Review: Leon Kennedy would not approve.
Roughly a year ago Capcom brought the Resident Evil franchise back to PS2 in a unique form, with Resident Evil Outbreak. Instead of a singular horror adventure, Outbreak asked for teamwork with either NPCs in the single player game, and with other people in the all-new online portion. Though heavily hampered by stupid AI in offline play and horrific setup online (no voice or keyboard and just a handful of phrases is just not cool), the game played well and offered RE fans a different angle of the events that led to the destruction of Raccoon City in Resident Evil 3. In the time between this game and its sequel, Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2 however, the RE franchise was forever altered by the mindblowing Resident Evil 4, which completely revolutionized the way RE games are played. As such, Outbreak 2 feels old and clunky ? even more so than it was last time around ? and considering nothing was fixed from the first game, as well as the glorified expansion pack feel, it makes it even worse. If you've never played RE4 (coming to the PS2 this fall), it might not be as bad, because Outbreak 2 still has good moments, but otherwise RE Outbreak: File #2 is once again a game that's decent, but ultimately fails to live up to its incredible potential.
Outbreak 2 picks up immediately after the final mission in Outbreak 1, with the exact same characters from the original running around a zoo with zombie elephants (and really, zombie elephants send the awesome scale to heights unknown) and other various undead creatures. As usual the story is minimal, and it's more about surviving the missions and advancing to the next anyway. There's no new characters to play as, so the same group of wussies, headstrong bitches, wise-asses, and weirdos will again taunt you. The missions can be played offline like usual, as well as online again, though Capcom again made online play like the original, with no voice chat, no keyboard chat, no nothing. You only have set phrases to use, and otherwise, having all that stuff increases the fear! Sure, and the RE control scheme was kept the same for years because it increased the scare factor. With full voice chat, this game could be the very best online game for the PS2 if it garnered an audience (and it would have considering the RE love). For those of you with a HDD, you may again install the game to the drive for speedy load times, and can play fun sliding picture puzzles while you wait, which are almost more fun than the game itself.
Adding to the expansion pack like feel is the exact same control scheme and teamwork system of the original. The only new things are the ability to walk and shoot, but this involves holding both the L1 and R1 buttons, using the left stick to move, and fire with Square. It's a bit...awkward at best. The other new idea is the ability to crawl, collect, and use items if you're in bad health, to avoid becoming a zombie and terrorizing your teammates. It's simple but effective. Otherwise, if you've played every RE game prior to #4, you know what to expect ? stiff, though improved controls and the usual patterns for kicking the crap out of zombies and their undead friends. Your teammates are scattered around each level and keep contact with you with their voices to keep you aware, and you can interact with them by carrying them if they're hurt, get them to hand over weapons, tell them to use herbs ? or of course you could just ignore them and let them die, which sometimes is better than dealing with their idiocies.
Had Capcom spent some time fixing up the game instead of merely putting out an expansion, and incorporated some of the ideas of Resident Evil 4 (though surely a RE Outbreak 3 would?), there would have been much more potential for a solid game. Offline is hampered, like the last game, by annoying AI, otherwise hurting a game with solid level design and some cool ideas. Online was messed up by stupid players, who have free reign considering there's no way to actually tell them to grow up or yell at them. Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2 is a decent game still, but after playing RE4, it's hard to go back to the old way of playing, seeing that villagers with chainsaws are far cooler than slowly shuffling zombies. It screams of being rushed and taking advantage of the RE name, since they added nothing new outside from a few token new moves and brand new missions to play. Playing this game was an exercise in boredom most of the time ? the scares are old, the character sayings get repetitive fast, and it's all been done before in the 10 years of Resident Evil's existence.
One saving grace is the outstanding visuals. Like the first Outbreak, the graphics are sharp, detailed, and really nice to look at, and are all in real-time. If it wasn't for RE4 it might be the best looking RE game out there. The different characters are all unique even if they're rehashed from the first game and use the exact same character models and animations from the original. Some of the crazy boss/unique enemy designs are really creative and fun too. On the audio side, the usual creepy RE-style music is all over, and Outbreak's traditional canned phrases are limited in number and thus very repetitive after a few missions. Various sounds like groaning zombies and gunfire is the same stuff we've heard for years, but this is a minor deal. All told the audio/visual package is pretty good, it's a shame the actual game doesn't match this quality.