Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019)
Introduction - There Are No Story Spoilers Here!
I’m going to tell you everything you need to know so you can decide whether or not to pick up and play Resident Evil 2.
As with every review I do. There are no spoilers so do not worry!
Resident Evil 2 - Almost a Full Proper Remake
Let’s get this out of the way now. As far as a remake goes. They have stayed fairly true to the original in terms of location and story. There are few omitted gameplay elements and modes from the 1998 version and the variation between Claire and Leon’s story is slimmer. It’s refreshing to go back to the classic zombies compared to the new age motorcycle riding RPG wielding tentacle heads like in Resident Evil 5.
It may seem odd to start here but if you played the classic 1998 Resident Evil 2 then you are going to get some nostalgia trips from the police station. It is beautifully recreated with modern graphics. Not to belittle the other areas of the game but it is possibly the best thing about this remake.
Check out one of the rooms below and see their re-imagination at work!
Oh yes. Often always overlooked but even in the short video above you can hear the atmosphere is augmented. Zombies shuffling around, banging on various things, floor boards creaking from zombies above you. You are not alone.
Every other gaming journalist will have missed this. When did you ever hear a games saves system be complimented?
So I shot a zombie with their butt poking towards the sky. Sure enough 2 days later when I reload the game and walk back to that same area. The zombie is still there exactly how they were left. Be worried if that corpse is no longer there.
It’s stuff like this which I urge developers to…well…develop on. It’s that state of dilemma where you say “But the body was right here. Where is it?”. Usually you would say “It just despawned or derendered” or whatever excuse that takes you out of the experience and into a game. Having features like this take you out of the game and into the experience.
The game does well at recreating that old slow moving zombie type horror. There is some awesome attention to detail with the models and animations. Shooting a zombie at close range and then moving forward sometimes leads to you ‘kicking’ the zombie off and the motion is really fluid between your actions.
You’ll see what grenades you have on your belt buckle and switching between weapons is a blend between responsive and realistic. Making things seem real or realistic even when it’s not possible is super important for conveying terror. It’s just another way to put you into the experience of an apocalyptic scenario.
Gameplay - The Major Flaw
The game has one major flaw though and a flaw that is a recurring theme for most zombie games today. Shooting zombies in the head does not kill them. More accurately the spot to complete a headshot is apparently right between the eyes and not the forehead as you have come to expect.
Yes this is to make the game harder but if they wanted to do this whilst still having a reason to aim and create some kind of ‘skillful’ feeling of actually hitting headshots. You could simply increase the number of zombies correlating with the difficulty of the game. Harder difficulties, more zombies.
It almost feels completely RNG as to when a zombie finally dies. Some zombies took over 10 headshots from a pistol to kill because you aren’t hitting that overly specific sweet spot. This is such a small thing that could be changed but is the biggest let down of the game.
There are optional puzzles which reward you with items and then the main games puzzles. The puzzles themselves are very easy provided you don’t miss out on any relevant information. You can’t necessarily use your logic to overcome them.
As an example. The classic “get the power online” scenario. You’ve got electrical parts. You’ve got a generator room. However you can’t combine these two. The solution to solving this was actually tucked away in the corner of a room I did not fully explore. I couldn’t come up with an answer to what seemed like an obvious solution because I did not have all the important information. So be sure to explore every room FULLY.
A nice feature is examining an item from every angle. It may reveal hidden clues or allow you to open it. It’s an integral part of the main story but also a part of many extra optional side puzzles.
I wish they had used this function more. It reminds me of a game called “The Room 3” which if you like puzzles you should check out.
The 1998 version had a few more enemies that appeared that are absent from this 2019 Resident Evil 2 version. So what will you encounter around the next corner? I won’t spoil!
Zombies are what you’ll encounter most as you expect. For the most part these iconic slow moving zombies are one of the best slow moving zombies around. The way they move and sound is the right amount of discomforting.
Already mentioned is the issue with headshotting. Outside of that the combat feels a bit too simple. You can melee but it’s quite awful and your melee weapons will break, as well as barely doing any damage but useful for taking out zombies on the ground.
If a zombie grabs you, you can use a melee weapon or a grenade to ‘push them off’. The downside is you will lose your melee weapon, and obviously your grenade, if you do this. You can pick the melee weapon back up if you down the zombie.
If you have no melee weapon. The on screen prompt will ask you to push the same button that you usually do and instead use a grenade, if you have one, which is annoying because you might not want to use a grenade. The alternative though is to just take damage. There is nothing you can do to stop a zombie grabbing you. No button mashing or QTE’s.
I understand they want to make you feel vulnerable as a player but you can still have that whilst giving the player some options to reduce damage by playing well. It would be more ‘realistic’ to push zombies away then to casually jog around them as they jolt at a 90 degree animation and slide past you at a fixed angle. Resident Evil Outbreak in 2003 is the example to go off here.
Weapons & Ammo
Weapons can be upgraded over time. There isn’t much variety but that’s not an issue for a game like Resident Evil which focuses on putting you in an intense spooky scenario. Also, Leon and Claire get access to different weapons during their playthrough.
Inventory full? Want to swap an item you have for one you have found? Sorry. You cannot do that. A common feature of previous Resident Evil Games but you’ll have to discard (delete) an item if you want to pick that up or run all the way back to your bank to deposit it to free up inventory space.
No spoilers here do not worry! I would never do such a thing.
At first glance it may appear the game has 2 campaigns. “Leon Kennedy” and “Claire Redfield”. In Resident Evil 2 (1998) there are two separate stories where Leon and Claire will bump into each other at various points in the game. You can play each character and see what they get up to in between those meetups.
However, in Resident Evil 2 (2019) we are a bit more cheated. The major difference is that Leon’s story focuses around “What happened to Racoon city” whilst Claire’s story focuses on “I have to find my Brother”. You don’t visit any new locations and besides a few very minor differences in the route you take, some NPC’s you meet, and the weapons you get. You are basically just playing the game a second time with a different character. The Classic one was a little more varied by comparison.
Overall. Resident Evil 2 is a great remake. It’s not looking to be innovative or challenge us in new ways. It’s looking to set the scene of classic Resident Evil and re-imagine the horror. The gameplay flaws are a minor. If you like Resident Evil or horror then you will not be disappointed by this game.
But Perhaps a £50 / $60 asking price is a little too high for a game that can be completed in less than 1 hour and 30 minutes once you know exactly where to go. Only to do it a second time as a different character.