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July 2019

Resident Evil 2

Platform(s): GameCube, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2019


PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Resident Evil 2 Remake'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 14, 2019 @ 2:00 a.m. PST

Resident Evil 2 begins as Raccoon City continues to endure an onslaught of terror and fear as a mysterious, flesh-eating virus spreads into the town that turns everyone it infects into zombies.

Pre-order Resident Evil 2 Remake

The original Resident Evil remake for the GameCube is arguably the gold standard for how to update an older game. It combined the same basic framework with a number of improvements, new features, and surprises that made it a delight to play as either a newcomer or a veteran. Resident Evil 2 was held in as high, if not higher, regard than its predecessor, so when a remake was announced, the expectations were sky high. Amazingly, from our time with the 30-minute demo, Resident Evil 2 Remake may just live up to those expectations.

The demo follows Leon during his early exploration of the overrun police station, and all of the classic Resident Evil tropes are present. The police station is a convoluted and complex maze of barriers, destroyed rooms, strange puzzles, and danger aplenty. The demo only covers a small percentage of the game and contains a lot of puzzles that can't actually be solved. Some puzzles are logical, such as finding a safe combination, and others are delightfully absurd, such as having to use journal entries and pictures to find medallions to unlock a hidden exit. It's Resident Evil through and through.

Many remakes seem focused on creating a whole new game, but Resident Evil 2 seems to be focused on modernizing the original without losing the original game. Make no mistake. This isn't just an HD port, but it seems to have been made with the intent of the original game. In the demo, the game feels like a properly fleshed-out PlayStation 1 game, and it works well. You have better movement, manual aiming, and a lot of general gameplay improvements, but it doesn't feel like an entirely different experience.

One of the most impressive things about the Resident Evil 2 demo is that it makes zombies scary again. By this point, anyone who has ever touched a controller is probably inured to zombies, but Resident Evil 2 seems aware of that. The zombies who appear in the game are gross, shambling, and disgustingly durable things. They can take surprising amounts of damage, and anyone that isn't obliterating their heads has a chance of losing an arm or leg. It quickly becomes tense when there are multiple zombies lurching toward you, and every bullet wasted feels like a setback. The game focuses on the decaying and nearly unkillable aspect of zombies.

This really changes how combat feels. Taking down a zombie is a surprisingly thoughtful process. You obviously want to go for headshots, but that isn't always easy when you have multiple zombies lurching at you. More importantly, the only way to get a real headshot is to pause for a moment and allow Leon to properly aim. Quick-fire headshots don't work as effectively. Even then, blowing apart a zombie's head isn't necessarily enough to stop them. Some zombies go down and seem dead but will get back up later. The only way to be sure is to utterly obliterate the head or to spend precious ammo to convert a zombie from maybe dead to assuredly dead.

While the demo is too linear to get a real feel for it, it's clear this will be super important in the final game. Knowing when a zombie has to stay dead versus when you can settle for "down is good enough" is an important distinct, somewhat similar to the Crimson Heads from the first Resident Evil remake. In the demo, you can also find boards that you can use to seal windows, which limits the number of zombies who can spawn into previously safe areas. However, they are one-use boards, so you'll obviously need to consider which areas should be made safer.

Likewise, melee weapons have changed a little. No longer the unbreakable Excalibur, knives are now more limited. Knives have durability, and using them excessively causes them to break. This is important because knives don't just give you a low-ammo way to kill downed zombies, but they can also be used as a defensive tool to force a grappling zombie to release you. Once you do, the knife is embedded in the undead monster, and you'll have to down them in order to get it back. Melee weapons as a consumable resource is an interesting idea.

Finishing the demo before the time limit ends unlocks a brief trailer. Nothing is particularly surprising for those who've played the original game, since it shows off new versions of existing scenes. Most interesting is the confirmation of the two bonus modes from the original Resident Evil 2. That includes the Fourth Survivor, starring the enigmatic masked Umbrella agent known as Hunk. Also appearing is the utterly absurd bonus character Tofu, a sentient walking bean curd with a beret who's only armed with a knife. While it's not clear how these characters will be appearing, it's safe to assume it will be in a similar challenging bonus mode, as it is in the original title.

All in all, Resident Evil 2 is looking absolutely incredible. It's tense, atmospheric, and fun to play while maintaining the nostalgia of the original game. There's a near-perfect combination of old and new, and from our brief time with the demo, the game is more than enough to melt the heart of even the most curmudgeonly Resident Evil fan. If the full game lives up to what was shown in the demo, then RE2's remake may very well be the best ever made. Fans of the franchise will want to give it a shot when it hits for PC, PS4 and Xbox One later this month.

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