Resident Evil 2 Review
The Zombie Apocalypse has become a reality in the once-bustling Racoon City, and only threatens to spread further. You are caught in the middle. How will you survive?
Resident Evil 2, now remade from the original 1998 game into a masterpiece, has been released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as of the 25th of January 2019. The announcement for this remake was made in 2015, but more was revealed at E3 2018, causing a bigger hype for the game than many expected. The gameplay footage took many by surprise, showing us the same third-person perspective that the radically successful Resident Evil 4 used. Ever since the release, there has been non-stop praise, with a few criticisms, for this remake. How does it measure according to the CodeBros’ standards?
As with the original, you are able to choose who you get to play as. Rookie Police Officer Leon S. Kennedy, coming to Racoon City to report for his first day of duty, or College Student Claire Redfield, looking to visit with her brother, Chris Redfield. Most of the first playthrough with have similar events that happen during your chosen character’s storyline, with smaller deviations in paths, and other story developments as well. Both start at a gas station outside of town, where the protagonist discovers that the station has been overrun by the undead, indiscriminately hunting down any survivors. The protagonist then meets and saves/gets saved by the character you didn’t choose, and you both escape the gas station in a police car, which Leon commandeers.
Leon and Claire exchanged pleasantries while navigating their way through Racoon City’s ruined streets, before coming to a road block, whereupon zombies start swarming the outside of the car. With some freak luck, a bitten truck driver crashes his rig into their car, killing some of the zombies and pushing them through the road barrier. Unfortunately, the truck started leaking fuel which caught fire, and caused Leon and Claire to separate and find their own way to the Racoon City Police Department, thought to be the last safe haven that the two could find their bearings in. From here, your character will have little to no interaction with the other protagonist until a few minutes later and then at the end of your first playthrough.
You will get the chance to play through the other character’s scenario after finishing your first run. This mode is called “2nd Run”, which will allow you to experience the other character’s story during your first run. Again, there will be some differences, as the 2nd Run will be shorter in comparison to the first, because the story here will only pick up from after the car scene. You will notice that the environment will be slightly different thanks to the other protagonist’s influence, like unlocked doors, etc, so there is an element of persistence. I also enjoyed that you meet different characters in both Runs. Claire will meet with William Burke’s daughter, Sherry, and endeavours to keep her from harm, while Leon meets up with Ada Wong, who he works alongside to find the culprit behind the events of the outbreak in the city. In both scenarios you will learn about a lot of secrets that the Police Department has been holding, and what exactly has been happening in, as well as under, Racoon City.
Spooky Scary Gameplay
Survival Horror is my staple genre, and Resident Evil has been one of my favourite treats for a long time. The developers did a fantastic job with the Resident Evil Origins game remakes, but Resident Evil 2 Remake is, in my opinion, their latest masterpiece since Resident Evil 7. The third-person gameplay is totally different to the fixed camera perspectives, and makes it scarier in my opinion. You feel a lot more closed-in than you would expect, which hands players a claustrophobic experience while needing to outwit zombies and Lickers. The essence of survival horror is ensuring that players feel helpless, forcing them to come up with other strategies to overcome the challenges, and monsters, in front of them. Resident Evil 2 has succeeded in doing that in every aspect. In moments when you think you are safe, you get blindsided and need to either make use of a secondary weapon and run, or blast your enemy to bits with whatever weapon you have – which isn’t the best option because of limited ammo in the game – and hope they don’t retaliate too quickly. If an enemy has a weakness you can take advantage of, it is best to do so. In one section of the game there were monsters spawning left and right, and you just know that if you try to take them all down, you will lose all of your ammo, which is crucial to have for boss fights.
The enemies are tough, even on Standard Difficulty. As a true Resident Evil fan, I opted to go for the Hardcore mode playthrough on my first try. This mode is recommended for Resident Evil veterans, mainly because of the limited Saves (as well as NO AUTOSAVES) that you get as a result of the need to use Ink Ribbons, but when I later tried out Standard mode to do my S-Rank Speedrun, I found that enemies sometimes needed maybe 1 or 2 less bullets before they get downed, which isn’t all that different. It’s the same during the boss fights; so my guess would be that if an enemy had 100HP in Hardcore, they maybe have 90HP in Standard, reason being that even when you have downed a zombie, they will get back up again for another round, after which they “might” be dead. To be sure, start dismembering them with your knife. If they move again after a slash, keep going. The Combat Knife is surprisingly strong and deals a lot of damage, but can break quicker when needing to use it in an emergency to escape the grasp of an enemy. It is possible to defeat bosses with only a knife, but get ready for the most frantic kiting sessions of your life. The difference in the amount of ammo per difficulty is also no different between Standard and Hardcore.
Assisted Difficulty is a walk-in-the-park though, especially thanks to the Aim-assist and significantly weaker enemies, but you won’t be able to get any ranked runs in this mode. This will be a good run to find collectibles and obtain the “Don’t Use the Item Box” or “Don’t Use a Healing Item” trophy. You will find many Herbs scattered around the game, and as usual, you can combine the various herbs in different combinations to have different effects. Green is used for minor healing, Red is used to boost effects of the other herb it gets combined with, and Blue heals toxins. Play around with these combinations, but I usually like going for a Green,Red, and Blue combo, because the thought of healing myself with RGB herbs was funny to me. You will also find the odd First-Aid Sprays lying about, but don’t be in a rush to use these too quickly. These come in handy during emergency situations where you health is sitting in the Red “Danger” Zone, as it heals you up to a 100% Healthy state. I was grateful for every one I managed to find and immediately stored it when I got the chance.
Tyrants Be Gone!
The various Files can be found during the course of the story that give a bit of background into the course of events. Some are not crucial to read them, but it’s interesting to know what the smaller details are behind certain occurrences or enemies. Some files will even tell you the weaknesses of an enemy and how to take advantage of it. Other important items, aside from ammo and secondary weapons, will be needed to complete puzzles and unlock other areas in the game. Since the game features an Inventory system, it’s important to know what you will be needing at which moment in order to make sure you always have a few spaces open for future. Inventory management, along with ammo management, is very crucial, and can save your life.
Fortunately, you will be able to pick up Hip Pouches as you play. These pouches grant an additional 2 spaces of inventory, and given how insane inventory management can get, those extra 2 spaces per pouch is like a gift from heaven. There a total of six Hip Pouches that you can collect, which means you will be given an additional twelve inventory slots to make use of, taking you from eight slots to twenty. What I didn’t realise at first was that Hardcore mode only gives you three Hip Pouches as part of the challenge, halving your bonus slots that you are able to receive. This can be quite a pain in the backside, but it teaches you how to manage your items in the long run, which will help you when you attempt an S-Rank run, if you feel that way inclined. You will only be able to unlock the Trophy for gathering all the Hip Pouches if you get all six in the game, so this Trophy/Achievement will be impossible in Hardcore.
There are also various hidden items in the game called “Mr. Raccoon Toys” that you need to destroy. This is a bonus mission you can take on for yourself, if you so please, but there is a reward if you manage to find and destroy all 15 Toys. Similarly, you unlock Bonus content in the main menu for completing certain challenges that the game sets out for you. On an additional note, you might wonder what the purpose would be for trying to complete the game with an S-Rank rating. The answer for that is the same as the Mr. Raccoon Toy hunts; you get rewarded with an unlockable item that you will be able to use in your next run, and has more of an advantage to it than you might expect. Once you have unlocked this item, all you need to do on your next run is open up the Item Box again and you will see it waiting for you.
Finally, I want to address the Graphics that this game treats us with. Resident Evil 2 Remake makes use of the RE Engine, the very same engine used in Resident Evil 7, which allowed the developers to “modernise” the gameplay, making it possible to focus more on the horror aspect of the game instead of action; exactly how we experienced Resident Evil 7. The environments were masterfully crafted, and in my opinion, this game has set the bar really high for other developers out there that have goals to remake their games. The Zombies are threatening, the Lickers are terrifying, and worst of all, Mr. X, our trench-coated, top-hat wearing Tyrant friend/stalker makes you want to hit the eject button. The textures of the bosses are incredibly well done, leaving your jaw on the floor and eyes wide in disbelief as the camera zooms back out to your character after giving you a good view of what you need to take down. And the gruesome death cinematics are something to behold, to say the least.
Resident Evil 2 Remake is a masterpiece of a Remake, one that I will be spending a lot of time in for days to come to be able to hit all the Trophies and claim those S+ Ranks. The challenge that this game provides is one that everybody can enjoy, whether you are a newcomer to Resident Evil, or a veteran like myself, everybody will experience it in a unique way. Each difficulty provides a learning curve, eg. Standard Difficulty gives you good training for Hardcore mode, in regards to showing you what to focus on when you gather items and how to manage your inventory. The graphics are incredible, the music couldn’t be more fitting, and the ambience makes the atmosphere that much more tense. I would not hesitate to recommend this title to anybody, so don’t delay in getting your own copy from BTGames at R855.00 on PS4 and Xbox One, and R929.00 on Steam.