Continuing on with my look back at Resident Evil events before the fourth numbered entry — Part One can be found here — it's part two!
Part 2: The Raccoon City Outbreak
Part 2 primarily contains the events as seen in the Resident Evil 2 (2019) and Resident Evil 3 (2020) remakes, which take place a couple of months after the Resident Evil HD REMASTER remake. The stories of both games happen simultaneously, with the Resident Evil 2 remake actually being nestled in the middle of the Resident Evil 3 remake. Much like the Resident Evil remake before them, these two recent remakes take precedence over their original counterparts, where the story is concerned.
Honestly, I'm not sure what officially caused the virus to run wild in Raccoon City, even though I've played so much Resident Evil over the years. However, it seems to have been a combination of things, including carriers continuing to come down from the Spencer Mansion in the mountains and an infected William Birkin running amok in the Umbrella facility, directly below the streets of Raccoon City. These combined catastrophes seemed to have been the downfall of Raccoon City, and helped the virus spread at an exponential rate.
Birkin actually infected himself with his new, super G Virus, which caused him to mutate into an almost invincible monster. After refusing to give up the G Virus to Umbrella, he — much like Marcus before him — was targeted for assassination, although Birkin was able to inject himself before succumbing to his injuries. His rampaging then caused a T Virus (the same zombie-causing virus seen in Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil remake) outbreak throughout the laboratory, which was then carried to the surface by rats.
To begin with, I'll run through the events of the Resident Evil 2 remake. Once again, this game provides multiple characters and multiple storylines to tackle. There are two characters, Leon Scott Kennedy and Claire Redfield, and a rather bonkers four play-throughs. Each character has two "Runs" each, an A scenario and a B scenario. Obviously, all four cannot exist simultaneously and are mainly there to allow the player to experience alternate realities and to give some replay ability. Because of this, most of the game will have to be blown over and only the most important aspects from each Run will be revealed — the aspects that are known facts amongst the fan base. Unfortunately, Capcom has never definitively decided exactly which narrative path is canon, so this is the only way I can approach it.
Our two protagonists first make contact at a petrol (or gas, for our American audience) station, on the outskirts of Raccoon City, where they are besieged by zombies. This is also the first time either of them are aware of the zombies’ existence. Leon and Claire then team up and head further into Raccoon City, hoping they can make it to the police station and find some help. Their car, though, is hit by a truck whose driver is dying from fatal injuries; the driver is completely out of it, barely clinging on to life, and he smashes into them. This is the point where the story diverges into each of the scenarios.
First we have Leon Kennedy (the main protagonist of the upcoming Resident Evil 4 (2023) remake) a rookie police officer who was actually due to start his new job at the Raccoon City P.D. this very same day. It seems no-one bothered to call him in advance to tell him not to come to Raccoon.
Claire Redfield is the younger sister of Chris from the first game. She was on her way to meet with him when she became entangled in the Raccoon City Incident. Claire had gotten worried since she hadn't heard from her brother for a whole month, likely because Chris had already, as Chris had already left to pursue an Umbrella investigation in Europe by this point — something he clearly did not divulge to Claire, but something she manages to find out on her journey.
Leon's story runs parallel to Claire's, with both of them managing to make it to the police station — as originally planned. However, they are not able to team up and are again forced to separate. From a canon perspective, the two progress as follows: Leon eventually teams up with Ada, a mysterious individual who is soon revealed to be looking for Umbrella Virus samples, and Claire runs into Sherry Birkin, the young daughter of William Birkin.
Both characters make their ways through the police station, then escape into the sewers, before finally arriving at the secret Umbrella facility. Pursuing them are the T-103 Tyrant, a ginormous humanoid killing machine, and a mutated William Birkin. The Tyrant has been deployed by Umbrella to remove any witnesses that may implicate them in the outbreak, while Birkin's rapidly diminishing human mind compels him to find Sherry. Annette Birkin — William's wife and Sherry's mother — is also a minor antagonist, who turns up continuously to hinder the progress of Leon. Claire also has to briefly tussle with the chief of police, Brian Irons; he is on Umbrella's payroll, and is the one responsible for suspending S.T.A.R.S. after the Mansion Incident. William, Annette, Irons, and the T-103 are all killed at varying points throughout the night.
Towards the end of the game, Ada suffers a fate which implies that she dies, and a heart-broken Leon fights on alone. Soon afterwards, Leon, Claire, and Sherry are reunited and escape together in an underground railway car, as the facility collapses around them. Following the Resident Evil 2 remake, Claire goes on to track down her brother in Europe, and sparks the events of Resident Evil Code: Veronica X. Leon otherwise joins a government agency, and begins a unique type of training that allows him to pull off ridiculous stunts such as these.
Next up is the Resident Evil 3 remake, which primarily follows the events of former S.T.A.R.S. member, and Resident Evil remake protagonist, Jill Valentine. After the S.T.A.R.S. members are suspended, they split up — all of them off investigating Umbrella. Jill, on the other hand, remains in Raccoon City to monitor Umbrella's activities there and to relay any information she discovers back to the team. However, when the city is enveloped by a pandemic, Jill makes an effort to escape.
Due to the Resident Evil 3 remake's linear approach, it's much easier to convey its story. The game opens up with Jill being attacked by the Nemesis-T Type Tyrant, another of Umbrella's insane creations. But where the T-103 was deployed to the R.C.P.D. to destroy evidence in that area, the Nemesis is a hunter, programmed to hunt down S.T.A.R.S. members in particular.
Jill manages to escape their initial meeting, and joins up with Brad Vickers — Alpha team's helicopter pilot as seen (although only briefly) in the Resident Evil remake. After a scuffle with some zombies, Brad is bitten and Jill continues on without him. Jill then has another encounter with the Nemesis but is saved by Carlos Olivera, our second protagonist, who takes Jill back to his team. Carlos is a member of the U.B.C.S. (Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service), a group of mercenaries organised into a private army by Umbrella, that have been sent to Raccoon City for various reasons. Most were killed upon arriving at Raccoon City, but those that survived have banded together and begun to rescue civilians.
Nicholai Ginovaef also appears here. He is a member of the U.B.C.S., but has a secret, alternative agenda: he's to assassinate certain individuals linked to Umbrella and retrieve important data. While he is eventually revealed as a major antagonist, right now, he's just one of the team.
These remaining U.B.C.S., and any civilians they could save, have hunkered down in a subway train car, which they plan to use to escape the city. As expected, though, it has no power, so Jill sets out to restore it. After fighting through zombies, mutated flea creatures, and the Nemesis several more times, Jill is successful. She then leaves on the train with the other U.B.C.S., while Carlos heads to the police department to track down Umbrella scientist Nathaniel Bard. The Nemesis isn't done yet, though, and attacks the train. Nicholai also shows his true colours here, by locking everyone in the rear car with the monster, while he heads to safety alone towards the front. U.B.C.S. platoon leader Mikhail Victor then sacrifices himself by setting off a bunch of C4, catching the Nemesis in the blast.
Jill does manage to survive the ensuing crash, but so does the Nemesis — however, he's now mutating, in a similar fashion to William Birkin, due to the damage he sustained in the crash. Jill successfully overcomes the assault from the new Nemesis, but this time is badly wounded when it lashes out and stings her. Carlos then returns from the R.C.P.D. to save her — it turns out Bard was never in the police station as they'd been informed — and takes her to the local hospital.
It is here where the Resident Evil 2 remake begins, with Leon and Claire seemingly arriving at the police station immediately after Carlos has left it.
With Jill unconscious, Carlos sets off once more to find Bard and the Virus vaccine he is said to be carrying; he must save Jill! Luckily, it's learned that Bard is somewhere in the hospital, and after gunning down a few zombies and other nasty creatures, he does manage to find a dead Bard. He grabs the vaccine and returns to Jill, managing to save her, but heading off to find a potential escape route. When Jill finally recovers, Carlos has not returned and so she sets off to find him, and discovers the Umbrella laboratory (yes, another one!) underneath the hospital.
Jill makes her way through the facility, once again battling zombies, a host of new twisted monsters, and then finally manages to put down the Nemesis for good. She also meets up with Carlos, and after defeating Nicholai, they escape the city via helicopter. Unfortunately, this is the last time we see Carlos in the series, and even though he was an important character throughout the game — similarly to Billy in Resident Evil 0 — Capcom never decided to reuse him.
Stay tuned for the final third part of this story catch-up which will discuss Resident Evil - Code: Veronica and touch on series spin-offs set before Resident Evil 4.