Selling over five million copies, Resident Evil 2 (RE2) is considered not only a classic in the survival horror genre but also a high point of the series itself.
After Capcom remade its predecessor for Nintendo’s GameCube in 2002, fans began to clamour for RE2 to receive the same treatment, though it wasn’t until 2015 that Capcom announced the project was in active development.
This news was met with both excitement and trepidation by longtime fans, given that the series had veered into less well-received action territory following RE4, and then received a soft reboot with the first person virtual reality RE7, what shape would this remake take? And would Capcom be able to honour the legacy of RE2, while also satiating fan hype over a decade in the making?
Luckily, Capcom cherry-picked various elements from previous installments of the series and distilled them into perhaps its most exceptional entry to date.
The development team took what still worked from the original, mainly the story and characters, but completely reimagined and rebuilt the game from the ground up.
The premise is a simple one; we play as Leon, a rookie cop reporting for his first day, and Claire, a college student searching for her brother Chris (one of the protagonists of RE1). With the player guiding their attempt to survive and escape the zombie apocalypse befalling Racoon City.
With the story now being told in a more cinematic and realistic way, it still holds up and is helped in no small part by some fantastic motion capture facial animation.
The game uses the RE Engine, first used in RE7, which also lends itself well to the game’s environments. Each is stunningly detailed and while not overly numerous, connect and make sense in a way not as readily apparent in the original.
Using a modernised over shoulder perspective like the one pioneered in RE4 keeps the action-focused, with dynamic swoops in close when being attacked to heighten the tension further.
From the relentlessly pursuing Tyrant down to the now once-again-genuine-threat zombies, each enemy is sickeningly detailed. The zombies, in particular, deserve special mention. Ammunition may always be tight, but with careful, strategic dismemberment, the hordes can be managed.
Use some acid grenades on a crowd of zombies to melt their arms off and render them unable to grab you, or shoot out their knees and take them out with your knife when they fall. It is all gruesomely entertaining fun.
The audio design is also worthy of particular note. Being able to hear the Tyrant (an unkillable colossus stalking your every move through a large part section of the game), searching in the room above, below was terrifying make one take off their headset and use the TV speakers.
In a world where it seems almost every AAA title wants to keep you playing for perhaps hundreds of hours, it was refreshing to come to the type of experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
A full playthrough to see the true ending takes roughly 20 hours to complete. Following that, a bonus mode familiar to veterans of the series will unlock, as well as alternate costumes for the protagonists.
Resident Evil 2 is an absolute must for any fan of the series, or genre, and funnily enough, is an excellent place for newbies to jump in. Capcom has set a new benchmark for themselves when it comes to the series, and not only that, may just have released the gold standard of what a remake can, and should, be.
Image Credit: Flickr