David King and Kevin Ryman in Resident Evil Outbreak

Resident Evil Outbreak

Resident Evil Outbreak is a 2003 survival horror game that is exclusive to the PlayStation 2. It is the first Resident Evil video game title with multiplayer capability.

Resident Evil Outbreak

Resident Evil Outbreak had a troubled development process.

Initial Planning and Cancellation

According to a 2002 Weekly Famitsu interview with producer Noritaka Funamizu, the first concept of Resident Evil Outbreak was known before the release of Resident Evil 2 in 1998.

With growing interest in the concept of network gaming over consoles, Shinji Mikami, the director of the first Resident Evil, suggested to Funamizu that he should give it a try.

Early on in the design, Funamizu made a small multiplayer mini-game in which the player must survive the longest time possible. However, the team decided to remove it due to its failure to encourage teamwork. Players would instinctively run away from the horde and be slaughtered rather than help one another to ensure their own survival.

The design team decided that what made Resident Evil scary was its lack of multiplayer, forcing gamers to play “on their own”. The team chose the game to follow its own story like the other games in the series, but keep the option for multi-player.

The game development was later put on hold.

Revival

Before 2002, Capcom decided to revive development of the game, based on the research gathered from the first attempt.

Production Studio 1 began its development of the game, as opposed to Mikami’s Studio 4. In February 2002, a Sony press conference regarding the PlayStation 2 revealed the game—previously unheard-of by the public, it had a working title of Biohazard Online. This had led to confusion amongst the audience before Capcom released a statement confirming its existence.

Resident Evil Outbreak was a part of an initiative from Capcom’s Production Studio 1 to develop three networks focused games on the PlayStation 2. The other games were Auto Modellista and Monster Hunter. Capcom’s goal was to have at least one of the games reach a million sales. Both Monster Hunter and Resident Evil Outbreak eventually reached this goal.

The game made an appearance at Sony’s conference on May 21 at E3 2002, with a video showcasing real-time 3D backgrounds (as opposed to pre-rendered); revealing four of the characters and demonstrating the ad-lib system and character communication. The “ad-lib system” was chosen over conventional microphone chat because the development team argued that it would ruin the atmosphere. Instead, limited chat options were used for conversation between users; a player would walk up to another and deliver a line from a particular conversational category (e.g. “help” and “go” categories). No solid release date was given at that time.

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Biohazard Network

Later that year the game was renamed Biohazard Network. By October, eighteen different scenarios were in development, with even more in the concept phase. In November, Capcom released various pieces of media, showing eight playable characters and familiar scenarios such as “Flashback.” The occupations of the characters were also given.

In January 2003, further information was provided, mostly regarding interactive NPCs (non-player characters). Capcom boasted such actions as enemy NPCs who would attack the player and other ones that would run away when approached. Screenshots of “Flashback,” “Underbelly,” “The Hive” and other scenarios were released.

Biohazard Outbreak and Cutbacks

By May 2003, the game’s title had been changed again. This time, it had been changed to “Biohazard Outbreak” (Resident Evil Outbreak outside Japan), and the number of scenarios was reduced to the five scenarios. Another five scenarios did not make the initial cut, although they were complete enough to be featured in the E3 2002 trailer, and were developed into the sequel Resident Evil Outbreak File #2. In September, doubts were raised as to Outbreak’s online game-play in Europe, but Capcom was adamant that it would at least try to find a way to solve the problem in time for release.

The creative team includes the following people:

  • Director Eiichiro Sasaki.
  • Writers Haruo Murata and Takeshi Nose.
  • Producers Tsuyoshi Tanaka, Katsuhiro Sudo, and Tsuyoshi Tanaka.
  • Artists Yuji Imamura and Yoshinori Ono.
  • Composers Akihiko Matsumoto, Tetsuya Shibata, and Etsuko Yoneda.

Story

Resident Evil Outbreak depicts a series of episodic storylines. Stories take place during the same general timeline as Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. Survivors must race against the clock and help others escape Raccoon City!

Around Every Corner. Behind Every Door. Deep In Every Shadow. Terror Waits.

Witness the revolutionary Resident Evil gameplay, multi-player scenarios and next level design in this totally new, dramatic, cooperative gameplay experience. Take on the role as one of 8 survivors of an outbreak caused by a secret biological weapon. Play in offline or online* mode to create contagiously addictive play scenarios you’ll want to try and relive again and again.

This time, it’s personal! — Capcom USA

Online

Resident Evil Outbreak is the first entry in the Resident Evil series to feature cooperative online multiplayer gameplay. Online support was not available for the PAL versions of the game.

Resident Evil Outbreak - Cindy and Mark

Cindy and Mark are searching for supplies inside J’sBar in Resident Evil Outbreak.

Up to four players could participate simultaneously in one scenario. In single-player mode, the player is accompanied by two AI-controlled characters.

Virus Gauge
Outbreak introduces the “virus gauge,” which limits the number of time players may spend on a scenario. The virus gauge rises at different rates for different characters. It also increases rapidly if the character is attacked or crawling on the ground.

Resident Evil Outbreak PS2 screenshot - J's bar - 11

Kevin Ryman is eliminating zombies. Notice the “virus gauge” in the bottom right corner.

Online Servers Shut Down

The game lost all online play capabilities for the USA servers in 2007. The Japan servers stayed up but finally went down in July 2011.

Trivia

Did you know that Outbreak created a t-Virus text message outbreak panic? On August 18, 2004 Sophos reported that the Resident Evil Outbreak marketing campaign backfired as users panic about mobile phone virus. Ironic, isn’t it?

Anyway, here are a few more interesting things about Outbreak:

This is the first Resident Evil to include online play.

Each of the scenarios had a different designer.

In Japan, the game requires a monthly fee for online gameplay, while North America’s version doesn’t.

A file in the “The Hive” scenario says that a number code and voice print allows you to access floors 4F and B3F. This is exactly how Carlos accesses those floors in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.

“The Hive” scenario name comes from the first Resident Evil (2002) film. It is the name of the underground Umbrella lab.

North American servers shut down as of January 2nd, 2008. Servers for the Japanese version are still up; however, with a monthly random cost.

The game features Raccoon City streets, an underground Umbrella lab, the Raccoon General Hospital, Apple Inn, and the Raccoon University.

The game also revisits two areas seen in previous Resident Evil games. The underground laboratory from Resident Evil 2 appears in the “Below Freezing Point” scenario. The hospital from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis appears in the scenario “The Hive”.

Media

Screenshots and videos from the “Outbreak” scenario which is the game’s first level.

Image Gallery
Here are some low-resolution screenshots from the European version of them game.

Videos
After narrowing escaping J’s Bar, you must head to the streets and help other survivors.

Visit http://www.capcom.co.jp/bio_series/biohazardoutbreak.html for more information.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Resident Evil Outbreak”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

  1. I miss playing Resident Evil Outbreak and Resident Evil Outbreak File #2. It is one of the reasons why I created https://twitter.com/WeWantOutbreak fan list. I hope Capcom releases an HD port or remaster for current generation systems or make a remake of both games. Fingers crossed!

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