From punching boulders in RE5 to kicking your allies out of the way in RE6, Resident Evil has seen a drastic shift in direction and genre. The early entries were more about atmospheric horror alongside some comedic moments, and thankfully the franchise is seeing a return to that ever since RE7. Following in suit with RE1 Remake and now RE2 Remake. It is a good time to be a horror, survival fan, even more so if you’re a fan of the originals.
Resident Evil 2 (2019) follows essentially the same story of the original from back in 1998, as we step into the shoes of rookie cop Leon S. Kenney and Claire Redfield as they approach Raccoon City amongst an outbreak of zombies. While Leon aims to put a stop to this mess, with the intention of helping any who he sees, Claire instead looks for clues to her brother’s whereabouts… he is on vacation.
Travelling throughout the RPD headquarters, sewers and labs, our two heroes search for a hidden plot as well as the reason for the outbreak. While the story follows very closely to the original, the remake does update some of the scenes, alongside improving the depth of Marvin, who had but a dying gasp in the original. Including both A and B paths, RE2R fixes some plot holes that were made in subsequent releases while adding in some new ones.
If you are new to RE2, you essentially have to play through the game 4 times to get the full experience. A paths are the 1st runs you will have with each character and are generally the longer paths to take, having a more coherent story to follow. B paths are unlocked after completing A, and feature a sped-up introduction along with remixed item locations, puzzle solutions as well as some slight story changes. The original game had people mostly agree that Claire A and Leon B were the canon runs for the storyline.
Both characters share the same kind of differences in B paths, though their overall stories still have some major differences from one another. Claire and Leon take a diverging path around mid-way into the mansion, 3 alternate puzzles and different end-game boss fights. However, for the most part, they mostly play through the same puzzles, bosses and encounters, aside from the earlier mentioned changes.
It will take around 4-7 hours to complete each character and path, ending at around 20 or so hours for both character’s A and B paths. Just like the original, RE2R contains some additional game modes that add even more hours of fun. Besides the story and game modes, the game has plenty of records or achievements to unlock as you progress, from collectables to challenge runs of the scenarios, allowing for several replays.
Swapping out the tank controls of yesteryear, RE2R controls like other similar over the shoulder shooters. You aim your gun L2, your sub-weapon with L1, attack with R2 and select the environment with X. As you traverse you will pick up ammo, health items and gunpowder that can be combined to create more ammo, a feature seemingly taken from RE3. Resident Evil is a game about fighting zombies and biological weapons, RE2 is no different, having you gun down any non-human in your path.
Besides normal combat, Resident Evil prides itself on a wide variety of puzzles. With the remake the puzzles of the original are removed or remixed. Sliding block puzzles are exchanged for electrical current puzzles, matching pictures and riddles for chess pieces. It still contains plenty of “find this key” or using items to get items to get other items. Featuring plenty of backtracking through an undead filled area will prove tense if somewhat frustrating on subsequent playthroughs.
Keeping to the feel of the original, RE2R has a great sense of horrific atmosphere and tension, both with its use of sound and gameplay. You will be walking through the hallways to hear the beating of rain on the windows, the low groans of zombies or the scraping of claws from lickers. Your ammo will be low for the beginning sections, and if you are not one for exploring it will be low for a very long time. Every bite will need to be calculated alongside how many herbs or first aid sprays you have stocked up.
As a slight change from the original, Tyrant will follow you through all stories and paths, while he only did so in B paths in the original. A somewhat immortal foe who hunts you down until you enter areas he either cannot fit or his AI disallows him to approach. An even bigger change, and one I found increasingly annoying, is the fact that you can no longer down him for a long period of time or even gain ammo as a reward. Instead, he goes to one knee for about half a minute before the pursuit continues. It is a constant cat and mouse, which was quite terrifying in the first run or 2 but became quite annoying in later runs.
The soundtrack of Resident Evil 2 has been masterly updated to modern styles, breathing new life into the undead soundscape of 1998. While some tracks may have been changed or removed completely, the overall quality is top notch and doesn’t fail to instil a sense of fear or energy. Both sound design and music choices blend together beautifully to set the mood of traversal or that of action-packed boss fights.
RE has always been a difficult franchise, with camera angles that hide enemies, boss fights that drain your ammo as well as an ever-decreasing stock of items. RE2R continues this design premise, though towards the end you are often rewarded with plenty of ammo to see you through the final stages. Thankfully the difficulty is constant throughout, with only 1 or 2 drastic jumps. Although, the game does have an inbuilt adaptive difficulty system, which I am a huge hater of. If you are doing too well the game will become harder, and if you die you will be granted an extra hit against enemies.
Two of my major concerns with the balancing of the game is with the knife and damage dealt to zombies. The knife will break mostly after using it on 6 or so zombies due to overuse, which is a silly attempt at balancing an unlimited weapon that also makes no real-world sense when compared to other knives that can go several dozen cuts before dulling. Damage dealt to zombies is also way too low, requiring anywhere from 3-7 headshots to down a zombie, to only have them rise up 2-3 more times. It shouldn’t take 20 headshots to kill a zombie. These concerns are alleviated somewhat with unlockable unlimited weapons, or use of a shotgun/magnum to the head for a confirmed critical hit, though they require much more work to obtain or have damage more suited to bosses.
With the changes made to the story, the inclusion of Tyrant to all stories, a weird mixture of original A/B into the 1st stories and a focus on Marvin and Irons, RE2R may be a hit and miss for old fans. The story makes no coherent sense when these 2 heroes are meant to be going side-by-side in this game, you will have a side-character die in 1 path which is then completely nullified in the other, or having both protagonists fight the exact same boss in the same arena with an almost identical introduction cutscene. Facing a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, Capcom seemingly wanted to stay true to the original while also updating but not fixing errors. The divergence at mid-way into the mansion and final boss are the best sections that separate the characters, but for the rest they are simply taking the same footsteps.
Overall, Resident Evil 2 (2019) gets an 8/10, it is an amazingly crafted revival of the past, updating and polishing a dusty record from our childhoods. It stumbles heavily in continuity between stories, with some bizarre balancing choices but the main gameplay is enjoyable with a constant difficulty that is both challenging and calculating. You can easily play the game several times, with intense challenges to undertake and rewards to unlock. Players both new and returning should enjoy this entry for the gameplay alone, however, those who want a perfect story may be left wanting.