- The newest game in the “Resident Evil” franchise is “Resident Evil 2,” a remake of the 1998 classic, arriving Friday for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
- “Resident Evil 2” is a classic survival horror game – players work to escape the zombie-infested Raccoon City as Claire Redfield and rookie cop Leon Kennedy.
- Capcom has rebuilt the gameplay and visuals of “Resident Evil 2” from the ground up and fleshed out the game’s story with new cut scenes.
- Created with Capcom’s RE game engine, “Resident Evil 2” is one of the best-looking games ever made, despite its wide range of horrifying creatures and grotesque violence.
- While some changes have been made to refresh the game for 2019, all the core elements that made “Resident Evil 2” an instant classic remain.
“Resident Evil 2” is a classic – this can’t be overstated. The original “Resident Evil” established the formula for the survival horror genre, and in 1998 “Resident Evil 2” helped redefine the limits of 3D action games by doubling down on the action, exploration, and storytelling of the first game.
Over the years, “Resident Evil” has changed to meet the demands of modern gamers. Slow-paced games focused on puzzle-solving, and survival gave way to a more run-and-gun style in “Resident Evil 4.” Even the horror elements of the series began to fade as bombastic action sequences took center stage and constant waves of monsters dulled the suspense.
But in recent years, Capcom has shown a willingness to turn back the clock on the franchise, and its return to “Resident Evil 2” is a clear homage to the core elements that made these games frightening, thought-provoking, and beloved by millions of fans.
The new game is set to be released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on Friday. A free 30-minute demo is already available and lets players explore the first areas of the game.
“Resident Evil 2” begins in the zombie-infested streets of Racoon City, forcing players to take refuge in the police department.
While the original “Resident Evil” is staged in an abandoned mansion and the hidden laboratory below, “Resident Evil 2” ups the ante by infecting an entire city with the zombie-making T-virus. Players are eventually chased into the Raccoon City Police Department – only to find that it’s been overrun with monsters too. From there, they’re forced to map their escape.
Atmosphere is a key element of survival horror, and the destroyed Raccoon City and the uncertain safety of the police department are an ideal backdrop for scares. You quickly learn in the game that the department was once an art museum – the building is like a maze, with locked doors and puzzles blocking your path as often as zombies and monsters.
Resident Evil 2’s incredible lighting effects, realistic gore, and haunting environments build an amazing atmosphere.
The game’s story eventually leaves the police department and pushes you farther underground, exploring sewers and more facilities to discover the origins of the zombie outbreak. Each new environment feels distinct, and dark hallways, persistent enemies, and creeping loneliness keep the game feeling tense.
Claire Redfield is looking for her brother Chris, one of the playable characters from the original “Resident Evil.”
There are two playable characters in “Resident Evil 2”: Claire, and Leon Kennedy. Each has a storyline that they follow during the game, and they cross paths just a handful of times.
Of course, Chris has neglected to tell Claire that he was involved in a zombie outbreak two months before her arrival. By then, the city has gone dark because of the spread of the T-virus, and Chris is nowhere to be found.
“Resident Evil 2” starts on Leon’s first day as a police officer. Luckily, he lives on to star in “Resident Evil 4” and “Resident Evil 6.”
Claire eventually meets up with Leon, a rookie cop who was headed to the police department for his first day of work.
Leon’s attitude is a little different from the original “Resident Evil 2” – his arrogant voice acting is replaced with a personality that feels both earnest and naive, a fitting perspective for a hopeful police officer.
Claire and Leon aren’t the only survivors.
Leon and Claire aren’t the only survivors – they end up partnering with people they meet along the way. Claire looks after Sherry Birkin, a young girl with a mysterious connection to the virus outbreak, while Leon meets Ada Wong, a woman looking for a sample of the virus.
Not everyone is an ally though, and as the story builds, the human faces behind the outbreak are revealed.
Just like in the original game, Ada and Sherry are playable for a short portion of the campaign.
Zombies are a constant threat, but sometimes it’s better to run than fight.
Zombies are the signature enemy of “Resident Evil,” and they have never looked better. “Resident Evil 2” shows the damage done to zombies in real time, meaning gunshots and knife wounds will appear on their body. Shooting zombies in the leg or the arm can remove the entire limb, but even a crawling zombie can bite you.
While the slow-moving enemies don’t pack too many surprises, they can soak up a lot of damage and chase you from room to room until they’re killed. As bullets are scarce, it’s often better to avoid zombies when possible and save your ammo for more-threatening monsters.
Zombies aren’t the only terrors you’ll find — there are plenty more monsters lurking.
You’ll start to encounter other monsters created by the T-virus as the game progresses, like the mutated Cerberus dogs and the iconic Licker enemies that have appeared in the “Resident Evil” movies.
Powerful enemies often have their weaknesses – for example, lickers are blind and cannot detect the player if they walk slowly instead of running. Understanding which enemies to take out along your path and which to skip is another key part of survival.
The terrifying Mr. X will follow you like the Terminator.
“Resident Evil 2” has also reworked a major enemy: the persistent Tyrant-00, more commonly known to fans as Mr. X.
Once he appears, Mr. X will follow Leon or Claire throughout the game, bursting through walls and doors in a relentless chase.
There seem to be a few rooms he won’t enter, and he can still be stunned for a while with enough gunshots, but he introduces an interesting cat-and-mouse mechanic to the game and forces the player to pick up the pace.
There are plenty of bosses to be found, breaking up the suspense.
“Resident Evil 2” has a handful of boss enemies too, separating the game’s major areas and breaking up the suspense with a good old-fashioned fight.
Looking back to the 1998 release, “Resident Evil 2” does a good job of making these fights feel more cinematic and meaningful to the story – but most bosses do feel predictable when they arrive.
Solving puzzles is as important as shooting zombies.
The real challenge of “Resident Evil” is trying to solve puzzles and open new parts of the map without losing your life in the process. Working through the puzzles often takes comprehension that goes beyond the gameplay, as small visual cues or cryptic messages hint at hidden secrets.
While Leon and Claire each have a separate story, completing the game with both characters will unlock the true ending.
Twenty years later, “Resident Evil 2” still has some interesting surprises. Like in the original, players need to complete the game with both Leon and Claire to get the game’s true ending. Thankfully, each has their story campaign fleshed out in a way that makes them feel complete on their own.
Once you beat the game with one of the characters, you’ll unlock a new game mode called Second Run that lets you play the other half of the story. So if you beat the game with Leon first, you’ll unlock the mode for Claire, and vice versa.
It’s important to note that in “Resident Evil 2” that second run starts in a different location and follows a different path through the police department, so it’s not the same as playing through the first part of the story as Leon or Claire.
The remake demonstrates how far video game technology has come since 1998.
Capcom did an impressive job recreating “Resident Evil 2” for a new era, including an overhaul of the controls and camera. The original “Resident Evil 2” used fixed camera angles and tank-like controls to create suspense, but the new game lets players control the camera and aim freely.
Updated controls and mechanics completely change the way “Resident Evil 2” is played.
The ability to aim straight for a zombie’s head makes “Resident Evil 2” undoubtedly easier, but stronger enemies and limited ammo keep the game from turning into a full-fledged shooter. There are only a handful of weapons, and each character has guns exclusive to their campaign. You’ll probably end up using the pistol most often because the ammo is most plentiful, but guns feel well balanced in their utility.
“Resident Evil 2” gets back to the core mechanics of survival horror.
Understanding the layout of the map, navigating through dark corridors, and ultimately mastering your environment are essential parts of the survival experience. That survival knowledge rewards players on subsequent playthroughs of the game too – “Resident Evil 2” can take up to 10 hours on your first playthrough, but then in just two or three hours if you know the route you want to take.
Managing your items is key to survival. Ammunition and healing items are scarce.
Inventory management is another core element of survival horror. Unlike most games, “Resident Evil” strictly limits health-recovery items and bullets. Resources are finite, and it’s up to the player to ration them out over the game.
From the onset, Claire and Leon each have eight item slots, used to carry ammo, first-aid kits, keys, and items required for puzzles. That means if you want to have a pistol, a shotgun, and ammo for both, you’ve already used half your item slots.
Even knives have a limited number of uses in “Resident Evil 2,” so be careful.
You’ll want to keep some inventory space open while exploring so that you don’t need to make a dangerous second trip to pick up an important item. There’s no option to drop an item on the run and pick it up later either; if you discard something from your inventory, it’s gone for good.
You can store items in specific item boxes around the police department though, and they will automatically transfer between boxes. Inventory space can be increased by finding hip pouches during the campaign.
There are unlockable modes too, just like in the original “Resident Evil 2.”
Capcom has announced that “Resident Evil 2” will once again have two unlockable modes after players meet certain criteria: Fourth Survivor mode, which stars a mercenary named Hunk, and The Tofu Survivor.
In both, the player starts with a set number of items and has to escape from an underground lab with no extra resources.
“Resident Evil 2” is an impressive rendition of a video game classic, and every gamer owes themselves a trip to Raccoon City.
In the end, “Resident Evil 2” reworks a classic game with a new style of gameplay, preserving the core elements for a new generation of players. The game’s updated graphics and camera make the trip back to Raccoon City feel like an entirely new experience, and the pace of the gameplay has been rebuilt to fit perfectly.
“Resident Evil 2” returns as the crown jewel of survival horror and is an impressive visual spectacle as well. A remake done well is a rare feat.
Find “Resident Evil 2” in stores or digitally on Friday for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
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