Resident Evil 2 Review – Take Me Down To Raccoon City

Resident Evil 2 Classic Costumes
Resident Evil 2 Remake

R esident Evil 2 is a home run the series has long needed. It checks all the right boxes when it brings one of the series most iconic entries into the 21st century. With everything remade from the ground up, is a well-rounded package for new players and players looking to reminisce. The game will be available on the 25th of January, 2019, for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Read our review on why you need this game in your library if you are a horror game savant.

Resident Evil 2 Review

Resident Evil 2 Remake joins Capcom’s remake library right next to Resident Evil 1. The PS1 game was praised at the time, but by modern standards, has aged horribly. With the PS1 version being known for dull voice acting, tank controls, fixed camera angles and other barriers that impede our ability to enjoy an iconic entry in the series.

Resident Evil 2 Remake is a beautiful game from beginning to end. Whether you choose to play as Leon S. Kennedy or Claire Redfield, you notice a game that knows its roots and improves upon them. Before you place assumptions on the game and think that the game is any easier with modern controls for movement, over the shoulder camera for shooting, and other changes over the original.

I can assure you, the game is just as unforgiving as the original.

The game offers your standard difficulty options ranging from Standard (Normal) to Hardcore. Hardcore is for true fans of the series who want the original experience as much as possible. The difficulty options are listed below:

  • Assisted
  • Aim Assist
  • Regain health over time automatically
  • Enemies are weaker
  • Standard (Normal)
  • Hardcore
  • Saving needs Ink Ribbon
  • No Autosave
  • Stronger Enemies

You can see that Hardcore mode is made for people who want the original experience in terms of difficulty, so true veterans of the series won’t have to worry about a challenge.

Same Old Story, Brand New Presentation 

The game is set in 1998, as it is a remake of the original game. All of the events of the game are mirrored to their original source material with a brand-new coat of paint, superb voice acting and plenty of bells and whistles to deliver a neatly packaged game.

Resident Evil 2 Review

Leon S. Kennedy is the latest cadet accepted into the Raccoon City Police Department, but his first day on the job takes a turn for the worst when he finds out the entire city is now one giant zombie infested nest. As Leon, you will uncover who is responsible for the zombie outbreak and why.

Claire Redfield is the second character you can play as. She is a motorcycle enthusiast and is also in Raccoon City looking for her brother Chris. Her journey leads her to find the cause for the outbreak and putting a stop to it.

Using the RE Engine is a stroke of genius!

There are a host of enemies that range in variety and difficulty with the most daunting of them being Mr. X. Whether you’re playing as Leon or Claire, the Tyrant’s menacing footsteps will make your heart beat faster as you hear the steps getting closer to you. Unlike the lickers and zombies, he is a presence that you can’t get rid of. Throughout the opening levels, he can come upon you at any time and depending on your difficulty, will ruin your day.

Much like the original entries in the series, the game lets you choose your starting character, with the option for Scenario A / B like the original.

Resident Evil 2 Review

I played as Leon for my Scenario A and Claire as my Scenario B. Whoever you play as the first time will shape the series of events for the character you didn’t play as. If you want the complete story, you will need to play the game twice, but if you go for the second run as both characters, there is more content for you to uncover. Ideally, you will play through the game 4 times, twice as each character.

I really don’t want to give away much of the story as it is worth exploring every room, closet and hallway of this magnificent game as you discover more through cutscenes, picking up files on the desk and other points of interest.

Everything old is new again – Gameplay reimagined! 

This is where the game truly shines. Say goodbye to terrible voice acting, tank controls, opening the inventory to combine ammo with a weapon, and other outdated gaming experiences. Resident Evil 2 delivers superb movement controls for both characters, a fluid over the shoulder camera that never fails and more. You are rewarded for exploration, perseverance, and thinking of new ways to fight.

Resident Evil 2 Review

I should mention now that if you go in expecting a 1:1 replica of the original game through and through, you won’t find anything of the sort. The game has taken some liberties with changing certain elements, stage layouts, and other parts of the original game.

Resident Evil 2 Review

I personally found this to be a great way to encourage exploring the game and encourage new players as well as returning players to actively see what was kept and what replaced it.

Resident Evil 2 Review

While the remake gets rid of what made the original tedious, some iconic objects do remain; the item box and typewriter retain their intended purposes dutifully.

The boss fights in the game are definitely very challenging, even on Normal. I was particularly stuck on one boss because I had my health on Danger, barely any ammo and my last save was an hour old.

Try and try again until you bleed.

Despite the odds, I managed to defeat it after learning the pattern and properly using the items in my inventory at the right time. I never felt the game was punishing or unfair, you just need to be on your feet and alert.

This is where you will be glad to know that the game has an auto-save/checkpoint feature for Assisted and Standard Difficulty, so even if you do die at a boss battle, you will just start at the beginning of the said battle, and not at your last save point. To keep this balanced, you will still have your inventory and health at the start of a battle, so you need to be on your toes.

Resident Evil 2 Review

Hardcore mode remedies this by removing the comfort and sending you back to your last save if you are looking for a good challenge and want to show off your brass.

There is no post-game content here, unfortunately. All of the content is related to the campaign including the 4th survivor and a secret mode that was present in the original game. If you are expecting a mercenaries mode or similar, you won’t find it here. Your only recourse for entertainment is getting the platinum trophy or all achievements for the game

Horror, Gore, and Guts Galore! – These Graphics Have it All!

The game is an absolute beauty. Whether you’re playing this on the console or the PC, it will perform exceptionally well. Even in the most rigorous of fights, explosions and numerous enemies on the screen, the frames and performance held up like a rock.

Resident Evil 2 Review

The remake is built and is running on the RE Engine. The engine made its debut with 2017’s Resident Evil 7. Capcom made a wise decision to use the RE Engine as it would make porting games on future consoles easier as opposed to the MT Framework used by previous entries in the series. The newer engine allows for some superb graphics, animations and fits modern gaming standards, enhances user experience and interface in a beautiful package that far exceeds the limited capabilities of the older engine.

A remarkable achievement in graphics!

Resident Evil 2 Review

It is a given that the PC version will be better in visuals and performance as there are a plethora of options at your disposal, but the differences will be barely visible no matter what you play the game on.

What goes bump in the hallway might be your death! 

The game has some superb ambient music that really helps immerse you in the game. It rapidly changes tones to give you a hint of zombies nearby. Mr. X’s menacing footsteps steadily approaching you, and when there is a tense fight going on, the music will change completely and keep your heart racing.

Another neat touch I like about the sound design is how when you are aiming weapons with Leon and Claire, they will express a feeling toward the zombie. Leon will say a line like “what the f***” and Claire will also say something like “Go to hell” to an enemy you have your gun aimed at.

Resident Evil 2 Review

As I enter the series playing the newer games, when both protagonists are desensitized to the zombie threat, the way they react to zombies for the first time is a good change and helps in character development to really sell the game.

Be still those menacing footsteps.

The sound design does a good job of making you feel a presence, even when there might not be one. You will always be on alert and on the lookout.

The game lets you choose between the remake and classic audio in the game if you’re feeling nostalgic. You can experience the classic soundtrack too and feel right at home.

The ride’s only just begun! Getting your story mileage

Resident Evil 2 does a great job of making you feel the passage of time. I felt like I had sunk hours into the police station, but at the save I only have a half hour clocked in. You might feel like you reached halfway through the game but you’ve barely scratched the surface. The sense of time in this game is well handled and you can never actually know how much time has actually passed versus time spent in the game.

Resident Evil 2 Review

Each character playthrough is only 5 hours each. But if you do each player’s second run, and the hidden modes in the games which include the 4th survivor, you are looking at a relatively solid 30+ hours of value, add in going for the platinum trophy / all achievements in the game (which are relatively easy btw) and you have a superb game that will easily last you 30 hours if you go for completing the game, in and out.

Resident Evil 2 Review

Admittedly, a 5-hour campaign for a $60 game in 2019 can be seen as something that can be highly criticized but considering Capcom’s intentions was bringing the original experience back to players for a 21-year-old game, it’s actually good that Capcom didn’t take any measures to unnecessarily prolong the campaign.

Resident Evil 2 Review

If you are looking for a mercenary mode or any similar mode for post-game content, there isn’t any sadly. You will only have the campaigns to keep you entertained, but there is enough there to keep you coming back for more.

Was it all worth it? Absolutely! 

I came to this game with vague memories of Resident Evil 2 as I played that game almost a lifetime ago. As such, I approached the game as a newcomer to the series. When I let the game be my guide as opposed to going like an RE2 veteran, it was a thoroughly memorable experience.

Resident Evil 2 Review

It has been a while since a Resident Evil game made me feel this level of dread and panic, the last time my nerves were jostled was with the help of Outlast 2.

A great horror game to start off 2019

Whether you’re going in as a returning player or first time player to the game, you’re in for a good time. If you’re looking for a game that won’t shower you in ammo and resources or make the combat easy for you. QTE’s won’t save you from enemy attacks or dodge them.

I kept my expectations at bay with this game after Resident Evil 7, and I have to say that this is definitely a great way to ring in the start of 2019 for Capcom.

Note: The PS4 version of the game was reviewed and code was generously provided by Capcom.