The truth is, I never played the original Resident Evil 2 much. I tried, but horror games have always been pretty crazy for me to play. I can sit and watch horror movies all day probably and walk through a “haunted” hospital in the dead of night but playing horror games makes me really nervous. The original game releases way back in 1998 when I was just eight years old and even then, being underage I still gave it a bash.
With that being said, in a way, not having a playthrough of the original game under my belt made this remake much more enjoyable. It was a complete rollercoaster of horror from start to finish and again as I tackled the 2nd run. If Resident Evil 2 taught me anything it is that when you see a giant man walking towards you in a black cloak, you run for your damn life and I did but with a huge grin on my face.
Resident Evil 2 is a complete remake of the 1998 classic. It takes place in a police station and other locations around it in Raccoon City and follows the story of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they explore, survive and try to save the world from an unknown virus that has broken out in the city.
The police station was turned into a safe haven but that did not last long as the virus made its way into the building and everyone is or will be a zombie at some point or another in the game. Resident Evil 2 has two playable campaigns and they are quite similar to a certain extent. I decided to play Leon’s story first which took the longest as I was new to the game, mechanics, horror and story so the 6-hour playthrough gave me enough time to soak it all up.
Once completed, you get to decide between doing a full playthrough of Claire’s story or a “2nd run” which is sort of like a shorter and summarized version of her campaign. Whatever you choose, the 2nd playthrough will take you a lot less time as you know where everything is where everything goes. There are some differences here and there between the two such as certain keys being exclusive to specific characters and an entire hour of a side-story where you get to play as a different character depending on the campaign you are playing.
Resident Evil 2 is a masterpiece in game design and there is no doubt a lot of attention to detail to make sure it surpassed everything Capcom had ever done. This is the best Resident Evil game in the series in my books and every moment was filled with chilling loud footsteps of Mr X roaming the station and me hiding in the corners crying while pointing my shotgun at the door waiting for him to come in or the satisfying gun combat as you tried to take the zombies down with as little bullets as possible.
The game is a survival horror which means you need to survive. Bullets are scarce, healing objects are hard to find and balancing this all while making the decision who to kill and when is the key to a successful playthrough. Halfway through my first playthrough, I was in a pickle. No ammo, no healing and no nothing and I was stuck in the clock tower with Mr X outside and zombies waiting to eat my throat. I made the decision to lower my difficulty from Standard to Assisted which seemed to be the only way out of this. On Standard, you get less ammo when you find it and your health does not refill. On Assisted your health slowly regenerates and you pick up more ammo when you find it.
This decision then let me take a hit or two from a zombie and while running away my health went back to “caution” so I could take another hit. Sure, it made things a bit easier but it let me prepare for playing the 2nd run on the standard setting.
The iconic inventory system is back with a vengeance in Resident Evil 2 and it is as relentless as ever. In my first playthrough, it was a bit easier to manage everything as I took things much slower, opened all the doors and used every item. In my second playthrough, however, Claire has a lot more weapons and I did not explore and open everything as I should. This meant I had things in my inventory I should not have had any items that should have been discarded but I never explore the area. I really felt the impact of the inventory system here as most of the time I had no room to put new items in it or even key items.
But the experience is as Resident Evil as it gets and every moment you feel like you are just surviving with what you have and every bullet and item is vital. I sometimes shot by mistake when zooming to see things closer and I raged that I wasted one measly bullet. The first boss fight also had me on the edge of death with no ammo or healing but the last, yes the last frag grenade in my inventory killed him. I don’t know if it was pure luck or what but that is why I loved the intense moments the game throws at you. You never know what to expect and how you are going to deal with them but you manage in the best way possible.
Resident Evil 2 also feels great. Visually it is simply gorgeous being one of the best looking horror games around. Every detail has been superbly polished and every intestine on the floor and ever zombie looks horrific. The ugly beauty is seen across everything in the game and I could not wait to unlock the models in the collection just to go and look at every enemy and boss up close and personal.
In terms of performance, the PS4 Pro was stunning too. It manages to keep it at a solid 60FPS at 2880×1620 and the visual presentation is remarkable. This then feeds into every aspect of the game and makes shooting and running away smooth and satisfying. There was magic behind shooting a zombie in the head three times and watching his head explode or tossing a grenade at a Licker and watching it burn. The combat is really one of the game’s best features and every gun and confrontation felt great.
Resident Evil 2 takes a good 15-hours to complete. You can play Leon’s or Claire’s story first and the way it all crosses over is pretty impressive. The story ultimately has the same ending but different fights and encounters depending on who you are playing with. While simple, Resident Evil 2’s plot is most likely the pinnacle of the series without it getting too convoluted. We know what a mess the story is these days especially after Resident Evil 6 and this experience was a refreshing outlook on Umbrella and Raccoon City.
Capcom really hit the ball out of the park here with Resident Evil 2. It does so much right that its flaws are hard to find. To reimagine the world and characters with such beauty and charm is truly an accomplishment in game design. From the moment I launched the game right to seeing the true ending, it was a joyride of gore, horror and intense survival gameplay and I would not have ever expected it.
This review was based on a review copy sent to us by Capcom
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 25 January 2019 | Price: R825