15th Feb2019

‘Resident Evil 2′ [Remake] Review (PS4)

by Xenia Grounds

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The Resident Evil series has an interesting history. It’s arguably the game that defined the survival horror genre but the previous decade for the series has had a few hit-or-miss entries. However, Resident Evil 7 took things back to their roots and ended up being the best game in the series in years. This remake of a classic horror has continued the momentum that Resident Evil 7 ended with.

Resident Evil 2 gives you two characters to play as: Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop who probably has the most horrifying first day in the history of gaming. Claire Redfield who is looking for her brother, Chris, and gets more than she bargained for. They both meet on their way to Raccoon City and quickly realise going there was a bad decision as a viral infection has basically turned most of the city’s populace into zombies and now, they must fight to survive and escape.

I didn’t play the original Resident Evil 2 because I was a toddler when it came out so I can’t say how faithful this remake in some regards but from what I have heard, it’s close enough while updating it for 2019 standards. You get four playthroughs in this installation. To break it down, you have Leon A, Leon B, Claire A and Claire B. If you play as Leon first, it’s Leon A and then you get Claire B or vice versa. At the time of this review, I’ve only played Leon A but from footage I’ve seen of B campaigns, they don’t feel that interconnected with the A campaigns. They have their unique aspects but for the most part, they play out in very similar ways.

This is Resident Evil at its most horrifying. This is the horror series I love and the one that terrifies me the most and like many fans, I think it is baffling Capcom ever moved away from this. Resident Evil 2 remake will test your survival skills in ways that Resident Evil 7 did but it finds ways to make it even more of a challenging nightmare to get through. Ammo is incredibly limited. You can get pouches which increase your inventory space but it’s not too generous either. Some guns can take up more than one slot of space. Since you must carry guns, ammunition, healing items and certain key items for obvious reasons, you may have a few occasions where you’ll have to discard things in a tight spot and once you discard something, it is gone for good. The game isn’t completely unfair. You’ll see a red tick under a key which will tell you that you can get rid of it, so you don’t accidentally end up making the game impossible to get through. Also, it’ll mark items you find in a room so if you can’t pick it up the first time, you’ll know where to come back for it later.

Defensive weapons also return in this game. It’s mostly combat knives and grenades which will get you out in a tight spot. Flash grenades will blind enemies and you can use a combat knife off a zombie trying to bite you. Although, combat knives will break after using them enough times and to get them back, you will have to kill the zombie you impaled with it. Like ammo, there aren’t many defensive items, so you’ll have to rely on your judgement about when they are worth using.

Zombies don’t go down after one headshot, so they feel like a genuine threat to you. They take around four or five hits and that’s only to put them down. This game has a terrible habit of making you think you’ve killed them only for zombies to come back up at the most inconvenient time for maximum scare. Zombies can do a lot of damage. One bite from them will probably be enough to put you into caution. They can overpower and kill you with ease if there’s more than one in a room with you. Choose which zombies you need gone for good very wisely and find a way to run around others if you can.

You spend a lot of time backtracking through areas which but going through areas is never the same experience twice. There is barely any power in the police station which is where you spend much of your time. Corridors are incredibly dark, and you only have a flashlight as your light source which means enemies can easily get the drop on you because you’re basically running blind. Zombies are also pounding on windows outside and if you don’t board those up, expect them to eventually break in at a time you really don’t want them to later. As time goes on, more enemies like lickers and Mr. X are also introduced which only increase the risks that come with backtracking through areas.

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Speaking of Mr. X, this monster is the most horrifying thing I’ve had to deal with in this series since Regenerators. In the original, he was only featured in the B campaign, I think, but in this remake, he is in all of them. Mr. X will chase you throughout the police station when he enters the picture, he is relentless in pursuit and his AI doesn’t have a predictable pattern of patrol. You could waste ammo which will keep him down for a minute or two or you could run. I recommend the latter but losing him can be difficult. Once he’s around, if he hears you shoot something or if you run around then he can hear you and will come after you. It gives you a horrifying dilemma between making yourself vulnerable for him or for lickers in the dark hallways. Another terrifying little touch is you can hide yourself from Mr. X in safe rooms, but you’ll hear his booming footsteps if he’s close, so you’ll feel like he’s always around and it makes the threat feel very real. There was a solid 30 minutes in my playthrough when I left a safe room only to get quickly chased back into it because he would descend on me that fast. Luckily, he didn’t interfere during the times when I was solving puzzles in my playthrough but it’s not hard to imagine how annoying it would be to go through multiple corridors to lose him and backtrack back to where you’re meant to go. Naturally, if you want an easier time then knowing the layout of the area will be incredibly beneficial so you aren’t running around in a panic and ending up in a worse situation.

The controls for Resident Evil 2 are very similar to Resident Evil 7 once again proving tank controls are a thing of the past for this series which means no more awkward moments of trying to move in the right direction and failing. No more fixed camera angles either so you’ll see what’s in front of you but as mentioned above, you won’t necessarily be seeing around you. You have the over the shoulder view like in Resident Evil 4 which is more welcome in this age.

One of the biggest issues I had with Resident Evil 7 was that the puzzles were easy to solve outside of one but that was because I had to do it on a time limit for an achievement. In this game, the puzzles are a little harder to solve but you have a journal which will give you hints of how to solve them like in Uncharted so give that a glance if you’re stuck. You’ll never be unclear about your objectives or what to do as when you bring up the map, your objectives will come up automatically as well.

There aren’t many boss fights in the remake. However, the redesign of boss fight areas makes them more of a challenge. In older entries, spaces were wide enough, the awkward framerate and not always stellar AI meant dodging them wasn’t exactly too hard. In the remake, things have been upgraded and changed. You’re in narrower spaces so when bosses try to hit you, they probably will. The method to beat them stays the same which is just hit the weak spot enough times or use the environment to your advantage and you should be fine.

The Resident Evil 2 remake proves why this game got so much love twenty years ago. It’ll be heavily nostalgic for veterans of the series but updates it for a generation that may not have had the chance to play it yet. It’s a shame the two scenarios aren’t more interconnected but that’s the only real flaw to this iteration. This is a game that I recommend highly for survival horror enthusiasts and one which will have the chills running up your spine in the best possible way.

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