Resident Evil 2 Remake Review

When the Resident Evil 2 Remake was first announced in 2015 many fans of the series were excited. With the success of the Resident Evil HD Remaster fans were hopeful for a remake of the popular 1998 game Resident Evil 2.

However excitement began to dwindle when there was no further word about the project until three years later when Capcom announced the Resident Evil 2 Remake along with a 20-30 minutes playable demo at E3 in 2018. Interest in the game sparked up again as fans anticipated the early 2019 release of the Resident Evil 2 Remake. But, did it live up to the expectations?

Gameplay

When making the Resident Evil 2 Remake Capcom were looking to take the game back to its roots. The roots that made Resident Evil into the beloved series it had become, all while giving players both new and old something new and exciting. Capcom managed to get the balance between old and new right with a few familiar game mechanics and enough new ones to keep players interested.

Movement and Combat

Movement

The tank controls that was the main method of movement in the original Resident Evil 2 was replaced by over the shoulder third person which had been prominent in later Resident Evil titles.

This meant that rather than there being a mostly static camera which only changed angles whenever players moved away from an area, the camera angles were much more dynamic and could be controlled by the player.

This allowed players to be able to see multiple views of their environment and be able to see things that they wouldn’t have seen if tank controls were used.

This change of movement controls was a wise move on Capcom’s part as even veteran fans of the series had stated that tank controls made movement and even combat difficult with players repeatedly running in the wrong direction or missing because they couldn’t aim properly.

By switching to the over the shoulder third person view it meant that not only did older players not have to spend as long reacquainting themselves to the movement controls but those who were new to the series could pick up the controls quickly and start playing. Characters could move faster and be more flexible making avoiding enemies easier so long as there weren’t too many in an area and that the area wasn’t too narrow.

Combat

Combat in the Resident Evil 2 Remake is the same as later Resident Evil titles. Players can aim and shoot at enemies with their currently equipped weapon. The amount of damage players can cause to enemies depends on the weapon, the type of enemy and where the enemy is hit.

For example a shotgun blast at point blank range can do more damage than a handgun. Boss enemies can take more damage and require more powerful weapons to take them down than standard enemies.

Headshots will cause more damage to an enemy than being shot in the arm. Players can switch between any weapons they have at any time by accessing their inventory and selecting the weapon they wish to equip.

Different weapons are more or less effective against different enemies and in certain situations. So it’s always best for players to mix and match in combat. Another interesting feature is the ability to use sub-weapons to help defeat the zombies and other monsters roaming around.

Items like combat knives, grenades and flash grenades can be found throughout the course of the game and equipped as sub-weapons. These sub-weapons can be used independently as another means of attacking.

Such as slashing at enemies with a combat knife or throwing a grenade or flash grenade to deal with multiple enemies at once or to temporarily stun them allowing the player to either attack or run depending on the situation.

Sub-weapons can also be used as a method of getting an attacking enemy off the players. There may be times when the player gets grabbed by a zombie which moves in to bite them. If the player has a sub-weapon equipped they can push the appropriate button when it appears and the player will enter an animation where their character will use their sub-weapon to attack the enemy and throw them off.

This is useful for characters to escape from an enemy before they lose health and can even save them from attacks that would otherwise be fatal.

Depending on the sub-weapon that’s used the player can then perform certain actions. If it was a grenade or flash grenade they can shoot it which would result in an explosion.

Or they could wait and the grenade or flash grenade would explode automatically. For the combat knife the player would have to kill the enemy to get their knife back. Unless the knife has broken at which point the knife is lost forever.

There’s always a chance that players won’t make it out of enemy attacks unscathed. This means that being on the look out for health items is important and it’s especially important for players to carry health items with them when possible so that they can heal when needed and survive just that bit longer.

Item Management

An important part of any game in the Resident Evil series is to be able to manage all inventory items. Resident Evil 2 Remake is no exception to this rule, inventory space is limited so being able to manage items within the inventory is key to being able to progress through the game quickly as well as being key to survival.

Players can increase the size of their inventory by collecting Hip Packs throughout the game, these increase the inventory slots by two.

While Hip Packs are useful the inventory space is still finite and while they can enable players to carry more items on them good inventory management is needed to get far in the game.

There are several types of items that players can find and collect throughout the game. These items are weapons, sub-weapons and the various ammunitions. Healing items such as herbs and first aid sprays and key items.

These items can be literal keys that can be used to unlock doors, or they can be items that are needed to complete puzzles and get passed obstacles so that the player can progress with the story.

It’s always advised to allocate inventory slots to at least two weapons, their corresponding ammunition and healing items. The rest of the inventory slots can be used for any key items that are needed at the time.

Usually key items can be found near or around the area where they are needed. However there are some that are found much sooner than they are needed and need to be carried around for a while before they can be used.

Some key items are single use and either stay where they are placed permanently or they are returned to the inventory space but are marked with a red tick. Some items such as keys can have more than one use and so it’s always best to carry those around so they are on hand for whenever they are needed.

Once these items have exceeded their usefulness they are marked by a red tick like some of the single use items. With these items it is best to discard them when the player has the chance to.

This means that they can get rid of the item(s) so they aren’t taking up space that could be used for something else.

For players that find it tough to manage their inventory or have reached the limit of their inventory there are the storage boxes. These boxes have been a staple for earlier Resident Evil games and have made their return here.

They can be found in any safe area usually near a typewriter (save point). Players can use these boxes to store items they don’t need at a particular time to clear some space in their inventory for more useful items.

Players can access these boxes any time they come across them and the boxes are universal. This means that players can put items into one box and then access another box somewhere else and still be able to access the items in the box and even withdraw them as necessary.

Ammo and Health Conservation and Ammo Crafting

Ammo and Health Conservation

Another form of item management is the conservation of ammunition and healing items. In order to give players a real feel for survival horror ammunition and healing items are scarce.

This means that in order for players to survive and get through the story they need to learn to conserve their ammunition and healing items. Only going for kills when necessary and only healing when health is dangerously low.

It is however very easy to forget this when you’re immersed in the story and situation. The fear that players feel often compels them to react suddenly and use up ammunition unnecessarily.

Ammo Crafting

A game mechanic that was prominent in Resident Evil 7 made its return in Resident Evil 2 Remake. Throughout the game players can collect different types of gunpowder. On their own they don’t appear to be all that useful.

However when the player collects two kinds of gunpowder they can combine them together to create ammunition for their weapons. The type of ammunition the player can create depends on how the gunpowders are combined together.

It’s always a good idea for players to experiment and mix and match to create different types of ammunition which could be useful for when ammunition is scarce in an area which has plenty of gunpowder.

Puzzles

A staple of the Resident Evil series was its unusual puzzles for players to solve. Some puzzles needed to be solved in order for players to continue with the story, For example, finding three medallions to activate a secret passage.

Other puzzles allowed players to obtain extra items, for example finding combinations to locks and safes and successfully opening them.

The types of puzzles in the game vary with many requiring specific items to solve them. Exploration is key so that the right items can be found and sometimes hints to puzzles can be found through documents and files that can be picked up and read by the player with important information in the file being highlighted so that it stands out to the player.

Puzzles require some thinking from the player with sometimes even the most obvious solutions that can be used to solve the puzzles. Though at times they can be time consuming it is often rewarding when a player does solve them. Either through story progression, getting new items or weapons and even just gratification.

Environment and Character Models

Environment

Resident Evil 2 Remake was rebuilt from the ground up though concept art from the original game was used as a basis to get the familiar feel of some of the areas within the game whilst at the same time adding in more details that couldn’t be added before due to graphical limitations.

Capcom wanted to emphasise the horror aspect of the game as much as possible when they created the environments. The end result was dark, derelict and blood-filled environments which fitted very well with the horror that Capcom was recreating with Resident Evil 2 Remake.

Without graphical limitations holding them back Capcom were able to go all out to create the environments they wanted and players were not disappointed with the outcome.

Some of the rooms within the police station still look familiar to older players with a few new details added in whilst also giving players the chance to explore new areas that were never in the original providing something new for players.

Character Models

It wasn’t just the environments that were rebuilt from the ground up but also the character models. Capcom wanted to give the characters the same appearance that they had in the original whilst modernising and making the models look more realistic.

Through a combination of motion capture for the character’s faces and emotions and computer animation they created character models that weren’t only recognisable against the originals but also looked much more human thanks to more powerful graphical capabilities.

The character models were not only pleasant to look at but due to their emotional capabilities combined with the voice acting players could empathise with the characters’ plight making the journey a much more personal experience as a result.

Story

While there have been numerous changes to the Resident Evil 2 Remake in terms of gameplay and story elements the base premise of the original was still present. The story follows two people Leon Kennedy, a rookie cop who is starting his first day on the job when the outbreak happened and Claire Redfield who travelled to Raccoon City to search for her older brother Chris who was one of the main protagonists of the first game.

The two meet and make their way to the police station believing they’d be safer there only for them to be separated and begin a perilous journey of survival fighting zombies and other dangerous monsters.

The two have no idea that their lives are forever intertwined by the fateful events of that day as their stories intertwine throughout the course of the game.

By keeping the basics of an established story older players have something to look back to and remember fondly as well as adding new story elements to give some characters more depth that they never had in the original.

Remake vs Original Comparison

Resident Evil 2 has been a beloved part of the Resident Evil franchise for the past 20 years. It has been seen by many fans as one of the best classic Resident Evil games with the story and characters being revered by fans.

When Resident Evil 2 Remake was announced with trailers and game footage being shown there was great conflict among fans of the series with some fearing that the remake would tarnish the integrity of the original game.

However, when the game was released many of the fans’ initial fears had been laid to rest. What was created was a game that remained largely faithful to the original but at the same time offered enough new content to make it fresh and interesting. But, how does it compare to the original?

While the original Resident Evil 2 game was amazing for its time it hasn’t aged well at all by modern standards. With clumsy game controls, blocky graphics and terrible voice acting makes it very difficult for those new to the series to get into. As such only fans of the game will still find the original playable for nostalgic reasons.

With the Remake Capcom were able to do graphically what they were unable to do in 1998 with the original. They were able to create an environment that truly resembled an apocalyptic situation.

Areas were derelict and dark and required a flashlight to be able to see. In contrast to the original areas were still very bright though it’s believed that this was to make it easier for players to see due to graphical limitations.

While the story and character development of the main characters and partner NPCs was good blocky character models with no emotional capabilities and bad voice acting made it difficult to really sympathise with the characters.

Not only that but other NPCs didn’t get so much screen time and so when they did meet their fates it was hard to feel sympathy as not enough time was invested into these characters.

The Remake however improved on this with better voice acting and more realistic character models that were more capable of expressing emotions. This made the characters appear more human and made it easier to sympathise with them at certain points.

More time was also dedicated to other NPCs in the game giving them a little more development. A notable example of this is the character Marvin. One of the few cops to survive the initial outbreak and Leon’s immediate superior.

In the original Marvin appears for a short while at the start of the game, explains what’s going on giving the player a keycard that allows them to access other areas of the police station before forcing them out at gunpoint and locking the door behind him.

When the player next encounters Marvin he’s already a zombie, but due to the minimal interactions it was hard to feel sorry for the man.

In the remake Marvin was given more screen time and interactions with the player and even giving help on occasion. While our time with him is short as he eventually succumbs to his inevitable fate we feel like we got to know him a little better as a man who put his duty towards his fellow officers and civilians ahead of his own safety.

He knew his fate when the player first met him but he still wanted to help them survive and escape which he succeeds in doing. When the player meets him again after he succumbs killing him becomes more personal and emotional as the player got to know Marvin even if it was for a short time.

While the basics weren’t changed much from the original Capcom were not afraid to keep and refine what worked to fit more with modern gaming and remove what no longer worked. The result was a remake that was actually superior to the original, better environments, better voice acting, better game play controls and mechanics and just an all-round better gaming experience.

Conclusion

For the last 20 or so years Resident Evil was the defining game series when it came to survival horror. Though there have been some games in the series that hadn’t quite lived up to the reputation of the series Resident Evil 2 Remake wasn’t one of them.

A game that truly took the series back to its survival horror roots and was able to perfectly blend the aspects that made the original Resident Evil 2 a good game with new story elements and mechanics that provided something for long time fans and those new to the series.

A truly unique experience which provided some genuine moments of horror which players would still feel even after turning off the game. Even though there were many conflicts between fans of the series the game itself not only reached expectations it exceeded them and while the original game still remains in the hearts of some fans there is plenty of room for the remake as well.

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