When people ask me which of the Resident Evil games is my favourite, my usual go-to answer for that question is the original Resident Evil from 1996. The dialogue was terrible, the controls felt like you were trying to drive a tank through mud, and the combat was so bad you usually tried to avoid it altogether, so all in all, it was an amazing experience. Why? Well despite the glaring “on the surface” issues, the original Resident Evil had a lot of thought and heart behind it. It was you against this horde of monstrosities and you didn’t know whether you were gonna make it out alive or die as a result of these creatures. It was tense, it was horrifying, and, overall, it was a Resident Evil game.
Moving away from the original, though, and jumping ahead to 1998, that was when the term ‘a Resident Evil game’ really started to become defined. Long story short, Resident Evil 2 would go on to be regarded as one of the best in the series with its stellar use of survival horror elements and equipment management gameplay, that is, until the eventual release of Resident Evil 4, which as we all know is the best one in the series… debatably.
So, why the brief history lesson? Well, when reviewing a game like the remake of Resident Evil 2, it’s important to acknowledge its beginnings and why it’s so highly regarded from the get-go. Especially considering that, when looking at a remake such as this, it’s vital to look back to those beginnings to see how they influenced the developers and the design/gameplay aspects of the new version. With that being said, on with the review.
Let’s start off with the main question that I feel is on everyone’s minds? Is Resident Evil 2 a faithful recreation of the original game from 1998, or rather, does Resident Evil 2 feel like a Resident Evil game? Short answer: Yes, Long answer: Yes and nuts to anyone who doesn’t think so. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand why people might be hesitant of this new title. I mean, if they remade a classic videogame that I had close attachments too, I’d be hesitant as well. That being said, fear not, the remake of Resident Evil 2 does a whole lot right, whilst looking so effortless in the process.
For one, the equipment management aspect came back in a huge way. As I mentioned earlier, this was one of the core mechanics that made the original game work, making sure that you had empty slots while also maintaining health and ammo was a big deal. Now, in the remake, the developers have done a wonderful job in making sure that the equipment management aspect is not lost on newer players, while also being difficult enough for veterans of the series to enjoy. It’s a wonderful balance between in-game moments like; “Oh, I got a hip pouch, so now I have more room in my inventory” versus “I only have two shotgun shells and a flashbang, let’s roll.” All in all, equipment management is still as vital as ever.
Next, let’s look at the combat/gameplay. Now, I’ve seen some hate pop-up here and there with regard to Resident Evil 2’s combat, and I just have to say; “Well yeah, of course it’s garbage.” Not that I mean that in a bad way, as weird as that sounds, but more so what I mean is that it kind of makes sense that Leon Kennedy is a walking bacon strip for most of the enemies in the game. Something that people have to understand about Resident Evil 2 (at least story-wise) is that it’s Leon's first day as a part of the R.P.D. The man isn’t going to be doing sick ninja flips like he did in Resident 4 or Resident 6, no, he’s going to be this rookie who’s panicking the same way we would panic after seeing a licker. So, while the combat may be clunky, it’s still fun enough to play without being frustrating and makes a lot of sense from a story perspective.
You know what isn’t fun, though? Dealing with the tyrant that the game throws at you. Not that the creature is scary or anything, it’s just not fun to deal with. The thing is, and some people might not be a huge fan of me for saying this, but the tyrant’s really only as scary as you let it be. Yeah, the footsteps are kind of freaky in that “I don’t know where tyrant is, arrrrgggghhh *fires off numerous pistol rounds*” sort of way, but as long as you stay ahead of them your pretty much good to go. Now, personally, I found the lickers to be way more intimidating, because they’re fast, they hit hard, and they’re ground level, so you can’t just shoot and run.
Speaking of running, how are the movement controls in Resident Evil 2? Well, in the grand scheme of the series, they’re not the worst but they’re definitely a bit rough around the edges. Now, this complaint can be easily explained by going back to that earlier point about it being Leon’s first day, but that point only really makes sense in the context of ‘Leon fighting monsters’. Leon’s a rookie cop, but he’s still a cop, so I feel his range of mobility would be a little higher than stiff running. Again, not the worst movement, but there’s a stiffness to it I feel doesn’t need to be there.
So, with that being said, I arrive at my final point. Resident Evil 2, of course, features multiple campaigns for people to get through. There’s Leon’s A & B, Claire’s A & B, the Ghost campaigns, the fourth survivor campaign, long story short, there’s a lot of campaigns. Now, with all of these narratives available, you’d think that Resident Evil 2 is a fairly well-rounded game in terms of the story department, explaining the Raccoon City Incident from multiple viewpoints. Well if that’s what you thought, you’d be partially right. Most of the game is done from the multiple story-arc angle when you’re playing through, but there are some points where things begin to feel reused, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, the developers put a lot of work into an amazing game, but I feel like more could have been done in the branching out segments so that they didn’t have to reuse assets. (Small off topic note, but the RE Engine makes those assets look fucking fantastic.)
So, with that all in mind, is Resident Evil 2 worth picking up? Well, to go back to what I said earlier; Short answer: Yes, Long answer: Yes and nuts to anyone who doesn’t think so. Resident Evil 2 is a wonderful recreation of a believed original that, not only recaptures the glory of that game, but also improves upon it from a visual and gameplay standpoint. All in all, don’t miss out on this one.
Resident Evil 2 (2019) (Reviewed on PlayStation 4)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
Resident Evil 2 is a wonderful recreation of a believed original that, not only recaptures the glory of that game, but also improves upon it from a visual and gameplay standpoint. All in all, don’t miss out on this one.