Capcom revisits Resident Evil 2, one of the company’s best survival horror games.
Back in the day, on the original PlayStation, Resident Evil 2 was a bit of a novelty. Not only was it charged with expanding the ground-breaking, but otherwise stand-alone first Resident Evil game, it also came on two discs, one for each character.
Recently, in preparation for this review, I took a look at the 2015 remaster of the first game Resident Evil HD. Whilst well received, Resident Evil HD is by-the-numbers polish-up of the original game, and no more. This fresh take on Resident Evil 2 is so much more.
As with the original game, players must make the choice to play as either rookie cop Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield, brother of Chris Redfield from the first game. Both characters have unique stories, but share some of the puzzles and occasionally meet up with each other during the game.
Playing through the game with one character unlocks “scenario B” for the second character, tying the events of the first playthrough into the second with doors unlocked and other events triggered by the first go influencing the second play-though.
This feature was pretty revolutionary in 1998. Twenty years later, it still holds up as a masterful gameplay element. This time, though, you don’t have to swap discs.
The game is set in the unlucky Mid-Western US town of Raccoon City, ground zero for the G-Virus zombie outbreak that Capcom have been dining out on this past two decades. Leon S. Kennedy is fresh on the job when the town goes to hell, whereas the hapless Claire Redfield arrives in the town only to find that her brother has already left.
As with the original game, both characters are separated when a truck overturns, blocking them off from one another. Individually, they must both find a way to escape Racoon City.
Straight away it’s clear that Resident Evil 2 is no remaster. This is a new game, entirely. It does, however, have more in common with Resident Evil 6 than Resident Evil 7, going back to the classic over-the-shoulder third-person view rather than 7s first-person view.
Instead of the pre-rendered backgrounds, which were retained by the Resident Evil Remaster, this Resident Evil 2 remake has full the 360-degree camera movement of the later games. To all intents and purposes this is a completely new game, drawing on the original game only for inspiration. It also looks glorious in 4K with HDR.
The higher fidelity of the graphics adds to the realism of the game. In turn this makes the game a lot more terrifying than the original. From the moaning as one of the undead abruptly sits up to the general high level of glistening gore, Resident Evil 2, certainly delivers on the horror of the survival horror genre.
The game is chock full of puzzles that require lock combinations, special keys and medallions in order to proceed. As this is based on the original game, many of the puzzles are quite surreal and defy logic, unlike later games in the series. Whilst this was order of the day in 1998, later games refined the gameplay, somewhat.
Your weapons, especially at the start of the game are underpowered. You never seem to have enough bullets, nor do you have enough of the plants required for healing. Resident Evil 2, despite its makeover, is a game of its time. The gameplay is lot less forgiving than its more modern counterparts.
You need to manage your bullets and wisely. These are the Romero-style slow zombies, not the Danny Boyle sprinters. If you are careful, you can dodge most of them. This is not a game that’ll look down on you if you choose to run.
It is a credit to the original designers that Resident Evil 2, retooled for current-gen hardware, still comes across fresh and new, even to someone that played the original. With this retelling of Resident Evil 2, a whole new generation of players are able to enjoy the game that turned a great game concept into the powerhouse survival horror game franchise it is today.
Released: January 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: Horror, Action