Resident Evil 2 Remake isn’t just a fantastic remake, but a new classic for the modern gaming fan to fall in love with for the first time.
Remakes and remasters are often designed to take advantage of nostalgia. Sometimes they bring back memories of the games themselves. Sometimes they bring back memories of how you felt or a specific time in your life. I still remember playing Resident Evil 2 with my best friend Mike. It was 2 a.m., five days before launch day – my friend who ran the local Blockbuster brought me a copy early. We’d just taken a break to grab some chocolate milk and sandwiches. When we sat back down to continue our session, we were standing in front of that famous double-sided mirror. We started posing with the shotgun and laughing at the reflections when, BAM! A licker burst through the window and shattered our illusion of safety forever. A heart attack and some spilled milk later we finally started playing again.
I remember that moment like yesterday. That moment really stuck with me too, because “yesterday” was actually 21 years ago. You see, that’s usually the extent of what a remake does. Provide some nostalgia, make you yearn for days past, and provide a brief moment to relive a memory. The Resident Evil 2 remake goes far beyond that to deliver not only a fantastic remake, but a new classic for the modern gaming fan to fall in love with for the first time.
Resident Evil 2 tells the tale of another night gone wrong in Raccoon City. The zombies have taken over the entire city, and at the heart of the action is a museum-turned-police station. Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, our two main protagonists, must survive the horrors the city has in store while digging deeper into the Umbrella Corporation and the larger conspiracy behind all the chaos. As with the original, you are presented with a choice right upfront.
Leon and Claire each have two different campaigns to play through – an A- and B-side. The A- and B-side campaigns for each character have some minor differences, with the majority coming at the beginning and end. The real differences between the campaigns are based on the character you select.
Both of our heroes each visit most of the same locations and fight the same zombies, but they also branch in very meaningful ways. Several weapons, characters, and scenarios will be completely different based on your choice.
Regardless of choice, each campaign is incredible to experience. The pre-rendered locations and camera have been replaced with a tight, over-the-shoulder perspective. Capcom’s vaunted RE engine is back and brings the undead to life like no game ever has before. The brand new look is what helps bridge the gap between old fans and new ones alike. Seeing the famous RPD rendered in real time makes the entire experience feel fresh. New fans will get to explore this strange location, the city and various other locations and will be blown away by the variety and beauty of every new room, building, and scenario they come across.
Some of those stunning looks are used to great effect in terms of blood and gore. Every single bullet, knife slash, and grenade does a fantastic job of completely ripping apart zombies piece by piece. Each creature is fully rendered and will get decimated by everything you throw at them – half blown-off shoulders, shrapnel-torn faces and skin burnt to a crisp are commonplace. This game is not for the squeamish, and the added violence really adds a tactile feedback to the combat in a way the older games could never have dreamed.
In terms of looks, it doesn’t mater what platform you play it on as they all look and perform excellently. My hardcore campaign playthrough was on the PS4 Pro while my Leon campaign was on PC, and the experience was excellent on both. Our very own NX Gamer has run the games on all systems, and you can find his complete technical analysis right here.
Gameplay wise, RE2 fits neatly between the more horror-based RE1 and the action-packed thrills from RE4 and RE5. You play in third person, and it features much more combat and action than 2017’s RE7 by a wide margin. While this game ditches the slower paced, first-person style of 7, they also don’t go right back into full action mode either. This game features a perfect blend between action and tension. Leon and Claire won’t be shooting kneecaps and German-suplexing zombies left and right. In fact, you won’t be punching zombies at all.
With Capcom dialing back how capable your heroes are in combat, it bakes in an incredible layer of tension and fear in every encounter. For a long time the zombie in Resident Evil had become a mere nuisance, just one of many to either beat up or ignore. Because of the new style of gameplay, each zombie presents a threat in multiple ways. The new graphic system isn’t just for show, as the gore system makes killing a zombie a much more involved affair. Precise aiming is needed because even shots to the side of the face will just tear off some skin while they lurch and continue to come after you. That simple change makes killing a zombie a choice you have to make. Between the limited ammo, the inability to easily dispatch large enemies with hand-to-hand combat, and the lack of co-op, the tension dials up around each encounter presented to the player.
It’s a return to the survival horror the franchise was known for, and for the first time it feels like this style of game has been truly perfected. Combat isn’t hindered anymore by blindly shooting into a room because the fixed camera doesn’t give you the angle you want. The new music and sound design also helps. Every shot, zombie grunt, and licker pounce comes to life and really helps scare you when needed. It features excellent binaural audio which helps make the entire game as eerie as it has any right to be. It isn’t just what you hear in front of you, but above you and behind closed doors that serve to frighten you, but also inform you as to danger lurking around the next corner.
Rounding out the package are the excellent add-ons from the original game. Hunk and Tofu are both in the game and playable. The B-side campaigns and unlockable costumes and weapons are all back alongside new collectibles and a great model viewer. Capcom is also adding in a free 1998 character model DLC, to go alongside the option of using the classic soundtrack and sound effects from the original.
Even though the campaign will take around seven hours to complete, Resident Evil 2 offers a ton of replayability with plenty of secrets to discover, unlock, and experience.
No matter if you are an old fan like myself, reliving some of my favorite moments of nostalgia, or a new fan looking for the next great triple-A blockbuster, Resident Evil 2 will satisfy both audiences.
Resident Evil 2 remake goes above and beyond a simple remaster and reenvisions the classic from 1998 into a classic fit for 2019.