the series, but there are a large number of modifications
and additions that give this game a distinct flavor. It should
also be noted that while this game is related to the main BH/RE
series, it does very little to add to the storyline, as significant
as it may be. The game strays away from STARS members' quest to
take out Umbrella Corp and goes back to Raccoon City to tell the
story of how eight ordinary civilians managed to survive the T-virus
outbreak in the city. Their names are:
- Kevin Ryman.
- Alyssa Ashcroft.
- Jim Chapman
- Mark Wilkins
- Cindy Lennox
- Yoko Suzuki.
- David King.
- George Hamilton.
The game consists of five non-linear scenarios
that are named after the main events and settings, and consequently,
each character has his/her ending in each scenario. You basically
start off with one scenario and you unlock the others as you progress.
The first scenario starts off with the outbreak in the city, and
is appropriately titled "Outbreak", and upon finishing
it, you unlock the next one that takes place in Umbrella's underground
lab from RE2 titled "Below Freezing Point" and so on.
Finishing a scenario is a linear task, but completing one properly
isn't. The game has a scenario route setting (with a completion
percentage) similar to Onimusha 2's where you have to replay each
scenario a few times to complete them fully. It's not an easy
task though and requires some patience.
I mentioned earlier, the core of the game itself remains the same
for the most part: explore, find items, solve puzzles, and then
move on, but there are several modifications and new features
that are introduced in the game. For starters, you're given true
analogue controls as well as the traditional ones, but in both
cases, the controls are very responsive. The items menu is realtime
now, so you're vulnerable to attacks while you're mixing herbs
or exchanging items. You can also reload your weapons without
going into the menu by standing still and holding L1; the longer
you hold the more bullets you load because clips are special items
in the game for standard handguns. And best of all, shaking out
immediately when you're grabbed by an enemy results in a new defensive
technique where your character shoves away the enemy and fires
a single shot to push it (the enemy) away.
The zapping system has been vastly improved to accommodate the
game's online mode, so to exchange items, one has to request it
and then it's up to your partner(s) if he/she is feeling generous
enough to share. To elaborate further, you press start to go into
your items menu and if your partners are in the same area, theirs
is going to be displayed as well. Simply highlight an item you
want and click it; your character will shout out "I need
that." or Kevin's hilarious line of "Can I have it pretty
please?!" That particular partner will then move closer to
you and hold out his/her hand with the item in place for you to
pick it up (in the offline mode with the AI partners), that only
happens if they're willing to share of course.. Getting rid of
items is done in a similar manner; of course, your character will
be the one holding out his/her hand, and then it's first come,
enemy AI is decent, but it doesn't break any new grounds in the
series with the exception of the zombie behavior. For one thing,
they follow you everywhere (with the exception of very few safe
rooms) until they're completely dead, and you can only be sure
they're dead with they disappear (the actual model flickering
off). Also, navigating past zombie almost never works because
they're able to lunge at you with their fists, and even sideways
with a hook. This may sound far fetched but it doesn't work like
a beat 'em up; if you get hit, you can move past them but as mentioned
earlier, navigating past them gets you punished almost always.
With no item boxes around, you're given
the option to swap items on the fly should your inventory be full.
For example, say you're in need of a certain key item but your
inventory is full with herbs and healers, so in this particular
case, you can simply highlight the herb you wish to swap the key
item for. The herb/healer will remain in that particular spot
until someone picks it up. This swapping method works with the
item exchange process with partners as well, so technically, you
always have space to work around with, you just have to manage
There are a couple of major additions to
the gameplay engine with the introduction of the virus gauge,
and character specific abilities with a minor change to the combat
system. The virus gauge is exactly what it sounds like: a T-virus
gauge that lets you know of the percentage of contamination in
your body. The gauge rises at a slow rate right from the start,
but that rate will go up if you receive any substantial amount
of damage, but a healer item will take care of that, and temporarily
stop the spread of virus in your body. There are also different
types of pills that you find throughout the game that stop the
infection temporarily, some longer than others.
damage system is modified slightly to work better with the virus
gauge. Once you reach the danger status and you get hit, your
character falls on the ground and starts crawling while the gauge
goes up at an alarming rate. A partner can help you stand on your
feet (and you can do the same for another in need by moving closer
and holding circle), and then give you a healer to get back in
the game. The game's save system no longer requires ribbons, though
a save in Outbreak is really a temporary continue point that gets
deleted once you load it (the game automatically is reset once
you save). This might sound harsh, but it's very appropriate given
the average length of the scenarios which is about 1.5-2 hours
per scenario the first time around.