REvisiting The World of Survival Horror

By Anthony “LibrariaNPC” DeMinico,  20 March 2019


Resident Evil will always be a special game for me. Growing up, it was a group game: friends and I would usually meet up, take turns playing, throwing ideas of where to go next and how to solve puzzles, and generally enjoy the story. Newer iterations of the franchise lead to turns playing Mercenary Mode, or throwing challenges at each other regarding set areas and seeing just how amusing it could be.

To date, I still state that Resident Evil 2 (RE2) was arguably the best in the franchise. It kept a lot of the same feel with regards to puzzles and maintained that feeling of claustrophobia, but let you feel more like a hero as you explored the remains of the Raccoon Police Department.

Once I knew that there was a remake coming out, I found myself handing over the money and pre-ordering it immediately. I played it between reading materials for reviews, and thought it’d be a nice way to change the pace.

==The Pitch==

You have once again stepped into the world of survival horror. Good luck.

RE2, as a remake, takes the well-loved Playstation classic and gives it a complete graphical overhaul utilizing the same engine that powered the graphics of Resident Evil 7 while tying in mechanics used in the more action-oriented Resident Evil 6.

For those new to the franchise, the game brings us back to Raccoon City in the midst of a zombie outbreak, trapping our heroes within the confines of the Raccoon City Police Station and secret areas beneath the city as they struggle to get out alive. Of course, zombies are only the beginning of your nightmare…

==What You Get==

Getting the game gives you access to the core game itself, with an A-Game and a B-Game for both Leon and Claire. In addition to these core elements of the game, there are two unlockable side-missions (Hunk and Tofu), and  thanks to recent updates, you will have access to the “classic” outfits, as well as three new scenarios dubbed the Ghost Survivors (three “What-If” scenarios).

Including playing as the Kendo gunshop owner against poison-cloud spewing zombies.

Upgrading to the deluxe version (whether by initial purchase or via DLC) unlocks additional costumes for both Leon and Claire, as well as three versions of the Samurai Edge, the weapon used by S.T.A.R.S. members Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker.

==The Good==

I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by saying that this is truly a proper remake of Resident Evil 2. The game is both wonderfully familiar while being entirely new to an old hand of the game. Old puzzles return (with new solutions!) and classic jump scares are still in place, while new puzzles, challenges, and locations are added to make returning players stay on the edge of their seats.

We see a return of the police station, re-imaged in glorious high definition and not the same pre-rendered graphics of the past. All of the old faces are back, including Leon, Claire, Ada, the Birkin family, Hunk, and of course, the ever-present Mr. X, all with new models, outfits, and looking better (and scarier) than ever.

I mean, it’s rather intimidating watching Mr. X just walk through the flames like nobody’s business.

While so much is familiar, we are given quite a bit more added in to the game than before. I won’t go into spoilers, but a number of things have been added that make this game just so much darker. There are characters that many players already hated that have brand new reasons to hate them even more, while other characters that were just there momentarily are given a much more detailed existence.

Simply put, the game is beautiful. Well, sort of. I really should say that the game is truly atmospheric; the colors are fitting and go from vibrant to dark, the monsters are wonderfully rendered (even if the faces get repetitive), and the details of just about everything are just accurate. The attention to detail is truly spot on, from a knife sticking out of Mr. X’s arm for a chunk of the game (after driving it in there during an early encounter) to the shine of your light on the water. I don’t always like remakes, but this is excellently done.

“Familiar, but different” is absolutely a tagline for this game.

One concern I had walking into this game was part of the pitch: the mechanics are based of off those in the more action-oriented parts of the franchise. Called shots, reticle/laser sight aiming, one-button weapon swaps, and a melee attack option were all brought into this version, which made me worried that we would lose that survival horror of the original.

How wrong I was…

Even with these new mechanics, I feel it actually added to the game. Sure, you can shoot that zombie in the head, but ammo is scarce enough that you’ll need to make every bullet count. Yes, you can swap out from your pistol to a knife, and even interrupt attacks by using a knife or grenade, but those items are limited and will break (or even be lost!). Combine this with new versions of puzzles, some new puzzles, and the various quality of life improvements over the life of the series, and you’ll find that this new RE2 is not only a joy to play, but it’s a welcome addition to the world of survival horror.

Not to mention that some enemies play possum REALLY well, and others require specific weapons to take them down for good.

==The Bad==

While the game is rated M, I do know a few people that take issue with the sheer amount of swearing that takes place in this game. There’s swearing in the scripted scenes, but you also get quite a bit of a specific four-letter-word dropped randomly after a beastie takes a hit and stands back up. It didn’t phase me, but I know a few friends of mine have sidestepped the title because of the “excessive swearing,” as well as omitting it from their streams due to the level of swearing involved.

Imagine REALLY needing a bathroom and you find it like this. That’ll give an idea of the kind of swearing that you’ll sporadically hear.

While I really do enjoy the look of the game, there are a few issues in the appearance department. There are times that a zombie will stagger, or be hitting a door, but they’ll look like they aren’t actually there; it’s almost like an old green screen, in which something was added in and has different coloration or outlines compared to the rest of what is around it. This comes from oddly colored zombies or a strange “blur” when they move a certain way, which detracted from the immersion in my opinion.

Finally, I have an issue with the damage mechanic in the game. In older RE titles, we’ve all learned how many bullets from each gun it will take to finish off a specific monster, or how to utilize a “melee” attack once an enemy is down to ensure they are gone. Instead, damage is randomized here, and I don’t just mean with critical hits.

WHY WON’T YOU DIE…again…

There were times in this game I would sink upwards of ten bullets into a zombie’s head, but they were still getting back up. Other times, I would fire one round, land that critical, and there’s nothing left. Sometimes I’d be in the middle zone, but at the end of it all, the damage was just never consistent regardless of how my accuracy was. It added a certain degree of tension to survival horror, but it was rather frustrating to know that my slow-to-reload pistol can be emptied into a target’s head at point-blank range and they would still be standing. I guess I would hope for more consistency instead of this level of varying range.

==The Middle==

There are just three minor points to mention here that some would put in either category, and I haven’t quite decided.

The first big one is the voice acting cast. Instead of bringing in Matt Mercer (arguably the most famous voice of Leon) or one of the other three others that held the role, Leon is given a whole new voice. This also happened with Claire; we didn’t get long-running Alyson Court returning, but a new actress. The same was true with the entire cast, really, which threw me off from the experience.

Kinda like that, yeah!

The acting done is honestly a bit split. At times, I felt that the delivery of the lines was a bit wooden and lacked emotion, very much like the first of the Resident Evil franchise, but over time it seemed to get better. I can’t tell if it’s just certain takes weren’t that great and got better later, or if I just wasn’t used to the voices and needed time to adjust.

The second is more of a nitpick, but some players may not like the disappearance of specific encounters, as well as the loss of at least one monster (the spiders). I didn’t mind the change in encounters and the challenge they presented, but I do feel that some wouldn’t be fond of some of these shifts.

Finally, some may have some issues with the unlockables in this game. In typical Capcom fashion, unlocking anything in this game is going to involve performing speed runs with limited saves to unlock individual things. I mean, we’re talking a three hour run to unlock an unlimited ammo pistol, much less the insane two hour run (and under three saves!) for a rocket launcher or minigun! The other unlockables are just simply clearing the game, thankfully, but the difficulty for the rest is up there.

Big Mood.

==The Verdict==

After hours of shooting, cursing, and checking every corner, I’d have to give Resident Evil 2 four buns.

RE2 hits all the right buttons: nostalgia, new adrenaline-pumping action and pacing with classic horror, and designs that are just wonderful to gawk at. Even without the nostalgia of playing the original, RE2 has what it takes to be a proper part of the Resident Evil franchise: it has everything you need for a proper survival horror, as well as a story that just works.

Even with the perks, it does suffer from a few glitches that ruin the immersion, the scripting/voice issues, and some of the other more random elements that may ruin the experience for some.

If you are a fan of Resident Evil, whether from the beginning or with some of the new titles, you really can’t go wrong with picking up a copy of RE2. The only people I would suggest to avoid it are those who have issues with swearing, horror, and scenes of violence and gore.

Resident Evil 2 is available from most retailers, is available on Playstation 4, XBox One, and PC, and currently retails for $59.99.


Anthony, better known as LibrariaNPC, wears many hats: librarian, gamemaster, playtester, NPC, and our Editor-In-Chief. You can support his work on Patreon, his tip jar, or via Ko-Fi.


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