While the Resident Evil series has had some highs and lows, it’s hard not to look back on the second one as the most memorable. Not only did it come on two discs back in 1998 (which was unusual), but the spooky police department setting, memorable puzzles, and haunting ambience of being in the now-infamous Raccoon City added a little something special to the experience; so it’s no surprise that it’s where Capcom decided to revisit.
Of course, gaming has come a long way since the original’s fixed camera-angles and slow-moving controls, though. Resident Evil 4 marked a massive change for the literal perspective of the franchise, bringing with it an over-the-shoulder, third-person camera which has now influenced countless games; along with the more-recent Resident Evil 7, which featured stunningly lifelike visuals and dynamic enemies that keep you on edge at all times. Capcom has taken all these best bits from previous games and injected it into the foundation of Resident Evil 2; so while it’s a ‘remake’ in the loosest sense, this is also an entirely new experience.
That’s not to say it doesn’t channel the original game though. You’ll have tons of déjà vu moments – from encountering certain characters to exploring classic rooms – all wrapped-up in the gorgeous engine which powered RE 7. It looks stunning (even the gory stuff), and some great lighting tricks and the environment have been used to great effect to add a heightened fright-factor.
As for the gameplay itself, item management is still the name of the game here, which will leave you limping from room to room in order to find a health spray or a few extra bullets to finish off a zombie in pursuit, all while trying to solve a puzzle or find an item you need. It’s all part of the classic Resident Evil experience, but some new threats have been added to the mix. Zombies can reanimate if they’re not finished off correctly, and the inclusion of a tyrant zombie known as Mr. X will pursue you throughout a fair portion of the game, causing you to think on your feet and learn the layout of the environments in order to hide from or evade him. While it can seem frustrating, it’s all intentional, and keeps throwing curveballs just when you think you’ve got enough shotgun shells and start getting a little complacent.
Resident Evil 2 is a stellar remake of the fan-beloved original, capturing the aura of the Playstation classic while reinvigorating the setting with new visuals, gameplay mechanics, and current-gen triple-A quality, making it not only one of the best remakes ever, but one of the best survival-horror games that you can get your hands on.
Resident Evil 2 is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.