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Posted on Mar 30th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Resident Evil, Capcom, Remake, Survival horror, Action


Resident Evil fans have been clamoring for a remake of the series' second entry ever since the excellent remake of the initial title. What seemed like a pipe dream for years was finally announced back in 2015, but many fans were skeptical at this point due to the direction the series had been going around this time. Although the positive response to Resident Evil 7 help assuage fears, early footage of the Resident Evil 2 remake still resembled the 'action-horror' titles that are oft maligned. I am glad to say that any fears were unfounded, and Capcom delivered what I feel is the best remake of their survival horror classic that they could have possibly made.

** Note: In an attempt to discuss all relevant gameplay mechanics, some mild story spoilers may be included. **



Developed and published by Capcom, Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the original 1998 survival horror classic of the same name. Released on January 25th, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, it has become an instant critical and commercial success, garnering near unanimous praise by fans and critics alike and selling over three million copies during its first week. Although it was originally considered for development shortly after the release of the original Resident Evil remake, series creator Shinji Mikami instead chose to focus development on the upcoming Resident Evil 4, shelving the project indefinitely.

Taking place approximately two months after the first game, Resident Evil 2 follows rookie cop Leon Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they attempt to survive the T-Virus outbreak and the ensuing chaos that has spread throughout Raccoon City. Seeking refuge in the Raccoon Police Department, they quickly discover that this supposed last bastion of safety is more than meets the eye. They must use their wits to survive and escape Raccoon City alive, all while uncovering the truth behind the outbreak.


The familiar main hall, albeit with some new changes.

Resident Evil has never been a series that is known for great storytelling, but this specific entry has possibly the best told story in the entire series. Most of the main story events are similar to the original Resident Evil 2, but the way it is told elevates it to something more impactful than it was originally. Characters are far more compelling and endearing, and the game does a good job of emphasizing certain characters' emotions using some well written and acted story events. Believe it or not, this is a title that will tug at your heartstrings a couple of times before it's through. As for the game's actual plot, it's the typical B-movie sci-fi fare that you would expect from a Resident Evil title. It isn't too serious for the most part and is meant to be over-the-top and fun.

Utilizing the new RE Engine that was introduced in Resident Evil 7 and eschewing the fixed camera angles and tank controls of the original release, Resident Evil 2's new control scheme is a more modern take on the classic survival horror style. Playing from a third-person perspective, players must explore the RPD while looking for key items needed for progression and killing (or avoiding) any enemies in their path. Similar to the early games in the series, some puzzle solving will need to be done at times in order to progress, and these will feel familiar to series veterans. The new map system is a great new feature that highlights any items you may have seen but couldn't pick up, and it also marks any points of interest which can help immensely if you forget which door a certain key goes to.

The combat has a great feel to it, and planting bullets into enemies is always satisfying. Defensive subweapons make their return from the original Resident Evil remake and allow you to escape an enemy's grasp without taking damage, however they can now be used as standalone items if you choose. In addition to the familiar herb mixing mechanic that allows you to craft and enhance healing items, you can also mix gunpowder to make different types of ammo for your weapons.


Windows can be boarded up to prevent more zombies from entering the police station.

Enemies are the same varieties that were in the original game, with the exception of the giant spiders. The old familiar zombies are back, and their implementation in this game is the best yet. They can easily grab you and deal major damage if you're not careful, and they take a surprising amount of punishment before going down permanently (unless you get a lucky critical headshot). While the zombies are fairly bulletspongy, I find that this works in the game's favor in actually making them scary and feel like a threat instead of just fodder. The option to cripple them by damaging their arms and legs also exists as a strategic means of incapacitating them. Other noteworthy enemies include the signature Licker which is blind but still extremely deadly, and the G-Type mutations which are tough and can inflict poison.

However, the most notable enemy in the game is the Tyrant (or Mr. X as he was known in the original). Introduced a couple of hours into the game, the Tyrant is an unstoppable hulking humanoid creature that will stalk you throughout the RPD. He will constantly search the environment for you, and any noise you make can alert him to your presence. He also cannot be killed, and pumping a decent amount of ammo into him will only serve to temporarily stun him, allowing you to escape if need be. Overall, I personally found this to be a conflicting element of the game, as the concept is excellent and creates some panic-inducing moments, but constantly having to avoid the Tyrant can make exploration tedious and progression more difficult than it should be. Fortunately this doesn't last for the entire game and is much more tolerable in short bursts.


It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Just like in the original version, the player can choose to play as either Leon or Claire, and, while many of the game's events are identical for both characters, there are also a significant amount of differences between the two playthroughs. Both characters get unique weapons, visit different areas, meet different characters, battle different bosses, and witness different story events. It is also highly encouraged to play as both characters in the tandem A/B scenarios in order to experience the full story and get the true ending. Each playthrough is different depending on which character's playthrough is first and second, effectively creating four different scenarios to experience.

Leon and Claire each have a companion character, Ada and Sherry respectively, that the player can control for a short period of time during the corresponding character's playthrough. Ada controls similarly to Leon and Claire but also has a device called the EMF Visualizer that allows her to hack into various control panels, allowing for some new puzzle elements. Sherry has no means of defense and therefore no combat sections but instead must hide from any threats.


Ada using the EMF Visualizer.

There is also a variety of extra and unlockable modes, including a Hardcore mode that removes autosaves, requires ink ribbons to manually save (just like the classic titles), and has more difficult enemies that can both deal and receive more damage. In addition to this, there is also the 4th Survivor mode that tasks the player with escaping the RPD with limited ammo and healing items. More recently, free DLC has been released that contains three episodes focusing on minor characters from the game.

Graphically, Resident Evil 2 looks great and brings the familiar locations of the original to life like never before. Just like with Resident Evil 7 before it, the environments are impressively detailed, and the character models and enemy designs look great. Being set in 1998, details such as wall/ceiling mounted CRT televisions, old telephones, and furniture give the game a distinct late '90s aesthetic that helps lend some credibility to the game's setting. My only minor complaint with the graphics is a strange lighting reflection effect that is used on certain surfaces that looks sort of off, but otherwise the game looks great.


Once again, great lighting effects help set the ambience.

The sound design in the game is also well done. It mostly relies on sound effects for immersion and atmosphere, and the constant creaking of the RPD helps create tension. Music is used sparingly, but it is well done when it is present, and the voice acting is solid as well. It is also worth noting that the soundtrack of the original Resident Evil 2 can be used in the remake but must be purchased separately.

Resident Evil 2 is an excellent game and is not only an absolute must-play for fans of the series, but it is a contender for the series' overall best entry. Like Capcom's previous remake of the original Resident Evil from 2002, it is faithful to the original while simultaneously introducing many new elements that make it an entirely new experience, and the new gameplay style feels like yet another reinvention of the series that combines the best elements of every main entry so far. Clocking in at roughly 8 hours, it isn't terribly long for a single playthrough, however it is highly recommended to complete the aforementioned Scenario B, and the other modes and playthroughs included can easily extend the game's length to dozens of hours if you're concerned about getting your money's worth. After two great new entries, it seems like the future of Resident Evil is looking brighter than ever.


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Comments
 
I love this game so much!! I think it may be the best remake of any game to date. It doesn't fully modernize it outside of the visuals and keeps the game very true to it's roots. My only complaint is that when you press start to begin the game they no longer have the scary voice say "RESIDENT EVIL........2!!!!". I miss that. Other than that stupid minor gripe of mine this is a flawless version of what was already the best game in the series. I've never had more fun with survival horror than with the new RE2!

Great write up!
 
Awesome game. Just played through it recently and was so much fun. Hoping Capcom remakes 3!
 
@Crabmaster2000: Haha, I half expected to hear the voiceover on the title screen. I've been itching to go back and replay the game in Hardcore mode ever since I originally finished it, but I just haven't had the time. Hopefully I can get around to it soon.

@polykill_trav: An RE3 remake feels like an inevitability at this point, so here's hoping!

Thanks for reading!
 
The only RE game I've ever played is 4, but man, this looks amazing. Definitely going to have to consider getting a copy!

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