Happy 4th of July everyone and what a way to celebrate it. I have been looking forward to this day and this review. Resident Evil Outbreak is my one of favorite game in the series, only losing out to the original and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. It may not be the best game in the series and has little to nothing to do with the actual plot at large, Resident Evil Outbreak seems to be the best case example of fan service for a Resident Evil fan such as myself.
Set back in Raccoon City, Resident Evil Outbreak deviates from the main cast of characters of the RE Universe and looks at the… common man we should call them. The poor denizens of Raccoon City caught up in this hellacious environment. They are not super soldiers or government officials or anything like that. They are just people who are trying to make it out of the city… Nothing more, nothing less. The game itself covers five different mini levels that you navigate and can choose between eight different characters with two of the other seven joining you as AI controlled characters. The game itself takes you to several different locations in Raccoon City, such as J’s Bar where the first level is, an underground Umbrella Laboratory, Raccoon City Hospital, the Apple Inn Hotel where Ben Bertolucci stayed, and finally Raccoon City University with each level having its own new and unique mini boss.
As you can see I have a lot to talk about and I can barely contain myself… So let’s get going!
The Game Explores More of the ‘Regular People’ of Raccoon City
I don’t know, maybe I am just weird… But whenever I see a game like Resident Evil. Where the protagonists are these big larger than life characters. Police officers and trained military and mercenaries taking on an evil corporation and monsters around every turn… I wonder what is happening to the regular people while this is all going on. The people who do not have to do with story at large, the common folk if you will.
This game seemed to be the first one that really allowed to expand the mythos without having any of the major characters return in some shape or form. The eight protagonists are just regular people. A few of them have ‘ties’ to Umbrella, namely college student as well as a reporter who had some back story covering Umbrella. But other than the two of them the others are just a waitress, a cop, a security guard, a plumber, a doctor, and a subway technician. This isn’t exactly a crack squad of the best of the best that Raccoon City Police Department has to offer, an Umbrella Merc, or a soldier. These are just a handful of regular joes. Even the cops back story is he was turned down for STARS on several occasions and has a devil-may-care relaxed surfer kind of attitude.
I love the fact that these aren’t the protagonists, that we are getting a new story, and seeing new characters that actually survived the zombie outbreak in Raccoon City. I can see where a few fans might be a little upset that they didn’t get to play as their favorite characters in this game… But really I think this can be nothing but a benefit to help expand the universe and make it more well-rounded.
This is much more prevalent with the things that they tried to do in Outbreak Part 2 which we will get to very soon, but what Outbreak succeeds at is showing you the ‘how’ of what happened in Raccoon City that connects to the larger story line and it does it really well. Unlike other games that tend to fill it with unnecessary plot holes, the game merely touches upon these areas and shows their progression in the storyline of the city at large. One thing that I do have to give to CAPCOM is even as they keep going back to the happenings of Raccoon City… For the most part they have kept their canon material pretty clean of plot holes and retcons. It isn’t perfect but you do have to give them props for trying.
AI Is a Little Shitty
Back in 2009… AI was still a thing being worked out. I have to say I am really impressed over the past four years that we have been able to go from something like video game adaptation of The Thing to the levels of BioShock Infinite and The Last of Us. I know games have had AI companions for a very long time. (Just look at the Ultima series). But it has really become fantastic over the past couple of years though things like Aliens: Colonial Marines are still around, they tend to be fading away into the past.
But when Resident Evil Outbreak came out, the AI still left a lot to be desired. There are several times where you will be mashing the command button trying to get your AI to follow you into another room. Other times where the AI will just begin to wonder around aimlessly and God help you if you want them to execute a command. While they do a good job at attacking threats that are near by and even killing them, there are several times where they will almost get themselves killed because they are out of bullets and willing to take on a G-Creature boss with a lead pipe LIKE A BOSS!… But seriously he died and I was pissed.
You could give this game a pass since it was the first real attempt to bring in any type of assistant AI or Co Op modes… But really I think it is something that was best left out until it could be done right.
The Character’s Signature Items are Very Lopsided
Out of the eight characters, each one gets a separate ‘special’ item that can help within the game… And these different items are VERY lopsided. The characters who start the games with weapons already have a VERY big advantage as you do not start off with a weapon on any kind and weapons are a pretty scarce commodity in this game. Other characters like the student, Yoko Suzuki has the benefit of having two extra slots thanks to a backpack but really that is just good if she is in your group, not as a player. The characters who have medicine are helpful, but characters like Alyssa who has a lock pick and Jim who has a lucky coin are only beneficial in… certain scenarios.
For me personally I only played as characters besides Kevin Ryman or Mark Wilkins just to run through the scenarios with all of the characters. Any other playthroughs, I was always those two just because they started off with a gun in the first place. It just does not feel like a well thought out area. Like they were running out of ideas so they throw in lucky coins and see if it sticks.
Now I know what a few of you might be thinking. “Tanner, you have hounded prequels so much. But THIS is a prequel!” To that I will quickly add that… Yeah you are technically right, but i do give this game a bit of a pass. Because, even though it is a prequel, it does not focus on the main story line or really include any characters that are already established within the mythos. Outbreak 2 is in some violation of this but we will get to that later. Outbreak however has a whole bunch of new and original characters who do tie into the mythos at large but not too much to force a retcon or a plot hole. Kind of the same way I feel about the video game version of TellTale’s The Walking Dead. It quickly establishes that it is in the same mythos then proceeds to tell its own story within the world.
Overall this game is a very good playthrough. It doesn’t have a whole lot of replay value after you finish all five levels on the separate modes, the AI is wonky, and some of the characters are more lopsided than others… But overall it is very fun and will keep you entertained. If you are an RE fan or just want to learn a little more about the game without digging too deep into the storyline, then this game is certainly for you.
Final Score 3/5
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