Resident Evil 2 Remake Review
Resident Evil 2 has made its return after 20 years, does it hold true to the original and bring enough to the table for another visit to Raccoon City?
When Capcom decided to remake a classic horror experience like Resident Evil 2 expectations were high to remain faithful to the original, but also introduce a new experience for a modern audience.
Thankfully, Capcom found a way to keep the heart and soul of the original while completely reimagining the experience. All of this adds up to a title that returns the Resident Evil series to it’s true pedigree, offering chills and thrills for those who dare to enter Raccoon City.
“My high expectations were shattered, this was an experience worthy to carry the mantle of what had come before it.”
As someone who played the original Resident Evil 2 on the PlayStation in 1998 it was a game that changed my perception of what a videogame could be. It offered incredible Hollywood-style storytelling, high production values, chills and thrills that stuck with me for over two decades.
Fast-forward to when I first got my hands on the remade version for the first time at E3 2018, my high expectations were shattered, this was an experience worthy to carry the mantle of what had come before it.
Resident Evil 2
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows
Developers: Capcom R&D Division 1
ESRB Rating: M (Mature 17+)
A Story of Untold Horror Awaits
Welcome to Raccoon City, an urban centre ravaged by a population transformed into zombies by the mysterious T-Virus. With the city completely cut off from the outside world, you are about to unknowingly stumble into an undead nightmare.
You begin your journey as rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy, or college student Claire Redfield who end up trapped, and surrounded by legions of the undead. The game lets you pick which character you want to play as right from the start, offering two unique perspectives on the events that transpire that fateful night.
The story arcs are different, offering Leon’s lens which is all about “serving and protecting” and Claire who is on a mission to find a missing family member. Each character’s playthrough is fairly similar, but no matter which character you choose, a terror-filled fight for survival awaits.
An Immersive Survival Horror Experience
Resident Evil 2 has become the gold-standard for remaking a game, it’s not just retouched graphics and a bump in resolution, but a whole new experience built from the ground up. Capcom employed the cutting-edge RE Engine for Resident Evil 2, which was originally used for Resident Evil 7, and in the slick visuals for Devil May Cry 5.
Gone are the late-nineties pre-rendered backgrounds and the blocky models from the original, replaced with near photo-realistic environments, characters and foes, in crisp, 4K resolution.
New lighting effects add to the intense atmosphere, layering more fear into the experience. Heading down dark hallways with only your flashlight beam to rely on gave me the chills, every groan or irregular shadow sent me into a panic! I’ll be sending Capcom a bill for all the extra nightlights I now have plugged in around my home.
Your Worst Nightmare, Cranked Up to 10
After playing Resident Evil 2, you’ll fear just about everything that goes bump in the night.
The game’s sound design really plays on your fears, from the echo of your own footsteps, to a creak in the floor that makes you take an extra look back to make sure an undead Dan isn’t on your tail. The game itself features very little music, letting you soak in the subtle atmospheric noises that continue to build on the suspense.
This is especially apparent with Mr.X, the massive nearly invincible super-zombie that stalks you from area to area. His footsteps echo around environments, taunting you as you try to avoid the unstoppable menace.
Gameplay that has evolved more than the T-Virus
In true, survival horror fashion ammunition and inventory management play a key role in you making it out alive. There are times where you will find yourself running low on essentials like healing items with enough to barely get by. I quite often found myself carefully crafting or rationing bullets, opting to bolt past enemies in order to live to fight another day.
This mechanic works really well to further build tension as you explore the environment, knowing that your next encounter with an enemy could be game over if you don’t manage your inventory correctly.
Thankfully, the camera system is your ally this time around, as it has been completely overhauled offering a greater field-of-view. In the original RE2 the camera was at fixed points, now it’s an over-the-shoulder perspective for a more intuitive experience. This new angle gives you a far better scope of your surroundings and is one of many improvements that really helped to further immerse me in the story.
The layout of certain areas in the game have been updated and expanded, such as all 3 levels of the police station. This gives returning players a new experience and different challenges, in a somewhat familiar setting. One of my favourite additions to the map system is that it automatically updates, changing areas from red (unexplored) to blue, signaling the area is clear of items and or puzzles. Even if an area is blue keep your guard up, baddies lurk around every corner, especially that pesky Mr.X!
Reliving the Nightmare
Once you’ve finished your initial playthrough with Leon or Claire there is still a lot to explore and unlock that will expand your experience in RE2. In order to get the game’s “true ending” and uncover new modes you’ll need to complete the game with both characters via the “Second Run” mode. Completing second run will open up the “The 4th Survivor” option letting you play as Hunk, the “Grim Reaper” himself in a run-and-gun survival mini-game with no item pickups. Once you’ve survived Hunk’s zombie gauntlet, the “Tofu Survivor” mission opens where you play as lump of tofu (you read that right!) with no guns – the toughest challenge yet. Capcom is continuing to support the game with new, free DLC which looks to further expand replayability, in a “what if” scenario for other characters in “The Ghost Survivors.”
The Resident Evil 2 remake is a worthy successor, it reanimates a classic survival horror story for both new and veteran gamers to experience together. Capcom went to great lengths to rethink and improve upon one of the greatest horror games of all time, making it leaps and bounds better. Calling RE2 a remake is a disservice to the work that has gone into it, which in reality, is a brand-new game from the ground up.
Capcom has reset the bar for what a remake should be, in the process creating one of the best survival horror games out there.
Resident Evil 2 Pros
+Updated combat is extremely satisfying
+Zombies look scarier than ever!
+Sound Design really adds to the experience
Resident Evil 2 Cons
-More differentiation would be better between each characters’ story
-Missing a few classic enemy types from the original
Gameplay: 9.0/10 Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 10/10 Replayability: 9.0/10
A copy of the game was provided by Capcom USA for the purpose of this review.