Frido has always been a Resident Evil fan, so how does Resident Evil 2 stack up?
Let me start by saying I love the Resident Evil series. I love the story, the gameplay, the characters–all of it. I was very skeptical that Resident Evil 2 was going to change too much of what I love about the original. This game, however, is fantastic. Of course there are changes–it’s 2019, why would developers not add modern conveniences? Resident Evil 2 does stay very true to the original. Some people have made side-by-side comparisons of full scenes, and it’s amazing. As always, spoilers ahead. (The original game has been out for 20 years, though, AND there’s a movie, so what are you doing?)
Resident Evil 2 takes place after the initial outbreak in Raccoon City. News hasn’t spread to neighboring towns and the outbreak is still fresh. You can either play as Leon Scott Kennedy, a rookie police cop whose first day on the force turned into a nightmare or Claire Redfield, the badass woman who is searching for her big brother, Chris Redfield (who made an appearance in the first game). The two meet at a gas station outside of town and have their first encounter with the zombies. As they enter town, the two are forced out of their car, and Leon heads into the police station while Claire tries to find her way to the police station. As players go through, they encounter lots of puzzles and enemies. From lickers to the Tyrant, Mr. X, there’s no lack of fear. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
There’s a lot more good than bad within this review. Starting out, the game feels fresh–not like a remake normally does. The game is gorgeous, which puts all of those gorey moments into full view. Resident Evil 2 replaces the original fixed camera angle and places in an over-the-shoulder camera angle instead. The original game was pretty scary for its time, but the new graphics and the new camera angle add a lot to that original scare factor.
Another thing that adds a lot to this remake is the introduction of a real-time binaural audio system (the sound is recorded with two different microphones to create a 3D effect for the audio). It gives the sensation of listening to surround sound when the sound is just coming through your TV. The new sound system creates a creepier sensation when walking through the environment. The best example of how the sound changes the game is when players are running from Mr. X. He constantly chases you throughout the police station, and if you listen you can hear where his giant footsteps are coming from. It adds another to dimension to the gameplay with something so small as sound. Speaking of sound, one nice note that was included with the deluxe edition of the game was the ability to switch between the old soundtrack of the original game and the new one. It’s a nice add-on for fans of the original game.
There are other little things that were added to the new version of Resident Evil 2 that vastly improve it from the original game. There are no longer ink ribbons! This was added to later versions in the Resident Evil franchise but was originally in Resident Evil 2. Not having to carry around ink ribbons helps with item management and makes the game feels less urgent. Checkpoints were also added, so when players die, they no longer have to redo hours of work if they didn’t save. And a big one, loading doors are now removed. Loading doors were just a little bit of animation in the original Resident Evil games to give the game time to load. These are no longer necessary, and other than the initial load times for the game starting up, there are no loading screens. The game has better controls as well. The controls are no longer what are known as “tank controls” like the original. It feels much more fluid and up-to-date. And our lovely Ada Wong has her lovely red dress that the fans love. Let’s be honest though, if they hadn’t put the dress in Resident Evil 2, there would have been an uprising.
Mr. X adds a fear factor that is like no other. The thought of constantly being chased is straight up terrifying. Players could be going to get that least piece to solve a puzzle and you hear his footsteps coming down the hallway. It’s a great mechanic to always keep players on edge. At the beginning of the game, zombies cannot come into the main hall which is a safe area. Mr. X doesn’t care about the rules, though, and will show up while you are within this safe area. I found this out the hard way as I escaped into the main hall and though to myself, “Ha ha! Come get me now!” as he then proceeded to follow and I proceeded to scream and run.
With the Mr. X challenge players also have the obstacle of the Lickers. As a returning fan favorite, the lickers look as gross as ever with the updated graphics. Nothing like seeing something that is literally inside out coming at players, tongue first, as its brain weebles and wobbles where it has no skull. The lickers rely on sound, as they are blind. Players can normally sneak around lickers by not making any noise. If Mr. X is nearby though, players must run or he takes a massive amount of damage with every strike, and this also alerts the lickers.
One of the biggest issues was the Leon and Claire’s playthrough are very similar. When the two get separated at the beginning of the game, you think that there will be a massive difference in the areas for the playthrough. There are not. Leon and Claire both go through the police station solving the same puzzles. The main difference between the two are that Leon is introduced to Ada Wong, while Claire is introduced to Sherry Birkin. Yes, there is a difference, but not big enough however that it warranted two playthroughs. The game could have been presented where you switch between Claire and Leon once you hit a certain scene, which it already does in some scenes with Sherry and Ada. It feels as though they were just trying to add more gameplay hours. Instead of making it one continuous story, it was presented as two almost exactly the same stories.
There were some other things that brought down the game. The item system is hard to learn and things were missing from the original story. Though these are issues that I had with the game, not all players had them. The item system becomes easier to learn, and if you didn’t know that these things were missing from the story, it doesn’t really change it that much.
The game is really good, and I hope that other remakes that come out can have the same effort put in. The scare factor is great, and it’s really bringing the Resident Evil series (literally) back to it roots. Resident Evil 7 was a great start to that, but this game just feels more intense. I highly recommend this if you like puzzle games or survival horror. It is a little easier now with the puzzles since the internet is more common, though. I really hope a lot of people support Resident Evil 2. It’s a great game with a lot of scares, but is definitely not without its challenges. I highly recommend.