Release Date: 25th January 2019
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One
Supernatural Beings: Zombies
We’re living in an age of media remakes, with films and games alike being given a shiny new coat of paint to give them appeal to the new markets while also drawing back fans of the originals. On the big screen, very few remakes manage to deliver the desired nostalgia as well as a movie which fits modern times while also staying true to the original’s lore. In gaming, however, creators have more room to operate, with fundamental changes being welcomed to update the classic creation and make it more user-friendly in the modern environment of gaming.
One of the latest of these remakes is Resident Evil 2, which reimagines the 1998 PlayStation classic for the modern audience. While the game has stayed true to the original with the story, giving players of the original plenty of nostalgia to feast upon, there are some fundamental gameplay changes which make this Resident Evil 2 feel almost like a new addition to the legendary Capcom series, rather than a pure remake.
You can take your pick from now fan-favourites of the franchise Leon S. Kennedy, the rookie police officer, and college student Claire Redfield as they try to escape from Raccoon City, which has seen its population transform into a horrifying horde of zombies. As was the case with the original, you will get to play through the game twice, once while playing as Leon and once while playing as Redfield. Each playthrough varies, with different subplots, areas, and collectables to discover. The most significant difference between the first and second playthrough is the difficulty, with it being much trickier the second time around.
Having completed both sides of the campaign, you’re then treated to more zombie-filled action with 4th Survivor and Tofu Survivor. In 4th Survivor, you embark on a gun-toting run through a course of enemies as you try to get to the extraction point while shooting and sprinting as the Umbrella special operative Hunk. In Tofu Survivor, you take the role of the charming intelligence agent Tofu as you wobble your way past zombies and other horrifying creatures of the game.
The element of new gameplay which makes the Resident Evil 2 remake feel like a brand new game is the camera and shooting mechanics. The 1998 original’s normal difficulty mode used auto-aim as it basically had to at the time, along with fixed camera angles and tank controls – meaning that you move in the direction that the character is facing – all used to set up jump scares and force you into panic attacks. The movement was difficult but added to the skill and decision making, such as if you should flee or fight, required to contend with the many dangers that the game would throw your way.
To bring the remake more in line with modern gameplay norms, 2019’s Resident Evil 2 has an over-the-shoulder camera but maintains a high level of difficulty and need to adjust to the game by not having the auto-aim switched on in its normal difficulty mode. Now, you need to be quick thinking as well as calm when the zombies jump out of the darkness due to your limited ammunition supplies. Doing a frame-for-frame remake of Resident Evil 2 may have emphasised how out-dated the 1998 release is now, possibly tarnishing fans’ love of the game, so it was a smart move for the developers to infuse this modern style of shooter gameplay.
Through updates to gameplay mechanics, while staying true to the story and two-legged campaign, Capcom has delivered a game that offers a new but familiar way to play the PlayStation classic while also being modern enough to appeal to newer gamers who perhaps missed the original when it was released over two decades ago.
Putting aside that this Resident Evil 2 is a remake, it’s still a fantastic horror-shooter in its own right. There are more than enough scares and moments of pure adrenaline and panic to keep the most hardcore horror gamer clambering for more, while its story of two people trying to escape a zombie epidemic is well executed and very satisfying throughout. Mastering the shooting without auto-aim takes some time, time that you don’t have when being mobbed by flesh-munching zombies, which helps to maintain the original’s notorious difficulty.
The Resident Evil 2 remake is a superb game, posing a unique challenge that will undoubtedly grow the franchise’s fan base.