Plus: Resident Evil 2 as Never Seen Before, Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy are Back and True to the Original Experience…
In our Resident Evil 2 review, we revisit Raccoon City as you have never seen it before and uncover the horror beneath the surface. Play as Claire or Leon in this stunning Resident Evil 2 Remake.
WARNING: This game contains content intended for a mature audience and due to the graphic nature and scary effects of the game, people with a pre-existing heart condition are advised to seek medical advice before playing as you are invited to uncover the horrors of Raccoon City once again.
This game has been rated PEGI 18: Viewer discretion is advised. For more information of the PEGI rating system see this page: What are PEGI Age Ratings?
If you are old enough to remember, Resident Evil was the game that changed everything. Releasing in 1996 for the original PlayStation, the game had everything; horror, puzzles, a story and one of the best video game intros ever.
Being so good, the inevitable sequels followed, and probably the best was Resident Evil 2, which, in the same vein as it’s predecessor has been given the remake treatment, to much fanfare and applause.
Originally released in 1998 by developer and publisher Capcom, RE:2 was a direct sequel to Resident Evil and featured some gameplay improvements over the original which included branching story paths, a more engaging and fleshed out story and improved pre-rendered graphics.
The game was also a critical success, being praised for its atmosphere and excellent use of audio.
Fast forward twenty years and the game has been given a makeover to utilize the power of current generation hardware on Windows PC as well as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Resident Evil 2 has once again been developed and published by Capcom (Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Monster Hunter) and enjoyed a glorious worldwide release on 25th January 2019 being Capcom’s second-best ever launch via Steam over Team Fortress 2.
However, the game is seeing it’s best performance on PlayStation 4 where it currently sits at the Number 1 spot  in the UK PS4 video games charts with 74% of the sales.
The game has also impressed some of the most hardened critics on the web from sites such as Gamespot and IGN giving the remake extremely high scores of 9 and 9.0 respectively, with Gamespot’s Alessandro Fillaro citing:
- “Fantastic visuals that evoke a chilling and nerve-wracking atmosphere”.
- “Expanded story that takes the original material to exciting and surprising places”.
- “Clever and challenging bonus modes that are satisfying to take on and complete”.
With IGN’s Daemon Hatfield stating simply “Amazing”.
- Read IGN review here: IGN Resident Evil 2 (Remake) Review
- Read Gamespot review here: Gamespot Resident Evil 2 (Remake) Review
Note: upon my play-through for this article I played as Claire Redfield. In order to get the best from this game it is recommended that you play the entire game as both characters as there are differences, not to mention you will not get the entire story:
- Leon’s experiences are more suited to him being a cop.
- Claire’s experiences are more family-based as she is looking for her brother.
- Some paths are different as you progress.
- Differing objectives.
- Different NPC interaction.
- Variation in weapons and items.
Here is my impression of Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 Remake based upon my expectations from the game, my experiences and my honest and unbiased opinion. Please note that this is not a review. Read on and enjoy the article. Played on Windows PC.
From the opening cut-scene of a truck driver enjoying a burger (while driving might I add) and listening to a talk show, you will be slowly and subtly enlightened as to what is happening, as a caller into a Raccoon City radio station mentions how his Friday night drink was hampered by a girl he thought was drunk due to staggering around, and upon closer inspection, “looked like a walking corpse”.
This humorous outlook on the T-Virus outbreak injects a great tension breaker into the game which could have started with a much more macabre scene from the off, and only serves to highlight humanity’s lighthearted and aloof look on the sheer fragility of our own mortality – if only for a fleeting second.
Because, from there onwards, it gets chilling, horrifying and nerve-racking. To excellent effect!
You will be satisfied and pleased to know that straight from the off, this excellent cut-scene introduction is rendered with the in-game graphics engine, RE Engine.
RE Engine is Capcom’s in-house graphics rendering system (Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Devil May Cry 5), extending the glorious visual fidelity into the in-game action seamlessly; a technique commonly used in today’s video games.
This is certainly my preferred technique of scene to game transition, as it allows for minimal disruption of the illusory aspect of being in the story, similar to actors not looking into the camera.
As good as the graphics are on my mediocre PC and PS4 Original, certain websites are reporting that the visuals (quite obviously) will look better on a PlayStation 4 Pro and an Xbox One X. Eurogamer has written a great article which includes an excellent graphics comparison video from Digital Foundry which you can watch below.
Read the article here: Resident Evil 2 Remake Plays Best on PS4 Pro and XBox OneX
Something you will notice immediately upon transition from cut-scene to gameplay is that because of the RE Engine, Resident Evil 2, unlike the remake of the first game, now utilizes full 3D environments rather than pre-rendered backgrounds with static, strategically placed cameras to focus on the action.
While the aforementioned static cameras were used to full effect for RE:1, they would be extremely out of place in this remaster.
The pros of using the 3D rendering for this particular title means that the game plays out far more cinematically than it would have been were it not for RE Engine. This, in turn, can create some truly intense and terrifying moments in exactly the same manner as some of your favorite horror movies. Only to greater effect, since you are completely engrossed in an immersive story of which you are in control of the action for the most part.
The engine also applies some expertly crafted scenes of melancholy, foreboding and horror, accompanied by a ferociously atrocious audio track with the effects and music working in tandem, further accentuating the moribund journey of the playable character, whose untimely demise could lurk just around the next corner.
All of the in-game audio was created from the ground up by Capcom’s chief Audio Director Kentaro Nakashima and his team and were implemented to include three distinct audio techniques:
- Real-Time Binaural; real-time stereophonic sound.
- Impulse Response Creation; high-quality reverberation.
- Dolby Atmos; immersive surround sound.
More information on the game’s audio can be found here: Resident Evil 2 Interview: How Sound Injects Horror into Games
Immediately following this tense scene, the sequence introduces Claire Redfield who is traveling to Raccoon City to find her brother Chris, a member of the S.T.A.R.S team sent to investigate the happenings of Spencer Mansion.
It is here that Claire pulls into a Gas Station just outside Raccoon City, “Home of Umbrella” and upon hearing a crash coming from the inside of the building, the unwitting heroine set’s forth her Odyssey into untold horror and torment.
Making excellent use of the visuals of the RE Engine, camera angles and Nakashima’s ingeniously scored, subtle music track with nightmarish effects as mentioned above (it’s dark, there’s no one around and it’s raining heavily) we get the first glimpse of horror, where, upon being asked if he is OK, a heavily bleeding man points to a corridor.
Proceeding with caution, Claire is navigated down the dimly lit corridor (with only a flashlight for comfort) where from store cupboard at the end, inhuman gnarls and snarls can be heard.
Not really wanting to, but proceeding with a morbid curiosity mixed with frenzied anxiety, we approach the obviously doomed area and straight into the ghoulish nightmare that you’d expect from a Resident Evil title.
One thing that is greatly appreciated here, is that the action begins pretty much straight away; from a pretty short introductory cut-scene to the first control of the character and then the first action set-piece.
This makes a refreshing change when compared to a lot of AAA titles of late such as Far Cry 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, which while very well implemented, did seem to provide overly long introductory cut-scenes and game-play tutorials, almost to the effect of insulting the intelligence of the player.
Aiming and ultimately dispatching your first unfortunate T-Virus afflicted soul is simple enough, as the controls are well implemented, with a natural configuration similar to most modern games.
Using L2 to enter the game’s new shoulder cam, aiming with Right Thumb Stick and then pressing R2 to discharge your weapon, the”zombie” for lack of a better word, can be killed with a clear headshot, as Claire expertly crosses her arms, making use of the “Harries Method” of aiming her sidearm and flashlight at the target simultaneously.
Recoil comes into play with each shot, and taking your time to aim is crucial. A welcome feature is also the extremely minimal HUD. Displaying only your ammunition information.
Upon taking care of that nasty business, you will see just how well polished the animations are in this game, as Claire loads some rounds into her gun; quick and clean, with great fidelity, as are the walking and running animations.
Still, Nakashima’s highly arousing industrial phonics continues to menace your auditory sense, adding a sense of panic to the scene which makes the entire post first kill sequence genuinely intense when coupled with the low lighting and excellent torch effects and more ominous growling from an unknown source.
Needless to say, much of the game carries on in this manner, with absolutely terrifying jump-scares, freaker moments and absurdly grotesque boss battles which eventually begin to require more finesse than simply aiming and shooting.
The action unfolds throughout the entire game with a superb blend of the original’s survivalist horror genre combined with much of the free-form gameplay style of the more modern entries of the Resident Evil series akin to RE:4 onward.
As you progress through the game from the unthinkable scenario of a viral outbreak on the streets of Raccoon City, to the even worse nightmare world containing unspeakable horrors in the labyrinths below, you will be tasked with solving numerous puzzles; a staple of the series.
Fortunately, as in previous RE titles, these puzzles aren’t going to require a beautiful mind, but are designed more to provide a nice balance between the different play styles and indulge your precious heart a small respite from the potent horror and action sequences.
If you are having some trouble with the puzzles in the game, Gameranx has an excellent Resident Evil 2 Puzzle Guide. Warning: May contain spoilers:
As the action takes place in different stages and areas, progress through one area to another is barred, usually, by a menacing boss fight.
Boss fights in the Resident Evil series are epic and the series is known to shine here, as are Capcom games in general such as Devil May Cry and Onimusha, and this incarnation is no different, so, therefore, does not disappoint.
Each boss fight is predictably progressively more difficult than the last, but the game is so well balanced as not impress upon you anything much more difficult than your experiences in the preceding area, but not so easy as to feel like your efforts learning new combat methods were unwarranted and/or a waste of time, right up to the epic finale.
For example, your first encounter (with a deformed William Birkin) requires some precision aiming and shooting similar to the simple zombie popping and stabbing you have been doing up until this point, however you will have your reflexes and timing tested as Birkin attempts (and often succeeds) to grab you so he can unleash his devastating attack.
This trend continues from here on right up to your final fight with Super Tyrant but evolves to force you to include different weapons such as explosives and necessary use of items while keeping you well challenged as enemy speed, reactions and vulnerabilities swap, change and improve, forcing you to adopt different tactics for each boss encounter.
However, without spoiling anything, each boss has a different weak spot, but it’s up to you to find it!
There are also a lot of unlockables for you to discover as you progress throughout the game:
- Easter Eggs
Upon beating the game, there’s an excellent nod to the original as Capcom has also included the two secret modes that came with the title; Hunk and Tofu. Hunk is an excellent additional character from Umbrella and Tofu is a novelty character in the form of a large piece of Tofu!
Hunk’s mode, The 4th Survivor allows you to play as an Umbrella Security Service Special Agent nicknamed The Grim Reaper, also known as Hunk.
You can play through the story as Hunk, from the perspective of tactical specialists trying to survive his own nightmare in Raccoon City.
Click to enlarge…
The 4th Survivor includes a new weapons and items load-out not available to Claire and Leon and all-new gameplay features and elements and a more challenging experience not for the faint of heart.
As is almost customary with big game titles these days, Capcom has confirmed that DLC is coming to RE:2, but for now, are keeping tight-lipped on exactly what the content will include.
Here’s what we do know:
- The name of the DLC is The Ghost Survivors
- The DLC features three characters. It’s unknown if all three will playable.
- Robert Kendo
- an umbrella Operative
- Raccoon City Mayor’s daughter
- The Ghost Survivors is a separate side story to Claire, Leon and Hunk.
- Random Scenarios
- New Enemies
- Purchasable Items (in-game points)
- Costumes for Claire and Leon
- March 2019 Release
Source: Resident Evil 2 Add-on Content will Star Three New Survivors (www.polygon.com)
A Delicately Handled Tribute to a Classic
Right from the off, Resident Evil 2 (Remake) will have you hooked. From the humorously atrocious radio call at the start of the game and the events onward at the start of the game to the expected, sweaty-palmed boss battles requiring a rest upon completion, the ominous terror of Raccoon City has never been so gloriously captured.
The excellent use of the RE Engine’s visuals and audio designed, utilized to full effect by the sick minds at Capcom, bring together an audio-visual horror experience not seen since Silent Hill 2. Putting you in full 3D view of the cameras is a broad move and a departure from the original, but this stroke of genius is excellently implemented and I believe the game may have suffered were it not for this change.
Because of the fully 3D environments, the action is slammed frighteningly in your face with the over shoulder and third-person rear cams, lending themselves beautifully to the game’s most scary aspects such as jump scares and freakers – of which there are plenty.
The controls system overhaul also works well with the game, especially combat controls, and by being very easy to utilize, lends a keen sense of urgency to the action when required. They feel fluid and correct when needed, however, in some areas, the action can kick in a little too quickly and have you fumbling for your combat controls; and that is the only complaint I could come up with!
The story is paced exceptionally evenly, as are the character’s own sense of what is occurring as well the evolution of enemy AI and difficulty, being scaled to the progressing experiences of the player stage to stage and boss to boss.
Faced with an epic yarn of horror, mystery and monsters worthy of any H.P. Lovecraft fan, two separate but intertwining stories, many unlockables and even fun-filled bonus modes, Resident Evil 2 (Remake) is going to keep you entertained well past your initial play-through, more than enough to get you through while you wait for the inevitable DLC later in the year.
2019 has been given a great treat to the start of the gaming year and a gem of a game that for all intents and purposes could have been a complete failure. So, switch off your lights, put on your headphones and pray you don’t get too scared because there’s work to be done and Raccoon City has never looked so horrifyingly beautiful.
This is just my opinion but I would love to hear what you guys think down below in the comments section as I’m sure this will be a controversial remake.
Resident Evil 2 (Remake) is available now for Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the game.
See more at Capcom’s Official Resident Evil 2 (Remake) Website: http://www.residentevil2.com
Michael Gore – Editor/Owner, ChartX Games.
Check out some of the images included in this article in greater detail.
Click to enlarge…
Resident Evil 2 Deluxe Edition (Remake) PC System Specs
MINIMUM for Resident Evil 2
- OSWINDOWS 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-BIT Required)
- ProcessorIntel Core i5-4460, 2.70GHz or AMD FX-6300 or better
- Memory8 GB RAM
- GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260x with 2GB Video RAM
- DirectXVersion 11
RECOMMENDED for Resident Evil 2
- OSWINDOWS 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (64-BIT Required)
- ProcessorIntel Core i7-3770 or AMD FX-9590 or better
- Memory8 GB RAM
- GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 with 3GB VRAM
- DirectX Version 11
- “Resident Evil 2“. Wikipedia. Retrieved 25/01/2019.
- “Resident Evil 2 is Capcom’s Second Best Steam Launch Ever“. PC GamesN. Retrived 28/01/2019.
- “Resident Evil 2 Sells Best on PS4 by a Mile“. Push Square. Retrieved 28/01/2019.
- “RE Engine“. Resident Evil Wiki – FANDOM. Retrieved 25/01/2019.
- “Resident Evil 2 Interview: How Sound Injects Horror into Games”. Digital Trends. Retrieved 25/01/2019.
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Michael is the sole writer and owner at chartxgames.com.
Many thought that his youth (and adulthood) playing video games was a waste of time but here he is writing about them for a living.
Michael has a background in IT and enjoys (apart from video games) building and repairing PC’s, digital artwork (Photoshop, 3DS Max) and has interests in too many subjects to mention.