Remakes are a dime a dozen, yet people have been begging for a remake of Resident Evil 2 for over a decade. Can Capcom deliver a worthy remake or this just another bargain bin texture mod?
In Resident Evil 2, you play as either Claire Redfield or Leon S. Kennedy, travelling to Raccoon City unaware of the apocalyptic zombie outbreak. Claire is in search of her brother, Chris, a police officer and runs into Leon, a rookie cop who is transferring to the local police force. Arriving at the city, they see the death around them and make a break for the police station. Of course they get separated on the way and are both looking to get out of the city and to safety.
Watch the Resident Evil 2 launch trailer:
Avoiding spoilers, I’ll tackle the story review in the order I played it in. Starting off with Claire’s campaign, I really liked her redesign. She was never smarmy or exasperated but always pragmatic and driven. Later in the story she meets Sherry and the rest of the Birkin family. She is genuinely caring and wants to help. This is due, in part, to the fantastic voice acting by Stephanie Panisello. To be clear, Claire wasn’t that whiny in the original title, it’s just great that they didn’t rewrite her to be so. Leon was the character I was most worried about, as he has become an almost invincible superhero in previous titles. Thankfully, restraint is shown here. Leon is a professional but also shows his amateur side. Like Claire, he never whines at his situation but gets on with the job. Those who haven’t played the game before will notice a change if this is the second play-through as Leon meets the mysterious Ada Wong instead of Sherry Birkin.
Regardless of who you pick, the story hits the exact same beats and locations but is different enough to warrant two play-throughs. There are a few small differences to the original release, such as a completely new section in Claire’s campaign, yet it retains the same experience perfectly. In fact, the only thing I wanted was a little more voice acting. For those new to the story, you can expect a tense title that ramps up towards the end to a more Cronenberg style feature. It’s also important to note that you don’t need to play the first game to understand the story.
The biggest gameplay change comes with the camera. The tank controls are gone, replaced with a standard third person camera. The change is absolutely fine and doesn’t detract from the original at all. The camera feels really great when simply walking around, it’s hard to explain but it floats very nicely. This remake follows in the footsteps of the original so you can expect very limited inventory slots and puzzles that border on the ridiculous. It might be because I’m older than the small, terrified boy I used to be but the puzzles seem a little more streamlined than before.
It’s easy to forget but Resident Evil 2 actually has zombies in it. These guys don’t just drop and take a few head-shots to defeat. The problem is that you don’t have enough ammo to take everything on, so picking your target is paramount, sometimes it’s best to run. A small tip for newcomers is to save ammo early on, as you get barely any later in the game. Zombies are not your only threat though. Lickers are horrifying, blind monsters that can take you down very quickly and the classic Resident Evil dogs just invite panic. The real star of the show is the Tyrant (also known as Mr X), a huge hulking monster who will follow you throughout most of your journey. You cannot kill him and he slumbers slowly through the level drawn to your sound. His booming footsteps stop you in your tracks and force you to rethink your plans. There are more enemies to discover and those familiar to the original will be happy to know that THAT boss is back in Leon’s campaign.
View some Resident Evil 2 screenshots in our gallery:
Most impressive, is that this remake feels like the original despite these changes. Like with the original, there are alternative versions of the campaign to unlock, lots of collectibles and even free story DLC on the way.
Visually, this is where the remake really struts its stuff. Not content with being a standard texture swap, Capcom use the updated version of their powerful RE engine to wonderful effect. Character models are incredible and the facial animations set a new industry standard. Lighting and shadows play a huge part in the atmosphere and can play some nasty tricks you, as they should. Audio is an absolute knockout here and I will recommend using headphones as Resident Evil 2 supports binaural audio. It’s an incredible feature that ramps up the scares massively. The soundtrack is a subtle piano and strings arrangement but always prioritises physical sounds.
There’s really not much more to say. If, like me, you love this game, then this remake is the definitive version. Capcom have gone above and beyond what they needed to do. There are story and gameplay changes but it’s for the best. If this is your first time with the game, you’ll have a blast. It scary, it’s relatively tough and it’s memorable. It’s also fairly short at around 6 hours long but there are several more campaigns to play through after that. There are very minor annoyances here, such as no option to dodge enemies and maybe the enemies are a little too bullet spongy but they don’t detract from the experience at all. No expensive micro-transactions, no forced online modes, no loot-boxes and free DLC, Capcom have started off 2019 with a powerful message to other publishers. Put simply, it’s perfect.
Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release Date: January 25th, 2019 Reviewed On: PC/Steam Also Available On: Xbox One, PS4