Resident Evil 2 has become quite a successful game. To be honest, I still can’t believe that we’ve gotten such a game in the current climate in the industry as a whole. In a world where open-world games are extremely rampant, I didn’t really think we’d see a game of this caliber.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Resident Evil fan and it has shown throughout the years. In fact, the start of my career in gaming journalism involves a review of Resident Evil 7. I played them all, from the first game to the Umbrella Corps. While I’m definitely not the best, I can at least say I loved the franchise from its inception.
I was hooked on the game ever since it was announced back at E3 2018. However, a lot of people didn’t hesitate to show their skepticism toward it. I can’t blame them for wondering if the game would be butchered by today’s unethical business practices.
This Resident Evil 2 review will take a deep look at a game that defies all conventions. In fact, the fact that this is a breath of fresh air might be the reason why it’s popular. However, that definitely would also be making the game a huge disservice. Especially because Resident Evil 2 can also stand on its own quite nicely.
Where’s Everyone Going? Bingo?
The game’s story sets us in the middle of a zombie outbreak crisis in Raccoon City. We see the events of the game’s story unfold from the perspective of two characters. First, we have the rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy. Secondly, we have Claire Redfield, a college student who is looking for her brother, Chris.
As the story unfolds, we learn the reason why the outbreak started. Of course, anyone familiar with the original plot knows about the involvement of the infamous Umbrella Corporation. Resident Evil 2 isn’t even subtle about this, especially since that company is plastered all over Raccoon City.
While the pair does reach Raccoon City together, they get separated throughout the game due to circumstances beyond their control. If we have learned anything from Resident Evil Zero is that a game doesn’t work with two protagonists at the same time. As such, I’m glad that we are able to experience different stories and perspectives from two different characters who do their own thing.
Complementing the story is the lore that’s written in several notes the player will find throughout their playthrough. In them, we learn more about the Raccoon City Police Department, Umbrella Corporation, and some insight from important characters in the story.
However, what’s a story about uncovering a huge conspiracy without characters, music, and visual design?
You Can Hear the Evil, You Can See the Evil
Let’s start by saying that Resident Evil 2 looks fantastic. In fact, the RE Engine seems to be pushed to its limits in this remake. You can see the attention to detail put into every single bit of the scenery. Not only that, but the game also runs quite smoothly at a constant 60 FPS. You can practically feel the amount of detail put into every asset in this game.
Furthermore, the music of the remake has also been made to complement the attention to detail. Players who purchased the Deluxe Edition of the game will also be able to swap between the remake compositions and the original soundtrack of Resident Evil 2.
While I prefer to listen to the original soundtrack because of nostalgia; The remake’s soundtrack definitely emphasizes the Horror aspect of this game. My favorite songs from the remake soundtrack include Save Room, R.P.D. Hall, The Book of Truth, Cerberus, Looming Dread, and Last Judgement.
The sound design of the game makes sure that you feel as tense as possible. No place is safe from the horror that befell Raccoon City. Therefore, whenever you’re faced with the monsters of Resident Evil 2, you’ll always feel tense and make hasty decisions.
As for the visual design, the game often has dark and bleak environments around every corner. The desolate environments and corridors of the police station which used to be a museum will definitely make players feel claustrophobic; you definitely will be unsure about whether or not a monster will be lurking around every corner.
Characters that Make a Story Live
The characters of the game definitely make a good job bringing the story to life. Nick Apostolides and Stephanie Panisello definitely performed their roles to an amazing degree as the main protagonists. However, other voice actors like Karen Strassman (Annette Birkin) definitely gave some heart-wrenching performances that felt natural and relatable.
I always believed that Horror cannot function without drama or loss. There are some scenes that show the aftermath of the outbreak. I did shed a tear while watching some of the game’s cutscenes because I was so involved in the tragedy. Of course, this couldn’t be done if the actors didn’t express the right emotions at the right times.
The Main Characters
As for the characters themselves, Leon is a policeman with a righteous sense of justice. Right from the word “go”, you will see him looking out for the general public. In fact, he often expresses his frustration when he feels something isn’t fair. However, he also starts showing his vestiges of sarcasm and snark that eventually turn him into the RE4 Leon we know and love.
Claire is a college student who can stand her own ground if need be. She’s also incredibly perceptive of her surroundings. You can see this character trait showing up in various moments throughout the game. Especially with how she notes that her brother didn’t write a letter he supposedly left at the police station after “going on vacation”.
Both of these characters definitely serve a great duo of protagonists. While they barely interact with each other, they will show that they care for each other the few times they get the chance to talk.
In summation, I believe the protagonists help the plot quite well. Side characters definitely fill their roles appropriately, and I don’t have that many complaints about them.
You Can Even Feel the Evil
The gameplay in Resident Evil 2 is an evolution from Resident Evil 7. Instead of using a first-person perspective; this game uses a third person “over the shoulder” perspective. While some players might groan or have Resident Evil 6 PTSD flashbacks. I must say that this game does strike a great balance between horror and action.
The reason why I say this is because the game is designed to make any monster you encounter scary. In fact, players won’t be able to know whether or not a threat is around the corner, much like in the original game with the shifting camera angles and tank controls.
The players will have to deal with monsters on a one-by-one basis with a variety of weapons. The weapons you’ll have at your disposal range from knives, grenades, guns, shotguns, and grenade launchers. However, using them effectively requires some good wits and precision. This task can become daunting to a player who is easily frightened and makes hasty decisions.
Zombies can be temporarily taken out when shot on the head. However, that doesn’t mean they are going to be down for good. Unless you literally blow the head off with a Critical Shot – which occurs at random or when you shoot the shotgun at point-blank range directly to the head – you won’t be safe from attack.
In this game, players will be rewarded for being precise and quick. Players who cannot withstand the pressure will often meet their end at the hands of a monster.
Can You Survive the Evil?
This game is a shooter with an emphasis on inventory management. Everything from ammo, health pickups, and key items requires space in your inventory. In addition, characters have limited inventory slots. While characters can expand it with Hip Pouches that can be found throughout the game; players will always find themselves with not enough slots to fit all their items in.
This is where Safe Rooms come into play. There are multiple locations where players will be safe from all danger and be able to save their game through a typewriter. Not only that, but players can also store some items in the Box that has unlimited storage space. It’s a great way to clear out space for future pickups.
Healing Items are treated differently from Resident Evil 7. You can find herbs scattered throughout the locations of the game. Herbs come in three different colors: Red, Blue, and Green. Green herbs restore health, Blue Herbs eliminate Poison and Red Herbs are a booster to Blue and Green Herbs.
Players can also find Gunpowder which can be used to create ammunition for different weapons. From pistol bullets to Grenade Launcher rounds. There are a lot of different combinations that players will have to take into consideration before increasing their bullet amounts.
Overall, this sort of mechanic rewards through exploration and strategic inventory management. Of course, this comes as a double-edged sword for some players. Would you use the Green Herb to restore a little health or wait to get a Red one to make a full heal? Would you make ammunition for your pistol and risk having fewer shots for your shotgun?
Decisions like this are made constantly throughout the playthrough. In other words, you have to think strategically if you want to make it out of Raccoon City.
A Story Told from Two Sides
The game’s story is told through two different scenarios. Players who take Leon first will have to play Claire in the second part and vice versa. This is also known as A and B scenarios (Referred to as Second Runs in-game). The perspective of the scenario also changes according to the character you picked first.
For example, players who picked Leon Scenario A will be inside the RPD station. Meanwhile, once Claire Scenario B comes into play, Claire will be mostly exploring outside the RPD station. As such, it will take 4 different playthroughs to see the game in its entirety from both perspectives.
The main characters will also have their own major plotlines with different side characters. In Leon’s case, he’s accompanied by a Mercenary called Ada Wong who is looking into the origin of the Raccoon City outbreak. Meanwhile, Claire will have to aid and rescue a girl called Sherry Birkin; she’s a girl who is looking for her mother who just so happens to be an Umbrella scientist.
During both campaigns, players will have short sections where they’ll play as the side characters. Ada Wong’s gameplay focuses on hacking devices to clear off blocks. All the while, Sherry’s gameplay will focus heavily on stealth and avoiding an enemy’s line of sight.
While I certainly wished we could use side-characters in more than one occasion per-scenario. This story has to focus on both Leon and Claire and their predicament. It’s also incredible how Capcom managed to create two separate perspectives for what essentially is the same story. Players will definitely get their mileage out of playing all four scenarios and comparing differences between them.
Another great defining aspect of Resident Evil games is the puzzles. However, I certainly find this area to be quite lacking in terms of solutions. The major problem with the puzzles in Resident Evil 2 is the fact that they’re quite easy to solve. For example, there’s a safe which the player doesn’t know the combination of. While this might be challenging to find, the answer is written right beside the door of the safe without much fanfare going into it.
In fact, the hardest puzzle I found was the very first puzzle players can run into. It’s a challenge where you’re tasked with finding the initials of every officer in the RPD station. This basically involves paying a lot of attention to detail and to check the notes you find throughout the station thoroughly.
Extras, and Replayability
The game also offers a few extras for players who manage to complete the game. Clearing the game in any difficulty will earn players the 4th Survivor mode. This mode basically puts your knowledge about sub-weapons to the test. With just a few healing items and some powerful guns; you have to guide an enigmatic character called Hunk through a path filled with powerful enemies.
Clearing this mode will also earn you the Tofu Survivor mode. Basically, this is the same challenge offered by 4th Survivor. However, it’s made harder because you only have knives and very few healing items to go by.
In addition, players will also get the chance to play through the Ghost Survivors mode. It takes the same concept as the Tofu survivor but it involves the characters that had minor roles in the main story. In one scenario, you get to see what happened to Kendo after his encounter with Leon. In another, you experience a “what if” story regarding the Mayor’s daughter.
The game can offer a more challenging Hardcore Mode where you get the iconic Ink Ribbons alongside a tougher challenge with even less ammo to go around. You can unlock great weapons like the Infinite Rocket Launcher if you manage to beat it with an S+ rank.
Just Another Day in Raccoon City
Resident Evil 2 for PC is an incredible game and it definitely is an amazing remake. Capcom went out of their way to bring an amazing experience to players and the game certainly delivers on that promise. The game’s offerings will definitely accommodate fans of the old and new entries of the series.
The game is definitely far from perfect. The puzzles could definitely use some work; Some assets are reused from Resident Evil 7; It’s unclear which A and B Scenario is canon, among other things.
However, these nitpicks are minute compared to the accolades this game offers to players who wish for a AAA gaming experience. This game definitely finds a perfect mixture of horror and action and can make even the least threatening zombies a scary sight to behold.
Resident Evil 2 is a landmark for the positive evolution gaming has had in recent years. It’s definitely a game that should be part of anyone’s collection. But, what do you think of this review? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. If you want some more Resident Evil, check out our Hyped or Afraid on Resident Evil 3 Remake
Resident Evil 2
Capcom went out of their way to bring an amazing experience to players and the game certainly delivers on that promise. The game’s offerings will definitely accommodate fans of the old and new entries of the series.
- High replayability with multiple difficulties and additional modes
- It remains faithful to the original game
- It blends action and horror without the need of the tank controls
- The soundtrack is fantastic
- Both scnearios can be quite repetitive back to back
- The puzzles are very simple to solve
- The game's Assisted Mode prompt can be intrusive for players who die constantly