Resident Evil 2 Review: A Masterful Reimagining Of A Classic Horror Game
Capcom put itself into an interesting predicament when it announced back in 2015 that a Resident Evil 2 remake was in the works. On the one hand, the remake would need to be a lovingly crafted ode to the original, lest fans of what is now considered to be one of the best survival horror games ever made feel jilted. On the other hand, most of the gameplay elements that existed in the 1998 title are, well, outdated, and many of the features would need to be done over to ensure that the remake not only respects the original, but also stands up alongside the bevvy of new games releasing this year.
Thus, Capcom set out to create a Resident Evil 2 remake from the ground up, forgoing a shot-by-shot duplication in favor of a fresh experience that respects the original, while also implementing all the experience the publisher has garnered in the last two decades. In this respect Capcom has wholeheartedly succeeded, and the remake can proudly stand tall as what will surely be considered as one of the best remakes ever made.
For those still unfamiliar, Resident Evil 2 follows the story of a young cop, Leon Kennedy, as he travels to Raccoon City for his first official posting since the academy. Along the way he stops at a gas station where he meets college student Claire Redfield, at which point the duo realize that the entire area is filled with flesh-eating zombies. From there, they head to Raccoon City proper, where they are then separated and the game branches off into two different stories, one for each character.
Booting up the game immediately presents the player with two choices: Leon Kennedy’s story or Claire Redfield’s. From the start players can choose one of the two campaigns, with each story occasionally intertwining with the other at key points, not unlike what Half-Life did with Opposing Force and Blue Shift. It is enjoyable to see the other character at certain times within the campaign, and the occurrences are sparse enough that it doesn’t feel overdone.
In terms of gameplay, those that are familiar with other Resident Evil games will very quickly recognize the third person, over the shoulder perspective. This is of course drastically different from the fixed camera angles of the original, and Capcom manages to make the change in such a way that the hallways and rooms of the RPD still feel claustrophobic and dangerous, despite the player having more freedom to move around.
Players truly begin their journey in the grand room that is the RPD entrance, which for the most part acts as a safe space for the player to get their bearings and figure out what to do next. After an initial foray into the eastern hall (or elsewhere depending on who you’re playing as), the player is given some direction and charged with finding a secret way out of the building, at which point more of the building is open for you to explore. As this is still wholly based on the original title, much of the building is kept out of reach until the player acquires certain keys or other tools, and it’s quite cathartic to find a key that you just know will open up several areas you’ve had to overlook during your exploration.
In terms of combat, Resident Evil 2 acts like your typical survival horror game, featuring the expertly timed jump scares and seemingly dead bodies that just so happen to come back to life when the player is occupied scrounging around for ammo. This is where all my training playing Dead Space came in handy, though the player has to settle with slashing with a combat knife or wasting precious ammo rather than, say, a swift stomp with an armored boot.
As this is a survival horror game, there will typically be times when running is by far the better option. This can be as simple as being cornered and unable to reload in time, though it can also be due to the presence of the Tyrant T-00, who will absolutely drive you bonkers whenever he shows up. I personally always avoided him in order to conserve my ammo, though there are some challenge rewards for players depending on how they choose to handle him. They call him the ‘Unstoppable Tyrant’ for a reason, though, and he’s the only enemy that you have to worry about even if you’re in the confines of the main hall of the RPD. To that end, it’s best to save your precious ammo and avoid him at all costs.
Speaking of precious ammo, ammo conservation is the name of the game here, and that even extends to the game’s combat knives, which also have their own durability bars. Rather than coming straight at you, zombies and the like will often jostle around and come at you from an angle, making it that more difficult to land the all important head shots. Thankfully, should you get grabbed the player has a few options in the form of sub-weapons, which include a couple different types of grenades and your trusty combat knives.
As with most Resident Evil titles, inventory management in the Resident Evil 2 Remake plays a significant part in your character’s survival. Due to the way the game is laid out, players will have to do a significant amount of exploring and key item grabbing before gaining access to the building’s conveniently placed hip pouches, which increases the character’s inventory space by two for each one acquired. Unfortunately this doesn’t do as much as you’d think, as your inventory will likely be littered with environment-bypassing items such as keys and tools, the latter of which includes a pipe wheel and, rather handily, your combat knife. Early on in the game, said knife acts as a bit of a tool-based tutorial where the player cuts through a tape-barred box in the front room of the RPD, which acts as a nice nod to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard.
One extremely helpful thing Capcom does in regards to inventory management is that they let players know what key items are no longer useful. This will help the player clear away clutter by simply discarding these items (denoted by a red X at the bottom right of the icon), and you can trust that, no, there won’t be a time later on in the game when this item will be needed even for some optional exploring.
The graphics in the Resident Evil 2 Remake can easily stand up to some of the other titles that have released this year. I reviewed the game on a standard PS4, and there were zero issues in terms of how the game ran while still looking absolutely beautiful. This extends to both the characters found within the game as well as the varied environments, with even the sewers underneath the RPD looking visually stunning.
The sounds within the game are similarly impressive, from the rain pattering on the areas closest to the windows to the occasional moan from an unseen zombie. The only gripe I had – albeit a minor one – was the occasional surprised voice lines that came from Leon if a zombie were to, for example, get up after being presumably destroyed. It certainly makes sense the first few times it happens, but I didn’t need to hear “What the hell!” every other time after that. That said, this didn’t really take away from the experience in any meaningful way.
Overall, the Resident Evil 2 Remake does what it set out to do: deliver a phenomenal gameplay experience that pays tribute to the original game without being mechanically shackled by it. With the promise of new game modes on the way and the title’s overall replayability thanks to the various different playable scenarios, Resident Evil veterans and newcomers alike will find their stay in Raccoon City extremely enjoyable, and Capcom has undoubtedly set the bar for future remakes.
Resident Evil 2 Remake launches for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on January 25, 2019.
Ryan "Cinna" Carrier3016 Posts
Ryan is the Lead Editor for Don't Feed the Gamers. When he isn't writing, Ryan is likely considering yet another playthrough of Final Fantasy IX. He's also the DFTG cinnamon bun.