Resident Evil 2 Review
After 20 years of waiting, the Resident Evil 2 Remake has finally arrived. Does Capcom do this entry justice, or should you just stick with the original? Read our review and find out.
Resident Evil 2 Review
Resident Evil 2 starts with a simple choice: Do you want to play as Leon or Claire? Leon is rookie cop fresh out of the academy, who landed a job at the Raccoon City Police Department. Claire, on the other hand, is a college student who is looking for her brother Chris, who works at the police department. Both are about to enter a nightmare they have to escape – a city drowning in zombies and other monsters. One of the first things you do with either character is meet up with the other one. After meeting up, they get separated and find out just how severe this outbreak truly is, as both of them head towards the police department. Even though they are separated, they are both determined to escape the city alive.
Whatever sanctuary they were expecting to find in the police department is quickly overshadowed by the legion of zombies surrounding the precinct. You quickly find out that the survivors here were trapped and trying to find a way out themselves before things got too bad. One of the last survivors has found a way, but before you can help him, he is taken out gruesomely, leaving you to find the way out yourself. There is a statue in the main hall that has a path under it that leads to the parking garage and out of the department. You have to find three medallions, open the way, and get out before these creatures inside the station take you down. Between Route A and Route B, you will get about 10 hours out of the campaign on its standard difficulty.
Resident Evil 2 is sort of a weird beast in today’s market. The idea is not to mow down every single zombie you come across, but instead to clear a path and run. You simply will not have the resources to kill every single enemy you come across. There are points that you will be stretched so thin with either ammo or healing items that you might even start over to try again. That is going to be a problem for some players. Headshots don’t keep zombies down forever, unless the head is completely destroyed. Top that off with the Lickers and the Tyrant lurking in the shadows, and it just might be too much for some players to complete the game.
The Tyrant, or Mr. X as he was referred to in the original, is a constant threat throughout the game. Even when you are in a safe room, you can hear his loud footsteps thump outside of where you are, a constant reminder that he is hunting for you. He cannot be killed; he can only be slowed down. The first time you see him, your character will tell him to stay back because they know he is not like the other creatures you have fought so far. He has no problem coming through most doors or moving zombies out of his way to get to you. Your best option against Mr. X is to run and keep running.
All of these factors, combined with the police station itself, provide a constant sense of dread and unease. Right when you think you have things under control, zombies will break through windows or a Licker will lie lurking on the ceiling, waiting to drain you of your resources. The station itself is a mess with torn up bodies, blood, flickering lights, large claw marks, and long, dark hallways. All these factors combine into a different type of horror; not the jump-scare type, but the anxiety-inducing psychological fear that leaves you questioning if you are going to make it out or not. Whether that manifests itself as annoyance depends on how much you immerse yourself into the game.
Inventory management plays a large role in Resident Evil 2. You start off with very limited slots, and have to find room for guns, keys, ammo, healing items, and other vital items to progress. When you open the inventory, at least on standard, it does pause the game so you can sort your inventory without being stressed. However, with limited inventory slots, you will sometimes have to leave items behind. Thankfully, the map will tell you if you have cleared a room of items or not, so you will know when you miss something. The rooms changing color based on if they have anything left in them, which is an excellent addition to this remake. Note that defensive items from the original Resident Evil Remake have also been included, which is another good addition.
Anyone who has played a Resident Evil title before knows that the games have multiple puzzles, and Resident Evil 2 is no exception. While there are optional puzzles, there are also mandatory ones to complete. You are free to skip over things like locker codes, safe codes, or even the portable safe mini game. However, doing so will put you at a severe disadvantage, as a lot of these have ammo or weapon parts to upgrade your guns. The mandatory puzzles are often simple enough that you can get them after one or two tries. There are exceptions to this; two puzzles in particular might have you ripping your hair out before you crack them. Once you finally figure them out though, you will no doubt be relieved.
One thing I really appreciated with this game was how Leon and Claire reacted to zombies. Both of them act as they’ve never seen them before, and make comments like “Why don’t you stay down” while sounding stressed over the situation. As you progress, they become more and more accustomed to what they are seeing, and become more comfortable dealing with the creatures. The evolution of the characters in this way is subtle, yet noticeable as you make it towards the end of the game. It gets to the point where they have just had enough of certain monsters and are ready to deal with them permanently. The appearance of Mr. X still makes them uneasy, but zombies aren’t that scary towards the end.
There are a few boss fights in the game, and they prove to be hit and miss. You are generally stuck fighting them in a closed-off section of the map, and forced to gun them down. Some of these fights take place in tiny spaces, making it hard to maneuver around the boss. These are the spots you will die the most due to lack of items. While playing as Claire on the very last boss of Route B, I used every single shot I had, and the boss still wasn’t dead. I thought I was screwed, but just ran in and swung with my knife to deliver the killing blow. That is what I mean by anxiety-inducing dread. If I couldn’t kill it with my knife then that was it, I had to restart or reload a save. Some might think it was terrible game design, but finishing the last boss with a knife swing into a giant eye just felt right.
There are a few things that could use improvement. I dislike it when a game chooses when your flashlight can be out, and Resident Evil 2 is guilty of that sin. If the game thinks you can see well enough, the character will put the flashlight away. A flashlight button would have gone a long way. In addition, when you are fighting bosses in those previously mentioned tight spaces, the camera can zoom in too much, making it impossible to see. The camera thing only happened to me twice, but it also got me hit twice which is a problem. Finally, the original soundtrack is locked behind a paywall. My Route B playthrough was so much better with the soundtrack from the original release, but paying $2.50 for it hurt.
Resident Evil 2 sets a new standard for game remakes. Series veterans and newcomers alike will find a meaty adventure they can sink their teeth into with this title.