Resident Evil 2 Remake Review – Beautiful Monster

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Released way back in 1998 for the original PlayStation, Capcom has brought back Resident Evil 2 from the dead, gave it a polish, changed (a lot) of things up in terms of item placements and whatnot, called it this a “remake.” But is it really? Well, it’s actually more than that.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that Resident Evil 2 Remake is more than a re-skinned version of the cult classic. Aside from the gorgeous visuals, certain NPCs (non-playable characters) have been given more dialogue and a more fleshed out story compared to the original. What’s noticeable too is how zombies are wonderfully animated, have a lot of variety, and just look downright menacing.

Another big change? Gone is the clunky, tank-like control movements of before, which are replaced with a more Resident Evil 4-esque over the shoulder view that allows you to move while shooting. Now, if you’re thinking that this makes the game a lot easier, don’t fret. There are cases where it is, but for the most part, the enemies are more plentiful, strategically placed, and has better AI, which is surprising for a zombie game.

Lookin’ Good

Speaking of gorgeous visuals, RE2 Remake looks fantastic. No, I don’t mean if it’s compared to the original, but on its own, the game is drop dead gorgeous. Leon and Claire look amazing, and the animations are topnotch. In each area, you can get a sense of what Capcom was trying to convey. Prepare to be scared witless just by the lighting, and how it’s used to great effect to hide enemies and to give a tense atmosphere all throughout.

The audio work isn’t second tier either. Gone are the cheesy dialogue and voice-overs, and is instead replaced with quality voice acting that fits the game’s theme. Even the zombies have guttural sounds that will fill you with dread whenever you hear ’em. Not only that, but even the sound design has been revamped. Prepare to hear every crunch, squish and footstep amplified as you trek the numerous places alone. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve stopped walking/running just to keep an ear out to hear if someone — or something — is near my vicinity.

Compounding the dread is how the AI in the game is loads better than in the original. This time, zombies weave and chase you appropriately. Even those with their legs cut off, they will do their damnest to gnaw at your feet. The zombies are the brainless undead, sure, but in RE2 Remake, they have a bit more drive to chew your face.

Dead Men Walking

Without going into spoilers, the story has been refined in such a way that “guest” characters have a more pronounced role, and everything that’s happening is much clearer. While some things and events don’t match up in the “Second Run” playthrough, it’s perfectly understandable since, well, the game would be boring if Capcom did it that way (think: no enemies for the most part).

It might be my old brain, but I don’t remember the ending being this good, either. Here, it’s much more evenly paced, and the second run ending actually feels like an ending you’d see in a movie. If you dug the original RE2’s ending and story, then you’ll have a lot to appreciate here in the Remake — even if there are plot holes and such.

(Minor spoilers inbound! Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want anything spoiled)

One thing I didn’t appreciate coming back is Mr. X. For those not familiar with the character, he’s a big brute that randomly shows up during your session and will fuck you up. He can’t be killed, and will just chase you constantly. While I appreciate the added tension (hearing his footsteps will make you panic), he becomes more of an annoyance than a scare factor as the game goes on. Soon, you’ll groan that you need to backtrack or go around in circles just to lose him so you can go back to getting that item, or finishing that puzzle. I get the sentiment, but it incessantly adds a lot of running around aimlessly, and pads your game time unjustly. Thankfully, he won’t be in every part of the game, and you’ll get your recrimination at some point, so there’s that.

We review

Brains Will Be Eaten

What’s even more impressive with the Resident Evil 2 Remake is how much content is packed in. Remember Hunk, and Tofu? Yeah, their scenarios are in the game again, and what’s more, Capcom has already announced a new “Ghost Survivors” mode free of charge that will add a ton of replaybility to the game’s already meaty 12-15  hours of playtime (two runs). At this point in the video game industry, Capcom has gone way beyond what’s expected, and then some.

From a gameplay standpoint, there’s very little to criticize in RE2 Remake, and it’s not from seeing things from rose tinted glasses, either. The change in gunplay from being a static affair, to now being able to shoot while moving, is a welcome one, and you might even wonder how you managed to do it another way before. Of course, there’s your usual Resident Evil problems in the game like inventory space, trying to save up on bullets, backtracking, and the like. But if you’re a franchise fan, it’s nothing new, and for new players, it’s not something that should irritate you, as it’s part of the series’ gameplay mechanics.

Mastering Evil Again and Again

Capcom has always been known as a publisher not shy from remaking, re-releasing, and milking their games. But for RE2 Remake, the publisher has reached new heights in remaking old games, and it feels more like a love letter to horror fans than a cash grab.

From the updated and revamped visuals, tweaked story, to the new stuff packed in; Resident Evil 2 Remake feels like the best of both worlds for both nostalgia fans, and newcomers alike.

Simply put, Resident Evil Remake 2 is an early contender for Game of the Year, which is surprising given it’s a remake of an old title, but it’s that good. This is one evil that you’ll want to bravely face head-on and tame.

Score: 9.5/10

Pros:

  • Graphics and audio work are brilliant
  • Story and new item placements are a welcome change
  • Packed with content with the promise of more free stuff down the line
  • Gameplay is wonderfully changed for the better

Cons:

  • Some areas might be too dark, and the game relies on unlit areas a bit too much
  • Mr. X is annoying, and stops being scary the second or third time you encounter him
  • You’ll hate backtracking from time to time

Resident Evil 2 Remake review copy provided by the publisher. Played on PS4 Pro. Played through both campaign runs up to completion.  You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here.

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