The Resident Evil series has been a staple of the survival horror genre for a number of years. From the confined halls of the mansion in Resident Evil, to the bustling streets of Resident Evil 6. The series has kept to its horror roots, even if that means the survival aspect has recently taken a back seat.
With the release of Resident Evil 7, Capcom stripped the series of its fast-paced action to re-invent its self back into the horror market. That trend has continued with the remake of Resident Evil 2.
Before I go forward with this review there will be minor spoilers however these will not relate to any new content or major plot points or puzzle completion.
Resident Evil 2 is arguably one of the franchises best titles and the remake does a very good job of improving on the foundations set by its original. Players must navigate their way through the dimly lit locations of Raccoon City and ultimately survive the horrors found within. We can play as two characters: Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield.
Both characters are “average Joe’s” and feature no special powers or abilities. Whilst Leon is drawn into the path of industrial espionage and betrayal, Claire finds herself trying to protect a child caught up within the sins of their father. Both stories intersect with each other at certain points, and playing both creates a picture of the machinations of the mysterious Umbrella Corporation.
The new third person view ads a new perspective on the game. Whilst the original used a fixed camera angle to limit the players viewpoint. This was done to create tension as we never knew what was in front of us unless it was on the same screen. One camera snap later and there could be a horde of Zombies or another monster to deal with.
The remake looses a lot of this tension due to the third person camera allowing us to see exactly whats in front of us. However Capcom have used dimly lit locations and plenty of shadows to hide what those shapes in the distance are. For those of us who have played a modern Resident Evil such as 4, 5 and 6, this new angle is nothing new but for stalwart players of Resident Evil 2 then its their game in literally a new light.
The main enemy is your typical Zombie. They shuffle, moan and bite like the Zombies of old. They are a resilient bunch and take quite a lot to kill (again?). Shoot its legs off – Zombie will crawl after you. Shoot its arms off – yup, Zombie will keep on coming. Once you have felled one, they are soon quick to stand up ready to take more punishment. For me this did not get boring as it kept the tension boiling over and always made me feel uneasy when entering an already visited location.
The Zombies themselves are not for the feint hearted. They look grotesque and in some cases are missing limbs or the lower torso as a whole.
The Licker enemy is also highly detailed and we get to see its drooling mouth filled with razor sharp teeth, flying towards us on a few occasions. At one point I was flanked by a Licker who happened to slash Leon’s back, these slash marks stayed on the character model through out the game which I thought was a nice touch. Its often the case where the protagonist goes through hell yet looks pristine once the ordeal is over. At the games conclusion, both characters look exhausted through their dirt ridden faces. Its these minor details that sell you the characters and the ordeal you have navigated with them.
Mr X also makes his return to the game. We first encounter him at roughly one third into the story. Its after this encounter that the whole dynamic changes and we start to play a bit more conservatively. Mr X is a Tyrant class enemy which in some shape or form has been a staple of the Resident Evil Series.
The Tyrant (in this instance) is sent into Raccoon City to dispose of any witness to Umbrella’s involvement. If you think of The Terminator then your on the right tracks. Once he has been introduced he will then proceed to follow you everywhere. The tell-tale sign that he is near is by his thumping footsteps. He can not be killed but can be stunned to allow a brief respite in the chase.
There is also a couple of scripted events that made me shout at my monitor. Mr X also breaks that all important Resident Evil rule that enemies can not enter a save room. The main hallway of the Police Station has always been deemed as a safe zone and the game does a good job of telling us this. However in one instance I was chased out of a room into the second floor of the hallway, to then have Mr X follow me! It was amazing and horrifying at the same time.
I needed to save my game yet I couldn’t because the “boss” character had followed me into my safe haven. Mr X behaves in a similar manner to the Nemesis or Jack Baker. He will find you and if you let him, he will send you to the game over screen.
Like the original we are given enough ammo to allow us to go gun-ho. At one point during my adventure I had over 200 pistol rounds and quite as few shotgun shells at my disposal. There was only one time I had to conserve my ammo and that was towards the final part of the game. The weapons that make up our arsenal are powerful and do their intended job.
They can also be upgraded with extended clips and stocks, however these have to be found within the world. These upgrades can also take up an extra inventory slot which then means we may have to carry one less item. Guns are also not a guaranteed item. Miss one room and you could end up without a valuable upgrade or a new weapon completely.
The locations that we visit feel familiar and also give off a new vibe. The Raccoon City Police Station still keeps in general layout there has been a third floor added as well as tonnes of secrets hidden in its gloomy halls. What has always been my issue with Resident Evil 2 is that we did not explore Raccoon City more. Granted this happened in Resident Evil 3 but I would of liked to explore the streets leading to the Police Station a bit more.
The Umbrella Lab also falls into this category. I would of liked to explore its gleaming halls and sterile rooms a bit more and this could of opened up a bit more insight into the Corporation and its workings. The locations that we do visit offer their own unique variations and challenges within. From hunting card suited keys to roaming the dank sewers looking for chess pieces there is plenty to do.
In closing. Resident Evil 2 is a fun horror experience. It keeps to the frame work of the original whilst trying something new. Whilst the new camera angle looses some of the tension, the new lighting effects and enemy tenacity make up for this. It is a game to be played by newcomers and veterans alike. The experience of the remake is one to be played. The remake asks the question of what next for the series however this is yet to be answered.
Resident Evil 2 is out now and is priced at £44.99 on the Microsoft store and can be purchased here
A review copy for Xbox One was provided for the purposes of this review. Thank you!
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- Fantastic Visuals
- Nostalgic Feeling
- Tense and Terrifying
- More of Raccoon City
- Slightly Longer Closing Act