Resident Evil 2 takes everything that zombie games are currently known for and throws it all out the window. Gone are the hordes of bodies thrown at you in mass, gone are the usual boring plot lines, and gone are all the usual frustrations that come with the mediocrity the genre usually pumps out.
Instead, Resident Evil 2 delivers a horrifyingly polished experience full of some of the most satisfying and most heart racing moments you could have. On top of that, it does all of this while being a remake of a game over 20 years old.
More than just a remaster
As someone not very exposed to the original Resident Evil games, I felt like I was stepping into a new game. I’ve played Resident Evil 1, 2, and so on, but I don’t have any nostalgia for those games.
But even though I don’t have that connection that many will indeed have, I felt like I did anyway. The game so successfully recreates what the original Resident Evil 2 imagined in amazing detail and accuracy.
You can tell that every inch of the grimy corridors is built with love as even small easter eggs from Resident Evil 2 are recreated. Sure, it reuses some assets from Resident Evil 7 (because it’s running on the same engine), but that’s only something you notice if you’re looking for it. Everything feels well-crafted and built with passion.
Beautifully torn apart
Graphically, the game is astounding. I’m usually unaffected by video game gore, but Resident Evil 2 does a great job at being disgusting.
Gore is rendered with a level of detail that you never see in games, and in the setting of a zombie filled horror game it’s more than welcome. In one of the very first scenes of the game (and demo) you pull a struggling officer out from under a closing door in attempt to save his life.
However, you’re too late, and when you’re finally able to pull him out his entire lower half has been ripped off of his body. As you pull and his insider fall out you realize that Resident Evil 2 isn’t pulling any punches, and it’s going to terrify you whether it be through its zombies, its gore, or by some of the other tricks it has up its sleeve.
Gore isn’t the only thing graphically great here though, everything else the game has to offer is great as well. The game does a great job at feeling dirty.
I feel that games often struggle with looking dirty and still maintaining a level of high graphical fidelity. Too often clutter and rubble ends up looking copy and pasted throughout the world, but I never had the feeling that the things I saw were just cloned.
Even in concrete corridors everything feels original. You never get confused at which room your in due to every room looking distinct. Every location feels unique, and it just goes to show how well crafted both this game and the original are.
Terror done right
Every single moment of Resident Evil 2 is stressful, and I love it. Every time I set down the controller to breathe for a moment I also had to appreciate just how good the game was at stressing me out.
Ammo management is so well done that it becomes an asset the game can use to keep you scared.
Every second of exploring the maze-like areas of the game I felt like I had to conserve ammo, but conserving your ammo means not killing the zombies waiting behind almost every corner.
You have to decide with every encounter whether or not you’re going into flight or fight more. Fight and you’ll maybe kill the zombie for good, but you also will use precious ammo. Flee and you save your ammo, but you run the risk of getting attacked or running into it later.
Every single encounter with every zombie feels like a hard decision, and it makes the game that much better. Too many times games make the decision an obvious one. The game either wants you to shoot your way through or not. It may feel like you’re making a decision, but in reality you’re doing what’s intended of you. But here, it feels like it really is your decision. The game isn’t there to tell you what to do. It’s there to give you an obstacle that you have to figure out how to get over.
X gon’ give it to ya
The fight or flight decisions you make get even harder when Mr. X is introduced into the mix. At some point, you’ll encounter the powerful, fear inducing Mr. X.
Mr. X is a constant enemy after his introduction that walks around waiting to find your whereabouts. Every time he’s near, you can hear his footsteps rattling the floor, and all you can do is prepare yourself for his eventual arrival.
He makes your fight or flight decisions so much harder because if you fight he will hear it and come running your way.
If he knows where you are, then you’ll hear his running footsteps get closer as the music starts to build. It’s truly terrifying.
Mr. X will do anything it takes to get to you. He’ll shove zombies away, take a hundred bullets to the chest, but he won’t enter a safe room. While it is kind of funny that he can’t chase you into certain rooms, it’s definitely something you’ll appreciate in-game.
Never before have I sprinted to a safe room in such fear of what was going to get me. Getting to that safe room lets you breathe the biggest sigh of relief as you hear his footsteps walk further away.
So much content
Resident Evil 2 comes packaged with its main campaign and 2 other modes. Its main campaign will take you about 8 hours to complete on regular difficulty. After beating it though, you’ve still got 3 more runs you can go for.
I started off playing as Claire. After beating the initial 8 hour story, I unlocked Leon’s second run. Playing the second run mode is largely different from your original game playthrough. The major locations are the same, but the order you do things is switched up and there’s tons of new secrets to discover. Playing through the game multiple times is essential, and you won’t regret it if you do.
Plus, the true ending of the game is hidden behind a second run, so if you want to get more than an abrupt cliffhanger of an ending you’ll want to play your second run.
After playing through the main story a few times you’ve also got the survivor modes to check out. As of now, you have 4th Survivor and Tofu Survivor.
You unlock 4th survivor mode after beating a second run. In it you play as “The Grim Reaper” Hunk. It’s a quick mode, taking 10 or so minutes, in which you run through the game trying to escape via helicopter.
The mode is fast paced unlike the normal game, and sees you sprinting through what feels like a ‘greatest hits’ of the game.
Tofu Survivor is unlocked after beating Hunk’s 4th survivor mode. Tofu mode plays similarly to 4th survivor in which you sprint through the game to escape, but this time it’s a whole lot harder.
Tofu mode sees you trying to escape unarmed other than an inventory full of knives. While brutal, the mode is exceptionally fun.
Heavy metal riffs churn in the background as your high-pitched voiced tofu block runs through the zombie hordes being literally eaten up as you get caught.
While the original soundtrack is sadly locked behind paid DLC, the new soundtrack doesn’t leave anything on the table. The new soundtrack is as good if not better than the original.
It does so well at elevating the horror through pure silence or through loud booming orchestral pieces. Every tone the game has through its campaigns is mimicked perfectly by the tone of the music, and it goes a long way in creating an even more immersive experience.
Running around in circles
If you absolutely hate backtracking then you’re going to have a hard time with Resident Evil 2. The game features a huge amount of backtracking, but if you’re willing to accept it you’ll come to love it.
The backtracking here isn’t the normal backtracking you’re used to. Where as it’s mainly just lazy development where you run backwards through empty rooms, here it’s used to further develop puzzles. You’ll run through the same hallways countless times, but it never grows old. Each time you take a trip down a hallway you’ve been down you’re still scared that there could be enemies, or Mr. X, lurking.
The backtracking also really helps you feel at one with the map. You learn the nooks and crannies of each room, and you eventually figure out the fastest routes from point A to point B.
Instead of being annoyed that you have to backtrack, it becomes a sort of planning missions where you start to plan how to get there while facing the least amount of resistance.
And don’t worry too much about backtracking into areas you don’t need to. The game’s map color codes rooms to let you know if you’ve found everything each room has to offer. When rooms are colored red on the map you still have more to see, but if it’s blue there’s no need to go back in.
One problem you’ll have though is that sometimes you aren’t meant to completely discover some rooms right away. Certain puzzles aren’t possible to solve until later in the game so it’s up to you to try and figure out when there’s nothing you can do.
It’s not a huge deal, but I could see some people being annoyed. I for one though, thought this to be an asset. The game doesn’t hold your hand. It forces you to figure everything out. You have to know what you can do, where to go, and what you need to do to progress.
It helps to make every puzzle feel extremely satisfying.
It may be another zombie game in 2019, but it’s a damn near perfect one at that. Resident Evil 2 is everything the zombie game genre was missing. It’s scary, tense, atmospheric, exciting, and smart.
Even the game’s flaws can be argued as being perks.
Resident Evil 2’s age definitely shows, but not in a bad way. Instead, it shows just how ahead of its time it was. Even now, the game stands out as being well above the rest.