There are not too many games where I will tell you in the opening paragraph to stop reading and go buy this now, but that is exactly the game that Resident Evil 2 is. I’ve always held the original Resident Evil 2 on the PlayStation as my most favorite game ever in both the series and for the system, now the remake does the same over a decade later.
Game Name: Resident Evil 2
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One
Developer(s): Capcom R&D Division 1
Release Date: January 25, 2019 (Worldwide)
Price: $59.99 (Gamestop US) / $99.98 (EB Games Australia)
Genre: Survival Horror
Two months after the events of the first Resident Evil, most citizens of the Midwestern American mountain community Raccoon City have been transformed into zombies by the T-virus, a biological weapon secretly developed by the pharmaceutical company Umbrella. Leon S. Kennedy, a police officer on his first day of duty, and Claire Redfield, a college student looking for her brother Chris, make their way to the Raccoon Police Department. They discover that most of the police force have been killed and that Chris has left town to investigate Umbrella’s headquarters in Europe. They split up to look for survivors and find a way out of the city. While searching for an escape route, Claire meets a little girl, Sherry Birkin, who is on the run from an unknown creature, and Leon encounters Ada Wong, who claims to be an FBI agent investigating the G-Virus.
Raccoon City police chief Brian Irons had been bribed by Umbrella to hide evidence of the company’s experiments in the outskirts of the city. He also concealed their development of the new G-virus, an agent capable of mutating a human into the ultimate bioweapon. Leon has multiple encounters with a Tyrant monster air-dropped into the Raccoon Police Department by Umbrella to seek the G-virus. Irons tries to murder Claire but is killed by a G-virus mutant in the police department. Thereupon, Claire and Sherry escape through the sewers and become separated. After splitting up with Leon, Ada comes upon Sherry and picks up a golden pendant the girl loses while running away. Further, into the sewers, Ada reluctantly teams up with Leon again, after he insists on his duty to protect her. They encounter a middle-aged woman who fires at Ada, but Leon dives between them and takes a bullet himself. Ada ignores the unconscious Leon and follows the woman, who reveals herself to be Sherry’s mother Annette and the wife of William Birkin, the Umbrella scientist who created the G-virus. In an attempt to protect his life’s work from special agents sent by the Umbrella headquarters, he injected himself with the virus, which turned him into the malformed creature, “G” and is now chasing Sherry. Annette recognizes her daughter’s pendant and attempts to take it from Ada. A fight ensues, during which Annette is thrown over a railing. Ada learns that the golden locket contains a sample of the G-virus, and later – taken over by her emotions – returns to Leon, tending to his bullet wound.
Meanwhile, Claire is reunited with Sherry and discovers that “G” has implanted his daughter with an embryo to produce offspring. Leon, Ada, Claire, and Sherry advance through an abandoned factory connected to Umbrella’s secret underground research facility. An attack by “G” leaves Ada heavily wounded, and Leon explores the laboratory to find something to treat her wounds. He is interrupted by a psychotic Annette, who explains to him that Ada’s relationship with John was only a means of getting information about Umbrella: Ada is a spy sent to steal the G-virus for an unknown organization. Just as Annette is about to shoot Leon, the Tyrant appears, and she is forced to retreat. Ada returns to save Leon and battles the Tyrant – which falls into a pit of molten metal – seemingly at the cost of her own life. She confesses her love to Leon, who leaves behind her motionless body. Meanwhile, Annette tries to escape with another sample of the G-virus but is fatally wounded by her mutated husband. However, before she dies, she tells Claire how to create a vaccine that will stop the mutations caused by the embryo within Sherry. After preparing the cure, Leon and Claire reunite at an emergency escape train and inject Sherry with the vaccine, which saves her life. En route, Leon is assisted in terminating the now-mutated Tyrant by a woman in shadow and escapes with the G-virus in the pendant. “G”– now mutated into an agglomeration of flesh and teeth – follows Leon and Claire, but is destroyed when the train self-destructs. After escaping from the city with Sherry, Leon & Claire intend to take down Umbrella. HUNK, one of the special agents sent by Umbrella, completes his G-virus retrieval mission.
Graphics is the main thing that got a HUGE overhaul in Resident Evil 2, which is a given since the original project idea was about giving the game an HD upgrade much like the Gamecube remake of Resident Evil. Since this remake was created using the amazing RE Engine that powered the overrated VR Project known as Resident Evil VII: Biohazard (Which I reviewed to amazing hatred from the online community), the graphics look absolutely stunning. From the character models to the zombies and other Bioweapons, everything has realistic detail that rivals other recent graphically intensive games like God of War, Spider-Man and Red Dead Redemption 2. Gone are the outdated static backgrounds and static camera angles, replaced with detailed environments, full 3D camera movement and some of the best rain effects that I’ve seen in a long time. But what sets Resident Evil 2 out from the pack are the small differences, like watching rain hitting with a small splash on Leon’s uniform, or the way bullets rip parts of a zombie’s face off and you can see the muscle under it clearly. It’s insane how detailed everything is in Resident Evil 2. Thankfully there are a few small creatures that are gone from this remake… Like the giant spiders. As an arachnophobic, I couldn’t handle those things in this HD era.
But the graphics aren’t just the only thing to get a makeover. The whole map of the Raccoon City Police Department has had enough changes made to it in order to make things look and feel fresh but familiar at the same time (So people who have the 1998 original memorized, like me, can’t just breeze through it in a couple of hours). While a majority of the locations are familiar, they either have extra puzzles, a different route to use or even contain a few surprises… Like Mr X appearing very early on in the game in the Scenario A part instead of just the Scenario B part. Heck, even the big guy get’s an extra by having a special hat on when he arrives… That you can shoot off, leaving him confused at times. Resident Evil 2 returns as a survival horror classic that provides new scares around every corner thanks to the darker atmosphere (which requires you to navigate via flashlight instead of the bright halls of the original) and very tense look to everything around you. A lot of times I’ll open a door slightly and point the gun through before stepping right through to face the new unknown area.
Gameplay has been changed too. As I mentioned above, gone are the old static camera angles and tank controls. What you get instead is more along the lines of what people got used to in Resident Evil 4 and beyond. You also have a sub weapon, either the trusty knife (which wears down when used, but there are so many scattered about it won’t matter), a flash bang and standard grenade. This little extras allow you to get away from a group of zombies or avoid that annoying Licker down the hallway… And they are annoying. While Lickers can be avoided by walking VERY SLOWLY, Zombies seem to have 6th sense and will easily track you down and will more often than not group up to fuck you up. Zombie also have a nasty habit of breaking in through windows, but that can be avoided by finding and placing wooden boards up at those window points to block any incoming zombie. For example, the stairway that leads up to the 2nd floor with the safe room/photo lab under it, there is a zombie at that window that I affectionately call Bob. Bob is resilient, having broken the window after I boarded it up, he still tries his best to reach through to get a bite of me… God bless him.
But there is still a lot of tradition here in some forms. You still need to track down medals to get keys which lead to chess pieces used to escape the RCPD, and yes you still need those 4 card keys (Diamond, Spade, Heart & Clubs) and the water wheel, and the square tooth crank, etc. It wouldn’t be Resident Evil without needing to go running all over the place getting these items and more; which you will do A LOT. There’s also a lot more back tracking than the original did since you need to revisit a lot of the rooms just to either pass through or return to in order to get something else. One of the more common return to rooms is a weapons locker where you find the Shotgun in the demo. There are so many other things you need to get from here that every time you get a key, you go back to get more stuff… Same goes with anything to do with the 4 card based keys. Luckily the map in shows every thing that you’ve left behind in each room, changes color when completely cleared and useless, and shows a logo of which key unlocks the door it’s needed for… THANK GOD!!
Sound, or the lack of sound, is excellent in Resident Evil 2. In moments where a backing track is needed, it’ll play subtly in the background, just enough that you hear it but it don’t change the mood or break the immersion. Where the game shines is in creating atmosphere. For a majority of the game, your backing track is nothing more than rain that is going on outside the RCPD, with the drops hitting different parts inside and outside of the building to create tense environments as you pass through each one. The only thing breaking this up is the moan of a zombie making it’s way around an area, or the click of a Licker looking for a next meal, or the crack of broken glass under-foot. The sound effects here are the real star of the show, helping create a horror maze without needing to be tricky or annoying in the process. As an added bonus for those of you who bought the deluxe edition (digital or physical), you get the original Resident Evil 2 soundtrack and sound effects pack if you really want to go down that route.
When it comes to replay value, there is a lot to do in Resident Evil 2. Aside from the usual Leon A/Claire B & Claire A/Leon B scenario play through, you also get to unlock The 4th Survivor, a remake of the additional mode where you play as Hunk and try to escape the RCPD. And yes, you also get The Tofu Survivor, where you do the same thing but as a block of Tofu. These two modes will be good for speed runners as they are timed sections where speed more than survival matters. You also get a few extra costumes to use in the game, including HD versions of the original Resident Evil 2 costumes, and a special Nior costume which comes with a black/white filter to really change things up… Not to mention that there is a bunch of FREE DLC coming that might have extra modes, extra stories and more costumes (We already know of the original polygon Resident Evil 2 costumes as DLC). I hope Capcom will do the right thing and bring out more than just costumes to keep us playing Resident Evil 2 for a long time to come because this game deserves a lot more and longer attention than gamers are willing to give in this day and age. Like the original, this version should be one where people come back time and time again to get freaked out and battle the undead.
Resident Evil 2 takes all the good from the original and makes it better, while removing all the old and outdated things that were put in due to system limitations to create one of the most immersive and best Resident Evil titles ever created. This is hard to do but Capcom R&D Division 1 did what I would have considered impossible. Not only have they recreated a game that so many people call the best Resident Evil game ever, or even the best Playstation game ever, but also improved it to such a degree that it mirrors perfection.
Fuck it, this is perfection. Resident Evil 2 brings the franchise back to it roots and reminds everyone what this game series was about… Survival Horror. And people, that’s Survival Horror with the HORROR underlined, bolded and in 50 foot text font. As our Editor-in-Cheif Keith Mitchell tweeted:
Sorry, The Evil Within 2. You were my constant goto survival horror game. Well, after Dead Space that is. Now Resident Evil 2 has replaced you. I'll press "F" while I uninstall you and likely to never play you again. So long old friend.
— Shadowhaxor "It's a brand new year!" (@Shadowhaxor) January 27, 2019
And I for one completely agree with him. Resident Evil 2 is the king of horror games once again and let’s pray that we now get Resident Evil 3 and maybe even Resident Evil: Code Veronica into the same level of HD upgrade combined with original ideas, then the circle will be complete.
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Resident Evil 2 is much more than a HD update that so many people thought it would be. Just like Resident Evil when it was brought back for the Gamecube, things have been changed around enough to make the game fresh and exciting, even for those Resident Evil diehards who have played the original to death.
- Amazing graphical detail
- Game play that keeps things fresh
- Enough changes to make it feel like more than just a HD upgrade
- Still scares the shit out of me
- Way too much backtracking
- Mr X Tyrant… with new hat! (Unneeded changes)
- Too much having to remember what items go where
- Square tooth fucking cranks!!