A regular city, filled with regular people, about to endure a night of complete and utter horror… It is no secret that the Resident Evil series shaped my entire being growing up, never being allowed to watch my mother playing it (yes, she’s an avid gamer) and always being desperate to know what was so terrifying that my young, boyish eyes could never see it. Eventually permission was granted to me, and I swept through the entire catalogue of games over and over and over. To this day, I pine for any new entry in the series and with this most recent iteration of Resident Evil 2 (my favourite of the titles) I was floored. As the self-proclaimed leading expert on Resident Evil, I present to you a totally unbiased review of this remake of a perfect game.
REmodels and REdesigns
The biggest expectation of a remake of a Playstation 1 title, with its 32-bit polygonal, pre-rendered backgrounds, is its leap into a world of hyper-HD textures and animations. Across the board, the remake shatters all expectations with its efforts to reshape the world of Raccoon City and the police department where the majority of the game takes place. Leon and Claire, the dual protagonists of the game, look realistic in freshly designed outfits befitting of mid-western America in 1998. As does the looming Mr X and the ensemble of zombies, dogs, and sewer monsters that all sport a certain weightiness and fleshiness as their bodies degrade with every bullet fired at them. Outside of this, additional asset details have been granted to the setting with premium liquid textures (including the blood), dynamic and haunting lighting design, and the debris that litters each room increasing its authenticity ten-fold.
Bye, bye, tank controls!
Don’t get me wrong, I think tank controls and fixed camera angles provide a certain atmosphere, but the use of an over-the-shoulder camera perspective and the absence of loading screens between rooms also provides its own atmosphere. Nowhere is safe now. Not only must you ration your healing items, game saving items, and ammunition while solving the giant escape room of a game, but enemies will relentlessly pursue you whereever you go. Some enemies can open doors, some enemies will break down doors, some enemies can crawl through vents. Luckily, the game provides the player saving chances with the use of ‘escape items’ such as one-use daggers and grenades (and a new auto-save feature for anyone looking to play for the story). This change in pace adds a sense of continuity and endurance that the series has rarely utilised before.
Speaking of relentless pursuers…
The precursor to an even more intimidating threat (recently unveiled by Capcom for this game’s sequel), Mr X was a hulking bioweapon dropped into the game to hunt down the protagonist of the game’s second story. There his appearances were only ever scripted, and cunning players could duck and weave around his slow animations. Now, to the surprise and delight of fans (Mr X has his scrapped trilby from the first game!), he stalks the protagonist of both scenarios throughout the entire game. His footsteps are always heard, even when you think you’ve gotten away, and he’s much faster now. Regular bullets won’t stop him, and your only choice is most times to run. In fact, Mr X is programmed to be constantly roaming the map in real time and reacts to noises made by the player (including firing your gun). You’ll know when he’s around too, the room trembles, his boots stomp, and his theme song kicks in (the best track on the new OST, that lacks the iconic nature of the original soundtrack).
As mentioned earlier, the game (nay, the series) is known for its multiple scenarios guided by dual protagonists lovingly called the partner zapping system. Here is the only fault in the remake; apart from some expositional scenes between one another and their eventual escape, Leon and Claire never talk to one another. In the original game, the pair would constantly bump into each other (yes, the police station is big, but it’s not that big) and be in contact over their radios – as you would trying to escape a bunch of zombies. There were even moments where taking certain items in scenario A would leave the protagonist in scenario B without said items. The omission of this leaves the continuity of the game feeling weak, and completely breaks it toward the end of the game where both protagonists are made to defeat the exact same boss in the exact same context. The story suffers greatly because of this, but at the same time major improvements were made to Claire and Leon’s individual subplots (Sherry’s scenario, I’m looking at you. Ada’s scenario, looking at you I am not).
All of these elements under the umbrella of Resident Evil 2
All in all this game is a must. It is probably one of, if not the, best game of 2019. Capcom listened to its fans and undoubtedly showed the world that survival-horror is not a genre of the past, and is certainly here to stay. If you never played the original (which I highly suggest you do), you won’t be bothered too much by the illogicality of the plot, and even considering that, the game does so much atmosphere and gameplay-wise that you’ll be able to just ignore it. Worthy of 4.8 Cthulhus out of 5.(4.8 / 5)