Resident Evil 2 is an all-time classic action horror game. It was the brainchild of Shinji Mikami and directed by Hideki Kamiya. These names are hard to top in modern times so a remake of the game was a monumental challenge and tough task to carry out for Capcom. It still feels unbelievable how Capcom has handled this remake. This is a flawless effort from top to bottom with only minor flaws that are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
Resident Evil 2 is a full remake using the gorgeous RE Engine that was also used to develop Resident Evil 7. One of the perks of this engine is that it allows great performance and some powerful visuals where the focus is on photo-realism. The violence stands out much more as a result, immersing the player in the atmosphere. The graphics look great and the gameplay is fun, smooth, and with plenty of replay value. It all blends in nicely with a package polished to perfection.
There are two playable characters in Resident Evil 2: Leon and Claire. In the original game, there were multiple endings and different scenarios for them depending on which one you picked first. While some of it has carried over offering you the choice to replay the game again with a different perspective on the story, it is not as in-depth as the original game. It doesn’t make the remake bad because the scope for the rest of the game has been greatly expanded now.
Resident Evil 2 plays like a third-person shooter with the over-the-shoulder camera perspective. The original game featured a fixed camera view with pre-rendered backgrounds. The remake makes it seem like you are actually present in a living city and the environments stand out a lot more as a result. Exploration is key in Resident Evil 2 and many of the puzzles, which there are plenty to solve, will need a keen eye and sharp mind to solve them.
My favorite part of Resident Evil 2 was its puzzles and some of them are just pure genius. In the beginning, they link nicely with the various connected rooms of the Racoon City Police Department which hide secrets. There are four different types of keys that you have to collect in order to gradually unlock more rooms which remain the focus of the game’s design. It makes backtracking feels natural and not forced. It just oozes atmosphere with its brilliantly designed tight corridors and tense music that keeps the scare factor up as you move around. You will think twice before heading into a new place since there are always surprises hidden in them.
Right from the beginning, you can see the effort spent in making this game transcendent. Cutscenes look great with a variety of post-processing effects giving it a film-like look. Character models are high-quality and even the zombies are highly detailed giving them a creepy living human-like vibe. The design of the creatures and especially the terrifying Mr. X is unforgettable. They have kept the aesthetics of the old character models but presented them with a fresh coat of paint that not only tingle nostalgia but also evokes a feeling of restlessness.
Gunplay is excellent with a lot of mobility so you can pick and carefully line up every shot. If you start out with the handgun, you have to keep aiming with a focused mind for a few seconds to pull off a critical shot. There are a total of 11 weapons, all of which offer their own stopping power and advantage. On the default difficulty setting which is what I picked for my first attempt, ammo never felt like it was rare. If somehow you end up short on ammo, there is always the option to use the gunpowder mixtures which are collected from various locations. Just make sure you don’t end up discarding them and keep in a storage locker for future use.
Since there are limitations for the inventory and how much you can carry one time, there are upgrades that you can find to make it bigger and this is just part of the fun. The same applies to the weapons that you gradually begin to unlock. They are customizable with the weapon parts that you will be able to pick, mostly from locations like a safe or lock solutions that need you to find a specific note or file. Upgrading and ammo go hand to hand so you will have to pick your weapons carefully as they take up valuable inventory space.
Resident Evil 2 will often feel like a true survival horror game because you have limited resources. Health is restored using the traditional herbs or medical spray but unless you play on the easy difficulty, you won’t get any health regeneration. This means that you have to keep your healing supplies in check and avoid abusing them. While you can find ammo everywhere, the best course of action when it comes to moving between the different locations is to usually run away and avoid encounters.
There are some memorable boss fights but if you play with just one character, you will miss out on the complete experience. The best way is to play through once with either Leon or Claire and then pick up a new game plus mode called Second Run. Once you complete this one, only then it is possible to get the true ending. It is not as complicated or well-developed as the original game’s zapping system but there are still variations in how both campaigns play out. Leon will travel with Ada and you can play as her for a short story segment while Claire will be with Sherry Birkin, who also offers a classic playable scenario during her story. The dynamics between the characters are carefully integrated into the game’s main story scenario keeping things fresh.
There is an immense amount of replay value in Resident Evil 2. The game is honestly designed for a speed run so there are no major hurdles in achieving this task. You can actually unlock some nice rewards if you are able to get a high rank and complete the game in under 3 hours with a speed run. In my case, I played with Leon on the standard difficulty and it took me roughly 8 hours to complete the full story as I explored everything instead of rushing it. Trying again with Claire, the second run felt shorter than Leon’s because I was already familiar with most of the locations. Overall, you can get at least 12 hours of solid gameplay out of the two character’s story mode the first time.