GAME REVIEW: Resident Evil 2 (2019)
Maxwell Alexander on 'a massive nostalgia trip and a new experience all rolled into one'
Title: Resident Evil 2
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Rating: PEGI 18
It's been almost 21 years to the day that the original Resident Evil 2 graced our PS Ones, and a lot of things have changed for the series in that time.
Over the course of the long-established horror series’ history, we've seen the game take many forms. From the pre-rendered backgrounds and tank controls of the original trilogy to the more action oriented, over-the-shoulder third person adventures 4 through 6 and even a shift to first person in the latest incarnation (Resident Evil 7).
We’ve played as an on the rails, Light gun shooter, Online Multiplayer Survival shooter, Movies through to Zombies and cults. We’ve grown used to Capcom switching things up and playing around with the formula.
So when it was announced that Resident Evil 2 was getting the remake treatment, there was a lot of speculation about what version of Resident Evil we’d be getting.
Would it be a new lick of paint in the form of a graphical upgrade like the original Resident Evil received? Would we be getting a first person Resi 2 on the engine of the latest entry?
What we actually got on the face of it looks awful lot like Resident Evil 4 in the original Resident Evil 2 setting.
But to say this would be doing the 2019 Resident Evil 2 a massive disservice.
For starters, the pace is considerably slower and fighting large mobs is quite rare. Zombies feel dangerous and unpredictable if not clumsy. Shuffling through hallways and lunging at any that come close, even at the risk of throwing themselves off staircases.
There is a lot more personality to each enemy type beyond just clothing. Depending on the condition of the enemy, will determine how they attack you.
For instance, a zombie missing his legs will take longer to crawl to you and running past a zombie with no arms, rather than one with all the correct appendages, is easier.
This plays a big part in how you deal with each zombie, as enemies can be somewhat of a bullet sponge. Absorbing shots even when to the head. Head shots are effective at putting zombies down but not necessarily effective at keeping them down.
Revisiting downed zombie infested areas is no safe jaunt as you might be faced with a resurrected baddies on your next visit to that area. Actions can be taken to prevent any nasties coming back, such as dismembering enemies (a grotesque affair with the damage animations Capcom have introduced this time out) or boarding up windows to stop others getting in. But to do so comes at a cost of equipment.
Inventory management plays a large part in Resident Evil, yet again, with players having to make space in their hip pouches for new gear and key puzzle items.
This type of resource management forces players to make a choice. To either sacrifice current items to make room for new ones, or, revisit previous areas to store your loot in an item box ready to collect them again later.
And you will want to return to them as there is a finite amount of equipment at your disposal. A scary proposition, not only because zombies can return but also because new, harder enemies such as Lickers and Zombie dogs will start rear their heads as the game goes on.
But I don't think any enemy had me quaking in my boots quite like the Tyrant, Mr. X. A giant trench coat and Trilby wearing, relentless force of power that stalks you throughout the game.
At a certain stage in the game the slower paced puzzle-solving you’ve become used to, turns frantic as you become hunted by Umbrellas “final solution”.
Virtually indestructible, players will find themselves having to throw caution to the wind and run recklessly through areas that had been navigated so carefully before, so’s to escape his grasps. His footsteps in neighboring rooms soon becomes a very unnerving soundtrack to a game that puts atmosphere and tension at the top of its priorities.
As a setting, the police station is largely as you remember it, had you played the original. The maps when placed side by side are almost identical.
You will find the S.T.A.R.S office, interrogation room and library where you remember them, though they will have been given a much-needed facelift and a bit more space to maneuver.
The new puzzles feel fresh and a little more grounded compared to the 1998 classic. Not too grounded.
Players will still have to deal with the absurdities of rewiring a doors opening mechanism using chess pieces, but it's the type of tongue-in-cheek 90’s design which made Resident Evil 2 one of the most popular entries among fans.
As in the original players will assume control of Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Leon, the rookie cop, arguably plays the easiest out of the two for the early part of the game. Due, in part, to his semi-automatic pistol and shotgun feeling far more tactical. One is very quick to reload and the other packs one hell of a punch.
Clare, on the other hand, has a couple of revolvers to as her early weapons, which are stronger than Leon's pistol but do take an awfully long time to reload and aren't particularly versatile.
You get to decide which character you wish to start with. Both feel fairly similar in terms of bosses and puzzles (variations on these are minimal).
Once you beat the game you will have the option to play through again in a mode called second run. Here you will fill in the gaps left in the story such as the whereabouts of the chief and why certain doors are already unlocked when you get to them.
You will also meet different characters in each play through that are connected to the plot in different ways so it is well worth jumping back in once completing. It also the only way to see Resident Evil 2’s “true ending”.
As I mentioned before, to call Resident Evil 2 a mashup of Resi 2 and 4 is doing he game a massive disservice, as it is also to call it just a remake.
Unlike other remakes, Resident Evil 2 offers a lot of fresh new game mechanics to the series and creates arguably one of the best balances of action and survival horror we’ve seen from the franchise.
The story is still incredibly corny but it's part of the series DNA and I wouldn't change that. This is a massive nostalgia trip and a new experience all rolled into one.