Okay, I’ll be honest, I was too scared to play Resident Evil 2 growing up. But it’s a game I have incredibly fond memories of watching my best childhood friend play over, and over, and over, again. Realising you know every corridor of a game you’ve never played is a strange experience, but it’s exactly what I had playing the new, beautifully remastered, Resident Evil 2 from Capcom.
To put things in perspective a bit here, the original Resident Evil 2 was released back in 1998 for the original PlayStation, and although back then it looked incredible, it’s safe to say that it hasn’t aged well. So when, back in 2015, Capcom announced it was making a Resident Evil 2 Remake, everyone expected the game to launch with updated graphics to befit the modern console and PC age, but I don’t think anyone was quite expecting this.
The game has been completely remade from scratch in the new RE engine Capcom used to create Resident Evil 7. It’s gloriously gory. One encounter with a dead police officer sees his jaw basically fall off, creating the kind of horror that you watch with an awkward grin across your face. But it's the original’s ambience that this Resident Evil 2 remake manages to encapsulate so well. Not only has it been incredibly true to its source material, but the tweaks the game has made to the original control scheme are incredibly clever.
For example, the game uses an over-shoulder camera style similar to Resident Evil 4. Now, that might sound like a disaster, but combined with incredibly resilient zombies it only serves to highlight that Raccoon City Police Department is just as terrifying as it always has been. The camera work helps to make things feel a bit more panicked, frantic almost, as you’re bombarded with the kind of zombies you have to basically decapitate to take down. Yes, it is possible to shoot off zombie limbs in a tangle of sinew and bone, and every shot you take at them is visibly represented on their decaying bodies, to the point one foe had literal chunks of his head missing by the time I downed him. Ammo is still as rare as it’s always been, so frantic is definitely the word to use. Thankfully, the speed of movement and the increased zombie hardiness doesn’t equate to Resident Evil 2 feeling more like an action game than a survival horror.
Like the original game, you’ll still be playing through the stories of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Fun fact, the original game actually launched with two discs, with the two stories kept entirely separate by the fact they were actually on different CDs. Fans will be pleased to hear that the two stories will remain separate for this game, and although the actual mechanics of how you’ll access them is still being tweaked, you can rest assured that you won’t be flipping between the two characters as you play through the game like some Resident Evil version of GTA 5.
But before you get too comfortable with the idea of a perfect Resident Evil 2 reboot, Capcom has added a few tweaks and surprises. For one, there are new gameplay mechanics. Your knife can break with overuse, and you can now board up windows to try and slow the inevitable zombie onslaught. Plus, in-game items have been moved around slightly, meaning that you might not be able to go straight to the usual spot to find that one thing you need to open a door, or solve a puzzle. Sorry potential speedrunners hoping to leap straight in. It’s a nice touch though, as aside from the visuals, this is going to feel like a completely refreshed experience for existing fans.
None of the tweaks detract from the fact that Capcom is delivering incredible fan service with this Resident Evil 2 remake. It picks and chooses elements from more recent games to bring this 20 year old classic into the modern Resi age, but without sacrificing any of the original horror, or… charm[?], that made it such a cult hit. Resident Evil 2 Remake releases in January 2019.
Resident Evil 2 is coming January 25, 2019 to Xbox One, PS4 and PC.