Resident Evil 2 Review: Aged Like a Fine Cheese
Neal Sweeney ’19 // Emertainment Monthly Executive Video Games Editor
Despite releasing only 6 days after my date of birth, I’ve actually played the original Resident Evil 2. I was a teenage who thought Resident Evil 6 looked good and wanted to catch up on the series, only to finish the first two games and hear that RE6 wasn’t very good at all. Still, I have fond memories of those first two games with awkward controls and PlayStation 1 graphics, for their tension, camp, and survival-based gameplay. Now, 21 years later, Resident Evil 2 has been rebuilt from the ground up, but it retains a lot of that original DNA.
Following the events of the original Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2 takes place in fictionalized city primarily built around the mysterious Umbrella Corporation, where players take on the role of either Claire Redfield or Rookie Cop Leon S. Kennedy who arrive in the wake of a zombie outbreak. Quickly the protagonists are separated with the selected one landing in the Racoon City Police Department where they have to find a way to escape and help save the city. The core story of the game remains unchanged, however the voice roles are recast, allegedly due to the project using non-union talent. In most parts the writing is corny, but in a way that brings on the small, occasional chuckle in an otherwise dreadful experience. Characters have casual exchanges as zombies close in, the protagonist has a slew of one-liners for when the player aims at an enemy and unlocking all of the combination lockers nets you the ‘Master of Unlocking’ achievement.
While the camp and humor remain intact, the gameplay has gotten a large facelift, but still wears a lot of the same dressings as it did before. Players still find herbs as healing items throughout the game and are expected to conserve ammo, but the game is played from a third-person perspective, offers autosaves outside of the hardcore difficulty, and has a handy map to mark items and let you keep track of which rooms you may want to
go to next. It presents an odd mish-mash of modern and classical ideas that works surprisingly well, tooling around with the limited inventory space makes you consider every item you carry and the new-perspective still leaves the game feeling claustrophobic. Those looking for the classic experience and wanting a challenge that feels like the original can choose the Hardcore difficulty which doesn’t offer the aim-assist seen in Beginner mode, requires consumable ink ribbons in order to save the game and features enemies that are stronger. There are some holes in this gameplay scheme that may frustrate a few players, firstly there is no hand-to-hand combat so running out of bullets leaves you with no ways to take down an enemy, and enemies take an inconsistent number of shots to fully eliminate. But those who manage this system well and know when they have to use resources will feel rewarded by making their shots count.
The Raccoon City Police Department was previously a museum, leading to it featuring many strange puzzles and keys themed after playing cards. The gameplay wears some of the same camp as the writing, but it feels just as fitting, as it sends players running to opposite ends of the building searching for the necessary items required to complete a task, similar to an adventure game. Still, entering safe combinations and inspecting combinations in exchange for ammo, healing items, and weapon upgrades is never too challenging and very much worth the effort.
The primary campaign of Resident Evil 2 is not too long, as I clocked in at approximately 9 hours to finish it on Hardcore mode, but it offers a Second Run mode that offers changes to the ending, a slightly-altered campaign
with the second character, and other additional modes such as The 4th Survivor where players play as Umbrella Operator Hunk, and The Tofu Survivor where players play as a rectangular prism of Tofu. Additionally, the game will be getting ‘The Ghost Survivors’ as a free DLC on February 15th, which features three alternate stories of those who didn’t make it out of Raccoon City.
Resident Evil 2 is a package made with the love of the original, bringing its mix of tense survival and cheesy writing up to speed with modernized and approachable gameplay. Those looking for the extra challenge will find it, and there is much more to do once a single playthrough has been completed. Haven’t fallen off of Resident Evil after just playing 1 and 2, this re-realized package makes me hopeful that future entries can harness what made the originals beloved.