Alongside the fabled Final Fantasy 7 remake, Resident Evil 2 has been one of the most hotly anticipated releases for a while. Originally released in 1998 for the PlayStation and later the N64 and Dreamcast, Resident Evil 2 is often cited as many fans of the series’ favourite. For good reason too, it took the formula laid out in the first game and improved upon it in almost every way. You can read our review here.
When this remake of Resident Evil 2 was announced, the gaming world rejoiced. However, considering Capcom’s track record the years before Resident Evil 7, you can’t blame people for being wary. Thankfully the team behind this release took what was learned from the excellent Resident Evil 7, namely the horror elements and put it to great use.
It’s been a very long time since Resident Evil was this scary and it’s great to see the hunger for survival horror is still there. Take note Konami…
So the big question is…does Resident Evil 2 live up to the hype?
Yes. Yes it does. In fact Capcom can proudly say that they have accomplished something many would have thought was impossible. The remake of Resident Evil 2 is better than the original. Not just visually but gameplay wise as well. It’s an accomplished piece of gaming with only a few minor negative points but we’ll get to those later.
For those unaware, Resident Evil 2 picks up some time later after the events that befell the S.T.A.R.S team in the mansion. It is set in Racoon City, a bustling metropolis home to the Umbrella Corporation. A pharmaceutical company, secretly they make bioweapons to sell and the mansion incident was just the beginning.
Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield (sister of Chris Redfield) both arrive in Raccoon City for different reasons. He is a rookie cop due to start work at the Racoon Police Department and she is there to find her brother who has gone missing.
The pair meet at a gas station (one of many new segments included here) and get attacked by zombies. Here we experience one of the biggest changes in this remake and that is the threat of the zombie. As well as being terrifying, they are very difficult to put down and anymore then one coming at you is a problem.
Capcom have done the impossible and made the zombie something to fear again.
Claire and Leon team up to escape, stealing a police car and driving into the city. Once there, they discover the city has fallen to the walking dead and a loudspeaker broadcast tells them to go to the police station for safety.
The pair are then separated by a tanker crashing and exploding (the driver having been bitten) and forced to make their way separately to the station. Depending on who you choose to play as, you’ll be guiding them from this point.
The goal is simple…survive and escape the city. However, it’s not just zombies you are going to have to contend with as you explore the police station and surrounding areas. Skinless creatures called Lickers, zombiefied dogs, mutated planet creatures, an over-grown alligator, an ever-chasing Tyrant and something even worse that was once human.
Survival is not an easy task and you’ll have to conserve ammo, know when to run and know when to hide to make it out alive.
It’s a thrill ride of a game constantly throwing more and more things at you to the point of desperation. The safe rooms were always a blessing but here they feel down right sent from heaven.
You see there are no easy enemies in Resident Evil 2. Everything can kill you and kill you quickly if you’re not careful. The feeling of dread that comes from the sound of a Licker in the hall is reminiscent of the clicking noise of a Hunter from the first game. Then there is there is the Tyrant (Mr X as he was commonly known in the original), possibly the most terrifying enemy in the game.
Originally he turned up in the ‘B’ campaigns of Leon and Claire having been dropped in to ‘clean up’ Umbrella’s problems. Here he shows up in both and will hunt you down constantly. The only respite is to hide in a safe room and wait until he goes away with the sound of his thumping footsteps your only clue to his whereabouts.
Many a gamer will admit that they probably jumped out of their skin when opening a door only to find him on the other side.
He’s not the only terror that shows up more than once either. As the G-virus transforms the once brilliant Dr. William Birkin into a grotesque monster. Be prepared for a battle when you have to face off against him.
While you’ll find yourself dying more than you might be used to it’s not down to anything but your own skill and decisions. The game will give you the tools and it’s up to you to use them wisely. Simplified controls that make movements quick and sharp as well as easy switching between weapons will help you survive.
The controls are just another area that has been vastly improved. We have an excellent new map style that is clear and easy to understand and also shows items. A better inventory system that can be upgraded as you go on. Better use of gunpowder and defensive items as well as more useful weapon upgrades. All little touches that when combined show how much effort has been put in by Capcom to ensure this remake was the best it could possibly be.
Almost every part of the game has been improved such as smarter and more logical puzzles (sort of), the layout of the what’s locked and what isn’t and how you get from one location to another. It makes Racoon City feel like a living and breathing place connected and exposable. It is fairly linear but it never feels like it. Even if you know the original inside and out, this remake brings some nice new surprises. Such as the orphanage in Claire’s side of the story.
On Xbox One X, Resident Evil 2 runs perfectly. With minimal loading times, zero crashes or frame rate issues. Graphically it looks stunning and characters look almost real, although Claire’s smile is a bit too toothy. The locations, lighting, monsters and more will impress and the detail on the shambling dead is amazing.
The game looks so good it’s hard to see where else it could have been improved. Every step of the way you’ll be wowed. The detail in a zombie as it lunges for your throat. The wounds spreading across a body as you put bullets into it. The horrid skinless look of a licker or the mutated body of William Birkin. Amazing.
Resident Evil 2 would be a 10/10 game if it wasn’t for one hard to ignore issue though. That is the music. For some reason, Capcom dropped the ball here. With the new in-game music barely heard and in no way as iconic as the original. In fact other then a boss fight at the end, you could easily think it didn’t have a soundtrack at all. That in itself is disappointing but that you could actually get the original music in-game if you pre-ordered it/pay for it as an in-game purchase says they knew what they were doing here.
A little touch that reminds you of the Capcom of old. Remember Street Fighter skins/character costumes? Or Operation Racoon City’s entire other half of the game being DLC?
That aside, this is a near perfect remake and the best one I’ve ever seen. It’s going to thrill old and new players alike.
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Resident Evil 2
The Final Score - 9.5/10