The year is 1996 and yours truly is but a young pup of 11 years old (but almost 12!) and ready to play any game you throw at me. My older brother, 13 at the time, has friends that also own a PlayStation and a vast library of games. Now, at this point, I haven’t dipped my toes too far into the horror genre in video games, but to be fair, at this point, we really didn’t have many games that were legitimately scary.
That all changed in 1996 though, when the original Resident Evil came out. I’m sure that the moment the dog jumped through the window in Resident Evil is still ranked as one of the scariest moments in gaming history! Taking that formula and extrapolating on it, Capcom would up the ante and we would see the release of Resident Evil 2 in 1998. It’s been over 20 years since this classic PSOne game was released so Capcom paid the perfect homage, they released the Resident Evil 2 Remake on modern consoles.
Naturally, I will talk about the changes to the brand new and updated Resident Evil 2, but I don’t want to be ignorant to believe that everyone has knowledge of what the Resident Evil games are, let alone be old enough to have played them when the games were initially released. Without getting into spoiler territory, the Resident Evil series is an action survival horror series in which in each game you must choose between 2 or more characters and then ultimately survive a zombie apocalypse.
The early Resident Games have a heavy focus on item management, for example, you may have to drop a vital First Aid spray to pick up a 9-volt battery so that you can power a small electronic device. It was all about managing your resources and prioritising what you need. These first games also had a strong emphasis on solving puzzles in order to proceed with the story.
In later games in the franchise, Capcom would stray from this formula and instead opt for a more third-person shooter style with much more emphasis on action over puzzles. They even dabbled with first-person and Virtual Reality with Resident Evil VII, one of the scariest experiences you’ll have this generation!
So, let’s talk about the gameplay for the Resident Evil 2 Remake. When you start the game up, you have to make the choice of playing as Leonardo Decaprio or Cameron Diaz…wait, strike that and reverse. You pick between Leon Kennedy, a police officer that is starting his first day on the job at the Raccoon City Police Department. Alternatively, you can pick Claire Redfield, a young woman that has come to Raccoon City to find her brother Chris, the protagonist from the first Resident Evil.
After you choose who you wish to play as you will start the game with your arrival in Raccoon City. It doesn’t long for either protagonist to discover that something horrible has happened in town, the police force has been killed and the whole place seems deserted. Before you know it, you will be knee-deep in zombie guts, as well as other deformed beasts! The ultimate goal of the Resident Evil 2 Remake is for you to find a way to escape this hell on earth, by any means necessary. As you’d expect though, this isn’t going to be an easy task as resources are limited and there could be something lurking around every corner…
So, how does the remake differ from the iconic 1998 original? Well, I would say a fair amount, or rather enough that even the hardened veterans of the franchise will find that the experience is well worth the time and money to pick the game up once again. One of many things that made the original game very difficult fell on the original controls. The 1998 Resident Evil 2 had “Tank” controls which were very difficult to use and rather cumbersome. If there was an enemy behind you, it took longer than it should to just turn around.
We also had fixed camera angles on the earlier games, thanks to the pre-rendered environments and scenery. You could be walking down a simple hallway and would succumb to 3 different angles as you walked down, this would often cause you to lose your bearings and you would end up walking into a wall!. This also made it difficult to spot any enemies that could be standing in plain sight just around the corner. These are both remedied in the Resident Evil 2 Remake. Fans of the Resident Evil series, after Resident Evil 4, will feel very comfortable with moving around. Don’t let that make you think that it makes the game any easier though. The enemies of Resident Evil 2 are still as dangerous as ever!
Capcom has delivered a great fan service with the Resident Evil 2 Remaster. Even though the whole game has been rebuilt from the ground up, the game looks and feels very different yet it’s the same story we all know and love, but with a few changes here and there to expand on the story. We also have a return of the Tofu mode and both characters have their alternative stories in which you get to relive certain events which differ depending on the character you’re playing as.
We are so accustomed these days to the idea of one bullet to the head is all you need to eliminate this pesky undead, that’s not the case anymore. You will find yourself quickly getting frustrated by the fact that there is very little ammo laying around and the horrific creatures have now taken the form of bullet sponges. Instead of trying to shoot lead into everything which is walking, you will be forced to find other ways to get past these formidable foes, so that you can reserve your ammo for later encounters. If they are in a wider hallway, perhaps try and run around them, or avoid them by taking another route for example?
However, Sometimes you will have no choice but to shoot at these monstrosities and put them out of their misery. These zombies may take up to 5-6 headshots before they are down for good. Don’t even get me started on the Lickers though! Those jerks will make your ammo reserves quickly deplete! Item management will also play into this difficulty. You always want to make sure to have lots of ammo and health regenerative items, but you also need to be sure you have space in your inventory for key items that you will pick up along the way. Just be aware that resources are few and far between, so be very careful using what you may have in your inventory.
The biggest upgrade is, of course, the overall presentation of Resident Evil 2. These graphics are absolutely amazing! The zombies are gross to look at, the decomposition on their faces adds so much beautifully grotesque detail that you can’t help but make a disgusted face the first time you see one up close. Claire and Leon look better than ever as well, they have simply come a long way from the blockish looking fuzzy humans from 1998.
Also, for those out there who like their technical specs, The Base Xbox One and the S are a reconstructed 1080p, the PS4 is a native 1080p, and the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are both reconstructed 1620p with a sharper image on the PS4 Pro. Performance-wise, The PS4 Pro and Xbox One X keep a steady 60fps for the majority of the time but the base consoles tend to hover between 30 and 50fps. There isn’t any 30fps cap in the games at the moment, but the base consoles would benefit greatly from one being added in via a patch.
The sounds though, let’s just say that it would be optimal to play the game with surround sound headphones to truly appreciate everything the game has to offer. Everything from the gunshots to the moaning (or screaming) zombies sound so lifelike! It’s fair to say that the sounds actually add a lot to the horror aspect as well. At one point, about halfway through the game, you will have a new threat which makes the game all the more terrorising as they will constantly be on the move looking for you. THERE IS NO ESCAPE. How does that affect sound though? You can hear their footsteps at all times as they stalk you. There is no worse feeling than being in a confined area with other enemies and you realise that those footsteps are coming closer, I felt my heart start to really pump when I knew they were near!
Unboxing of the Collectors Edition (Amy’s Universe)
Capcom has delivered not only an amazing remake of Resident Evil 2, its an even scarier game than the original. The Visuals look absolutely stunning on all platforms, the audio amplifies the tension and the atmosphere, and the overall recreation of the classic game fills you with both awe and dread as you experience the same, yet different, game we all love. Newcomers to the game will love trying to solve all of the puzzles as they strive to stay alive, whereas veterans of the franchise will have a reason to jump back in and experience it all over again.
This is clearly one of the best remakes we’ve seen on current-gen hardware and raises the bar for likewise titles moving forward; It’s a worthy contender for Game of the Year – not bad for a 20-year-old game that was released in January! Bravo Capcom, Bravo.