Back in 1998, Capcom released what would go on to be one of the most beloved entries in the Resident Evil franchise. Resident Evil 2 remains cherished among fans and often clashes with Resident Evil 4 as the best entry in the franchise. So when Capcom announced they’d be remaking the game for the current-generation, fans were both excited and nervous. While Resident Evil REmake hued close to the original game’s vision, it was unknown how Capcom would approach Resident Evil 2. We got to go hands-on with the game at E3 2018, and though there are some drastic changes, fans will be happy to know that the game is pure horror.
Resident Evil 2 takes place in 1998 in the fictional Raccoon City following the outbreak of the T-virus. With most of the population zombified, the game follows rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield (sister of Chris Redfield) as they try to survive and escape the city. The demo picks up with Leon arriving at the Raccoon City Police Department, only to find it abandoned.
The most significant change to the Resident Evil 2 is felt immediately after booting up the demo. Rather than the original game’s tank controls and fixed camera angles, or Resident Evil 7’s first-person perspective, Resident Evil 2 adopts a perspective like Resident Evil 4 and 5. The game’s camera is set behind Leon’s shoulder with players being able to walk and shoot and pull out their knives. However, unlike 4 and 5, Resident Evil 2 makes it clear that it is not an action game.
Following a brief intro section, Leon finds himself surrounded by zombies. You can try and fight, but ammo is scarce, and the zombies don’t go down quickly. Try and play Resident Evil 2 like an action game and you will die. The danger is ever-present in the dark halls of RPD, and sometimes it’s better to try and avoid engagement to save your resources.
Outside of the perspective change, Capcom has remained somewhat faithful to the source material. While the studio did confirm that some puzzles and story elements will change, the core experience remains somewhat similar. Resource management remains crucial to survival with Leon only having a few slots in his inventory. With Leon only able to take a few hits before death, ensuring you have enough ammo and green herbs to survive a sticky situation is of utmost importance.
The franchise’s beloved puzzles are back and will send Leon on several wild goose chases. For example, a weapons locker is filled with lots of ammo, herbs, and even a shotgun. Unfortunately, someone has taken the ‘2’ and ‘3’ keys on the keypad necessary to unlock the lockers. If players want these items, they’ll need to follow a set of clues to solve the puzzle.
As a remake, the entire game has been rebuilt from the ground-up utilizing Capcom’s proprietary RE Engine and the results are impressive. The police department is lavishly detailed with several bloodstains caking the walls. Dark hallways retain their creepiness with Leon’s small flashlight lighting up the detailed horrors facing him. Most impressive is the game’s use of gore. Intestines ooze blood as the top half of a body breaks apart from the lower half, pieces of skin and muscle break apart as bullets impact the surface, and beheadings are displayed in gory detail. It is disgusting, but you can’t help but be impressed at what the developers have managed to pull off.
Capcom entered E3 2018 with fans worried about what they’re doing with Resident Evil 2 and they’ve left with nothing but anticipation. The demo shows that though some things have changed, Capcom is sticking with the game’s roots. The gameplay may be like Resident Evils 4 and 5, but all the emphasis is placed on survival horror. There’s still plenty of resource management and puzzle solving to be had, and it’s all wrapped in a beautiful, gory package. Based on the demo we’ve seen, Capcom appears to be setting a new benchmark for remakes with Resident Evil 2.
Resident Evil 2 is out January 29, 2019 on PS4, Xbox One and PC.