Resident Evil 2 Remake – A Glorious Return to Survival Horror

The original Resident Evil 2 on the PlayStation was always one of the scariest games that I remember from my childhood. Atmospherically, the game had a very dark tone to it. There was something chilling about the characters, the enemies, and the overall setting of the game. There was always this tense feeling like something was always going to pop out at you at any given moment. Looking back on the older Resident Evil games, the only two that I had ever seen as true horror were Code Veronica and Resident Evil 2. I had always felt that the other Resident Evil games came off with a very campy feel. There was light humor going on in reaction to certain things that would happen. Take all of the one liners from the original PlayStation release of the first Resident Evil for example. They basically made the games feel like black comedy B-movies. I never thought there was anything wrong with that, there was a certain charm to hearing the characters spouting complete nonsense, but I never really looked at the games as being all that creepy. Sure, zombies seemed a lot scarier back then, but the underlying comedy-tone in the games lightened up the overall mood in something like the first Resident Evil game. Resident Evil 2 on the other hand didn’t mess around, it essentially took horror to the next level.

Moving forward to the release of the Resident Evil 2 remake – I have to say that this is one of the scariest games that I’ve ever played. There are so many tense moments in the game that can, at times, feel overwhelming. The game is very dark, and I don’t mean that towards its brightness. There is a very gritty tone to all of the blood and environmental detailing in the game. The tight corridors in the Raccoon Police Department provide such a tense feeling that calls back to the days of the original version of Resident Evil 2. You constantly have this feeling that something is going to grab you at any moment, and that is a feeling that I don’t think we’ve had in this series since Code Veronica.  The Resident Evil 2 remake nails down pretty much everything in the horror category. And that is something I think that we can all appreciate.

Claire Redfield

The story of the game follows either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield, both of which are heading to Raccoon City of their own agendas. After heading into Raccoon City, and making their ways to the Raccoon Police Department, they uncover a conspiracy tying high-ranking members of the Raccoon City Police Department with the pharmaceutical company Umbrella. The game promotes multiple playthroughs, so don’t expect to be able to see the entirety of the story until playing through both the main and second scenarios. And certain parts of the game may open up depending on which playthrough you are on. Additionally, completing both the A and B scenarios will unlock “The 4th Survivor”.  This extra content has you playing as an Umbrella Operative named Hunk, and tasks you with making your way to an extraction point.

One of the many items needed to solve a puzzle

As with many of the other Resident Evil games, the main basis of these games is surviving a viral outbreak. You’ll make use of inventory management and scarce resources while progressing through the game. The game mainly consists of searching for items to access new areas and solving puzzles (which may at times require the examination or combining of certain items), all while battling hordes of zombies and other mutated creatures. This all comes with an extra caveat, as eventually after progressing to a certain point in the game you are chased around by the hulking Tyrant Mr. X. This relentless monstrosity will make it his life goal to absolutely terrorize you. It provides a different element, as searching around trying to solve things and go to new areas can be a bit troublesome when this guy just smashes right through a wall. It induces all sorts of panic, as this beast can just ragdoll you around until death.

Moving along and going into the combat in Resident Evil 2, it’s about what you would expect from a modern third-person shooter. Shoot the enemies, they die. Playing on normal mode gives you the standard manual aiming, and playing on the assisted difficulty gives you an auto-target. Both Leon and Claire get their own individual sets of guns. You can find the guns, and their respective upgrades, throughout the game. Some weapons may also use different types of ammunition. By pressing a button, you can swap these different ammo types on the fly. The main differences between ammunition types is usually the damage, with stronger ammunition being a lot scarcer than the usual ammo. Additionally, there are also sub-weapons. These weapons can be used normally, and also provide an element of defense. What I mean by this is that if you are grabbed by certain enemies, you can press a button and it will use your sub-weapon on them. It’s very similar to the defense items in the Resident Evil 1 remake, so, I would probably compare it to that. One thing that I did take issue with was the amount of sponging that seemed to occur. You could find yourself unloading an entire clip into a zombie’s head, only to have them just get right back up. It was something that I found frustrating, but I understand the reasoning behind it. The game might be a little too easy if you could just pop off a few shots into the head and be done with it. It’s just the case when you have to use 20 bullets on a zombie where it gets old. You can save ammo by knifing an enemy after knocking them to the ground, but even then the knife is limited. You can only use the knife a certain amount before the thing breaks. You can find another knife, but again, they are limited. I feel that the limited resources are used as a way to entice players to run passed enemies without fighting them. It’s a choice between risking taking a zombie bite or saving your ammunition. And in the end, it’s all up to the player.

Random corridor in the lab

In terms of graphics, the Resident Evil 2 remake is such a beautifully dark game. Everything from the character models to the overall environmental details are extremely well done. There is something incredibly eerie about going into one of the poorly lit corridors in the game. This all comes with the tense feeling that the zombies in the game give off. You might walk by a presumed to be dead corpse only to have it lunge at you. This creates a bit of a panic, as you may find yourself taking a second look at a dead body, and maybe even putting a bullet in its’ head just to make sure that it’s actually dead. I personally find this to be something that causes anxiety in the game. You have so much to worry about, the last thing you want is to have to waste a precious Green Herb because of a sneaky zombie. I wanted to mention that I did feel that I had one complaint due the lighting in the game. Surprisingly, there is a ton of attention to detail. Unfortunately, a lot of it is hard to miss because, at times, the game can be so pitch-black. Even adjusting the contrast in the game, it didn’t seem to help all that much. I’m sure that this was done to try to make the game scarier, however, I think that it detracted from certain elements. Unless you’re actually looking out for them -it’s easy to miss some of the games beautifully detailed effects. For example, popping off a critical headshot will cause an enemies head to explode causing blood and chunks to splatter all over. I didn’t even notice this until I was told about it, simply due to the game being extremely dark. It isn’t something that ruins the game or anything, it’s just worth noting that this game has an insane level of detailing that you can easily miss.

As for anything pertaining the sounds of the game, I would say that, at times, the game can come off as very haunting. There is something nerve-wracking hearing the sounds of a zombie beating against one of the many glass windows around the police station. It’s haunting. And I would say that this element of the game is one of the reasons why I believe that Capcom nailed this game down in terms of sheer horror. The light music that periodically played in certain situations was also a nice touch, but I think that at times it didn’t seem to be noticeable. Outside of that, I would say the voice acting is pretty good too. The performances are obviously far superior to the original Resident Evil 2; everyone is pretty believable. I don’t really that that anyone stood out in particular, but it was still entertaining nonetheless.

I didn’t really have any technical issues with the game, everything ran pretty fluent. I did find moving around to feel relatively awkward at first. I had to adjust the Field of View settings a bit, I found the camera be a little nauseating prior to that. It wasn’t anything terrible, it was just a mix between the camera wobble and the view that caused me to feel a little uneasy. I think some of this might be due to the engine. I remember back when I played Resident Evil 7, that game would give me horrible motion sickness. Since this is the same engine, I think that might partially attribute to some of the queasy feelings I had gotten. But again, adjusting the Field of View and turning off the Camera Wobble seemed to drastically help. I would say that the movement also took a bit of time for me to get used to. The game’s movement felt very loose. Adjusting the camera speed seemed to help alleviate this, so I figured that it would be worth mentioning.

Leon S Kennedy having a conversation

So with everything out of the way, it’s now time for me to discuss my final thoughts on the Resident Evil 2 remake. I personally liked the game a lot. I don’t know if I want to say that it’s better than the remake of first Resident Evil, but it’s still damn good nonetheless.  Really, the only complaint I have is that I feel the game doesn’t entirely stay true to the original formula, the remake kind of does its own things in some aspects. This sort of makes it feel like an entirely different game. For example, Mr. X doesn’t come out during the initial playthrough of Resident Evil 2 and is exclusive to the B scenario. In the Resident Evil 2 remake, he plays a much bigger role as he chases you around for quite a bit of the game. Now, something like this might not bother someone.  But I found it to get very old after playing the game multiple times. There was something about how it was thrown into the original Resident Evil 2 that made it more memorable. But in the remake, I just kind of found Mr. X to be annoying. Anyways, even with a minor complaint like that the game is still great. There is something about the game atmospherically that Capcom nailed down perfectly. I don’t think that I’ve felt this tense playing a video game in years, maybe even decades. Everything is detailed super well, and comes off as very believable. There are times when you feel like something could pop out at you at any given moment. I don’t think that all of them are jump scares, there are just times where the game can make you feel anxious. I would say that this falls under the world being crafted so well. It’s a level of immersion that I feel is unmatched. If I have anything to say about the Resident Evil 2 remake, it’s that Capcom has definitely reclaimed the survival horror throne. Everything about this game is incredible. It’s easily one of the best games that I’ve played this generation. And definitely is going to be one of the games that we look back on as one of the best of 2019.

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