The Resident Evil franchise has been haunting gamers ever since the launch of their first title, back in 1996. Since the games span almost three decades, it’s evident that the first titles may need a modern makeover, and that is exactly what Resident Evil 2 did, as it breathes new life into the undead-infested titles that defined our gaming lives.
The same familiar story
Just like in the original, in Resident Evil 2 you get to control either police officer Leon S. Kennedy and college student Claire Redfield as they attempt to escape from Raccoon City during a zombie apocalypse. This eventually escalates into them having to stop doctor William Birkin, the Umbrella scientist who created the virus and lead to the ensuing zombie Apocalypse.
This choice of characters has little to no influence on the actual story since side-by-side gameplay of both campaigns will reveal that besides minor character interactions, it is pretty much the same story.
Veteran players who were there when the 1998 version appeared will rejoice knowing that the game is remarkably faithful to the original, both in story, layout, and even item placement, so if you still have your old notebook where you wrote down the walkthrough, now is a time to let it see the light of day again.
A magnificent testimony of what technology can bring you
The more technology evolved regarding graphics, the more pretentious we as gamers have become, and while the 1998 game may have scared the living daylights out of you when 3D graphics were barely in their infancy, by today’s standards they don’t look scary at all.
That is why the most noticeable change that Resident Evil 2 brings is the incredibly frightening and realistic graphics that push your console to the limits.
However, Xbox One players should know that there are some differences between the graphics of the PC and console version of the game.
While admittedly they lie more within the finer details, those of you with a pension for perfection might not like the occasional shadow flickering or the jagged edges around the hair models of your characters.
Furthermore, the character models seem rather lifeless, and I’m not talking about the zombies, but rather Leon, Claire and all the other people who should supposedly express a wide plethora of emotions, given that they are surrounded by zombies and all.
A visceral display of body horror
You can’t have a zombie game without body horror, and that is what Resident Evil knows how to capitalize on. Blood, gore, necrotic flesh, mutated sinew and humanoids that were skinned alive are all in a day’s work for this Capcom title.
This affinity towards bodily harm is further emphasized by the game’s combat system: tearable limbs, exploding heads, and gruesome death scenes for your main character (which you’ll experience at some point or another whether you like it or not).
A psychological experience for the fear junkies
If seeing rotting corses doesn’t seem to be enough, the game has other more subtle ways of making you play with the lights turned on. By removing the fixed camera angles, Capcom had to use different ways to conceal enemies, using elements such as room layout, lighting, and smoke.
This is coupled with frequent jumpscares, sudden movements in the dark and cutscenes that come out of nowhere and give your heart a run for its money.
These changes were implemented because Capcom noticed how players loved their more survival-horror-oriented approach, especially in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, so they decided to blend it in with the game’s originally action-oriented theme.
A slight dose of “gamer’s fear.”
As a gamer, you probably have a subconscious fear of levels you know are next to impossible to pass, and Resident Evil 2 is full of them.
You will frequently juggle between moments when you have tons of supplies lying around, and moments, when you are facing corridors full of zombies with just three bullets, left.
This causes a certain degree of dread since rooms filled with supplies and maybe even weapon upgrades are usually an omen that something big is about to go down.
The game is very realistic regarding the choices you have to make because more often than not you’ll have to run for dear life instead of going in all guns blazing.
More so, subtility is a key to survival, especially when facing enemies such as Lickers, which (for those unfamiliar with the franchise) are blind as bats but have excellent hearing.
This isn’t Serious Sam
Despite having three different difficulty levels, one cannot argue that the game is frustratingly hard at sometimes.
This is because combat can be quite unfulfilling due to the zombie’s inherent resilience towards bullets (seven bullets to the head to take one down is a bit much), but also because of the RNG element when it comes to headshot explosions.
The zombie’s sheer numbers at sometimes can also make the game an utter nightmare since they now can gang up on you at the same time during an attack animation taking away twice or even three times (depending on how many they are) the amount of health at once.
Even more frustrating is the implementation of the destructible weapons feature introduced in previous titles, such as the case of your defensive combat knife. Whenever you use your knife on a foe, a gauge will start depleting, and once the cause if empty, the item is destroyed and unusable, without the possibility of repair.
Keep track of your surroundings
Zombies appear almost as if out of thin air, and since it was established that sometimes running is the best course of action, its always good to remember where the closest doors and exits are.
Of course, backtracking in the wrong direction is something you’ll most likely do, so don’t be frustrated if you get bit, since the game seems like it was made to force you to lose a chunk of your tender flesh from time to time.
Roaming threats everywhere
If you’re familiar with the Silent Hill series, then you probably know about the infamous Pyramid Head, a hulking behemoth that cannot be killed per-say, but instead, you have to run for your life whenever he randomly appears.
It seems that Resident Evil 2 has its version of Pyramid Head, called “Mister X,” which fans of the franchise will recognize as being a Tyrant. Mister X will appear where you least expect it and should be avoided at all costs, which is another penny in the game’s difficulty jar.
At least you have supplies
Resident Evil 2 retains the inventory and crafting system that made it popular, with some recipes being easily recognizable by older players, such as the ammo recipes or the medicine you make from grinding up green and red herbs.
Because the game is rather hectic when it comes to encounters, it is always good to have medicine and ammo with you at all times. An even better idea would be to visit the closest storage location before you continue to another phase of the story, so you can always restock.
- The body horror
- The psychological horror
- The challenging gameplay
- The faithfulness to the original
- The mind-bending puzzles
- The facial animation could use some tweaking
- Players of the original pretty much know the plot
- Items are sometimes placed in an unbalanced manner
- Zombies don’t always die
- The roaming Tyrant
- The need to have heart medicine at hand
Nothing negative can be said regarding the game, except for the difficulty and sense of dread and helplessness you get sometimes, but then again, that is the recipe for a good survival-horror title!