Title: Resident Evil 2
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Genre: Survival Horror
Official Site: Resident Evil 2
Release Date: January 25th, 2019
Where to Buy: Retail, PSN, Xbox Live, PC
For a game packed with zombies, abominations, and gore, Resident Evil 2 contains moments of fear, panic, and most of all heart. Oh and brains, plenty of brains. It’s a story-driven game that just happens to include the walking dead. Running and gunning is one playstyle I found effective only until the ammo runs out and Leon or Claire are left surrounded by the undead. A slower and more cautious approach will get results but only through a certain point of the game. Resident Evil 2 is a thrill ride through horror and suspense while building memorable characters and an impactful story.
The remake rebrands the second installment by throwing out the fixed camera angles and choosing instead to follow the characters with an over the shoulder camera. The lighting is reworked as well, leaving characters surrounded by darkness with only a flashlight illuminating their path. Add in the moaning undead and foot stomps of a certain Tyrant and it makes for one terrifying experience.
Players can follow the story of rookie police officer Leon Kennedy or college student Claire Redfield. Each character finds themselves in Raccoon City surrounded by hordes of zombies. Eventually, they wind up barricading themselves inside of the police station and learn there is a much bigger threat going on. The journey takes players through the sewers with its own giant resident, the streets, and a secret underground laboratory, searching for the cause of the zombie outbreak. I completed Leon’s campaign in just less than 8 hours. Claire’s can be beaten in around four.
The controls feel good and respond quickly to button prompts. While the zombies do lumber around, don’t underestimate their slow cadence. A number of occasions I felt I could run by them without fear of retaliation, but I was mistaken as they lunged a good four feet for my neck and knocked me to the ground. After shoving them off, a few shots to the head or body will drop the neck biters but wait around a minute to see if they get back up. The game amps up the creep factor by making players believe they’ve downed the living dead, but don’t be deceived. Many times zombies will just be playing possum and wait for you to run by at a chance to grasp your delicious leg and take a bite. One of the more chilling degrees of Resident Evil 2 is found in the game’s many dark hallways. Lights flicker overhead and great sound design details scuttling, scratching, and scraping noises just out of sight of your flashlight.
Puzzle solving is also a major part of Resident Evil 2’s design. There are a plethora of safes, locker combinations, and challenging puzzles players can figure out. All of which lead to either improved equipment or opening up a future part of the game’s map. The map is full of items that may not come into play until hours later. It can be challenging running through the rooms searching for clues when fending off zombies, so I suggest clearing out as many zombies as possible before solving a puzzle, because later on in the game, someone will make your search much more difficult.
Inventory management is one downside of the game. There is so much gear to collect and organize within the system. At the beginning of the game, it’s difficult to decide whether herbs or ammo are more important. Frankly, it’s an aggravating choice knowing you need ammo but also need health. Depending on the difficulty you choose makes a difference as well. The game can be unforgiving if players decide they need more bullets but it almost knows how much to give you. Entering a room with a few shots really makes a difference when there are three zombies lurching about inside.
Players will eventually come face-to-face with Resident Evil 2’s more interesting and developed monsters. The Licker will be met relatively early on once reaching a certain point in the game. They are the first enhanced creature players will come across and can be challenging and scary. Players will also encounter zombie dogs, one specific corrupt and mutated individual, and the game’s most lovable Tyrant known throughout the fandom as Mr. X. It’s when he comes stomping around that the game becomes more about avoiding everything and less figuring out puzzles. The massive metal looking man has one goal, hunting you down and squishing your face. Before meeting him, zombies and lickers will be the two things blocking your path. Dealing with them can be as simple as avoiding them altogether or shooting them until they don’t get back up. After the Tyrant comes knocking, there are only a few safe places players can hide. The once safe jail lobby is free to the roaming giant. He will stalk Leon or Claire through the prison and cannot be killed. While bullets will halt him for a second, he will continue marching towards you until losing sight of you either through hiding around corners or entering safe rooms. His heavy footfalls can be heard when he enters a room, so tracking him can be simple, but once he’s out it becomes a cat and mouse game.
Resident Evil 2 is visually stunning and pleasing. Which feels weird since this is a game featuring zombies, blood, and gore. All that aside, the updated graphics are a thing to behold. The characters you interact with feel real and the voice acting is great. While Capcom did choose new voice actors for the remake both Stephanie Panisello and Nick Apostolides did an excellent job at bringing Claire and Leon to life in a world full of the dead.
After completing the first playthrough, players will unlock a second run with the other character. This adds a twist to the second character’s story, but changes where enemies and items are. It does offer challenging replay value to the game but doesn’t change the overall story.
Verdict: Resident Evil 2 is a remake done well. It’s tense and full of dread, horror, and a bit of humor, which is needed when being trapped by zombies. Capcom showed that taking a game beloved by fans and reworking it from the ground up can be a success. Exploring rundown buildings and shooting zombies is a fun experience. Resident Evil 2 is a shining example of taking something old and putting new flesh on it to make it fresh.