Resident Evil 2 review – Back and Better Than Ever

PlatformsPC, Playstation 4, Xbox One
Size26 GB
Latest Version1.03

A gorgeous reimagining of a horror classic, this remake is the definitive way to experience Resident Evil 2.

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Welcome back to Raccoon City.

The first Resident Evil released way back in 1996 on the original Playstation console. It was an immediate hit, in spite of some cringe-inducing cutscenes and infamously bad voice acting, and led to a horror game boom that lasted for the better part of a decade.  The series has been going strong since, undergoing so many transformations and tonal shifts that recent installments look and play nothing like the Resident Evils of old. In Resident Evil 2 – which is out on PC, PS4, and XBox One – it’s interesting to see how Capcom has applied what they’ve learned over these 20 years of games-making to an old title.

Resident Evil 2 is a remake of, well, Resident Evil 2, the Playstation horror classic that birthed some timeless memes. More than a reconstruction, this is a total reimagining of the original, built from the ground up to retell the same tale with modern technology and game design sensibilities. This means doing away with the tank controls and fixed cameras that defined the original. Instead, we get over-the-shoulder shooting gameplay, unlimited saves in safe rooms, and quicker, more threatening zombies.

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In the Resident Evil 2 remake, as in the original, you’re offered the choice of playing as either rookie police officer Leon S. Kennedy or college student Claire Redfield. The two are functionally the same, though some events play out differently depending on the character you’ve selected. The remake also lets you play as Sherry Birkin and fan-favorite Ada Wong, two characters that weren’t playable in the 1998 game. Their campaigns provide a fresh perspective on the events in Racoon City and older fans will love the extra content.

The Resident Evil 2 remake is a completely different game from the original. The third-person camera and over-the-shoulder shooting make it a much faster, immersive experience than the original. The remake also introduces a weapon swap feature that lets you switch between items quickly, a much more streamlined process than the original’s clunky inventory system.

The inventory system has been overhauled as well to accommodate the changes in gameplay. At the start, your inventory space is severely limited. You can carry more items with you by equipping hip bags that you find throughout the game. You’ll also want to take advantage of the storage boxes you encounter. A greater focus on shooting means you’ll be carrying a lot more than you would in the original – multiple weapons, grenades, a knife, and various ammo types are all necessary items. Much more than the original, inventory and item management is key to a smooth run.

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This is a much more action-oriented affair than the original.

The first thing you’ll learn is that headshots aren’t the instant kills that they are in most horror media. The undead here are resilient and don’t go down easily. In most cases, killing them is a waste of precious bullets, and the most efficient way to get through stages is to take out their legs. This momentarily disables them, allowing you to get around them and make progress.

No Resident Evil game is complete without its puzzles. Many of the puzzles here are rehashed versions of those found in the original occasionally redesigned to remove unnecessary backtracking or with optimized routes to make getting between key points quicker. These slight modifications provide needed improvements to the puzzles; now more time is spent solving them and less ferrying key items between areas.

The old-school Resident Evils were hard games. We remember struggling to complete the original Resident Evil 2’s campaign way back in elementary school. Capcom hasn’t shied away from making a hard game. The remake’s standard difficulty is genuinely hard despite its more action-oriented direction.