Let’s get RPD’d
It’s no secret, to say I was hyped for the Resident Evil 2 remake is maybe something of an understatement (read my New Year Resi-lution article here) and when the tell-tale brown Amazon package dropped through my letterbox I tore it open like a licker on a police sergeant.
I’ve never played the original version so I don’t have some of the nostalgia or knowledge that other fans may have, but from what I understand from other reviews the remake generally stays true to the original game but with tweaks to the geography and storyline. To call it a remake is also a little bit of an undersell as Capcom built the whole thing from scratch rather than put make-up on a pig… or in this case zombie.
I decided to go for the “canonical” Leon A scenario and Claire B scenario, and Leon is every inch the adorable, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed rookie cop. You are first introduced to his outstanding 90s hair and his captain state the obvious detective skills at an abandoned gas station, where he is more disturbed by the lack of customers than the big smear of blood and innards on the forecourt.
You could maybe argue that as a character Leon, and to some extent Claire, are a bit two-dimensional and unswervingly brave and heroic. I’d argue back that these are both quite young characters with something to prove. It’s Leon’s first day on the force and he has that enthusiastic, naivety of someone out to change the world and do the right thing. Claire is a college student and younger sister of epic tank Chris Redfield so with a role model like that in her life it’s no wonder she’s a fierce badass.
As with the original, you get separated early on to go on your own journeys through Racoon City with the occasional catch up through a barred fence or via a security camera. However, this is perhaps my biggest criticism of the game.
With the A and B scenarios, I expected two different storylines which would occasionally converge, and while there were a couple of new locations, I found myself as Claire re-treading a lot of the same ground Leon did which felt a bit lazy and narratively improbable. Puzzles that I had previously solved as Leon had somehow magically reset, and my encounters with the Birkins as Claire could have only happened if Annette had access to a time-turner. Which I wouldn’t put past her.
The moments where you get to play the sidekicks, for want of a better word, Ada and Sherry I enjoyed, but for Ada’s section at least I felt a little short-changed. Ada was essentially an air conditioning engineer, albeit a very bad one, in a nice dress. At least Sherry had a couple of puzzles to solve, a stealth section and a minor Phantom of the Opera moment.
With Sherry and Claire’s B scenario while I really enjoyed finding different ways into the police station I would have preferred more time in the Orphanage to make it feel like a much more separate experience. Orphanages are brilliant venues for total nightmare fuel and based on some of the notes and diaries you find Capcom could have gone for something genuinely grim and terrifying.
I also decided that for certain elements of the end game there clearly had to be two Tyrants, and clench your buttocks for this terrifying revelation, there are. This has been confirmed by a speedrunner who was maybe a bit too speedy and was rewarded with two of those massive bastards stomping them down.
On the subject of the Tyrant. He can bloody do one!
You do get something of a warning when he’s about, although hearing his massive clomping footsteps getting louder and louder often left me spinning around in a panic trying to find an open enough area where I might stand a chance of avoiding his fist in the back of my head, or kite him around a bookcase for a bit while I compose myself.
But this is also one of the great aspects of this game, I never felt truly relaxed. There was always that sense of not knowing what would be around the next corner, or that a once-quiet corridor is now absolutely littered with lickers or the bloody Tyrant stomping at you like Dolph Lundgren got stuck up a chimney, but at least he found a Trilby!
In case you’re wondering, yes I did shoot his little hat off.
It does feel like with this game Capcom have ramped the difficulty up. In RE7, 3 to 4 good headshots with a pistol, or one solid blast from the shotgun, would take a moulded down. In RE2 you could be head-shooting for days and make very little impact. I found the best bet was to take a leaf out of Isaac Clarke’s book and aim for the limbs, and I will admit there was something deeply hilarious watching a legless zombie trying to drag itself up the stairs.
Another thing that adds to the difficulty is the lighting. The RE Engine is an incredible thing and like RE7 this game is stunning and detailed in its grossness. You can see the former glory and grandness of the museum turned police station and the rundown Orphanage is a creepy as they come. But the fact that it’s so infuriatingly dark means you miss a lot of the work and detail that has gone into creating these environments.
Resource management remains a key aspect of this game and if I’m honest by the time I got to the end of my A scenario with Leon I was practically covered in hip pouches, guns and ammo, but herbs or first aid spray I was epically lacking. Unless you counted the ridiculous stockpile of blue herbs in my trans-dimensional storage crate. Perhaps because of this experience with Leon I definitely found resource management much easier with Claire and I’d let my health get much lower before I went for a herb break.
But narrative and environmental quibbles aside, I love this game and I was over the moon to discover that Capcom are releasing some upcoming free “Ghost Survivors” DLC where you play gunshop owner (Robert Kendo), the mayor’s daughter, and a soldier in three episodes – “No Time to Mourn” “Runaway” and “Forgotten Soldier” on 15 February as a nice post-Valentine’s Day treat.
Having experienced some of the other earlier Resi games, RE2 feels more like the traditional games than RE7. It feels like there are more puzzles and barriers to overcome to progress and there’s a lot of back and forth between rooms and locations but it never gets dull. Despite a few quibbles with the narrative, it’s still an incredible game. It’s a great mix of action, exploration and puzzle-solving. It looks beautiful and the tank controls are dead! I’m already diving back in with Claire as scenario A and I can’t wait for the DLC. This might actually be my game of the year!