Seems strange to cover a remake of a game I’ve already covered on this blog, given it’s only been running for a few years (and games weren’t being reviewed for a good chunk of that), but here we are! The Resident Evil 2 Remake managed to not only be a great game in and of itself, but a game that lives up to the lofty legacy of the original Resident Evil Reamke, which still stands as one of the best entries in the series. While I still have one or two gripes, let’s take a deeper look at one of the best Resi games in a long time…
… Might be best to turn the flashlight back off…
Resident Evil 2’s remake had been a rumour / fan request ever since Capcom superbly remade the original game on the Gamecube. All these years later and it finally arrived worldwide on January 25th 2019, for PS4, XBOX One and PC.
Resi 2 Remake was released just a bit over 20 years after the original Resident Evil 2, a lot longer than the six years in between the original Resident Evil and its remake.
Marvin… Marvin Nooooo!
Resident Evil 2’s remake has more in common with some of the more recent Resident Evil titles than the PS1 era. While you still move around a creepy Police Station, solve puzzles, find keys to new areas, fight a couple of bosses and eventually end up in a lab, it’s all done with a modern, over-the-shoulder perspective, rather than the fixed cameras and tank controls. If you go back and read my reviews of the original Resi trilogy I said how, nostalgia aside, the tank controls are really horrible nowadays, so I for one was happy to hear of the change!
From the new third person perspective you can still do all the usual things, from walking, running, shooting, and door opening (now without loading times!), just from directly behind your chosen protagonist. Other early Resi staples, like herbs (which can of course be mixed together!), saving at a typewriter (although now you don’t need a limited amount of ink ribbon… plus it autosaves before bosses and the like anyway…) and unlocking doors by using specific keys, keys which often are locked behind puzzles involving statues and medallions and the like, are all present and accounted for.
New to the Remake are wooden boards you can place across windows to stop zombie break-ins, a map that shows rooms as red if they contain items you haven’t collected yet (and blue if you’ve cleared it) and thanks to the new dynamic lighting, a lot of slowly walking around corridors with only the light of your torch to show you where possible death is waiting for you. The main thing to say about the Remake is the atmosphere. I’ll talk about the sound design more later, but especially in your first playthrough you’ll be constantly tense as you explore the locations offered in the game, it’s great stuff. A small gripe comes from some zombies taking six or nine headshots to take down, while others go down to just three. It’s inconsistent and sometimes annoying…
While it was quite tense, the Sherry stealth section with Chief Irons weren’t much fun. Better than Ada’s section mind you, which involved unlocking electric switches…
The modes are the other big change. In the original game there was Leon A, Claire A, Leon B and Claire B, with Claire A and Leon B happening at the same time, and visa versa, and the story cleverly intersecting at different points, with the B scenarios having a Tyrant in a green trenchcoat stalking you, while the person doing A route deals with the ever-transforming William Birkin. The Remake? Well, they have the main game and “2nd Run”, but both are pretty much identical, though with the Claire run throughs having Sherry Birkin as a companion (with her own playable section) and the Leon ones having Ada (also with her own section). Both first and second runs have the trenchcoat Tyrant (now with a hat!), but only Leon’s scenarios have it as a final boss, where as Claire gets to finish off Birkin as a finale… accept the 2nd Runs, which both end with a second-run exclusive final boss.
Confusing? To put it simply, with the exception of starting location and end boss, both the Claire story and her 2nd Run are identical, and the same goes for Leon’s story and his 2nd Run. It was really quite annoying, I played both story modes, then decided to do both of what I thought was B scenarios, but instead pretty much played through the exact same story I had just played through, just with a new ending.
Completing a 2nd Run gets you the “4th Survivor” mode, where you play as HUNK the Umbrella soldier and have to get from the sewers to the outside of the police station with limited ammo and healing items and a whole lot of enemies, exactly like the original RE2. Also just like the original RE2, if you complete 4th Survivor you unlock “Tofu Survivor”, the same as HUNK but you play as a large block of Tofu with a knife. New to Remake is unlocking different Tofus to play as… which is a really weird sentence…
Graphics and Sound:
Leon in the sewers with giant crocodile… that was a Beatles song, wasn’t it?
The graphics are great, as you’d imagine for a game released in 2019, but the dynamic lighting really adds to the mood. The zombies and gore have been ramped up as well, shooting a zombie in the head causes real damage that stays even as it keeps rising up. The models are detailed, the rain and wet hair/cloths effects are top notch, and generally the game looks great.
The sound is where the game should get all the credit. The atmosphere is creepy, the ambient noises not only keep you on your toes but they’re directional, which really works well, and I’m only using a basic soundbar / subwoofer combo, I can only imagine what it’s like with a surround sound set up (or a pair of headphones!) and generally the background music and everything keeps things tight and tense. Mr. X, the trenchcoated Tyrant, stalks you with audible “thud-thud-thud” footsteps getting louder and louder, eventually seeing him burst through the door and his background theme threateningly begins to play… That’s a proper highlight of the game, and makes me look forward to a potential RE3 remake…
Voice acting is good too, though not stellar. Leon is a bit dry and really bad at sounding cool, which does make him match his RE4 self well, if nothing else! Credit has to go to Chief of Police Brian Irons, who is a properly detestable bastard in the Remake, and he was already a clearly crazy and unlikable character.
Why wouldn’t you wear a red dress to an apocalypse? (I’m aware that when you don’t select classic costumes she wears a trench coat, but still… Had to be said)
May as well just copy the first paragraph of my original Resi 2 review…
After fellow police officers at Raccoon City failed to believe the surviving S.T.A.R.S. members accounts of zombies and monsters after the Spencer Mansion incident, a second T-Virus outbreak strikes, this time at the heart of the city itself. Umbrella researcher William Birkin is nearly killed by agents from Umbrella themselves who wanted his new virus, which he soon injects himself with, turning into an unstoppable beast. During this chaos, Claire Redfield, sister of Chris, turns up in the city to find her brother, only to find the walking dead, and a new rookie police officer named Leon. The two end up at the police station and go through hell, from mutants and other human survivors, until their big escape with Birkin’s daughter Sherry in tow.
That’s all still true, though as previously mentioned there’s no A/B scenarios any more, so I can’t really talk about which path is the accepted canon in this review…
I was going to make a joke about HUNK shooting a zombie in the nads, but now I’ve spotted the milk carton in the bottom right… “Raccoon Milk”? Sounds horrible!
Oddly, there is some DLC for Resident Evil 2 Remake, but its… free?! Yes, three “What If?” scenarios were released on Friday 15th February, focusing on the Mayor’s daughter, Robert Kendo the Gunshop owner, and a non-Hunk Umbrella soldier named Ghost, respectively. They haven’t been released as of this writing, but apparently they’ll work similar to how HUNK’s “4th Survivor” mode does, in that you have to make it to a certain location from a starting point with limited supplies. To be honest, even if this isn’t very good, it’s free, so… hard to complain!
Final Thoughts (Now):
Ah, there’s the traditional self-destruction countdown!
The Resident Evil 2 Remake was an extremely fun experience. My first playthrough as Claire was slow and tense as I made my way through the Police Station, Sewers and Lab, figuring out the puzzles and the new enemy patterns. My second and third playthroughs as Leon in his first and “2nd Run” modes were a more relaxing and fun experience, even if I was a bit cheesed off doing Leon’s story twice in a row instead of something different… Still, Resident Evil 2 keeps up the high standard from the original Resi Remake, and is generally one of the best Resident Evil games released. Highly recommended.