As a person who frequents survival horror, I always have the instinct to go for the head. Three shots to the brain should put the zombie down for good. But as I fire bullet after bullet, I realize that the zombies in Resident Evil 2 were in a completely different level. Five clean shots to the head were enough to make it fall but not go down for good. To kill them I needed to break the skull completely. And I learned that was not an easy thing to do.
And thus, I realize after my first thirty minutes into the game not killing a single zombie that I had just wasted a good amount my ammunition.
Resident Evil 2 does survival horror right.
From the tense atmosphere to the dreadful sounds, players will begin to feel fear and paranoia each step they take in dark hallways. Blood on the walls and barricaded corridors tell a tale of what happened to the poor souls there. Every step you take is tense. Every ammo is precious. And you have to fight for every advantage you can get.
If there’s one thing that’s great about this remake, it’s that not only does it do the original Resident Evil 2 justice but it also makes its own mark as a game to remember and not just a homage to the original. There are familiar scenes to the 1998 game that older fans will appreciate yet there are also new ones that will keep everyone on their toes.
There are a few changes from the original however aside from just the appearances. Support characters such as Marvin are expanded more and Ada Wong’s story has largely been revised to fit her character. Even Leon’s reason for being a week late to the outbreak was changed. All these changes aren’t invasive to the original but are still noticeable and welcome.
You’ll notice that Resident Evil 2 no longer uses fixed camera angles and tank controls nor does it use the first person perspective of Resident Evil 7. Instead, it follows a more over-the-shoulder approach that Resident Evil 4 introduced to the gaming industry. It makes aiming and real-time decisions a lot easier. Movement is very fluid and realistic. I rather like the way both characters hold their shotguns/grenade launchers when they’re holding a flashlight or are injured. The over-the-shoulder mechanic makes it easy to shoot and run on a whole.
Yet the game is still incredibly tough. While it is never unfair, one wrong decision can render a game over. On a tight hallway, I decided to make a break for it instead of properly taking care of present threats. This lead to Claire getting killed as they eventually piled up on the only exit when I went back to the same area. Regardless of what area you’re in, you always need to proceed with care.
One thing that you need to know about the game is what’s dead doesn’t stay dead. You can unload ten bullets into a zombie’s head and that still wouldn’t be enough to kill it. I can really see how this city fell to them. These bastards are tough. Even ones that I thought I already killed came back after a few minutes. Unless you’re willing to waste precious ammo to keep the undead down permanently, then running is your best option…most of the time.
This remake of Resident Evil 2 has a heavy emphasis on flight-or-fight. During the earlier segments, you’ll be very much tempted to run away. When the undead blocks your path, a shot to the head will stagger them enough for you to slip past. Only a powerful weapon like the shotgun to the head can truly put them down.
Getting ganged up on by zombies is a very bad scenario. They can pile up on you if one manages to grab you and another one nearby can also do the same. So you will more often than not make sure that you’re not surrounded.
Hardcore mode increases the tension to a T. Both protagonist can be killed easily. A single bite can render the full health down to dangerous. Zombies will also no longer stagger with a single headshot for your pistol. You have to hit them clean on the head with three.
Unlike other games of the same genre, there’s no real incentive to even fighting. Unless you’re objective is to clear an area for later you’re not really going to pick up extra ammunition from zombies or any other items. Though take note, that you do eventually have to backtrack on certain areas. Enemies will remain if they aren’t put down for good so you do have to risk wasting ammo to kill a few.
Resident Evil 2 features two playable protagonists. Leon Kennedy, a rookie police officer on the first day, and Claire Redfield, a college student looking for her brother. You can choose which protagonist to start with and both campaigns will play out differently.
Though the paths they take are largely similar, the both of them do have their own arcs. And they will begin to separate somewhere in the middle. As to where Leon meets up with Ada, Claire meets up with Sherry. On their first scenario, they typically solve the same puzzles and mostly face against the same type of enemies. Though there will be differences. Without spoiling anything, Leon encounters zombie dogs in the kennel as to where Claire encounters lickers. Likewise, Leon faces a different final boss from Claire’s.
Both of protagonists will also find different weapons on their paths. Leon can find a shotgun in where Claire can find a grenade launcher in its place. This helps differentiate the two paths from each other and keeps it from being overall repetitive.
Both campaigns are largely around 8 hours each. In my experience, I played Leon’s first clocking a near 9 hour run as to where Claire’s was only around 6 hours. This may be because I’ve already experienced solving puzzles and adapting to the harsh conditions that the run was much shorter. So I knew most of what I needed to do.
But it isn’t over yet. If you finish one campaign for one of the protagonists, you unlock Scenario B for the other character. Scenario B is vastly different from Scenario A. And it extends playtime for another couple of hours.
This is one of the best features of Resident Evil 2. It has a lot of replay value. Although the majority of the game will have you running around the police station backtracking in some areas, other locations will begin to open up once you progress.
Exploration is can yield many benefits. From finding more items to use to finding something more useful like a weapon upgrade. There are many dangerous areas that can discourage you from going through but it’s very rewarding for those who have the courage.
It’s also great that the game goes as far to tell you if you’ve gotten all the items you need for a specific area. If your map is color red, it means that there are still items there that you haven’t gotten. It will turn blue once you’ve taken everything. It’s quite useful when you’re looking for key items to solve puzzles. Though, as I’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to take notes into account. Only map parts and items.
I initially had a very good impression of the game and it stuck. From the way both protagonists would hold the flashlight between their head and shoulder when they reload to how bodies of already disposed enemies would stick regardless of how far you are into the game.
Everything in this game feels fluid. It’s clear Capcom took some time to polish it. Movement always feels natural. The way a zombie would bump into you if you manage to kill it while it attacks you. Leon/Claire pushes it off them. The way both protagonists would panic or yell if the player makes them miss a shot or if the zombie doesn’t stay down even after a clean hit. It makes both of them feel alive. In the original, they barely made a peep regardless of the scenario. Both of them have different reactions depending on what type of enemy they’re facing.
There are plenty of other enemies here besides your typical zombies. Aside from the one up above, one that stood out in particular for being a pain in the ass, was the licker. A blind grotesque creature that can climb up walls and is seriously fast. These monsters can take quite the punishment to put down. Other than them, there are other abominations as well that you’ll encounter.
Another enemy that really stood out to me was Mr. X. And I think anyone who played this game will as well. This giant behemoth will follow you around anywhere. Bullets will only ever slow him down but nothing will stop him for good. You’ll be forced to run away every time he gets nearby. The sounds of his footsteps can instill paranoia in anyone and make them guess on how close he is or whether he’s just around the corner. He is a serious nuisance to when either protagonist is solving puzzles or simply trying to get around. Though it does seem that there are some rooms that he cannot enter such as save rooms (other than the main hall).
It’s very difficult for me to find what I hate about this game without nitpicking. But there are a few worth mentioning. Such as even in some dark areas, Claire and Leon don’t really bring out their flashlights. It isn’t too big a deal since there’s usually a light source. But I do wish that they would pull it out more frequently.
One other thing that I have to mention isn’t really a gripe with the game. Some unlockables such as extra costumes, original music, and the black-and-white noir filter are only accessible through the Deluxe Edition or through paying online. While the game already has enough content as it is, it does bum me out to have to pay for more for something that doesn’t really extend the game much other than aesthetics.
There are other game modes, however. Once you fulfill certain requirements, you unlock additional modes. The 4th Survivor and the really weird and out of place Tofu Survivor which tells a different tale separate from the main campaign. If that wasn’t enough, it also seems that Capcom will be releasing free DLCs this February 15th featuring three other playable characters throughout the events of Raccoon City.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake has a ton about it to love. This was a classic for its time and a classic even today. Everything about this game was clearly made with love by the developers. It is definitely a true survival horror experience.
With a great campaign, extra modes, and other unlockables Resident Evil 2 is without a doubt a must own.
Disclosure: This review is based on a review code provided by Capcom. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.