Resident Evil 2 Remake Review

Resident Evil 2 is the highly praised and beloved second entry in the popular Resident Evil survival-horror franchise. Ever since the remake of the original game in 2002, fans have begged for a remake of the second as it is, for many, their favorite Resident Evil game. Now, with the game’s release will it hold up to all the hopes of the fans or will Capcom decide remakes are something that should be left alone?

Please note: The beginning of this review will feature a review of the contents of the collector’s edition of the game, exclusive to Gamestop. The rating of the collector’s edition items will in no way influence the overall rating of the game.

Physical rewards

The box that the items came in was pretty hefty and probably about the size and weight of a gaming console’s box. The outside had a nice sleeve on it with the RPD badge symbol on it as well as the logo on the sides.

As advertised, the collection game with an item box replica from the game. I thought that it would be a smaller box that would be made of plastic but, sadly, it was just made of regular cardboard. It makes sense that a box this big wouldn’t be made of anything else, and it is a nice touch that all the rest of the items are housed inside the item box just like your items in the game. However, I just wish that they hadn’t used such strong tape to seal it. When I went to peel it off on one side it also peeled off part of the box’s paint, leaving a white spot.

Once I opened the box, my copy of the game laid right on top with the codes for the digital items underneath it.

The map of the RPD feels to come in a good quality paper and looks really nice. It’s something that’s probably better framed instead of just pinned to the wall.

Underneath that was the art book. I’m not going to go through and review it, but it’s a nice little collector’s item to have. Plus, the warning label on the front is a nice touch.

Finally, we have the item that drew me most to get the collector’s edition. A 12-inch statue replica of Leon S. Kennedy, one of the main characters from the game. It is a really nice figure with good heft to him. He’s made of high-grade plastic or resin and feels hefty which makes him feel like he’s sturdy and won’t break. He fits perfectly on the round pedestal embellished with his name in gold on it, and it feels like it will keep him perfectly in place. His gun, flashlight, and walkie-talkie are all removable. The details of his clothing and hair are phenomenal and almost life-like.

Digital Items

The collector’s edition also came with a voucher to redeem for a digital soundtrack from the original game. I wish it had been an actual CD, but that may just be my age shining through since most people probably prefer digital.

Along with the soundtrack, it also came with the deluxe edition items that include Leon’s “Arklay Sheriff” and “Noir” costumes as well as Claire’s “Military,” “Noir,” and “Elza Walker” costume. It also comes with the deluxe weapon “Samurai Edge – Albert Model.”

Altogether, I think that the collector’s edition is worth the $200 price tag. The deluxe edition alone is $70 and most soundtracks run for about $10. The poster could also run for another $10 while the art-book could be about $20. The Leon statue alone could be worth about $120, so altogether the price adds up and makes sense. The only disappointment for me was the item box that shouldn’t have been advertised as its own item since it was little more than stylized packaging. For that reason, the collector’s items receive an 8/10 from me. It’s a must-have for any die-hard Resident Evil fans, but may not be worth it for the casual player.

Now with the review of the collector’s items out-of-the-way, let’s jump into the review for the game!

Story

The story primarily remains true to the original game with a few details variances in certain places. The same events still take place, just maybe at different times and in different locations. Because of this, I won’t write out a full synopsis. Just know, if you’ve played the original then you already know how the story goes down. For those who haven’t, I’ll give a quick rundown of the plot as well as my thoughts on it.

It begins with either Leon or Claire entering Racoon City, a small midwestern city. Having witnessed the outbreak as they enter, the two of them seek to take refuge in the Racoon Police Department where Leon is headed to start his first day on the job as a cop. The two get separated when they are swarmed by zombies and a semi-truck crashes into the vehicle their traveling in.

Regardless of who you chose to play the game as you will be making your way to the RPD building. Just like in the original, you take the city streets and make your way through the undead drawn in by all the noise. The developers did a great job building up the suspense in seeing the RPD for the first time, and I got literal chills upon arrival.

Depending on who you chose to play as the story will differ. While both stories focus on the two trying to find their way out of the RPD, they both experience different horrors. Leon’s story is based on his interactions with Marvin, his RPD superior, and Ada, a mysterious woman who claims to work for the FBI. Claire’s story focuses on her meeting a young girl named Sherry and facing off with the corrupt Chief of police, Brian Irons.

Both stories are just as compelling as they originally were. The minute differences added to the remake give them more depth and make it feel less like something I’ve already experienced before. The voice acting is magnificent, and gone are the cheesy lines and strange emotionless voiceovers from the original.

Characters

Leon Scott KennedyClaire RedfieldAda WongSherry BirkinChief Brian IronsAnette BirkinWilliam BirkinMr. XHUNK/Grim Reaper

Rookie cop, and one of the two main protagonists, set to start on his first day at the Racoon City Police Department. He was told to stay away but decides to head to the city anyway. Little did he know the chaos the city was facing.

Younger sister of Resident Evil 1’s Chris Redfield, and the second protagonist of the game. She hasn’t heard from her brother in a long time and decides to head to Racoon City to find him, finding herself in the middle of a hellish nightmare.

A mysterious stranger Leon meets during his journey who claims to be working for the FBI. Not much is known about her except that she shows up just at the right moment when Leon needs her the most.

A young girl who is trying to find her mother. Claire makes it her personal mission to take care of her as well as help reunite her with her parents.

The corrupt chief of police of the RPD. Claire meets him when he kidnaps Sherry for reasons unknown to her. All she knows is that he’s dangerous and deranged.

Sherry’s mother and a high-ranking scientist within the Umbrella Corporation. Along with her husband, William, she has been devoted to developing the G-virus. Although she comes off as cold and uncaring, she cares deeply for Sherry.

Along with being Sherry’s father and Anette’s husband, William is also a high-ranking scientist working for Umbrella. According to Sherry, he’s “no longer around.”

A mysterious hulking monstrosity of a man who actively stalks Leon and Claire throughout the game. He can’t be killed, only momentarily stunned. He is more prevalent in the first run than he is in the second run.

Also known as “the 4th Survivor,” HUNK is a member of the U.S.S. which stands for the Umbrella Security Service. His task was to recover the G-virus sample, but things didn’t go so smoothly for his team. His nickname, Grim Reaper, came about because he is typically the only surviving member on the missions his teams carry out.

The next section of characters may contain spoilers. Please do not click the spoiler tag if you do not wish to read any spoilers!

SPOILER

The Monster/G-Mutant: A vile creature that is present in the sewers and NEST lab. Not a lot is known about it aside from that is appears to have once been a man and calls out for Sherry in Claire’s campaign. As you progress through the story, you find out that it’s William Birkin after infecting himself with the G-virus.

Gameplay

Oh boy, this is where things get really interesting! To start off, the game’s perspective is over-the-shoulder 3rd-person. This is a nice change from the clunky overhead fixed camera view of the original. Although it makes controlling characters easier, it makes killing monsters more difficult. In the original games, you automatically aimed at any enemy which made up for the fixed camera angles that make it difficult to see. However, in this one, you have to actually aim and shoot the enemies. It isn’t too problematic with zombies that can typically be taken out from afar.

They can be slight ammo sponges, depending on the difficulty you chose to play the game on. This means that even if you do shoot them in the head, it may take a dozen bullets to kill them for good. However, most of the time their just nuisances and you can run past them. No, the issues come later when you’re trying to fight tougher enemies that move fast such as the dogs or Lickers.

The dogs are quick but go down easy, but the lickers are formidable opponents in every way. First, they can track you by round so if you run into a room with a licker in it, it won’t be long until it’s on you. They also drain a lot of your health if they hit, and their attack patterns are to hit and then hop around the room. It’s best, at times, to just avoid them by walking around them slowly.

As frightening as they are, they pale in comparison to the big, clunking, horrific elephant in the room; Mr. X, a.k.a. the Tyrant. Fans of the original will remember this monstrosity chasing them around during the B scenario in the original game.

SPOILER
Well, have I got some bad news for you! He’s also in the first run of the game this time around, and far more aggressive and present than he was in the original.

He is probably the scariest part of this game as he can’t be killed and he will actively hunt you down throughout the entire game, save for a few select areas. The Tyrant can also track you down by the sounds of gunfire, so once he’s appeared it’s difficult to defend yourself without attracting him to your location. He bothered me so much I had to take a break after trying to play with him constantly harassing me.

I mean, really, could you just not?

If you’ve played any of the other RE games, especially 4 through 6, then you’ll be familiar with the controls and how you actually function in the game. However, unlike 5 and 6, there are no melee attacks to help you conserve ammo. They did choose to include defensive items similar to how they function in the remake of the first game. However, instead of just simply functioning as pure defensive items you can use them to attack enemies. In my play through, I only encountered three types: the combat knife (which can break), the flash grenade, and the frag grenade. The inventory system from 7 was brought back which I feel is probably the best item management system thus far.

Speaking of items, all the typical items of old RE games are back such as first aid sprays and herbs. They’re scattered across the map, and the awesome thing is that if you accidentally run past one, an icon for the missed item will appear on your map. The same goes for notes on puzzles that need to be solved as well as keys that are needed to open certain doors. It’s a great way to keep track of where you’ve been and what areas you need to return to later. You can also find special items that will upgrade your weapons and give you an extra boost to be able to stay alive longer.

While playing, your screen is pretty much clear of any health bars or other indicators. From time to time, your mission will pop up in the left corner of the screen and the auto-save icon will appear after performing certain actions. You also don’t see your ammo count unless you’re aiming. This all serves to make the game more immersive, and I feel like it really does, just like the original.

Puzzles also make a return because it wouldn’t be a Resident Evil game without the elaborate puzzles. Unfortunately, they’re all pretty much the same ones you encountered in the original. Some of them may be a bit different, and the solutions might also be different but, for the most part, it felt the same as when I played the original. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but, for veteran players, it might make the game feel a little too easy at certain points.

At certain points in the game, just like in the original, you take control of other characters. Depending on whether you’re playing as Leon or Claire, you’ll take control of either Ada or Sherry at some point during the game, respectively. These small detours serve as a nice way to explore things from another person’s perspective and fill in some of the story not seen from the protagonist’s eyes. Even Sherry, who can’t defend herself, felt fun to play as since I had to adapt to playing stealthily.

Finally, there are two scenarios to complete to achieve the “true ending.” In the original game they were known as scenario A and B. Similarly, in the remake we have the first and the second run. Basically, the second run is supposed to show what the other character was doing during the events of the first one.

For instance, I chose Leon for my first run, so the second was unlocked for Claire after I completed it. Certain items move to different locations during this run and certain events are either omitted or changed. After completing both runs, a third mode is unlocked known as “The 4th Survivor” mode.

In this mode, you take on the role of HUNK as he attempts to escape the city. It is a significantly harder scenario, but if you’re able to beat it then you can unlock the extra special mode called the “The Tofu Survivor” which you play as a literal piece of tofu in HUNK’s scenario that is armed with only a knife. Both of these secret modes make a return from the original, where Tofu’s scenario was a joke inclusion and not a part of the cannon.

Soundtrack

This is one of the biggest highlights in an already amazing game. The entire soundtrack from the original game has been revamped as well, and does it ever sound amazing! My only gripe is that instead of it being constantly playing in the background the songs, especially the save room theme, fades out after a few moments and there’s either just silence or ambient sounds. It’s a real shame because Resident Evil 2 has probably my favorite soundtrack of any Resident Evil game.

Graphics

Not to parrot myself too much, but the visuals in this game are phenomenal! It’s just a beautiful game to look at even with all the blood and grunge throughout the scenery. Everything looks polished, and at times the textures look almost photo realistic. The only textures really haven’t gotten down is Claire’s hair. It’s not completely awful, but it is noticeable in the otherwise gorgeous visuals. It’s also only noticeable in the more brightly lit areas, which are few and far between.

Final verdict

Overall, this was, in my opinion, one of Capcom’s best entries in the Resident Evil series, if not the best one. The developers took great care to honor the original while making it feel new and relevant to modern gamers. The visuals and soundtrack are stunning, the gameplay is challenging yet rewarding, and the story is just as great this time around as it was the first time I experienced it.

There were a few hiccups throughout my experience, but they were mere specs in an otherwise flawless game. At the end of the day, I finished the game with tears of nostalgia and hope for the future of the series.

The future

Capcom has stated that in February they would be releasing three free DLC scenarios known collectively as “the ghost survivors.” These entries are meant to add to the overall mythos and tell the tragic story of three people who were not able to make it out of the city. These are “No Time to Mourn,” where players will play as the gun shop owner Robert Kendo; “Runaway,” where they will play as the mayor’s daughter, Katherine Warren; and “Forgotten Soldier” where they can take on the role of the soldier who was on HUNK’s squad. The Ghost Survivors will be released on February 15 on all platforms.

Good

  • Beautiful visuals
  • Memorable characters
  • Classic story

Bad

  • Kind of short
  • Minor visual imperfections
  • High difficulty for casual players
9.6

Amazing

Story - 9
Characters - 10
Gameplay - 9
Soundtrack - 10
Graphics - 10
A writer, video game enthusiast, Halloween nerd, and an author of stories.
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