Written by Jonathan Wojcik
REVIEWING RESIDENT EVIL: OUTBREAK MONSTERS
The two games comprising Outbreak are themselves a "break" from Resident Evil's usual formula, focusing on multiplayer cooperation with a list of characters and self-contained survival scenarios to choose from. Though this means Outbreak and Outbreak: File #2 are a bit lighter on characterization and story, they take place concurrently with Resident Evil 2 and expand its already impressive bestiary with over a dozen fresh faces!
One of this game's many scenarios takes us to Raccoon City Zoo, a surprisingly unexplored territory in zombie games. Maybe people just find more exotic animals to be too "silly" in horror context? Zombie hornbills are a pretty frightening idea, though. These are birds that definitely look like they should be dangerous.
Oh no :( One of the zoo's star attractions got hit hard, and maybe the spiky mutated tusks are a bit corny, but a dead elephant that wants to eat you is definitely up there with the scariest possible dead things that could want to eat you.
OSCAR THE ELEPHANT
They could have definitely done something more monstrous with this idea, but I still really appreciate that a Resident Evil game ever pits us against a corpse flower and its fly pollinators. The plant doesn't do anything per se, but destroying it - something you must do to proceed - makes the poor flies very upset with you.
THE "FLYING BUGS" AND RAFFLESIA
Resident Evil Zero taught us that the T-virus was initially developed in experimental leeches, and that they eventually mutated into cooperative organisms with a collective consciousness. These leeches are just the local hospital's own supply, freshly infected by the rapidly spreading t-virus, but perhaps they're already following down a similar path to their deceased cousins, acting as a single creature with a human corpse as a vessel!
THE LEECH ZOMBIE
...And could this be the start of a new "queen" leech? The evolution of the last was under the influence of doctor James Marcus, decades before the events of this game, but perhaps this is just how his "queen" started out. It is capable of controlling the "leech zombies," after all! It's not very aggressive, however, losing interest in you as soon as you move too far away. It once again has the wrong mouth for a leech, but it's still pretty nice looking.
THE GIANT LEECH
The Suspended is encountered only once, and not especially powerful, but she serves as a disturbing bit of atmosphere and shows us for the only known time what it may look like as a human zombie transforms into a licker! The fact that she's attached to the ceiling by her knees might be the weirdest part. How does that work? They're just "sticky?"
Outbreak is kind enough to show us another example of my favorite boss, and it's just as decrepit as RE2's G-mutant with an entirely different design! It lacks the lovely slothlike quality, sure, but I love the eyeball on that giant, bubbly tumor!
This is honestly just kind of the same thing as the classic hunter, but the proportions are less extreme, so really less interesting. It's here for completion's sake, but I'm frankly not that impressed.
THE HUNTER R
Much cooler is another giant, mutated plant, growing over and throughout the hospital with huge, colorful bulbs that spurt clouds of poisonous gas!
THE EVIL SHADE
Seems like Evil Shade has a parasitic slant, as well, apparently growing quite well in the bodies of zombies and developing another toxic flower right on the top of the host body's head, like a hat!
THE GREEN ZOMBIE
I feel like Tyrants got a little overplayed at this point, and the team seems to agree with me, since this is among the last new Tyrants ever seen in the series, this one sporting craggy, rocky skin like crusty magma. A nicely gross mutation in concept, not unlike what actual papilloma viruses can do when they run really rampant, though the visual effect here is more like some rock elemental from a fantasy game.
Outbreak is the first and very nearly the last time that Resident Evil really gets any playable black characters, so I guess they decided to debut the first and last black Tyrant while they were at it, apparently an extra-special Tyrant unit (but aren't they all?) developed in secret by a couple of scientists who wanted to get back at their Umbrella employers. I think this Tyrant actually has the most unsettling face of any Tyrant in the game, due to how perfectly human it looks. It just really gets across that this used to be a regular guy, and isn't just some slavering monster. It's sad, and a dash of sadness is what makes so many classic monsters so great.
Resident Evil isn't really into subtlety for long, though, and Thanatos soon mutates into another hulked-out Tyrant with a snarling face...eh.
NOW we're getting somewhere again! It's about damn time Umbrella throw a bona-fide blob at us, even if this massive, fleshy amoeba only engages us in the dimly humanoid shape we see here. That's only because it goes around absorbing other creatures into its mass, and I guess "learns" to take this shape after assimilating so many people! I love the big, featureless pseudopod instead of a "head," which wobbles around like Jell-O in the actual game, while its true center of being is a spherical, purple nucleus it only periodically exposes in its center!
I've saved the best monsters for last, obviously. Who wouldn't consider a giant earwig one of the best??? Not only is it mutated beautifully with only minimal deviation from the real animal, but it's an animal I have positively never seen as a video game enemy prior to this title, and have virtually never seen again since.
THE SCISSOR TAIL
Earwigs are wildly common creatures, feared by many humans for no real reason, semi-predatory, territorial and armed with a set of menacing, almost wholly unique pincer-like tarsi on a highly flexible tail. Everything about them is tailor made for any story that wants a giant, killer insect, yet they are largely ignored by every kind of media we have. What the heck!
One of the few things that could have delighted me more than a giant, mutant earwig. We've had flea-based monsters in this series before, and I loved them, but their Siphonapteran characteristics were subtle. This is a straightforward semi-realistic flea as a giant monster, and I've already discussed in the past how surprisingly rare that is. The Mega Bites, and that is definitely a cute name, primarily inhabit the sewers and have developed a more social lifestyle through their mutation, serving even larger reproductive fleas called - you ready for this? - GIGA Bites! Ha ha!
THE MEGA BITE
I remember when this game was previewed, there were people laughing in comments about the "silliness" of a life-like giant flea as a Resident Evil enemy, but they already accepted giant spiders, and actual fleas are significantly scarier than actual spiders. If anything, they should be even more common in horror than arachnids of any kind, except maybe ticks, which are scarier than spiders and scarier than fleas.
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