Resident Evil 2 Review: The Best Remake?

In 2019 Capcom released the latest in its line of revamped versions of older Resident Evil games, this game took a much different approach to this idea than the previously released ones. Prior to RE2 there had simply been remasters and ports for most of the series. These all basically kept their core mechanics roughly the same but with updated graphics. A risk was taken to instead change up the whole style of play to be much more similar to Resident Evil 4, which most people still consider to be the best Resident Evil game.

Gameplay? 10/10 – With quality of life changes over the original, none of the tension is lost, marking an astounding update in gameplay, without sacrificing what made the original so great.

RE2’s game play has drifted quite far from its original iteration, gone are the fixed cameras, stationary aiming and 3 angles of aiming, in favour of a much more dynamic 3rd person action survival setup. It has taken heavy inspiration from Resident Evil 4 in this regard but has kept the direct action to a minimum when compared to RE4 directly. 

Resident Evil 2, for those who don’t know, is split into two campaigns, belonging to Leon and Claire. Each character has an A scenario, and a B scenario, a layout that has been taken directly from the original release. An A scenario matches with the other characters B campaign, and vice versa. As you can imagine, having essentially 4 campaigns to finish really adds to the replayability of the title. Each scenario and difficulty that you play and finish is rewards with a lettered rank at the end, with “S” rank being the best possible. The requirements for the ranks might even change, with time required for completion, and amount of total saves both being examples.

As mentioned above RE2 has multiple difficulties, 3 in fact that vary considerably, these are Assisted, Standard and Hardcore. The names are pretty on the nose but to be specific, Assisted is the easiest with the zombies dealing the least damage, and having the lowest health. You also get health regeneration and aim-assist. Standard mode removes the health regen and the aim assist whilst also strengthening all zombies. Finally, Hardcore is where the difficulty goes even further, removing all auto-saving and making you use the limited resource “ink-ribbons” to save your progress, all zombies are further strengthened both in attack and health, there is less ammo to find, and also there is less inventory space available by the end.

If, like me, survival horror (honestly any horror) games are not your bag, then you may have started on Assisted or Standard difficulties for all campaigns and you probably will have finished pretty quickly without too much difficulty, this would normally leave you with little else to do. However thankfully for RE2 there are other things to do. The first is to obviously try to complete the aforementioned four campaigns either with a better score or at a higher difficulty, this is made easier because a lot is kept the same between difficulties. By playing on say Standard you are able to make your way through Hardcore a little bit easier. The second is the extra Survivor episodes that can be unlocked.

The Survivor episodes are are essentially bonus content What If? scenarios for some of the other “survivors” in Racoon City and provides some extra gameplay once you’ve finished the main story. These are little short missions that involve characters that are either seen or mentioned during your main playthrough that will get some extra screen time.

Visuals? 9/10 – Despite low res models at a distance, RE Engine and Capcom do an amazing job. Zombies look terrifyingly realistic up close, and human characters look almost too realistic.

What can I say about the visuals other than they are both breathtaking and horrifying? Honestly that really sums it up. The current RE engine is a work of art and the team at Capcom have pulled no punches when it comes to the visuals of RE2. The 2 key areas being the character models and their interactions and also the environments are seemingly impossible leaps and bounds improvements on the original, I don’t think anyone could have hoped that the original RE2 would ever be remade with this fine precision.

First let’s talk about characters, this too splits into 2 categories: Humans and not. The humans (these are the alive ones) are but a stone’s throw from the uncanny valley, though they do not quite reach it. The expressions that can be gleaned whilst playing are very real and truly set the tone for the player the whole way through. I think a very special mention should go to Marvin whose pain is entirely believable just by looking at the pained expressions that are constantly crossing his face during your few interactions. 

Now for the not alive (these are the ones that aren’t alive anymore). The Zombies are grotesque in the most glorious ways and they may be some of the best video game zombies to date, from their movements and, my personal favourite feature, the bullet wounds left in all zombies that you shoot at, and don’t kill. This is always satisfying.

One issue that does occur semi frequently is that at longer distances the zombies tend to reduce in quality and their movements become much fuzzier and choppy. I wouldn’t say this is game breaking nor does it really break the immersion but it is worth mentioning.

Audio? 10/10With the spacial audio doing more than it’s fair share, Resi 2 crafts tension and immersion like almost no other game before it.

Those. God. Damn. Footsteps. 

If you know, you know. I’m trying not to spoil too much here as there may be people reading this that have not played this incarnation or the original RE2 but while being in the Police station you will be hearing these footsteps a lot across all scenarios. I cannot tell you how much time I have spent by a safe room door just trying to peak out because I heard those footsteps on my way out.

Resident Evil 2 excels in pretty much all areas concerning audio. Honestly I don’t think it’s lacking in any area. Most importantly the atmosphere that is created going through the dead (or undead) hallways is thick with tension, and keeps you nervous going around every corner. I think this is a real testament to the care that has been put into this game.

Story? 8/10 – Despite not ageing particularly well in all areas, the story on show mostly holds up to par, even holding some of the undeniable charm of the earlier titles in the franchise.

This tale follows the 2 protagonists, Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who were first introduced to the Resident Evil universe in the original RE2. Leon is a rookie cop who just prior to starting his first posting in Racoon City is told to stay away from the city but not long after this he decides that he should go to Racoon City anyway to see if he can help in any way, not really knowing what is actually happening exactly. On his way into the city he meets up with our second protagonist Claire, who is making her way to Racoon City to look for her brother Chris (who was one of the protagonists from the first Resident Evil game). 

They have a startling first meeting when they are attacked by a large group of zombies at a gas station, they are able to escape in an open police car and they continue their journey into the city together, their journey is cut short after a crash and explosion forces them apart, they agree to meet up at the Police department and go their separate ways.

What follows is one hell of a first date with the both of them navigating through the police station, the sewers, and the always inevitable Umbrella lab, fighting through hordes of zombies and other atrocities that were spawned by the Umbrella Corporation.

This is just a brief overview but you get the idea, I think the story should get some slack as it is just a retelling of the original game from 1998. They have made changes to the overall story and changed some of the character interactions throughout, which brings a much needed breath of fresh air to an aged tale.

Acting? 7/10 – Dodgy lip syncing and cheesy lines are still freshened up with brand new vocal performances and much improved cutscenes.

It’s a Resident Evil game so what do you want? I think we should just be thankful that there are no Jill sandwiches. This will be tied directly to the writing and the same point is relevant in both, it’s a Resident Evil game. The acting can only be as good as the writing and vice versa, they’re never going to win an award in these categories but they have certainly come a long, long way from the originals both with the voice acting and the old live action sequences, which were absolutely dreadful. 

The voice acting is at a much higher standard than it used to be, each character actually seems like a living human and not from some cheesy 70’s porno, so that’s nice!

There are some areas that will definitely need improvement, including the lip syncing which still leaves quite a lot to be desired throughout the game and then also, to a lesser extent, some of the feelings are lost or missed at times throughout the game, I would say one of the biggest examples of this is at the beginning of Leon’s A scenario after meeting Marvin, Leon is on the floor tired and shocked and I feel that this scene in particular is not handled well.

Another interaction that is handled poorly early on is the first reunion between Leon and Claire, the conversation doesn’t flow like a regular human interaction, this could be the voice actors fault, the writing or the direction, it’s hard to say which causes the most issue but it is an issue regardless.

Writing? 7/10 – Despite clear improvements across the board, writing quality still leaves something to be desired, to be forgiven due to the original release date.

I said it above but there are no awards coming here. Again, there are very clear improvements on the original and I think that is to be commended but it still falls flat at times. Some of the dialogue as mentioned above already and the overall story and motivations at this point are a bit of a cliché, partly because Resident Evil made them which is a funny thought.

There really isn’t much to be said here in all honesty.

Performance? 9/10 – The aforementioned low res models at a distance hold back an otherwise flawless performance throughout, at least for this reviewer.

I played this on an Xbox One X through multiple playthroughs and found no obvious bugs, glitches or frame drops on any of them. This isn’t to say there aren’t any, but I haven’t experienced any and so have no real complaints to make regarding this game’s performance.

The only thing worth mentioning is that from a distance some of the zombies go jaggedy and low res as I mentioned above but my assumption is that this is on purpose on the devs part, as they wouldn’t want too much resource being used for anything too far away.

Fun Factor ? 9/10 – Horror games aren’t for everyone, but the tension that Resi 2 builds is something you’ll rarely find anywhere else.

Fun may be the wrong term for this game, I would say a more accurate heading would be “Stress and Tension Factor” and in that case this would definitely be a 9/10. It took me a much longer time than it should have to finish the Claire B scenario because Mr. X kept me in the safe rooms hyperventilating multiple times through the Police Stations section, I am aware that he isn’t that scary and I’m just a coward but when that music change hits and you start hearing those goddamn footsteps I just can’t help but fill my boxers! There is a certain level of enjoyment and exhilaration that comes from this kind of change segment and I think for this situation that’s good enough to count as fun.

Value? 8/10 – Despite being a full remake rather than a remaster, full price still seems a steep ask. Beyond that it’s one of the, if not the best, remakes you’ll see.

Value is very subjective, if you like something you’re likely willing to pay more for it, which would increase its value. The standard edition of this game was released as a full price, brand new game. The issue is that this isn’t an original title, it’s a remake. It is an amazing remake and it built everything from the ground up but it is a remake and I think that any time a game is re-made or remastered its price should always reflect that and RE2 didn’t.

All this being said there are deals available for this game which sometimes bring the price down drastically. I think without a doubt if you’re even remotely interested in Resident Evil, survival horror games or zombie games, this is well worth the buy.

How Much Did The Reviewer Enjoy It? 10/10 – An unprecedented level of detail has been injected into this once revolutionary title.

As the title may have suggested I enjoyed this game so much that I feel it may be one of the best remakes that has ever been released, the level of effort and detail that has been added to an already revolutionary game in this franchise leaves me in awe, based on my own opinion I think this is probably be my favourite Resident Evil game to date. I have almost nothing but praise for this game and the few issues that I have, and have mentioned, pale in comparison to how much I enjoyed this game.

Resident Evil 2 review.
Written by Kyle Munn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *