Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim.
RESIDENT EVIL 2
Published by: Capcom
Available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
In the generation where things that were pretty near perfect are being groaned at for getting remade, Resident Evil 2 (2019) brings the true spawning point of the Resident Evil series lore to a new audience with more than a fresh paint job. Utilizing the same tech that gave the IP a much needed shot of modern in RE7, this remake has been built from the ground up. No pixel characters running through pre-rendered backgrounds. You’ll control either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield through true environments in some of the best nightmare fuel you’ll find all year.
In terms of story, RE2 doesn’t rewrite its history or bend its reality too much. You’re still either the cop on his first day working for the Raccoon City Police Department or the girl searching for her brother as the entire city goes through its own personal apocalypse. Even supporting characters such as the mysterious Ada Wong and young daughter of the catalyst, Sherry Birkin, are still written with the exact same ulterior motives as in the original RE2. Though the game expands upon their roles just a bit when you take control of the supporting characters through very specific sections.
The story is still, at its core, just about surviving the night. Leon or Claire must find a way out of the city through the police station. Yet nothing ever goes as planned. Along the way to your escape, you’ll uncover the secrets of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation, the company behind the apocalyptic T-virus. Ironically, one of the game’s flaws is keeping too much the same. Both Leon and Claire, as characters, never act as though their in peril. It’s almost as if the cast were told to read the original script line by line and match the tone. The only real time you get a sense of emotion is in RE2’s new touches such as when you’re chomped down on by a zombie at which point both characters have distinct tones of panic and fear. If we could accept this RE2 being a total self-contained tale outside the traditional Resident Evil timeline then the writers could have taken more chances with the weaknesses of the original’ story.
Where the game absolutely blows away anything you’ll see this year is in the amount of polish. The art team working on Resident Evil 2 take the skeleton of the first game and expand it into a three-dimensional world. Bodies wrapped in bags line the streets, the police station goes from simply feeling like a hallway with enemy speedbumps to a true horror movie setting. What you’ll notice about the visual upgrade is the layer of slickness everything has to it. Enemies near things like overflowing toilets look as though they’ve been weighed down by the moisture. Then there’s the layer of blood. Most zombies you’ll encounter have reused faces, but the way they’re dipped in the rich looking blood of the various puddles throughout the game is uniquely gooey every time. There simply isn’t enough Internet to say just how good every visual detail of RE2 is. You could talk about how the atmosphere nails the intended mood of panic and dread aimed for by the original, or how the cinematics seamlessly transition into you having total oh shi* moments of realizing you’re in control of your character now.
Along with visual, comes the upgrade of modern gaming systems. No longer will you need to hunt for ink ribbon to save your game progress at typewriters. Though you can save at just about anytime it’s still fun to challenge yourself and save at each of those points. The camera system is still stationary, but controlling of the characters is much smoother this time around. Running through danger feels like you can actually maneuver around it rather than feeling like you’re simply stepping on an endless field of rakes laying around everywhere. The barrage of loading screens from room to room has been eliminated making stepping from one door to another more dangerous. No longer can you have that brief second or relief of escaping by simply darting into the next room. All the dangers follow you like twitter trolls. Even the map system of the game updates itself to tell you exactly what you might have missed in every room.
Without a doubt, the biggest risk and payoff in the new Resident Evil 2 is the game’s sound design. Very little music is ever heard during gameplay. Instead, your soundtrack gets comprised of the moans of the undead, heavy breathing, creaky floors, rain, thunder, and during certain tension-filled scenes I swear I could hear my own pulse.
Resident Evil 2 is a game where very little is executed poorly. My only complaint was after beating Claire’s story first, Leon’s turn in the continuing playthrough was hardly a different experience. The original 2-disc PlayStation game felt like it had more difference in locations and pacing when you’d play through with the other character. This is, in fact, the only part of this game that might disappoint you and it isn’t something one would notice if they’ve never played the original.
Well, there are two things wrong with it. The voice at the title screen that says in an ominous voice “Resident Evil…2” is missing.
As much as I was in favor of the original game, this new 2019 version is the first title in the entire series history that just feels like it nails everything. It’s the gooiest experience you’ll have all year in the best possible way.
9.5/10- Resident Evil 2 set the standard for survival horror back in 1998. In 2019, the new Resident Evil 2 reminds you who the king of the survival horror hill is.