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Resident Evil 2

Platform(s): GameCube, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2019


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PS4 Review - 'Resident Evil 2 Remake'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 30, 2019 @ 12:30 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.

Buy Resident Evil 2 Remake

Resident Evil may have popularized the survival-horror genre, but Resident Evil 2 is where it really took off. Improving and building upon the original game, it's still remembered as one of the best sequels in video game history. After Resident Evil's excellent GameCube remake, it seemed only a matter of time until Resident Evil 2 received a similar treatment. Here we are, over 15 years since Remake and over 20 years since the original game, and the RE2 remake has finally arrived. Fortunately, it's worth the wait, and it's everything a video game remake should be.

Resident Evil 2 follows two characters: Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. The duo was on its way to the small Midwestern town of Raccoon City. Leon is ready to start his first day on the police force, and Clare is trying to find her brother, Chris. As soon as both arrive, they find that an infestation of zombies has turned Raccoon City into a town of the undead. The duo must find a way out, and along the way, they must contend with mysterious bioweapons, crazed survivors, and the dark secrets of the Umbrella Corporation.

Resident Evil 2 Remake is a pretty straight retelling of the original game. The characters and story beats are all largely very similar, though some have seen been revised. Most characters are fleshed out a little, but the changes are relatively minor in the long run. It's a good retelling, much like Resident Evil Remake was. The story is still silly and absurd, but the characters are likeable, and that goes a long way. If I had one qualm, it's that the game is really fast-paced, closer to the PSX original than modern storytelling. This isn't a bad thing, but it can make some things feel sudden or underemphasized, and it might be confusing for someone who hasn't played the original game.

By and large, the basic structure of RE2 Remake is almost identical to the original game. You choose one of the two characters and quickly end up at the Raccoon City police station, where you discover a horrifying mess of dead bodies, sealed doors, and nonsensical puzzles that force your character to explore, seek answers, and look for ways to escape. If you played any of the older Resident Evil titles, you know what to expect, but RE2 Remake is lighter on the puzzles than Resident Evil Remake was.

The most significant change in gameplay in RE2 Remake is the ability to manually aim. You might think this makes the game easier, but almost every monster has been redesigned to compensate for that feature. For example, zombies can only be killed with headshots, but they bob and weave, so it's tough to get in a good shot. They're also incredibly durable, and taking them down doesn't necessarily assure they'll stay down unless their head is destroyed. Lickers are fast and agile, and they're difficult to hit without taking a ton of damage, but if you're careful, you can sneak past them. The list goes on, and the gameplay feels better without losing the sense of danger.

One of the things that RE2 Remake excels at is taking concepts from the original game and expanding on them in a logical way. The most significant of these is probably the Tyrant known sometimes as Mr. X. Partway through the game, you'll encounter him, and from that point on, he stalks you around the police station. He's slow but relentless, and he can't be killed. Your bullets only put him down for a short time, and he'll track you down after a while. He's not omnipresent, but it's tense when he's around, especially since you can hear his footsteps slowly approaching. In RE2 Remake, he's sort of a combination of the original Mr. X and Nemesis, and the result is both awesome and terrifying.

Once players have completed the game the first time, they can start it again as the other character with Second Story. Similar to the original title, this effectively tells the story from the other player's perspective. It has a lot of similarities, and many puzzles are the same, but it adds in a lot of twists to keep things fresh. The two characters have different bosses and different encounters, and in the second playthrough, you have access to new weapons, but you encounter some enemies far earlier. You need to play both stories to see the game's true ending. There are also unlockable bonus modes, some of which are familiar, which add extra value to the game.

RE2 Remake has flaws, but they were present in the original game. There can be a fair bit of backtracking to save rooms to get items from your inventory, and before you find a few belt pouch upgrades, the extremely limited number of available inventory slots can be annoying. The game is also slightly too liberal with the ammo, which can drain away some tension when you have enough handgun ammunition to kill everything that moves. Thankfully, tougher difficulty modes exist to make enemies more durable. The second story feels a bit repetitive, but the twists keep it from being overly redundant.

There are a couple of new things that are quite fun, but at least one felt kind of lackluster. The section in the game where you play as Sherry Birkin in the original has been replaced by a new orphanage segment. It's visually interesting but adds in an unnecessary stealth segment that doesn't add much to the game. Fortunately, it's short enough that it's nothing more than a minor roadblock. Other changes, such as a series of sub-quests to unlock upgrades for your weapons, fit in perfectly.

As much as I enjoyed Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil Revelations, Resident Evil 2 Remake captures every essence of Resident Evil. It's both faithful to the original source material and unafraid of updating it to improve the experience. I'd be hard-pressed to decide whether I liked Resident Evil 1's remake more than this one, and that's about the highest praise I can give a title. Yes, it has illogical puzzles, bizarre monsters and sometimes nonsensical plot points, but damn it, that's RE2 in a nutshell, and it's glorious that RE2 Remake embraces that rather than shying away from it.

RE2 Remake looks absolutely amazing. The visual updates to the original game are almost perfect, at once bringing them into 2019 while retaining enough familiarity that I still felt a sense of nostalgia about certain things. It's so familiar that when something was missing, I felt a little put off. The character models and environments look fantastic, and the enemies are excellently rendered. Bullets tear off chunks, fire leaves enemies charred and blackened, and everything has impact and weight. The soundtrack and voice acting are also both quite good, and Claire in particular is a standout who manages to nail a lot of emotion. My one complaint is that the player characters have a habit of making little exclamations every time they see a monster or zombie, and that gets tiresome relatively quickly.

Resident Evil 2 Remake is everything a remake should aspire to be. It captures the feel of the original almost perfectly while updating and improving almost everything. It has its flaws, but nothing detracts from the excellent experience. It's fun, spooky, and everything Resident Evil 2 was — but even better. Fans of the franchise and newcomers should enjoy themselves greatly. If you like killing zombies, you owe it to yourself to try out RE2 Remake.

Score: 9.5/10

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