Resident Evil 2 Review
If Resident Evil 7 took the series in a frightening first-person perspective, then the Resident Evil 2 remake refines the series’ past with a polish that many modern games just quite simply can’t match.
Calling the new Resident Evil 2 a remake does the game a massive disservice. This isn’t RE2 with improved graphics, this is a reimagining of a tale which invites new players into its gruesome palms and gives old players a jolt as it plays with their expectations at every turn.
Puzzles have been altered, locations modified and the enemies redefined as old favourites – like the reveal of the Licker – have been changed in order to stop the game retreading the original. Apart from the areas themselves, the general plot and a few trinkets here and there, Resident Evil 2 2019 is a new game. Sure, you’ll still have to find three medallions to unlock the underground passage in the main hall of the police station but how you do it is different. The truth is that your knowledge of the original Resident Evil 2 is pretty useless.
The set up of the game is still the same though: you choose to take control of either Claire Redfield or Leon Kennedy who after running into each other while trying to escape Racoon City’s zombie hoard, are separated and plan to meet up at the Police Station. You’ll choose to play as either with the main aim being to escape the police station. Your initial playthrough will last around eight to ten hours where you’ll unlock the ability to play the game from the other character’s perspective in what the game calls a ‘second run’ playthrough. While this run will take place in the same area as your first and involve many similar tasks, it manages to escape from being repetitive for numerous gameplay reasons that I won’t spoil here. At no point did I feel jaded from being inside the police station again with a different character and this run adds another six or seven hours to your total playtime. In order to get the true ending, you’ll need to complete both runs. After that, there’s also the option of completing the game the opposite way with both characters as well as improving your story rank which you’ll receive upon completion. For many though, the first and second run with alternate characters is a good fifteen hours.
The main reason for the game never feeling repetitive despite a small environment is just how well designed everything is. Unlike big open world games where you’ll fail to memorise any part of it, in Resident Evil 2 you’ll scrutinise every little detail – because you have to. Every corner of the library’s two floors, the locks in the changing room and even the 1F investigation room are filled with not just items but also means of escape. If you’re ever ambushed or need to get to somewhere else sharpish then almost every room offers multiple options and paths to take that will lead you where you want to go, even if at times it can be a little disorientating at the start. As you begin to get your bearings though and you find dealing with zombies a little easy, the game rapidly changes pace, throwing the blind but deadly lickers at you and (the star of the show) Mr X.
There’s nothing quite so panic-inducing as rummaging through a room and hearing Mr X’s footsteps echoing in the corridor outside. The audio design in Resident Evil 2 helps to create a paranoia that runs through the games’ veins and Mr X is the height of this. He stalks you at every turn and in true Terminator fashion never stops. It would be so easy to get an enemy who can’t be killed and constantly stalks you so wrong but Mr X’s desire to put your head through the police stations’ wooden floor adds an emotional rollercoaster that despite the stress it puts you through, doesn’t make you want to get off. Trying to guess where he is while you make your plan is the best part of the game. Being caught by Mr X in a corridor with a pair of Lickers at the other end left me with a choice to make in my pursuit of the Lion medallion – in the end, I went headfirst into the two Lickers.
It’s the little touches that also add to Resident Evil 2’s high bar. Seeing your aiming reticle tighten to offer pinpoint accuracy if you stop moving, targetting specific limbs on zombies and seeing them fall off and the way sound plays a pivotal role in the game from hearing Mr X to doors creaking open to even backing away from Lickers who are as blind as a bat. Horror isn’t just visual, its in the audio as well and this combined with the aforementioned touches create an atmosphere that, as far as third-person horror games go is unmatched.
Resident Evil 2 is a game that has been given love at every turn, from its paranoia-inducing audio design to the impressive look and feel of every inch to small minute details that just ooze quality – this remake isn’t just a remake, it’s a zombie loving package that the vast majority of games since the original’s release have never met.
Resident Evil 2 Review Conclusion
It’s not a remake, it’s a brand new game and a fantastic one at that. Resident Evil 2 2019 is one of the best games of this or indeed any generation as it combines visual and audio mastery to produce a paranoia-inducing game that isn’t matched by many.
We reviewed Resident Evil 2 after receiving a code from the publisher and it’s available now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.