Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 PlayStation 2
Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Release Date: Out Now
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2, an introduction.
Last year we reviewed what should have been the first online Resident Evil game, Resident Evil Outbreak. In fact it was the first online Resident Evil game for those who live outside of Europe. When the game arrived in Europe it was minus online support and instead gamers had to make do with a less than ideal AI and a generally lacklustre single-player mode. Thankfully the sequel, Resident Evil Outbreak File #2, arrived in Europe with its multiplayer functions intact.
What's the game about?
Once again we're back in Raccoon City and you get to control a character of your choice from the eight that have survived the latest zombie attack. The game is very similar to last year's Resident Evil Outbreak. Aside from the tutorial location, there are five other locations (although only four are initially available) for you to play in. You'll begin by picking which of the eight characters you want to play as. In the single-player game you'll then decide on the two AI characters you want to accompany you. Each of these characters has their own special abilities. Cindy, for instance, can heal her friends whilst Yoko can hold more items and George can create many types of medicine. After selecting your difficulty level (there's only 2 to start with), you'll begin the scenario.
What's good about the game?
As we've already stated, the highlight of Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 for us in Europe is that at last we can take the game online and have up to four players participating in a game. Some tweaks have been made since Resident Evil Outbreak that make the game more pleasant to play. One of the main improvements is that you can now move and shoot, which makes the game less frustrating. The eight characters that you can play as have had their special abilities adjusted and each one of them is actually both good to play as and alongside. In fact the replay value of the game is quite high considering how different each character plays. You can now tell your AI companions to use items which may not seem like much but it does prove to be a very useful addition and is much better than an AI companion who picks up items but never uses them. Capcom have also placed enemies in a random fashion meaning a scenario won't play the same way twice and you'll find different ways of progressing through the game which again enhances the replay value. The scenarios are actually very well designed. The Wild Things scenario (set in a zoo) is particularly well designed and enjoyable to play. Capcom have also included a result point system which means you'll earn points for your performance during a scenario. These points can then be used to unlock art gallery items and character costumes amongst other things.
What's not so good about the game?
The main disappointment with Outbreak File #2 is that it's not that much different from the first Outbreak (new scenarios aside of course). With the exception of the additional online mode (that we Europeans didn't get originally) there are only a few refinements that set it apart from the first game. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that a decent method of communication, with your fellow online companions, has not been included. You can't text communicate (there's no voice communications for hearing gamers either) and instead you'll have to use the right analogue stick to deliver some predefined statements. Whilst this may seem a no fuss way to communicate, it's very limited and doesn't give you the full benefit of playing with other human beings. Other niggles include the game not pausing when you enter your inventory (this is really annoying in the single-player mode) and AI companions just seemingly running around for the sake of it rather than staying by your side. Certain AI characters don't seem willing to obey your commands which makes things frustrating at times. In fact the AI of your companions is still disappointing and it's a real shame you can't play through the scenarios in solo mode, as it would be much more enjoyable.
How does it look?
Outbreak File #2, like Outbreak before it, looks as good as any other Resident Evil game on the PlayStation 2 to date. Of course since we reviewed Outbreak we've played the incredible Resident Evil 4, a game that moved the series forward no end. Playing Outbreak File #2 after experiencing Resident Evil 4 is rather like playing a game from a few years ago. Whilst the game does look good, the return to this original Resident Evil style means a return to awkward camera angles that you don't have any control over. Load times are quite long but not overly so and they are certainly not as long as in the first Outbreak game.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Outbreak File #2 is OK for deaf gamers but it's not as good as it could have been. The tutorial messages are all shown in text which enables you to learn how the game plays. The cutscenes are subtitled which means you'll get to follow the dialogue. When you issue commands these commands are shown in text, as are the responses from your companions. Ad lib comments (comments on the current situation), made with the triangle button, are not subtitled though and comments made by the characters when they are being attacked are also not shown in text. Essentially there's enough of the game that's subtitled to mean you won't be caused any real problems. That said it would have been nice to have seen captions but this is an area where most games fall short.
It was a big disappointment when Resident Evil Outbreak arrived in Europe in a stripped down form but thankfully there has been no such repeat with Resident Evil Outbreak File #2. That said though, even with the addition of online play and taking the new scenarios and game refinements into account, Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 is a bit of a come down from the excellence of Resident Evil 4. The single-player game is still plagued by a companion AI that's less than ideal. Online this is less of a problem but the game should have featured text chat support to allow you to fully communicate with your companions. In short then what we have here is a slight improvement upon Resident Evil Outbreak but it's not a game that's going to appeal to all fans of the classic Resident Evil series, particularly as Resident Evil 4 took the series to a whole new level.
Overall Game Rating: 6.9/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 brings, at long last, a multiplayer Resident Evil experience to European gamers. Whilst some areas of the game have been slightly refined, the major problems still remain (namely the AI in the offline mode) and it's still a game that's not of the same standard as other Resident Evil games.