REMAKING A CLASSIC
CAPCOM hasn't been afraid to consider remaking their games. During the early days of the Nintendo Gamecube, they would dare to take 1996's Resident Evil from an aged survival horror experience to something far more terrifying and better realized than was ever possible before. The success of the Resident Evil remake had fans clamouring for more. They wanted to see the other two mainline entries to the series, that were once limited on the Playstation hardware, to be realized in full on the Gamecube.
Back then, that would go unanswered. CAPCOM did deliver two ports of 2 and 3 to the Gamecube, but neglected them the 'Remake' treatment. The series would move on, it would see many highs and many lows, and seemingly find not only a return to form but also a unique new perspective in 2017's Resident Evil 7. Now, in the early days of 2019, it's here. The seemingly impossible task to remake the most beloved game in the Resident Evil franchise is here, and it is with tired eyes and exhaustion hot on the heels of an all-nighter, that I bring you my review of Resident Evil 2, now brought into the modern era. Did CAPCOM pull it off?
Raccoon City, 1998. After the events at the Spencer Estate in Resident Evil two months prior, a viral outbreak turns much of this piece of the American midwest into the treading grounds of undead citizens and bio-weapons let loose. Worlds collide as rookie cop Leon Kennedy, and Claire Redfield (sister of Resident Evil's Chris Redfield) find themselves in a nightmare neither of them expected on their first night arriving in town. The story is recreated faithfully, while also expanding on both Leon and Claire and the supporting cast of characters. It's the story veterans will remember, and yet it feels so new and fresh in the same way that the remake of the first Resident Evil did.
The way the game strays furthest from the original though is all for the better. Instead of a recreation utilizing fixed camera angles and 'tank' controls, we are now treated to a semi-claustrophobic 3rd person camera, that was used in 4, 5, and 6. This not only lets the player admire and explore the environment more closely, but makes the combat more fun. Environmentally, most of the game is incredibly close to the original with enough changes and new additions to keep it from feeling like a copy/paste with a new coat of paint. It simultaneously feels like a game I've played before, while feeling entirely new. This is what made the remake of the original Resident Evil such a strong addition to the series, and it works again for this outing.
Another thing to note is that the Tyrant/Mr. X which plagued gamers in Resident Evil 2 periodically, is much more of a threat this time around. On the Playstation version of the game, encounters with this towering behemoth were regulated to single rooms periodically throughout the game. Now, he will actively pursue you and if he loses sight of you he will patrol the environment. If he is close enough to hear gunfire, he will come investigate. He cannot be killed, he can barely be slowed. If you hear those footsteps, your best bet is to run as far away as you can and take as many twists and turns as possible to throw him off your trail. It may be speculation on my part, but it really feels like CAPCOM is testing the waters of the pursuit mechanics to prepare for a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, because I certainly get that vibe when the Tyrant is after me.
MY ONE HONEST GRIPE
My one honest gripe can be found in non-other than one of the most intimidating parts of the game. As previously mentioned, there are many encounters with a massive pursuing entity referred to as the Tyrant (or for series veterans, you'll also remember the nickname Mr. X). In the PS1 original, this massive hulking man who pursued you wore an olive green trench coat. In the remake he has a new addition... a very silly fedora. The reasoning behind it I'm sure is to make the Tyrant be assumed as a human from distance, but given the fact he stands about 9 feet tall I'd argue the hat is an unnecessary addition that detracts from his otherwise menacing presence. Yes, I laughed at his hat before he killed me the first time. I was thankful to learn later you can at least shoot it off his head, but the fact he ever had the fedora on in the first place boggles the mind.
While that's my one main gripe, there are a few small nitpicks here and there. There are a few points in the game where ammo is incredibly scarce, and in the past that was not much of an issue but now that your melee weapons wear down over time, you can accidentally back yourself into a corner if you aren't mindful of their condition. There is also a new enemy about halfway through the game that has replaced the giant spiders seen in the original, and rather than being a welcome addition, they're just kind of an annoying way to either drain your ammo or steal your health.
RESIDENT EVIL, TOO
The remake of Resident Evil 2 is not just a serviceable remake, it redefines every milestone of the original. Updated for the modern day, the improvements across the board are clear to see, from the environment design and story writing, to the gameplay and feelings of adrenaline, dread, and fun that the series is known for. In the same way that the remake of Resident Evil said "We can do it better now, we have the technology", this entry to the franchise does it again. When my biggest complaint is that an enemy is packing a silly hat, I think that says it all. Fashion sense aside, the game is an absolute must-play for any horror fan. A final note for those curious, yes once you beat the game as one character you can immediately follow up with the perspective of the other to experience the other side of things.
Remains faithful to the original, while modernizing it in all the right ways. New environments are welcome additions. Refined writing and better voice acting bring the experience to a new level. Tyrant and most other enemies are fun/terrifying to encounte
Tyrant's fedora, a mid-game new enemy is just annoying.