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Resident Evil 2 Video Game Review

Written by Ryan Noble

Developed and released by Capcom
2019, Rated 18
Game released on 25 January 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

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Resident Evil 2 has me at a loss for words. It’s rare, but when a game is good enough, it happens. If you caught my review of the one shot demo back in January, you’ll know that I was already excited about what was waiting for us in the full remake of Resident Evil 2. Even feeling as hyped as I did, I couldn’t have expected the perfection that is this game. It’s almost as if it were genetically created in a lab…

So, let me explain why I’d happily inject this game directly into my veins.

A classic game, re-animated…

For starters, Resident Evil 2 is a favourite of mine (and amongst many gamers).

The original game in 1998 saw the introduction of so many memorable characters, creatures, settings, and stories that have grown up with the series and the gamers who played back then. Bringing RE2 back for the modern day feels like a financial no-brainer since people have been crying out for this for years, but the remake feels like an absolute labour of love. No detail is missed. No corpse unturned.

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Leon S. Kennedy is charming and righteous on the first day of his new job and, even though you may already know his later adventures, it feels like meeting him for the first time. You want him to live through the undead hell that Raccoon City has become. I was even rooting for him and Ada to get together the whole way through (even though I know how it ends).

Claire Redfield is as feisty as ever in search of her brother, Chris (from Resident Evil), and protects Sherry like her life depends on it, which it often does. Again, I fell in love with her character like it was the first time and wanted her to survive and adopt Sherry – the poor child of two key players in the fall of Raccoon City – and live happily ever after.

Capcom knows how much we care about these characters and has done them justice, from their model designs and one-liners to their perfect casting and faithful weaponry.

Plus, Leon and Claire are both really hot. The quality of the gameplay doesn’t hang on that in any way, of course. It’s just the truth.

In fact, every single character who might have once made an impact on you is back and looking better than ever. They may not appear in exactly the same way or say the exact same things they said back then – quite a few characters are actually given more personality and dialogue than before – but you’ll be glad to see them.

Well, unless we’re talking about the creatures from the original RE2. They’ve been waiting patiently for you all these years.

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A police department plagued by experiments gone wrong…

Lurking around the Raccoon City Police Department (RPD) – and the various areas you’ll explore, like Raccoon City itself, the sewers, Umbrella’s laboratory and more, each of which has been remade from the ground up – are all of the dangers that first shambled, scrambled, and stomped their way through the nightmares of 1998.

Most important of all, naturally, are the zombies. As a staple of the series, RE2 makes its zombies feel morgue-fresh. They’re gorgeous to look at, terrifying to listen to (especially the screeches of female zombies), and for the first time in a while… scary.

Even when you’re lucky enough to have plenty of ammo, a group of zombies can easily tear a few chunks out of you and leave your ammo looking just as unhealthy. A single headshot won’t save you, but it is a thing of beauty to watch their faces disintegrate with each bullet sent flying into it.

Then there’s everything else…

The undead dogs, Plant 43, the lickers. Oh god, the lickers… They never stopped being scary and yet they’re more terrifying than ever. Whether you’re creeping away with your fingers crossed they won’t hear you or running from the click-clacking of their talons as they scramble after you, lickers have remained as one of my most-feared creatures in the RE universe.

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For some, however, that place is taken by the relentless Mr. X, a hulking tyrant (and snazzy dresser) who stalks you through the police department. Hearing him stomping closer ratchets up the tension ten-fold, especially when you’re forced into racing through areas that you know you left teeming with zombies.

That’s where Resident Evil 2 is, and always has been, clever. If you decide to run past a horde of zombies to make your life easier at one point in the game, they’ll still be there waiting for you later.

Exploring areas multiple times as you play through is a regular occurrence, which means so is being scared all over again by a zombie or two you forgot you’d left there. Sure, you could put a few bullets in their heads… but what if you need those bullets more desperately later?

In the same way that Resident Evil 7 made you play carefully in a completely new way, Resident Evil 2 brings careful inventory management back to the classics.

A good story can be enjoyed more than once…

Resident Evil 2 is incredibly replayable.

Firstly, the core game comes in two parts, split between Leon and Claire in their own personal experience of this one fateful night.

You’re able to play first as one character, and then follow up with a ‘second run’ as the second character. Which order you play in is entirely up to you, but each playthrough will be different and is a joy to experience.

Whoever you play as first will deal with the brunt of the puzzle solving, unlocking doors and bringing the station to life in many ways. The first playthrough is slightly longer and initially tenser – averaging at around 8 hours – with the second playthrough being around 5 hours and more fast-paced. Expect to see Mr. X much sooner.

Despite walking, often running, through the exact same locations again (for the most part) in the second run playthrough, Resident Evil 2 never feels stale. Not only do their stories vary quite significantly, but even puzzles that you complete for a second time are changed to keep them interesting.

If that weren’t enough – and I think it would be for a lot of players since it’s such a pleasure to be experiencing the story of RE2 again – there are also plenty of extras to keep you playing after the credits roll.

resident evil 2 ps4 the ghost survivor  resident evil 2 ps4 the tofu survivor

More fun rises from the grave…

There are multiple ‘extras’ waiting for you when you finish one complete playthrough of the game (Scenario A with one character, followed by the ‘second run’ Scenario B with the other), such as:

The 4th Survivor – In this fast-paced additional mode, you play as Hunk, the leader of the Umbrella Security Services (U.S.S). After his team has been wiped out, he finds himself alone in the sewers and must fight his way back up to the surface for extraction.

This mode has a completely different vibe to the rest of the game and changes up familiar areas again with rock music and plenty of weapons. In fact, knowing the areas like the back of your hand adds to the experience, since you’d have scoped it all out as a U.S.S operative on a mission. 

It’s short, packed with adrenaline and enemies, and I made it to extraction in 13 minutes (which is by no means extraordinary). Can you do better?

The Tofu Survivor – Imagine the above, but as a big chunk of tofu. That’s The Tofu Survivor. It’s the exact same scenario, but you’re a big piece of tofu. It’s hilarious, and even speedier since the best tactic is to run (wobble?) your way up to extraction.

You only have knives to defend yourself, meaning that it’s often tactical to get grabbed and counter to keep moving without damage. It’s easier said than done, though. I’m yet to make it through alive.

Capcom just can't stop creating new life…

In a generous gift to horror-lovers, Capcom released DLC only a few days ago named The Ghost Survivors. These are three new stories set in the world of RE2, fleshing out the final moments of three different characters with intense ‘what if’ narratives. They’re meant to be quick to play through and packed with scares.

No Time To Mourn follows Robert Kendo, owner of Gun Shop Kendo – who many fans of RE2 may remember from the original – after the death of his daughter. A call from an old friend has just saved him from ending his own life and now he must fight for survival.

The Runaway follows Katherine Warren, the daughter of Raccoon City’s mayor. She must sneak her way around a new mutation of zombie if she’s going to survive the night, although fans of the series will already know where she ends up…

Forgotten Soldier follows Ghost, another U.S.S. soldier who survived the outbreak and is now trying to escape the horrors of the city.

I’ve not actually played through all of these yet, but what I played of No Time To Mourn seemed perfect for anyone who needs more time in Raccoon City, and especially those with a sense of nostalgia for these characters. A new look into these side stories (though not considered canon) is an amazing gift, and one that Capcom has given us for free.

T-minus 10 seconds to conclusion…

Honestly, I don’t have a bad thing to say about Resident Evil 2. Normally, that would make me feel guilty, like I wasn’t being fair, but this is just a really, really well-made remake of a beloved game. Although, I would have loved for the classic soundtrack to be available to all, just for the warm fuzzies.

Like many, I’ve been a fan of the Resident Evil series for much of my life, so seeing one of my favourite games in the series re-made for modern gamers and tech is a dream come true. It’s a chance for gamers like myself to head back into a city torn apart by scientific research gone so wrong, and also the perfect chance for people who have never experienced RE2 or Resident Evil at all to get into the series at a high point.

Nothing more need be said. If you like horror, zombies, or even just characters and stories that you’ll fall in love with, you need Resident Evil 2.


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About The Author
Ryan Noble
Staff Reviewer - UK
If Ryan isn't watching, reading or playing some form of horror, he's probably writing about it. He used to be an Editor at Indie Game Magazine so he has a soft spot for independent creators, especially when they're creating fear. Whether you're one such creator, or a fellow horror fan, let's speak about spooks on Twitter or email.
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