Resident Evil 2 (Remake) - Review

Resident Evil 2 was the second mainline entry in Capcom's new horror series, and it was also the game that helped put the series on the map. While the original game already had it's fans, when RE2 came along it completely changed everything. Whatever the first game did, RE2 did better, and before long it had a cult following all it's own. Really it's no wonder that fans wanted this classic remastered in some form, but sadly it never happened. While Resident Evil 1 had received multiple remakes and ports, RE2 was left in the dust. That's why fans took it upon themselves to remake the game, only to get shut down by Capcom shortly after. Although this was actually good news.

When Resident Evil 2 was officially announced fans went wild. While some were skeptical about it due to it's change from fixed camera angles to the modern RE game's 3rd person camera, most still had hopes that it would be the game they had waited years for. Then came the news that the game would be altered with new content, and once again doubts were cast. Would this new content be worth it? Just how much was the game being changed? Fans could only speculate on what RE2's remake would actually be, up until the game's release date. And then the day finally came.

Welcome to Raccoon City:

The story of Resident Evil 2 has not changed since it's original release, but it has been slightly altered. Upon starting the game you are given the choice of either playing as Leon or Claire, and depending who you choose first events will play out differently. With Leon we see him getting ready for his first day on the job as a police officer, and as Claire we see her returning to Raccoon City to look for her missing brother Chris. After both stop at a gas station and witness some weird events, the two decide to team up and head into town to figure out exactly what is going on. That's when they see it.

After the events of the original Resident Evil, the virus created by the pharmaceutical company Umbrella has escaped the confides of it's lab, and have now infected the general population of Raccoon City. Zombies and monsters now roam the streets, and everywhere Leon and Claire look, they only see death. Nearly surviving an incident themselves, the two make their way to the police department and thus their story begins. Both looking for answers, while also fighting for their own survival.

The Storytelling of Resident Evil:

Unlike newer entries in the Resident Evil series which mostly focus on action and flashy cutscenes, RE2 goes back to it's roots. While there are main story scenes that drive the plot forward, most of the mystery is uncovered by you the player. Hidden notes can be found throughout the police station and surrounding town areas, and often the environment itself can give you clues on what actually happened. While the original RE2 was a PS1 game with fixed camera angles, the remake is fully 3D with modern day graphics. This allows each section of the game to contain a lot more detail than before, and the game really uses that to it's advantage. When you walk into the police station for the first time, it's clear that people had been using it as a strong hold during the early days of the outbreak. Areas have been barricaded, furniture looks like it's been used, and vending machines have food that the zombies want for themselves. It's a complete overhaul from what the original RE2 looked like, and it's a change made for the better. Even the once empty lobby area now looks like an actual police station lobby. It's a huge improvement, and it's the same sort of detail that can be seen in every area of the game.

Besides the improvements to the world, side characters also play a larger role now. While some are around longer than others, each one has more meaningful impact. Characters who were once only seen for a second with no real personality to show, now use their screen time to give you better insight to who they are, and the reasoning behind their actions. Then there are other characters who now have expanded story arcs, and characterization. And don't forget "Mr. X" who now appears in both story routes A and B.

Return to Classic Survival Horror:

As many had hopped, the RE2 remake is in fact a return to the classic style. The game may have a 3rd person over the shoulder view, but it is not an action game. In fact weapons tend to have little effect on enemies, and require a great deal of ammo to actually kill them. Ammo is also limited, with healing items being even more so. On top of this you also have limited inventory space, so you must decide what items you want to bring with you, and which ones you want to leave behind in your storage box. Considering the game is loaded with puzzles, you always want to have just enough space to carry whatever key item you find, but you need to protect yourself as well. It's a constant juggling act between keeping items you need, and ones that help you stay safe. As for the game's actual progression...

When you first enter the police station where you can go is limited. Doors are locked and require specific keys, others are locked behind puzzles you must solve, and sometimes an area just isn't safe. As you progress through the story though, pathways open up, and the game leaves it up to you to decide exactly how you'll reach your goal. Thankfully the in game map will let you know when you haven't been to an area, and if you missed an item, so it comes down to planning more than actually getting lost as you look for that next puzzle. That being said, it's very important that you learn the game's world so you can plan out your next course of action.

For example, you may realize a room on the second floor is now open to you, but the problem is that hallway is filled with zombies. So what do you do? Well, you'd have to consider what steps you've already taken up until this point. The direct approach may be filled with hazards, but most of the time there will be more than one way to get to where you need to go. So rather than rushing straight for the goal, maybe you can take the hall with the window you boarded up. Or maybe you can go up the steps which only has a few legless zombies crawling around on them, or you could quietly walk down that hall with the licker so it doesn't notice you. Eventually you'll learn your way around, and realize what is or isn't safe on your own. But of course every playthrough of RE2 will be different as you try to do things better than your last attempt. That's where the real fun in RE2 comes from.

Shooting For That S Rank:

RE2 has multiple difficulty modes, and are basically there to help you learn the game. The game's easy mode makes everything a lot easier, while the normal mode steps things up, but lets you save the game as many times as you want. Hardcore mode however, that's where the true classic RE2 experience comes from, with stronger enemies, and Ink Ribbons you must find to save your game. These different difficulty modes can be used in either playthrough A or B, and can be accessed by both players. So what does that mean? Well, if you want to 100% the game and get S ranks in all stories, then you're looking at many, MANY playthroughs. Leon story A is different than his story B, and Claire is in the same boat. Mix that in with your difficulty settings, and you have a game with a lot of replay value.

(Ouch 41 saves on standard... Should've saved my other runs...)

 When you first start Resident Evil 2, there is a chance you'll struggle with some things first. Again enemies are hard to kill, and you won't know where to go or what to do. However with some playtime, you'll soon start to realize there are better ways to handle different situations. Shooting a zombie's leg off is easier than killing them, and lickers can't see. Then you have puzzles that'll trigger enemies to spawn in, and will completely catch you off guard. When you come back for a second playthough though, you'll realize these things and know how to tackle these problems better. So instead of rushing in to grab that puzzle piece off the wall, you might make sure your escape route isn't blocked off first. Or rather than leaving that "dead" zombie in the corner, you might shoot it a few times in the head to actually finish it off. RE2 is all about learning from experience, and then coming back to do better. It's a fun game to play, but it's an even funner game to master -- exactly what you want from a good classic Resident Evil.

RE2's Extras:

After you finish Resident Evil 2, you'll find that the game isn't actually over. Like other newer Resident Evil titles, RE2's remake has quite a few extra modes and features for you to explore -- the first of which being

Now shockingly a lot of people don't actually know about this feature in Resident Evil games, but it's been included in every release since the 7th generation consoles. To put it simply, is a portal for the Resident Evil series, and it tracks your progress across games. By completing different in game goals you unlock points to spend on your RE profile, and sometimes even unlock bonuses in different RE games. On top of this they also hold events for each game, where you have to complete goals under set conditions, or even play through altered sections of the games (such as special raid levels in Revelations 1 and 2). It's just a fun little extra that gives you a reason to keep playing these games, and RE2 Remake is no different. Of course if this isn't your thing, RE2 does offer other extras as well.

Hidden throughout the game are collectible items, and there are many unlockables to strive for as you start each new game. By completing different difficulties, getting S ranks, etc, you can unlock unlimited ammo versions of the in game weapons, and you can also unlock a few costumes for both Leon and Claire. Then you have the extra survivor modes which let you play as other characters in a quick action packed "race to the finish" mode. (And yes, this includes fan favorite Tofu as well.) While these modes are pretty short, they are a lot of fun to play through, and are a great way to challenge yourself to shoot for a better score. 

The Good and the Bad:

With Resident Evil 2, there's really not much you can complain about. The game runs on the newer RE engine which was used for Resident Evil VII, so it looks amazing, the game's world is filled with character, and the gameplay loop is solid. The only real gripe is possibly the adaptive difficulty where enemies will either die faster or slow based on how well you're doing, but typically it's not something you notice. It isn't a game focused on killing your enemies, but rather outsmarting them so it's not a big deal. Other than that nearly everything about RE2's remake is exactly what many fans were hoping for. The redesigned areas are great, the additions to the story are nice, and there is plenty of replay value -- even putting the extra modes aside. While Mr. X can be annoying at first, he's honestly not that hard to escape, and once you learn the game he stops being an issue altogether. It is too bad Matt Mercer didn't get to return as Leon this time around, but the new VA does a good job playing a young Leon, so it can be forgiven. Claire's voice actress also does a good job, especially during the later part of her story.

Anyway, the bottom line is that RE2 is a great game, and one well worth playing. Even if you haven't played a Resident Evil game before, or if the difficulty had scared you off, that shouldn't stop you from playing this one. The game's easy mode is perfect for newcomers, and it's hardcore mode is great for long time series fans. It's a game that was made for everyone, and one you should give a chance if you haven't already. This is Capcom at it's finest.

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