There have been many attempts at recreating the success of titles such as Resident Evil and Gears of War, and I highly salute the ones that try. Alas, another has come to our beloved platform, and I can’t help but feel sympathy for this title. The team at Dead Drop Studios have once again brought us into another zombie diseased outbreak – with a lot to shoot at. Take a RE4 type vibe. Now cross it with RE1‘s inventory and menu setup and you’ll be looking at Outbreak: Epidemic. I might seem like I’m comparing this to those titles too much, though it’s hard not to with how the game is laid out. Even one of the difficulty settings is labelled ‘Biohazard’.
“Return to the world of 4-player co-op survival horror with classic gameplay, strict inventory management, crushing enemies, horrific difficulty and more as you and a group of survivors try to survive the epidemic.”
Straight from the title, Outbreak: Epidemic throws you into a mix of customization changes that take quite along time to work out and realise what is actually happening. You have the options of character select, overview, type of match and scenario type. Now, from what I understand, this was also supposed to be a multiplayer game, but this option doesn’t seem to exist in the Xbox version of the game at the time of review. Thus we choose campaign mode which, after a character select, will thrust you into first a tutorial level designed to teach you the basics.
OK, I thought, as I loaded in and realised that also there is no option to invert Y axis (like a true gamer – Ed). I couldn’t even make it work through the Xbox accessories app. For many this may not be a problem, but equally for many it will; I have struggled with this game for just that very reason. I’m very much hoping for an invert patch, as the game is very challenging and requires you to be quite accurate – even if the hit detection leaves something to be desired. Zombies appear to float towards you as though they’re stuck in a Ghostbuster proton beam, and even seem to glide while the character animation struggles to keep up. Head shots are key, but again dodgy hit detection makes getting a head shot a challenge in itself.
Upon opening the infamous inventory you will notice a health bar… familiar? Yes… inspired by the original RE, we have the simple heart monitor setup which has 4 health types; good, caution, bad and bleeding. When bleeding, a coagulant can be used to help stop and preserve health because you’re going to need it. These zombies are relentless, and maybe it was the controls, but they definitely didn’t lie about the game being challenging…
You come across the same weapons also. Pistol, shotgun, MG and grenade launcher… hmmm. Each weapon comes fitted with a flashlight and laser sight for those longer reach shots, but trying to line them up is as much trouble as winding up the fire axe which just seems to glide through them like a hot knife through butter.
There are a choice of characters to choose from at the title screen. Each with their own buffs and debuffs giving them a different play style. An ex weightlifter can wield an axe, but cannot combine some of the higher healing items and vise versa. Outbreak: Epidemic has a number of enemies to shoot at, such as the zombie, the screamer and a juggernaut type deals. Nothing too flash unfortunately. It’d have been nice to see a little more variety in the enemy designs, but as it is we end up with the standard fare represented. The graphics run at a low resolution, though a patch is incoming to improve performance across the consoles. It’s also good for budding achievement hunters, with some easy G’s gained by killing enemies and completing scenarios.
Outbreak: Epidemic has a concept I can get behind, being a fan of survival horror titles. Unfortunately, attempting to stand next to the giants of the genre only shows just how flawed the end result is. Poor visuals and repetitive gameplay mean it’s unlikely to have you sticking around for long, though if you’ve enjoyed the previous entries in the series you may find some fun here too.