Review by J.T. Johnson
DEVELOPER: Capcom R&D Division 1
Back in 1997, my dad got me a PlayStation because we had been in a mall where I saw an advertisement for a game unlike any other that I had seen before. It was a trailer where a police officer was walking down a chilling sewer and out of nowhere, a mutated alligator came out and attacked him. The rest of the trailer showed me a world inhabited by zombies as the officer was fighting his way through several rooms of what looked liked a gothic and abandoned police station.
The game wasn’t quite out when I got my PlayStation, so dad got me “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut”. While I enjoyed the moody atmosphere of that game (bad voice acting aside), it was not the game I had seen at the mall. Thankfully, a short time later in 1998, I finally got to play “Resident Evil 2” and despite having built it up my own hype for the game in my mind, it met every single expectation and then proceeded to exceed them.
The game was chilling and the gameplay was fantastic. What can I say? I was actually a fan of the game’s tank controls that are horribly outdated today. It was also the first legitimate game to have actually scared me. I loved the great storyline that evolved as the game progressed and it got deeper and deeper into why things were going down. I say all of this before I get to my review in order to show you how much this remake needed to work on this old school Resident Evil fan.
The story of the remake is largely the same. Rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy is on his way to start his new job for the Raccoon City Police Department. When he gets there, though, he finds that the place is overrun with zombies. He meets Claire Redfield, a young woman that is trying to find her older brother Chris, one of the main protagonists from the original game.
They eventually find their way to the RCPD police station. There, they encounter all kinds of strange monsters. They also discover a hidden conspiracy involving an evil pharmaceutical corporation named Umbrella.
The opening of the game is very similar to how the original game opens, except that it looks absolutely gorgeous and haunting. When you finally get to the police station, you feel like the game is very familiar if you’ve played the original. If you’ve never visited the original before, though, you get that same sense of dread that you get from “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”.
That’s because the game contains several elements that helped make previous games a huge success. It contains the intriguing story and the puzzle-solving elements from the original “RE2” and the chilling tone of “RE7”. The game has also chucked out the original tank controls for something more similar to that found in “RE4”.
What I also loved, as a fan of the original game, is the return of other quirky elements from the second game. First Aid Sprays, herbs and gunpowders that can be mixed and specially shaped keys all make a return as do the typewriters that allow you to save your game. Also, the game doesn’t just look familiar, it also adds new elements to previous encounters.
For example, in the original game, there were boarded up windows and when you ran past them, arms would come through and grab you. Now, in the original game, this was simply a jump scare moment and it didn’t really affect you health-wise. In this game, though, that hallway has some windows that haven’t been boarded up yet, so you may want to look for some wood lying around in order to patch up the defenses.
Thankfully, the game truly revisits its survival horror roots, meaning that it features less ammo than in normal shooters and you have to conserve wisely. The game adds to this challenge by not having an auto-aim feature, meaning that you also have to time your shots the best you can. This becomes increasingly more difficult when more than a couple of zombies start coming after you.
Now, if you want a more casual experience, there is an Assisted Mode that is essentially the game’s easy difficulty. It does give you an auto-aim feature, slightly regenerates health your health after taking damage and it makes the enemies a little bit weaker. If you’re playing for the first time, though, I obviously recommend the Standard difficulty at the very least.
The new “Resident Evil 2” is not just a rehash of the same game. It is a reinvention of one of one of gaming’s finest experiences. There is a familiar feeling to the game for those that have stayed with the series over the years, yet it somehow feels like a fresh, brand new experience as well. I love the original game so much that I would not have minded if Capcom had ultimately just remade the original with just a fresh coat of paint.
Thankfully, though, the developers at Capcom had something greater in mind and instead of just a decent remake, we ended up with a stellar game for both old and new generations to grab hold of… Just remember to keep the lights on and make sure the doors are locked!