Resident Evil: Outbreak & Outbreak File #2 (PS2) Review

While I was going to review each one separately on reflection the “Gameplay” and “Graphics and Sound” sections of the review would be near identical, and frankly so would the “Story” part, so I thought it would make more sense to just bung them in one review. Frankly “File 2” is the PS2 era equivalent of DLC for the original Outbreak, just more levels to use the same characters on. So with that being said, let’s say goodbye to Resident Evil reviews with tank controls! Hooray!

Background:

Usually if you’re the one with the weapon then you stand in FRONT of the unarmed person…

The original Resident Evil: Outbreak was released for the PS2 on December 11th 2003 in Japan, March 31st 2004 in the US, and September 17th 2004 in Europe. Sadly the PAL release didn’t have online capability, which was kind of the whole point, though it never interested me at the time…

Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2 was released also exclusively for the PS2 on September 9th 2004 in Japan, April 26th 2005 in the US and August 26th 2005 in Europe. This time all versions had online capability, if you should desire.

Gameplay:

Kevin shoots a zombie in the face… at least I think that’s a zombie…. uh-oh…

The gameplay is still stuck in the original Resident Evil “tank controls” era, where you move your character around on the spot and once he or she is looking in the direction you want to go you then press to move forward. It was beginning to feel old hat when playing Code: Veronica, by this point I was getting increasingly “done” with it. As for the game around the controls? Well, there are a few differences, mostly that there other either A.I. or human controlled players are wondering around the map the same time as you. This can be good with friends / people who actually want to play, but can be frustrating with A.I. that find a key item like a door key and keep it in their inventory and you spend ages looking for it for no reason, or if you have a human player who is crap and gets instantly killed… You can emote to either other with simple phrases like “Help!” or “Over here!” which helped back before the days of the headset. I mean, again, I’m assuming, I only ever played Outbreak and File #2 with A.I. partners… Each of the eight characters have specialities as well, like George the doctor has a “Medical Set” that can create better healing items, Mark can move heavy objects but is slower to dodge, Alyssa has a lockpick to get into certain doors, Yoko has four extra inventory slots but less health, that sort of thing…

So apart from having several characters moving around independently the game does have one other twist to the formula and that’s an “Infection Meter”. The more you get damaged the higher the percentage, and when it reaches 100% you become zombified and its game over. Herbs and First Aid Sprays don’t take the meter down either, so it adds a little extra wrinkle to the game. Apart from that you just start in one area and most likely have to reach another area but to get there you have to find keys, do simple puzzles and battle past plenty of enemies and the odd boss. There is a greater variety of melee weapons due to some characters just being regular civilians and not firearm trained, and there are also a few tackles and dodging moves for some characters too.

Each scenario can be played on a variety of difficulty levels with any one of the eight characters (though you’ll notice some levels are made to be played with a specific character) and you’re graded up to 100% completion based on what items you find, how you handled specific scenarios and generally how well you did. Every level has “SP Items” that can randomly appear in any number of locations that when collected can get you bonus content like extra characters (really just skins on top of existing characters), costumes and a sound test. If you get 100% on a scenario then you can play “Infinity Mode”, which as the name implies means you have infinite ammo / durability.

The only difference between the original and File #2 gameplay-wise is the ability to move while holding out your gun, which is admittedly a welcome addition. That and online play if you’re in PAL territories, as already mentioned…

Graphics and Sound:

Raccoon City sure had a large variety of locations for a small rural US town (or City, I should say…)

The graphics are very reminiscent of Code: Veronica, which makes sense as that was the only other traditional Resi game out with this control style at the time. We’re still in pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D models walking around, pixelated fire and all that stuff. It looks fine for the time period, especially as it has more characters running around on screen than it normally would…

Sound is also good, if not rather basic. The background music does its job but isn’t really memorable, and voice acting is actually quite good, which is helpful when you end up hearing them shout all the time…

Story:

“Hey Bob! There’s a zombie at the door! … Bob! .. Ah, he’s sleeping, bless him. I don’t want to wake him, so I’ll leave him be. I’m sure nothin’ bad’ll happen…”

You play as one of eight survivors during the Raccoon City outbreak: Kevin Ryman (RPD Police Officer and the only other character seen to be wearing something similar to Leon’s outfit in RE2…), David King (plumber with a mysterious past), Alyssa Ashcroft (reporter), Yoko Suzuki (former Umbrella researcher), Mark Wilkins (Vietnam veteran turned security guard), George Hamilton (Surgeon), Cindy Lennox (Waitress) and Jim Chapman (cowardly subway worker). Each scenario is pretty self-contained, and each often feature a character being killed if not selected by the player, which I’ve always taken to mean that canonically these eight never made it out…

In Outbreak the five scenarios are “Outbreak” (start off in “J’s Bar” and escape into the city just as the outbreak begins), “Below Freezing Point” (takes place in the underground Umbrella lab from RE2 and revolves around scientists coming back for old research), “The Hive” (set in Raccoon City Hospital and prominently feature Leechmen enemies), “Hellfire” (set in the “Apple Inn” that happens to be swarming with Lickers) and “Decisions, Decisions” (set in Raccoon City University and features a race to find a cure for the T-Virus).

Outbreak File #2 sees five more scenarios in “Wild Things” (set in Raccoon City Zoo and features all new types of T-Virus creatures, including a zombie elephant!), “Underbelly” (set in the Racoon City subway and features an enormous T-Virus mutated flea…), “Flashback” (set in the woods and a nearby abandoned hospital and sees a large axe-wielding enemy stalk you Nemesis style), “Desperate Times” (set in the Raccoon City Police Department, complete with all the classic rooms and even a look at Marvin before he gets bitten!), and “End of the Road” (a new Umbrella lab with two scientists returning to get a cure, and ends with you escaping Raccoon City moments before the nuke either by helicopter or via a truck).

Thoughts Then:

An giant aggressive zombie elephant. Yep, that’s a nightmare I never knew I needed to fear until now…

I enjoyed my time with the original Outbreak… for a week or so. Then the novelty kind of wore off and the appeal of tank controls also was starting to wear thin. File #2 I got cheap after I’d already played RE4 on the GameCube and so it felt even more out of touch, meaning I played through each scenario once and then went off it. Basically it’s fine, probably be great if you had friends with PS2 modems and such, but at the end of the day it was just too old hat for me…

Thoughts Now:

Hey look! The infection meter! I nearly forgot to include a screenshot with it on. Well… There it is! My job is done.

The two Resident Evil Outbreak games are fun and a good concept that I feel would work far better in today’s world then back then, but at the end of the day all I can say is that it’s tank controls but without the nostalgia to cover for it. Sure I had fun revisiting some scenarios, especially in File #2 as I’d only played through them once before, but I can’t deny it just didn’t do anything for me. Again, I’m sure online with friends, the real reason it exists in the first place, would be good, but with the A.I in 2021? Nah, I’ll pass.

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