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Resident Evil Online


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For years, survival horror has been synonymous with isolation and a feeling of being alone. Now Capcom, the company to originally coin the “survival horror” phrase, is about to change that with genre’s first foray online.


Resident Evil Outbreak joins up to four players together online using Sony’s network adaptor. Those without the adapter need not worry, as Outbreak is playable offline as well. Each player assumes the role of one of eight citizens of the doomed Raccoon City around the time of Resident Evil 2 and 3.


The survivors must track each other down and work together to escape the city before the whole area is nuked right off the map. Any characters not selected are controlled by the computer, and the game’s goal is to make it unclear which characters are computer controlled and which are controlled by a person.


Each character has unique abilities and items, requiring players to work together to progress. For instance, the police officer is better armed for combat while another person may be able to pick locks. Any communication between characters is handled with the square button. Pressing the button causes your character to say whatever is appropriate at the time, such as “I have the key” or “Let’s get out of here!” While some players may balk a the lack of a voice or keyboard chat function, Outbreak’s method of communication should help keep everyone in character and maintain the game’s mood.


The E3 demo did not include one of Outbreak’s more intriguing features: the ability to turn into a zombie once killed. In the demo, dead players only got to watch their corpse lie on the ground while the other players kept going. There’s no question that Capcom intends to introduce a controllable zombie element, as a quick gander in Capcom’s E3 product catalog confirms the existence of the feature.


Outbreak’s gameplay is shaping up quite nicely and the graphics engine looks remarkably good considering its online nature. Though the environment is fully polygonal, the game still uses fixed camera angles, making navigation and zombie avoidance a bit of a chore at times. If you’re a longtime Resident Evil player, however, you should be used to it by now.


Resident Evil Outbreak is far more story-based than most online games, complete with cutscenes, character-specific plotlines, and branching story paths depending on player decisions. The game is divided into episodes, allowing you to play for a couple hours and then take a break. The story-based nature of the game may be enough to set it apart from its online brethren; we’ll get to find out when it hits PS2 next March.


Ok, so many of you seem critical, but i think fear can still be maintained...think of how you feel when youre low on ammo, and now youre with friends in the same scenario, surrounded & all...could be really cool, and Capcom's a strong enough company to pull it off, i think. I'm excited to see this one.

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Hey, I have faith. Capcom can pull it off, and the screens so far look very impressive. I personally think that the idea of a bunch of people stranded in a zombie-infested Racoon City would be a good setting for an online game that isn't limited by story and pre-chosen interactions. The way this is sounding, it might not really matter whether you're playing it online, or just letting the computer control the other characters, because the effects will be about the same. But we'll see how it shapes up. Still, sometimes I think they're trying too hard to add new elements to the Resident Evil series. I'd be happy if they just fixed the controls, finally, in one of the new games. I know having a hard-to-control character is a staple of a Resident Evil game, but c'mon...

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