Having been privileged enough to remember the release of the original Resident Evil 2 back in the late 90s, the announcement of a remake of arguably one of the greatest survival horror games ever made was one that was personally met with intrigue. With the splendid job done by Capcom previously with the original RE Remake, there was every confidence that they would knock it out of the park with the critically acclaimed sequel.
Fans old and new alike are thrust into the tale of a viral outbreak in Raccoon City, sporting up waves of the undead, hideous monsters and a persistent, walking nightmare that will hunt you down through the hallowed halls of the Raccoon City Police Department and beyond.
Taking control of rookie cop Leon Kennedy and sister of the previous entry’s protagonist Claire Redfield, players are given the choice of playing through either character’s campaign, before unlocking a second playthrough for the player not chosen first to offer those who choose to do so a more in-depth story and eventually, a true ending. The fact that you have to complete both characters’ respective in order to achieve the full backstory is by no means a chore. Playing as both Leon and Claire offers up two different experiences in many ways. Though the initial narrative plays out in similar fashion, there are different supporting characters for each, as well as access to certain areas that are unique to each playthrough.
One thing that stuck in my mind even back when first testing the One Shot demo, was how atmospheric the police department seemed. Dark and claustrophobic is the best way to describe your experience from a visual aspect, opting this time for the over-the-shoulder camera seen in other mainline renditions. What’s most exciting from the graphics side of this modern day experience is the sublime animation that makes this a must for zombie game lovers who have somehow missed out this gem, with flesh flying off those who you choose to plough precious lead into is a neat feature. Death sequences are a highlight for gore-lovers out there, which are some of the more gruesome sightings we’ve seen from Resi so far.
Capcom have taken the opportunity to go back and add a little flavour from RE3: Nemesis in terms of having a cat-and-mouse approach against a hulking brute, here in the form of Mr. X. Those who remember the original will remember seeing a trenchcoat clad tyrant sporadically bursting through the odd wall and delivering a vicious clothesline from hell to whoever you chose to take on this journey. This time round, you can expect a far more frequent visit from the now trilby hat-wearing entity, with his booming footsteps echoing throughout.
This does have its pros and cons. While the threat of Mr. X related terror amplifies the tension throughout, it can grow weary in moments in which an item is required to be acquired or trying to solve say, a puzzle. It does force a different approach to be taken on a lot of occasions, and it can ultimately make or break an individual moment in your run.
One thing is for sure, it will make you pay particular attention to the ammo that you have in your arsenal. Though it might be unfair to say that ammo is scarce in RE 2, it can often rely on how you handle certain situations. Encounters with Mr. X for example can eat away at your ammunition rather needlessly, because a few shots might take him down to one knee, but won’t be enough to stop the powerhouse for any extended period of time. You do often thank yourself when revisiting past areas that you killed whatever had been lurking around, but as I found on my second playthrough, adopting a more conservative approach makes for an easier run down the line. The odds aren’t completely stacked against you, mind. As well as a number of weapons at hand as you progress, which differ for both Leon and Claire, there are also weapon upgrades to be taken advantage of, as well as sub-weapons such as grenades that come in handy when being hunted in packs. There’s also the additional help of using wood to board up any windows those pesky zombies have busted through.
Completing the first and second playthrough with each character unlocks 4th Survivor Mode, which sees fan-favourite HUNK return to action, in a testing timed experience that will cater to those looking to get as much challenge as possible out of their experience. This will be tested further with the even mightier return of the knife-wielding Tofu, which will test your limits of how badly you want to get the vegan-friendly stabbing machine through to safety. Going one step further into the lore is the free DLC Ghost Survivors, which conjures up a few ‘what-if’ scenarios with various characters from around Raccoon City, though its more akin to the 4th Survivor Mode rather than any major focus on advancing the storyline. Still, it prove a worthy experience for those who are looking for a more punishing time than the mainline game.
In amongst the anticipation of a remake of one of my favourite games of all time was scepticism of how the original’s magic would be recaptured. This was soon put to bed by what Capcom have brought to the table, in that they have created one of the most effective and overall best remakes in gaming today. The advanced visuals bring a far more atmospheric feel that elevates a familiar yet gripping narrative, and is most certainly a product that will be most pleasing for fans of old, and provide those new to the series with possibly the best entry in the franchise.