Leon’s story revolves around his new job as a rookie police officer who’s so gung-ho he enters a city full of zombies to be apart of the action. I know people want to impress on the first day, but this has to take the cake. Eventually, he meets a woman named Ada and they both chase after the G-Virus and a woman named Annette Birkin.
Claire comes to Raccoon City to find her brother who’s been out of touch. She braves this ghoulish nightmare to discover that he’s gone off on vacation without notifying his family. She tries to leave the city but discovers a little girl named Sheryl who needs help finding her mother. Instead of abandoning the child as everybody else would, she descends into the depths of the city while trying to keep little Sheryl safe from all the brain eaters.
Leon’s story is a serviceable amount of fiction, but Claire’s story is more believable and interesting. She goes out of her way to save Sheryl from all of the dangers of the city. Not only that, but Claire has a much better performance as a character than Leon. She reacts properly to situations she’s never seen before but clearly shows us that she’s willing to become a badass when it’s necessary. Leon’s story is oddly boring when Ada Wong isn’t around.
The graphics look amazing and that’s without a doubt. The eerie lighting and realistic graphics go well with the shambling decaying zombies. I don’t go out of my way to say that the gore is a sight to behold, but damn if it isn’t gorgeously gross. The detail that went into the different zones is astonishing. The city area is glossy, rain-slicked, and filled with destruction and a dangerous number of zombies.
The RCPD Police Station shines as a crumbling replacement for the Mansion. It drips with intricate art, statues, and destruction that we’ve come to love from the series. Even the underground areas of the game show off some impressive visuals like rising steam, flickering flames, and prisons festering with zombies.
The character models are truly astounding as well. While often verging on the uncanny valley, there are some truly confusing moments of humanity shown on the faces of these characters. Leon and Claire are painstakingly detailed, but the assortment of side characters come off as more impressive. The side-characters generally are heavily detailed and show off a range of emotion we don’t get to see on our protagonist’s faces. Their skin flexes as the grimace in pain, scream in horror, and stare daggers into their enemies.
Compared to many various extras in other titles, these additional cast members a nearly unforgettable in their performances. It’s not just a visual delight as it comes forth in their voice acting as well. I don’t want to criticize but the B-movie acting of the protagonists is overshadowed by the often-thrilling side characters.
While we’re on the subject of sound. The audio in Resident Evil 2 is top-notch. The developers created tension by having random sounds play throughout an area. This could be a click or a simple drip from a faucet in a sink. The constantly shuffles kept me looking around to make sure I wasn’t being ambushed by a murderous creature. Resident Evil 2 nails it from the sounds of groaning zombies to the sounds of teeth tearing through flesh.
Many of the enemies return from the Playstation One days of Resident Evil 2. They’ve all been updated with new vicious attack patterns and durability. Lickers still shred through flesh like butter and Mr. X remains as unflinching as Jason Vorhees as he strolls in for the kill. Zombies eat bullets like candy and rise again to take a bite out of our heroes. Death isn’t forever and just when you thought an area was clear, more enemies have poured into the area seeking to do our stars harm.
The most impressive thing outside of the visuals has to be the freedom from loading screens. The crack of a door shrouded in blackness has been replaced by smooth transitions to different areas. Resident Evil 2’s cutscenes also benefit from this change. We’re dropped into a cutscene without a hint of lag or warning and usually treated to some aggressive moments.
Gunplay is smooth like juicy butter and the zombies tend to wiggle about similarly to Resident Evil 4. Running around the world of Resident Evil 2 feels fantastic without the tank controls. I played on PC so it was fairly easy to snap onto weak-points and fire off a few rounds while moving. The game also feels good on console but the flinching zombies can be harder to contend with. It’s easy to fire off a couple of shots and switch to another weapon without missing a beat.
The puzzles are reworked for the remake. They’re simple in Part A of Leon and Clare’s stories, but can be slightly more daunting when playing through Side B. They never felt too hard to solve and kept the pace of the game moving forward.
From now on when we look at Remakes, Resident Evil 2 will be the game to copy. It’s a love letter to a game that I cherished as a child and the remake makes some fantastic changes while keeping to the spirit of the original. You’d be remiss to skip this one if you can stomach horror titles. Resident Evil 2 is a game that begs to be beaten as many times as our fingers will allow. Capcom truly knocked it out of the park with this one and it deserves all of the praise that’s been heaped upon it.
Things I don’t like:
• Headshots don’t work on zombies like in previous games or most zombie fiction. Zombies can take a million shots to the head from a pistol and then get back up and each 4 to 5 more.
• Leon’s Acting is rather dry. You’d think that someone that’s never seen a zombie in their life would be more terrified of the situations he gets into. Claire and the Side-characters seem more in the spirit of dramatic realism in comparison. One of my least favorite parts of Leon’s Campaign is the casual conversation he and Claire have after a helicopter crashes into a building. Claire’s version seems to elicit at least some concern for the situation as zombies begin raiding the area.
• Zombies are harder to evade. Normally, this wouldn’t be a negative in a video game. However, with the controls still being somewhat stiff it’s weird that the zombies have long-reaching auto-grabbing mechanics. Not to mention that the main characters seem slower than the original game and mostly become fodder in hallways.
• Boss Fights are terrible corridor crawls with fast moving monsters. I don’t like that every fight with a boss is the exact same tight corridor evade fest. If there was anything that I would change from the remake it’s the way the characters move in these battles. Bosses have wide sweeping moves and quick movements and the main characters can’t even dodge or roll. It makes for tedious bullet sponge battles.