Capcom’s new Resident Evil 2 — which comes out this week, 21 years after the PlayStation original — is a more radical remake than most. It’s an intense, terrifying experience that rebuilds the game from scratch and doesn’t at all feel out of place on high-end modern hardware. But it preserves enough of the source material to feel like a respectful tribute.Resident Evil 2 have carefully threaded a needle with their new version of a very old thing. Capcom has woven modern mechanics into its groundbreaking sequel, never abandoning what is truly great about the first Resident Evil 2. The result is a fresh, expensive-looking game that evokes the best memories of the PlayStation original, while also being something altogether new.
Now, 20 years later, Capcom has taken the game by the scruff of its neck, fully updated the visuals and controls, and reshuffled the narrative structure to deliver a contemporary horror experience that plays like our blood-tinted memories of the original. There’s been a zombifying outbreak in Raccoon City and two characters, rookie cop Leon and student Claire, find themselves trapped in the seemingly abandoned police station, trying to work out what has happened while fighting off the greedy and persistent undead.The ultimate brainteaser, however, is inventory management. Ammo is strictly rationed, so every encounter is fraught with deadly peril (although a new assisted mode makes things more palatable for newcomers, offering unlimited saves and easier aiming).The remake of Resident Evil 2 succeeded and can’t be criticized for much. Converting the original game into a modern form sets the bar for all future remakes really high and shows how it should be done.
Every darkened corridor, dimly lit by flickering strip lights, every gothic chamber, dressed with stuffed animals and ancient libraries, every metallic laboratory, crammed with bizarre scientific equipment, is drenched in uncanny atmosphere. The diabolical mad-scientist narrative retains its B-movie schlock appeal.To facilitate this, there are new areas to discover, while iconic locations – such as the police station – have been restructured and expanded, a fascinating and at times terrifying change for veterans who still recall the original and think they know where the monsters are. Play through the game as one character, and you open up a “second run” version of the other character’s story, so the two feel much more integrated.The two are united by a chance encounter but quickly separated by a terrible accident. What follows is a fight for survival as both Claire and Leon try to escape the city alive, then find themselves caught up in something much bigger.They break through windows and doors, upending my expectations about how Resident Evil’s zombies are supposed to behave. I shoot them in the head, missing every third shot because of their unpredictable bobbleheaded movements, but they don’t stay down for long. I’m wasting ammo, constantly.
The first, 2002’s Resident Evil for the GameCube, was a visually astonishing reimagining of the first game in the series. But for all its graphical artistry and gameplay tweaks, it played more or less the same as the original, with 3D characters superimposed on 2D backgrounds and a charmingly 1D script.Resident Evil’s puzzles have felt natural in games where the settings were dark-and-stormy-night haunted houses, but set against the background of a municipal police station, they are absurd. I enjoy completing them immensely.The police station is beautifully, gruesomely realized. Some rooms are dark as night, lit only by the blaze of Claire’s or Leon’s flashlight. Emergency lighting reflects off the water in flooded hallways. There is trash and rot in the attics, piled-up office furniture blocking pathways, and it’s all very realistic-looking.The police station is beautifully, gruesomely realized. Some rooms are dark as night, lit only by the blaze of Claire’s or Leon’s flashlight. Emergency lighting reflects off the water in flooded hallways. There is trash and rot in the attics, piled-up office furniture blocking pathways, and it’s all very realistic-looking.
Even on the most generous difficulty settings, multiple shots are needed to take down zombies, and the undead have a troubling habit of getting up when they really, really shouldn’t. The feeling of playing Resident Evil 2 is that of desperate, continuous calculation, considering whether to fight or flee, weighing your ammo and health reserves against what you know about the areas you need to visit.The zombies here are both aggressive and resilient in ways that are distinct from the original, and corridors are dark, threatening, and unnerving to navigate. The Raccoon City Police Station is a frightening place, and it has a habit of only getting more dangerous the more time you spend in it—like when the hulking, almost comically imposing Mr. X shows up.
The rhythm, gradually building from many minutes of quiet exploration and puzzle-solving to gigantic, pulverising boss battles, is exact and beautiful, like some monstrous Wagner opera.he sinister corporation at the heart of the horrors in the Resident Evil games, has never exhibited total control over its creations. That’s a lesson at the heart of Resident Evil 2, in which a virus runs amok, culminating in the destruction of Umbrella’s own underground lair — where those zombie-making viruses were conceived.