At its press event yesterday, Capcom showed off a trailer for Resident Evil Online, its online multiplayer survival horror game for the PlayStation 2. The game will put players in the role of one of several average people struggling to survive the horrors of the T-virus in the wake of Leon Kennedy and Clare Redfield's battle against the Umbrella Corporation.
The game is a four-player cooperative online game that supports broadband and modem connections and requires players to work with three other people to stay alive. Players will be able to choose one of eight characters, each with unique attributes and abilities. The zombie-bait options will include Kevin, a Raccoon City police officer; George, a doctor; Yoko, a mysterious Japanese woman; Mark, a war veteran turned security guard; Cindy, a waitress; David, a plumber; Jim, a railway worker who is good at solving puzzles; and Alyssa, a reporter. A challenging and potentially troublesome aspect of working with a team is the need to keep everyone alive, which is essential to progression. Not only is losing a team member detrimental to players' chances of success in the game, but it's also going to be hazardous to players' health, as the dead characters will become zombies.
The specifics of the game's communication system are still being worked on. At the moment, communication is accomplished via a question-and-answer system that will have players triggering phrases such as "Help me!" for all to hear when in trouble or "Are you all right?" when someone disappears. The sound in the game will feature a host of little touches specially designed to rattle players. Creepy ambient noises such as screams and muffled gunshots are slated to be included, as are dynamic environments that change to reflect other players' actions.
The game is also slated to include a large number of NPCs to interact with. NPC behavior is slated to run the gamut from benign actions such as running away from you in fear when approached, requiring players to save them from the undead hordes, assisting players in battle, and helping players access a new location to less player-friendly actions. In some cases, approaching an NPC may lead players to inadvertently discover that the NPC is eager to kill their team for no good reason, or even have the opportunity to witness the NPC's transformation into an evil mutant.
In terms of the locations players will be exploring, Resident Evil Online is slated to offer a spooky assortment of locales, such as a subway station, a hospital, a restroom, an experiment room, a forest, a hut, and a tunnel.
Resident Evil Online definitely has potential as an online title. The premise could prove to be quite addictive if it's executed properly and if Capcom is able to offer additional features, such as voice support via the SOCOM headset. Resident Evil Online is currently slated for release sometime in 2003.