Game remakes are hot in the streets right now and Capcom isn’t sitting on their laurels. After the success of Resident Evil 7, which was a triumphant return to the series survival horror roots, Resident Evil 2 has a received a shiny new coat of paint. This remake goes deeper than just aesthetics though, as the gameplay has been modernized as well with some sorely needed quality-of-life enhancements and tweaks.
The main story remains the same, Leon Kennedy is reporting for his first day of duty as a Raccoon City police officer, but when he stops for gas at a station just outside of town he discovers that something is very wrong with the local populace (Itchy. Tasty). He happens to bump into a young woman named Claire Redfield who is looking for her brother Chris Redfield (who is a character in the first game). Due to uncontrollable circumstances involving a trucker who has been bitten by a zombie and a fiery car wreck, Leon and Claire get separated in Raccoon City. The game then splits into two paths at this point. Leon and Claire have two separate narratives, but they are happening simultaneously. The player cannot get the entire story unless they play both scenarios.
All of the updated graphics are absolutely gorgeous with highly detailed character models and excellent use of lighting effects. The pre-rendered backgrounds from the original game are gone and everything has been redone from the ground up. Players who are familiar with the PS1 game won’t have as much trouble finding their way around as the layout of the police station is similar, but there is enough changed that it will feel fresh and new. Expect to do a lot of backtracking and puzzle solving.
This iteration’s biggest change is the control scheme which has been upgraded from the stiff and slow tank controls to an easier to maneuver third-person shooter style. It feels a lot like Resident Evil 4 but with less emphasis on quick decision-making. You can move while you shoot, but standing still makes it much easier to aim. Some might worry that easier controls will take away from the difficulty, but I am here to say that this game is damn hard. You will die. Often. Ammo is scarce, especially in Leon’s scenario, and the zombies and monsters take a ton of bullets to put down. More often than not, you will find yourself frantically running through hallways dodging zombies trying to save your last two bullets for when you really need them. It makes the game feel incredibly tense and occasionally frustrating.
Resident Evil has always had fantastic music and the redone OST is great. It does feel a lot more atmospheric and ambient than the original, but there is a DLC for less than two bucks that lets you play with the old-school music if you want (yes, I think that should have been an option included with the game but nostalgia took over and I had to get it). The voice acting is okay, compared to the PS1 game it’s a masterpiece, but it feels kind of flat and awkward in places. The facial animations could have been a bit better too, but it’s not egregiously terrible. Overall, this is how a remake should be done, as it keeps all the aspects that made the original game so beloved and iconic and modernizes elements to make it accessible to gamers new and old to the franchise. 4/5 Bibles.