By Dylan Del Rio
When people talk about horror video games most of them will instantly bring up the “Resident Evil” series. Developed by Capcom, early games in the series were well known for throwing players in areas littered with zombies and forcing them to get through with limited weapons, intense bosses and a variety of puzzles.
In 2015, Capcom announced they were working on a remake of “Resident Evil 2” which finally released on Jan. 25, 2019.
The game follows two different characters trying to escape Raccoon City in the midst of a zombie outbreak. The first is Leon S. Kennedy, a rookie police officer and the second is Claire Redfield, a college student who went to the city to look for her older brother Chris. He was one of the main characters in the original “Resident Evil.”
During their escape they learn more about the origins of the virus and its connection with the city’s pharmaceutical company, the Umbrella Corporation. Despite being a sequel, the game’s plot is easy to follow for newcomers and all the characters are voiced competently making for a standard, but none the less, enjoyable narrative.
Leon and Claire are controlled from a third person perspective. They both start out with a pistol and as the game goes on you can acquire other weapons and upgrades including a shotgun, a grenade launcher, etc. You can also acquire sub weapons such as knifes and grenades that could be used normally or to breakout of a zombie’s grab attack. Ammo is limited and the zombies can take a lot of abuse, to the point where even a headshot will not necessarily put them down for good.
The game relies heavily on puzzle solving to proceed. For example, the first objective in the game is to find a secret exit in the police station. You quickly find it’s locked and the key is separated into three medallions, each located in a different statue around the police station and each having a different combination that needs to be solved to get the medallion.
The majority of the game is set in one location, the Raccoon City police station. While that may sound like a restriction, the game uses the closed in space to its advantage by encouraging the players to explore every room for equipment. By the end of the game you will know the entirety of the station like the back of your hand.
The game does an excellent job in making you feel anxious, from the constant growling and screaming of the zombies to the letters littered around the area written by people during the outbreak. It makes the police station feel alive, despite the vast majority of its inhabitants being dead and/or zombies.
What makes the game work is despite being limited with ammo and items, they still give you just enough to get by. You may not be able to kill the zombie blocking that door, but if you shoot it in the leg it will stagger back, giving you a window to bolt to the door. That constant feeling of getting through a tense situation through the skin of your teeth is what makes the game so rewarding.
There are only a few times the game falters. Firstly, some of the bosses are a pain. It felt like they were designed with a more fast-paced character in mind, to the point where whenever the characters dodged an attack, it felt more like a fluke than an actual skill.
Secondly, there is a mandatory stealth section in Claire’s campaign. If you make one wrong move, you get caught and have to start all over again. While the rest of the game encourages sneaking around and avoiding enemies, it was at least still possible to recover if you mess up. However, for this one section, that is gone and it’s really frustrating.
Despite those gripes, “Resident Evil 2” was an excellent remake with it’s biggest strengths being the nerve-racking gameplay and the sound design making the zombies genuinely scary and most of the weapons satisfying to use. It’s a clear reminder of why people love the series to begin with.