System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC | Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Capcom Reviewed On: PlayStation 5 | Released: January 2019
Resident Evil 2 is a remake of the 1998 PSone game, that explores two protagonists, Claire Redfield, and police rookie Leon S. Kennedy, viewpoints of the events that unfold in Raccoon City during a zombie outbreak, after arriving at the city’s police station, with the streets overrun by the undead.
The game is set in Raccoon City and you spend pretty much the entire game within the confines of the Raccoon City Police Department. Leon and Claire are brought together at a gas station just outside the city, where they manage to escape zombies that were lurking nearby. They both discover that their paths are not dissimilar, where Leon is a police officer heading to the city for his first day on the job and Claire is trying to find her brother Chris, who is also a police officer. As they arrive in the city an accident leaves them separated but both agree to meet up at the police station. Once inside the station they discover the zombies have even overrun the police leaving our protagonists to find a way out of the city while trying to uncover what happened here within the city.
Resident Evil 2 is a third person survival horror game that pits you as either Leon or Claire. The uniqueness of this game is that you can play through the game multiple times, to see Leon’s perspective of the how the events unfold as well as Claire’s. The game plays out remarkably similar in both playthroughs, but you do get different perspectives which I found cool after playing both characters to see how they got to where they would cross paths occasionally, always with something blocking them from each other. Gone are the tank controls of the original, this time its an over the shoulder shooter, the game is exceptionally smooth, and you find instantly that in your inventory you only have a select number of spaces to house items. I found this to be a refreshing idea as a lot of games give you way more space to hold items, but certain items can take up two spaces, a lot take just one, but it instantly makes you think about every little thing you can pick up, as quest items, healing items, weapons all count, so sometimes you might need to leave something to save space for your quest item you might need to carry. The good thing about anything you leave behind you can always swing back and pick it up if needed, as you will become very accustomed to the police station as you move around trying to solve the puzzles from within as well as doubling back on yourself when you find a key to a door you did not previously have. Inventory management is key in this game, but you do get item boxes next to save points that you can store items for later use or retrieve something you had previously left. Save points come in the form of typewriters you will find at certain parts of the game which whenever you find one you will feel thankful, so you do not lose any progress as well as knowing that this area is a safe area, the enemies cannot come into this area so was always nice, feeling that sense of reprieve.
The way the enemies move and lurk around made me feel constantly on edge, this is what a true survival horror is meant to feel like and I’m so glad this game made me feel these emotions, it added to my enjoyment level as even if I seen a hallway clear id still be checking all around me, even in these moments were I thought I was safe still left me with tension, that feeling that something was about to happen, even if nothing happened I just felt my luck was in at that point, I could never truly let my guard down which was a joy to experience. The basic enemies are no real threat from a distance, it is when they get up close and personal that problems arise, however if you have some distance and some bullets then some well-aimed headshots should put them down long enough to get by. The ammo is not unlimited, there is enough lying around if you can find them as some are hidden behind puzzles such as a safe with you having to figure out the combination. The enemy types vary, the game gradually increases them when you feel like you can handle the current zombies the game will throw another type at you, increasing your anxiety as eventually there are a number of different enemies that could strike at any time.
The most fearful foe must be the dreaded Tyrant or Mr. X as he is also known as, and yes, this big guy is basically indestructible, can not be killed, will hunt you down constantly, will have you running in fear, screaming at your screen as he comes out of nowhere taking you out with just his bare hands. Ok that might be just me that felt that but yes, this guy is a serious walking tank that all you can do is basically run away from him, if you have plenty of ammo with something like a shotgun then you may get him down to one knee, that is the best you can do. When he is down on one knee this will allow you to pass him safely but after a while he will get back up and begin his chase again, as you only merely stunned him. The other thing about the Tyrant is once you discover him for the first time that is it, the chase is on for the rest of the game, if you find a quiet place and listen, you will hear his footsteps, hang around too long, you will hear them get louder as he nears you. The only safe place truly from him are your save points I previously mentioned, as these areas are the only places he will not enter, truly giving you a breather. In the menu you can see your inventory to move and manage your contents, you will also see a bar to the left which acts as your health bar starting with green for full health and if it hits red that lets you know you better find some healing items as well as your character moving slower due to the injuries sustained. In the same menu you can see the map of your area, the cool thing about the map is that every room will show as red, if it turns blue it means you found everything there is to find in that room, I found this a great feature, so I knew if I was still missing something in that room or had cleared it. Overall, the gameplay loop had me hooked, I love that I could not just grab anything, I had to think carefully about my inventory management, had to constantly be on alert for enemies as well as solving puzzles to get to the next area, these enemies will still cause you bother when doing puzzles which I found heightened my levels of anxiety.
Resident Evil 2 is a fantastic looking game, it is such a big jump from the original, although you would expect nothing less giving the time between each one. The presentation of the game really added to the atmosphere, from the lighting effects to the details of each area of the police department, each room felt unique, it truly felt like the world had been lived in and that the zombie apocalypse came out of no where spreading panic and fear rapidly. From the opening scene of this game the presentation has you on edge right away, all the while marveling at how beautifully horror filled the city and its structures are.
The haunting sound effects within the game are brilliantly done, there is a good mix of these sound effects but also not overplayed as at times you will hear the eeriness of nothing to highlight the Tyrants footsteps or a zombie coming at you, the sound quality really adds to the fear in this game and had me sitting with the light on a lot as the sounds were chilling me to the bone.
For the record this is not a long game, my first playthrough took me about 8 hours before I started trying to achieve speed run times while chasing the platinum, but it has great replayability built in as there is 4 endings to this game. When you finish a playthrough of Leon you get his first ending, to get Leon’s true ending you must play him again to get this. Same goes with Claire, you will find that when you complete Claire or Leon’s first run you will want to play the other characters first run to see how all their interactions worked during the game, this will then open the option to replay their stories again, only this time you will see what is defined as the true ending. I would say there is not a lot of differences during the campaign or endings of the story but enough that had me curious to find out and enjoy for the most part. Overall, I enjoyed this game massively, I slept on it at launch which was a massive mistake on my part as this was a fantastic remake and well worth your time, I cannot highly recommend it more. Just be aware this game is not for the faint of heart and will have your heart racing from start to finish, a genuinely great showing of what a remake can be and set the bar massively high for future remakes, this is truly the benchmark for Capcom’s future titles.