aka Resident Evil Outbreak File 2 in the USA and Europe.
Even though Resident Evil Outbreak was released just a mere three months ago in North America and was just released in Europe it already has a sequel out. Maybe that’s because Biohazard Outbreak managed to have high sales in Japan, has become part of the Playstation the Best series and was released over nine months ago. Like most Capcom sequels, Biohazard Outbreak File 2 gives players exactly what they expect more of the same game with a few tweaks here and there.
For those of you who don’t know the premise of Resident Evil Outbreak it’s a Resident Evil game you can play online. You can play with up to three people who select from a cast of characters. Each of the characters are just ordinary people, meaning they’re not great marksmen or in the best physical condition (unlike Jill Valentine) to take on groups of Zombies. Although, these people tied by a common meeting at a bar have to escape the zombie threat. Players get a wide variety of "ordinary" weapons to use against zombies like kitchen knives, iron pipes, and mace on top of guns. One of the important features of Biohazard Outbreak is that you can pick from eight different characters, who all have different abilities. Playing with a different character changes your strategy on how to survive against the zombie threat.
All of the characters you either loved or hated return from the original Resident Evil Outbreak. Each character also has their signature item and ability from the original game, but they also get an added item that can be traded with other members on their team. For instance the police officer Kevin starts out with a loaded pistol and he gets an extra clip of bullets. Alyssa, the journalist, comes prepared with a set of lock picks from the first game and a stun gun so she can stun enemies. George, the resident doctor, still has the ability to make types of medicine and now comes equipped with a capsule shooter that can cure players or heavily damage zombies. These extra items and the ability to be able to trade them between players makes the initial start of a level a bit easier for players. Capcom also has a couple of different tweaks for all of the characters. The most important one is the ability to move and shoot. Finally, players don’t need to stand around and be zombie food while their aiming their gun.
Most of the other gameplay tweaks are designed to make the single player game more enjoyable than it was in the first. The single player mode was plagued with AI problems, some of which are addressed. For instance, players can tell their AI partners to use an item on themselves. This allows players to decide when their partners should be healed instead of having the AI wait until its too late to use an herb. Another change is the communication system is much more responsive. When you call an AI player they respond as quickly as possible to your call instead of doing what they want first. The catch is this makes the game a bit easier because you can call in a computer player to attack a zombie while you flee in terror. Instead of having fixed partners Capcom allows you to pick all three characters to play with in single player mode. This leads to interesting combinations, more variation and some more replay value than the original game offered.
For both online and offline players there are four new areas to explore and a tutorial level. You can select any of the four levels, right from the start. Although, it is recommended that you play them in order for story continuity. The new areas are in a bunch of different locales, including a zoo and the Raccoon City police department. The zoo level has more than just your standard zombie, the virus affected animals hyenas and even a huge elephant. These brand new monsters keep the game interesting. Another level places players in the wide outdoors inside a dense forest area with a guide leading them to safety, or so they think. The most intense level is the last one where you’re inside the Raccoon City police station. This level has zombies popping up all over the place, which is sure to cause you to jump out of your seat. When you beat levels you’ll unlock new costumes and items to customize your characters. If that’s not enough reward for beating levels you can unlock extra stages too.
The four scenarios would get boring fast if it wasn’t for the game’s online play. The main highlight of the game is beating a level with three of your buddies. You’ll need to exchange items with one another and cleverly battle off zombies to win. While playing with an extra two people is certainly fun, it is also a challenge due to the restricted chat. One of the greatest problems with the game is that there is no voice chat, there is no typed chat. All you can do is "say" a number of basic pre-set things like "help me", "over here" or "let’s move" in so many words. Capcom’s theory was that if there was voice chat it would distract from the fear level of the game. Instead not having anyway of communicating makes solving puzzles a frustrating affair. The other problem with the online play system is the constant exchanging of items with others. Since each character, except Yoko, can only carry four items you’ll always have your hands full. This means you’ll need to trade items to solve puzzles, which can be a problem when you don’t know if another player grabbed the item you’re looking for. Even if you know they have it, you have to track that player down and request the item from them. While the system works for one player it’s a bit bothersome with two more players.
The graphics have a slight upgrade from the first Resident Evil Outbreak. Character models look smoother and the environments are much better. Capcom continues to have an excellent use of lighting effects. They have dim lights that give players just enough sight to see where they’re going, but not what’s around the corner. There is also a greater variety of monsters that Capcom produced over the first game. The sound effects and ambient noises are just as good as you’d expect. You have a slight background tune that sounds like it’s made for a horror move. This song is complimented with the hard breathing of your character running, the screams of a jumping zombie and the pitter patter of footsteps from your partners.
Resident Evil Outbreak File 2 has more challenging puzzles, larger levels and new zombies to battle. All of this will please people who liked the first game and none of this will change the minds of people who hate the first game. Some of the key problems with the game like the lack of communication between players still haven’t been solved. However, many of the problems that made the game tough to play in single player mode have been addressed. Another thing to consider is that the game only has a few levels to beat. Sure, you can play them over with different character combinations, but Capcom should have added at least more than four scenarios to beat. All of this makes Resident Evil Outbreak File 2 a great game for fans of the first and a mediocre game for everyone else.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 4
While all of the voice acting is in English all of the menus and item names are in Japanese. This can prove to be a huge problem when trying to solve the game’s puzzles. One thing nice about the auto chat system is that you can play online with Japanese players and still be able to communicate with them.
Resident Evil Outbreak File 2 is slated for 2005.
+ Pros: Gives fans of the series more of what they want, like new monsters and larger environments.
- Cons: No major changes to the game with all of the same problems as the first game.
Overall: If you liked the first Resident Evil Outbreak you’re sure to enjoy this.
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