Even though this is a remake I don’t want to spoil anything for first time players or absent minded older gamers who are revisiting Raccoon City. So consider this a SPOILER FREE REVIEW.
Now you would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of Resident Evil, or Biohazard for those from Japan. The games have been around for over 2o years, along with comics, novels, toys, several movies, and now rumours that Netflix have a Resident Evil series in the works. I guess that all this longevity and multi format content just shows how good the story and characters are in the Resident Evil Universe. Obviously this game isn’t the second release in the series but a remake of the 1998 version. So lets return to Raccoon City and uncover the origins of some now well known heroes and villains.
Resident Evil 2 introduces us to Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Leon, a rookie Police Officer, on his way to Raccoon City to start with the Raccoon Police Department, and Claire, a college student, heading in the same direction looking for her brother, Chris (one of the protagonists from the first Resident Evil), meet just out of town and share a ride to the city. Knowing something is very wrong they head to the Police Station, only to be separated and left to survive on their own. This sets up the ability to play either Leon or Claire, a decision that is made from the start menu. Each story is an alternate plot line not a parallel so there is a lot of common ground between the two, but also enough difference to want to play through with both characters.
One of the biggest gripes people had back in 1998 with Resident Evil 2 was the controls. Thanks to a fixed camera position, moving and aiming was pretty painful, not forgetting this fixed view often meant attackers could be just off screen for you to run into when transitioning to the next area. Well isn’t technology a wonderful thing. 20 years of advancement has us playing in a full 3D environment with complete control over both your character and the camera. It is solid. I had no issues what so ever with camera or character movement. Which is so important in survival horror, you want to be blaming yourself, not the controls, when you get your face chewed off for the umpteenth time.
The visuals are a far cry from the bright well lit rooms of the original, this time round we find the the Raccoon City Police Station dark and moody. Well lived in and with obvious signs of the turmoil that is taking place around it. Playing on the Xbox One X has you seeing Resident Evil 2 in 4K Ultra HD with HDR10 and it is very pretty, well as pretty as undead dogs wanting to feast on your liver can be anyway. Lighting and shadows play an important role with plenty of glimpses of movement to keep you on edge. And of course some good old jump scares.
Sound is just as important in obtaining this great atmosphere with noises outside windows, groans around corners, even thundering footsteps from the floor above that will have you panicking and looking for an alternative route, if there is one…
You can very much choose to destroy the undead or to run and avoid them, but again there is a difference to the 1998 release that will affect your tactics. In 1998 a door was also a loading screen to the next area, meaning by getting to a door meant salvation from the horde. Now in 2019 enemies will just stack up against doors and force their way in. Avoid too much conflict and you may just find yourself overwhelmed at some point.
To assist in your endeavours there are plenty of weapons and items around to utilise. Many of which are locked behind some fantastically devious puzzles. Return players will solve these quickly but newcomers will love the ‘Ahh’ moments when you finally solve them. Old school gamers will smile at the return of the typewriters and herbs.
I dabbled with Resident Evil 2 back in the day. And now am very happy I didn’t get right into it. All the puzzles, characters, and story twists were new and fresh for me. I knew the characters and basic premise from games based later in the overall story arc but it was so good to return to where much of the Resident Evil universe started. Not only is it great to fill in much of the story leading up to the likes of Resident Evil Revelations and Resident Evil 7, it is great to play, and enjoy, such a beautifully crafted game, both artistically and technically. Get out there and play Resident Evil 2. You won’t regret it.