While the Resident Evil series may be considered a classic of the horror game genre, none of the past entries have landed with me. Both times I played Resident Evil 1 (PS1 and Gamecube versions) the clunky controls and jump were just not for me. I also tried Resident Evil 4, which felt a little better from a gameplay standpoint, but its plot and tone pushed me away. So understandably, the Resident Evil 2 Remake wasn't even on my radar... but then it ended up being one of the free games included with the graphics card I bought earlier this year. Of course, I had to give it a shot!
Resident Evil 2 Remake (labeled as "Resident Evil 2/ Biohazard RE:2" on Steam) is an HD remake of the 1997 PS1 game that uses a modern third-person action game engine but retains the story and level design of the original game. At the beginning of RE2 Remake the player selects one of two characters, Leon or Claire, who play similarly but different paths through the game and a different perspective on the story. This review is based on Claire's path, which I played through collaboratively with my wife.
- Considering that this game came packaged with a fancy new graphics card, of course, it looked great and ran very smoothly.
- The cut scenes and voice acting were pretty solid and gave the game a very appropriate 90s horror movie feel.
- RE2 Remake's control scheme feels like a drastic improvement from the original PS1 RE games as well as RE4. I tried playing with both an Xbox controller and keyboard/mouse. While I ended up preferring the controller, both input methods seemed completely viable for this game.
- Early in the game, the only enemies you face are standard zombies. The game appears to use RNG to determine how resilient the zombies are, meaning that many of these enemies are complete bullet sponges, often requiring you to empty an entire magazine of ammo into their heads to get them to stay down. While I guess this was a design choice to make zombies seem more menacing, but I found it to be more irritating than scary.
- The game gets more interesting once more types of enemies are introduced. Among these, two enemy types were particularly effective at upping the tension level in the game: Lickers, who are blind but very sensitive to sound, and Mr. X, a giant invincible monster that chases you in certain key scenes. I found that special enemies like these were used just enough to vary up the gameplay without getting old.
- While the game world is very small by modern standards, a police station, an alleyway, and an underground facility, RE2 makes very effective use of them by having you traverse them via different routes or having events take place that changes the layout of the area.
- In addition to combat and exploration, RE2 features some light point-and-click-adventure-like puzzles. Usually, they involve using a key item in the correct location or sliding around objects in the environment. I appreciated that these mixed things up a bit, but the puzzles themselves were a mixed bag.
A common theme of my reviews this year has been "pleasant surprises" and Resident Evil 2 Remake would certainly match that description. After we pushed through the first hour or two of the game, my wife and I found a very satisfying gameplay loop at the game's core that kept us engaged all the way through the campaign. If you're like me and bounced off earlier RE games, I would definitely still recommend giving Resident Evil 2 Remake a look!
Completion Time: 12 hours, 41 minutes (Claire's campaign, medium difficulty)