Capcom have had a mixed track record with Resident Evil sequels. Focusing on the the good, we had the recent shift to first-person and resurgence of classic survival-horror elements with 2017’s Resident Evil 7. Going back to 2005, Resident Evil 4 demonstrated the formula could work as a third-person shooter, injecting the series with a much-needed boost of action and humour in the process, while retaining many survival-horror elements. Finally, way back in 1998, Resident Evil 2 released to critical acclaim, retaining the foundation laid out by its progenitor – the fixed camera angles, puzzle-filled environments, grotesque enemies, resource-management, absurd story, and campy dialogue – while pushing production values up to 11. For many older gamers, this was their first exposure to the series, and that game retains a special place in their memories.
Fans have been clamouring for a Resident Evil 2 remake for as long as I remember, and those cries were only amplified after Capcom released the incredible remaster of very first game, Resident Evil (2002) – which has been ported several times. Since that remake, all we’ve seen are several average HD ports for the last-gen consoles, and a few low-effort ports of older last games to the current consoles. Thankfully, Capcom’s second remake is almost as impressive as the first, providing a complete overhaul of the visuals, new and expanded environments, more puzzles, more story, and a shift to the over-the-shoulder format of the pre-Resident Evil 7 era. Is it a fantastic game? Absolutely. Is this remake the best way to experience Resident Evil 2 and does it surpass their first remaster, Resident Evil (2002)? The answer is more complicated.
The RPD has never looked this good and is full of surprises for new and returning players.
A quick refresher is in order as that’s something the remake seems to ignore: The S.T.A.R.S. team investigates a secret laboratory on the outskirts of Raccoon city, discovers the Umbrella Pharmaceutical Corporation also dabbles in bioweapon viruses (with predictably disastrous results), and the surviving members manage to escape before the lab blows up (destroying the evidence they need). Resident Evil 2 kicks off a month later, with rookie cop Leon Kennedy heading towards the Raccoon City Police Department after no one calls him to report for duty, while Claire Redfield is heading to the RPD in search of her brother Chris - a protagonist from the first game.
...there are survivors to meet, gruesome monsters stalking the halls, and a corporate conspiracy to unravel. Capcom has made this game more serious and bleaker than the original but the story has moments of cheesiness and levity...
...the remake does a fantastic job of sticking close to the original framework, while massively expanding certain locations, reworking classic encounters to subvert expectations, and keeping you on your toes.
Resident Evil 2 has taken a page out of the Nemesis handbook, giving the Tyrant free-range to wander the entire police station...
I tackled my first and 2nd-run campaigns on Standard difficulty and found this struck a good balance; I had enough ammunition to push on, but reckless shooting or healing would leave me scant few bullets and a limp at the end of a boss encounter.
...it feels like a step back from the original, which had shorter campaigns, the Tyrant reserved for the 2nd-run, fewer but different boss encounters, and felt more interconnected with events of the first run.
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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PC, PS4, Xbox One
25 January 2019
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