When it was first released back in 1998, Resident Evil 2 helped launch the Playstation into the forefront of mature gaming, featuring a more in-depth look at the origins of what would become a staple franchise in the gaming community for decades to come. With its haunting corridors and gore-filled rooms, Resident Evil 2 was a forefather of the survival horror genre and has been cherished ever since. With the emerging market of remaking classic titles and the future success it could bring, Capcom tried their hand at remastering the original Resident Evil back in 2015 and was met with critical success. Resident Evil (2015) brought new life back into the original with its updated graphics and solid voice work.
Hot off the heels of their success, Capcom was left to figure out what would be next on the agenda now that REmake was a hit. In 2015, they had announced were to begin work on a remake to the beloved Resident Evil 2 game from PS1 and had left the updates quite vague. A few years later, we would see the shocking reveal of the next mainline sequel of the series, Resident Evil 7, running on a brand new engine called the RE Engine. Needless to say the, engine was a big success bolstering a new and more frightening experience for all fans.
After the release of Resident Evil 7 fans were left wondering what the state of Resident Evil 2 was, and were met at E3 2018 with a trailer of Resident Evil 2 Remake running on the new RE Engine and fans were immediately fixated on it. With a January 2019 release date, Resident Evil 2 would take fans of the original to familiar grounds while introducing them to new scenarios and even more terrifying creatures.
But why all the backstory? Just tell me how the game is.
The backstory is to acclimate you from my perspective before picking up the game. As an incredibly large Resident Evil fan and an even larger skeptic, I was worried what route they would take with this game in terms of remakes. The first concern I had was if they would change so much that the identity of the original game would be lost while other small thoughts scattered my mind such as controls, enemy variety, whether or not these zombies were one shot kills or bullet sponges and luckily this review will be here as an answer to those (but I’m getting ahead of myself).
Resident Evil 2 Remake follows two distinct playthroughs that seem similar at first, but are completely different in themes. In one scenario you play as Leon S. Kennedy, the rookie who rolls into Raccoon City after being told to stay away for unknown reasons. Once arriving on the scene, he realizes that the city has gone into chaos and creatures are terrorizing the town, so he begins his search for answers. Upon entering the Raccoon City Police Department, Leon has to find his way out of the building and closer to the truth, that is before he runs into the mysterious Mr.X (or Tyrant), Ada Wong, and the elusive Umbrella Corporation.
Claire on the other hand is a different story entirely. Claires story begins with her going to Raccoon City to find her brother who is part of the S.T.A.R.S unit for the RPD and runs into Leon and more importantly the undead plaguing the once bustling city. During her story she runs into Mr.X and a few different characters before the similar motives for Leon and Claire split. Claire then finds a young girl and it is up to Claire to protect her while finding her parents.
Leon and Claire find themselves running into eachother on a constant basis and the chemistry between them is magnified in this game to the point where its almost like an Edgar Wright film. Their scenes are always filled with very casual conversations while the world is devolving around them. It stands out so much and makes the apocalypse seem like a set piece, it’s amusing and entertaining. What isn’t very amusing is that each scenario has the same cutscenes in which they run into each other minus a few minor details such as swapping each character around. For example during Leons playthrough he will be inside of the RPD while Claire is trapped outside but when you are playing as Claire you see their roles reversed. It does change a little bit more the further you go but playing the game multiple times, you start to see it.
Each character’s story fits perfectly because it gives you two very different scenarios in terms of story while offering the same play style of gameplay. The first initial playthrough of the game is intended to be played slow and methodically as you roam from room to room, building to building, corridor through corridor as you get familiar to your surroundings as you will be backtracking quite often through each playthrough. Once you are familiar to the hustle and bustle of the zombie apocalypse, you can now find items that will in turn unlock more weapons and inventory space for your character. Each smaller puzzle feels rewarding without it feeling too tedious and monotonous.
Every scenario has a gameplay segment for their respective “partners,” as Leon has a segment where you control Ada as she hacks electronics and on Claire’s story you play a segment with Sherry, the little girl that Claire takes upon herself to find the parents of. Each of the special segments aren’t too long but offer a very nice interlude between the plot as Ada is digging deeper into Umbrella as Sherry is escaping her captor who has locked her away.
Resident Evil 2 Remake abandoned the tank controls and cameras from the original PS1 title in favor of the over the shoulder 3rd person perspective that we have come to know of the later games and it works perfectly. The refined gameplay mixed with the complexity and tough decision making that is the inventory system make for some fun challenges when approaching enemies. Speaking of enemies, as previously asked by myself, they are extreme bullet sponges.
Now as much as the idea of enemies taking an entire clip to defeat sounds like a negative point it necessarily isn’t as zombies should be difficult and for the most part they are. With enemies like these the only real option is conserve your ammo for a bigger enemy such as lickers and the occasion Mr. X evasion.
The replay value for this game is very nice if you plan to continue to explore the locations hidden within as the game rewards you for multiple playthroughs on different difficulties and speed including a 2nd run for Claire, new outfits, infinite weapons, and some secret modes including Hunk and Tofu(yes, as in a literal piece of tofu).
After the initial 12 hours of story and some time to study the land, the only thing left to do is run around the playground and replay the scenario to reach S+ rank making this game fairly short game but not the shortest of the series. This is definitely more of a love letter to fans that have stuck around with the series for over the past 20 years and those that are solely interested in speedrunning.
The visuals for this game are peak Resident Evil with the RE Engine on full display bringing a once polygonal model to full realization with more expressions and personality that one could hope for.
Leon and Claire have updated outfits, BUT Capcom were kind enough to bring back alternate outfits including the original vest and classic RPD attire for those looking to get more nostalgic with their playthroughs.
The damage that some of these zombies take are absolutely gruesome, with each bullet leaving its mark on each creature in your way. Some shots can destroy a zombies head entirely while some lose a piece of their jaw or a section of their skull but it feels like the gore value has been escalated to a 10 with its inclusion.
Resident Evil 2 Remake is the very definition of a proper remake. Everything from the gameplay to the inclusion of some new enemies and villains bring for some exciting surprises, not just for fans of Resident Evil 2, but fans of survival horror in general. No essence is sacrificed in favor of a gimmick and everything sticks to its mark. Survival horror has never meant more than before as every bullet counts and quick adaption to situations are key to staying alive. With the inclusion of short side scenarios with Sherry and Ada, often frustrating boss battles, and stunning visuals, Resident Evil 2 Remake has shown that some games can come back from the dead even stronger than ever.