Resident Evil 2 Review
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1998... I'll never forget it. It was the year that I went to Babbage's to pick up my long-awaited copy of Resident Evil 2. Soon after, I was head deep into one of the best horror game sequels that I have played. The two scenarios in the game gave it so much replay value! Years passed and Capcom gave fans a critical blow in the form of a remake of the original RE game. Our foundation was so crippled by this incredible remake that we all wanted some of the sequels remade. Not taking any chances, in 2015, Capcom announced that they would remake Resident Evil 2 (RE2). With the whole affair gone public, fans got their pocket books ready and started preordering. And now, we have an RE2 remake that basically surpasses the original... for all intents and purposes.
Just like the original game, you start out with a choice of Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. Both characters arrive in Raccoon City for their own purposes (Leon with his first day on the police force and Claire trying to find her brother). From the beginning, you can feel the changes. You actually get to play some of the events of the original opening cutscene. Some events stay similar to the original and some events are completely changed. The game has a few new areas to explore and it adds on greatly to some existing areas. If you enjoyed how the original remake added new story elements and areas then you'll be a shoe-in for enjoying this remake!
The first thing you'll notice are the intense visuals that this game has to offer. The game is absolutely beautiful. It's nearly like watching a live action movie when it switches to cutscenes and you see the characters interacting. The environments are loaded with atmosphere. I never really considered the original RE2 very scary besides some jump scares here and there, but the remake of the game makes even the police station creepy. Some of the areas are so dark that your character will take out a flashlight while exploring the area. It would have been nice to have a flashlight that I could switch on and off whenever I feel like it since the character will not always turn on a light in dark areas, forcing me to miss items or details at times. It's really nice how many of the rooms have been changed up. You'll run into familiar rooms that have undergone a major remodeling (for the better). For instance, the small room with gears on the upper floor has now been turned into the inside of a clock tower. Some rooms and corridors that were open in the original game have been blocked off but some of the rooms and corridors that were blocked off in the original game are now open for exploration. As far as maps and room designs go, the remake outdoes the original on many levels. In terms of environments, the only thing I miss from the original are comments for examining the environment - such as examining the different desks in the STARS office. The majority of the environments speak for themselves without need of description though.
The gameplay has a similar feel to RE7 style gameplay only in third person. We get a back view of the character and get an over-the-shoulder aiming view. It's honestly like an RE6 type of character control only I have better control over the character. There are no melees or invincibility frames to take advantage of when attacking enemies. The only type of melee is a knife and the knives in the game break if you use them too much. Along with knives, you can equip hand grenades and flash grenades as a sub-weapon. Knives and grenades can be used as defense items (just like in the original remake). Whenever you get grabbed, you can tap a button to counter attack the enemy with whatever sub-weapon that you have equipped.
Enemies are far more dangerous than they were in the original. The Licker is still a creature to be feared. The Licker was always unpredictable in the way it would attack once it spotted your character and that behavior definitely still remains in the remake. Just like in the original RE2, Lickers are still my biggest cause of death. They still have a weakness in not having eyes, so you can sneak by them. Standard zombies can be quite tough. You can shoot off their heads, arms, legs and torsos. Shooting zombies in the legs to ground them or getting a critical shot on their head seems to be the best the approach in killing them just like in most other RE games. The damage that a zombie takes from a gun blast is truly brought to life with the new graphics engine. I had a shotgun blast to a zombie shoulder destroy an arm, puncture the upper body and damage the head of one zombie - fantastic damage effects!
The Mr. X encounters are similar to Nemesis encounters now. Instead of being confined to one room, Mr. X will move around the entire police station and enter rooms to search for your character. You can hear his footsteps throughout the rooms. It's possible to hide from him if you get behind an object. He can be knocked out with gun blasts, but it's only a temporary stun before he gets back to his pursuit. Mr X truly brings a new fear to the game when you know you're constantly being stalked. There is nothing like knowing that a hallway up ahead has a licker in it and Mr X is about to open the door right behind you, forcing you to run through the licker hallway ahead.
As expected, the William boss fights are way better than the original game. There is so much extra detail in a boss fight now and they are so much more than just pumping ammo into a boss and waiting for its death animation to kick in. Boss fights have you running throughout an area to avoid boss attacks and some of them have certain tricks to them. The final few boss fights in the game are truly epic no matter which scenario that you play. Speaking of scenarios, the game has a total of two scenarios per character just like the original game. You start out with a standard scenario for the first character of your choosing then unlock a different (and harder) scenario for the other character. The game now refers to the "B" game as the "2nd run".
The original RE2 had a setup to where you play as Leon or Claire first to see that first character's side of the story then play through the "B" game next to see the other character's side of the same story. This formula worked very well and the overall story stayed consistent. For instance, you had the "B" character running into the same boss (maybe at the same area or a different area) at a different time, so it felt like both characters were struggling through the nightmare at different times and you would actually see remains of a fight (dead body, hole in wall, etc.) when coming through certain areas with one of the characters. Basically, with the original, you got the sense that both scenarios were a shared story that let players see both sides. With the remake, I don't entirely get that feel since Leon and Claire fight many of the same boss battles in the same areas with no change (sometimes some slight changes) as to the outcomes. You never come upon remains of a past boss battle that the other character struggled through - most of the boss battles are just redone in the same area through the other character's perspective as if the boss battle in the first character's scenario never happened. The story consistency that the original game's scenarios had is somewhat lost in the remake with these conflictions. It's hard to explain in detail without giving away spoilers. It makes it feel like parts of the first scenario are meaningless once you get finished with the second scenario. Thankfully, the second scenario for each character brings in new events and new bosses so the second scenarios do complete the story. Just like in the original game there is some communication between the characters at a few points that you get to see from opposite sides.
The game has a good set of puzzles to solve. There are some major puzzles along with simple scavenging for certain objects to plug into a certain area. All the keys for unlocking various rooms are all in place. You'll be doing tons of backtracking throughout the police station and in the areas ahead. The overall survival feel from the original is very much intact for the remake. All ammo and healing item pickups are found in the environment so you are limited and have to conserve. Using knives for extra damage and simply running by enemies is needed at times. Both characters get basically the same weapon assortment that they did in the original game. Claire is missing her crossbow but she gets a submachine gun in its place. Claire's grenade launcher no longer has the standard grenade rounds either - only acid and flame rounds. The effects for flame rounds are total eye candy with the big blast of fire that burns the enemies in its range. There are also other new weapons that you'll find depending on the character that you play. In the original game, only Leon got upgrades for his weapons, but in the remake both characters now get upgrades.
This review was written while playing an Xbox One version on an Xbox One X and a PS4 version on a normal PS4. The Xbox One X version appears to run at a smooth 60fps all the time. The game looks silky smooth on the Xbox One X. On the PS4 version (on a normal PS4), the game suffered a bit from a lower framerate - it looks to be about 45fps or something like that. A drop in framerate was noticed when running and when rotating the camera. It's amazing that such a high visual game can run above 30fps on non-upgraded systems. The game seems to run quite well on whichever console version you have but an upgraded console does stand out.
Even with some inconsistencies between the scenarios, this game had a lot of time put into it and you should definitely pick it up if you enjoyed the original game. Fans of RE7 will really enjoy the remake since it nearly has the same type of gameplay (only with a third person camera). The remake does not outdo the original on every single level, but it definitely is the version that I'd choose to play from now on. No matter what flaws I point out, this game consists of so much win that the flaws get drowned out in the end.
+ Great overall horror atmosphere that surpasses the original
+ New areas to explore
+ Gameplay feels new yet the survival feel is very much still there
+ The Mr X encounters are absolutely fantastic
+ Good soundtrack
+ 4th survivor and Tofu survivor unlockables are still included
- Scenarios don't connect as well as they did in the original game
- Sometimes areas are too dark (the game needs the ability to switch on the flashlight manually)
Final Rating: 90% - Never has the apocalypse looked so damned good!