Like most people who are eagerly looking forward to the Resident Evil 2 Remake, I did play the original game as well. But, unlike them, I have a really faint memory about it, since I played it back in 2006 when I was only 6 years old. Out of the few bits and pieces I remember, there is one thing which has a pretty prominent presence in my mind. That is, I was in love with the game even at such a small age. Surprisingly, having no clear memory of the original game was a blessing in disguise, as I was able to experience the remake of one of the greatest games of all time far better.
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Resident Evil 2 Remake definitely borrows the same skeletal story from the original Resident Evil 2 game. Racoon City is doomed by the ill-effects of a biological weapon, the G-virus, made by an organisation known as Umbrella. Similarly, players get an option to play either as Leon S. Kennedy, a newly recruited police officer, or Claire Redfield, a college student looking for her brother Chris. Depending upon the character they choose, they will be able to experience Racoon City’s outbreak from a different perspective, and meet different characters along the way, even though they end up exploring the same place.
Where Resident Evil 2 Remake stands apart from the original game is in the narrative. It is really difficult to delve deep into the story and narrative without spoiling it for the readers, but, Resident Evil 2’s narrative is simply phenomenal, to say the least. The various dialogue exchanges between the respective protagonists and NPCs are often a treat to watch. Not to forget, there is ample character development as well in the form of Leon and Ada’s relationship, something I’d refrain from commenting on further in order to make sure that I don’t spoil the narrative for the readers.
One of the key aspects modern games fail to nail down is the pacing of the game. And, Resident Evil 2 excels in that as well. None of the sections in the game’s story felt dragged out and was really well placed. For instance, just when one would think that playing was Leon all the way, the controls switch over to Ada, a bit north over the halfway mark of the game, giving access to an EMF device which can be used to manipulate electrical circuits. This device is pretty fun to use, but is also a part of a few of the most thrilling moments in the game wherein players have hack into circuits in a given time frame, or when Mr X is in pursuit of you. Speaking of the characters, the game does bring back the popular characters from the original game, such as Mr X and the mutant alligator, to name a few. The sequences involving Mr X are unscripted, and one of the most thrilling cum frustrating segments of the game.
The original Resident Evil 2, made me a diehard fan of the Resident Evil franchise. The Resident Evil franchise has always seen titles switching back and forth between action and horror-centric gameplay style. While the last title, Resident Evil 7, was a horror-survival game, Resident Evil 2 Remake takes a more action-based approach, mixing it up with horror and survival elements that made the original so good. And to no surprise, it delivers a unique and excellent experience.
Let’s talk about the core gameplay first. Much of Resident Evil 2 Remake revolves around exploration, somewhat similar to what we saw in the first few titles of the franchise. The exploratory elements of the game are probably the finest I have seen in a game recently. Although the game demands ample situational awareness, it still doesn’t turn into a chore. Exploration doesn’t simply mean moving across places to fetch puzzle pieces in the game. Instead, it ranges from finding notes to crack puzzles, fetching parts, and at times examining items and fiddling with them to progress to the next section of the game. Also, like most games, exploration isn’t confined to the linear segments of the game, instead it’s equally rewarding. For instance, there is a sequence where one will find a tin box. It might seem pretty ordinary at first, but opening it will grant access to a car key. Again, on examining the key, one would find a button that can be used to open a car’s boot and backtracking a bit to the parking lot one would find that car giving them access to a gun attachment. There are a number of guns and attachments present in the game, and exploring the world to find these stuff is often a pretty enthralling experience.
When I first tried Resident Evil 2 Remake’s Demo, I found the movement pretty clunky. Fast forward to a couple of hours into the final game, my opinion changed. The ‘over the shoulder’ camera might take a bit of time to adjust, but as the game progresses, one would realize that the camera angle is simply phenomenal. The tight camera angle not only makes the combat sequences more action-packed and visceral, but it is also the predominant reason for the game’s heart-pounding moments. There are sequences in the game where one would find themselves surrounded by lickers and zombies, and while they do not give jumpscares like all the pseudo-horror games out there, the camera angle ensures that it is indeed one of the most adrenaline rushing moments. When it comes to horror, I am a person who would run away from the genre even during daytime. Despite Resident Evil 2 Remake being an action-based entity with little focus on horror, the game’s excellent atmosphere ensures that the horror elements stand out as well.
The camera isn’t the only factor that contributes to the adrenaline rushes. Another important element is the scarcity of resources in the game. Irrespective of whether you’re playing the game on easy, normal or hard difficulty, the scarcity of resources is pretty constant across difficulty levels. While one might think that it would make the game frustrating, instead, it makes it more thrilling. Imagine being wandering along an empty doorway when suddenly a licker jumps out of nowhere. You think of taking a fight, only to realize that lickers eat up a lot of bullets and with an extremely limited stash of ammunition, you have no idea what lies ahead in your path. This constant fear of what’s next is owing to this resource scarcity and that elevates the gameplay to a completely different level.
If resource scarcity wasn’t enough, the inventory space is pretty limited as well. Many a time I’d get excited to finally find some healing items and ammunition, only to realize that I have no space in my inventory. The inventory is somewhat similar to what one sees in Resident Evil 7. A majority of the items occupy single spaces while larger items such as the shotgun and even upgraded weapons requiring as many as two spaces. There are regular upgrades to the inventory space available via hip pouches which can be found by exploring the world. In spite of the upgrades, one would still find themselves craving for more space in their inventory. While this essentially contributes to the survival-horror aspect of the game, it is pretty frustrating at times.
Resident Evil 2 Remake’s combat is another aspect of the Capcom completely nails down. Aiming in the game is pretty easy, but the tight camera and the RnG-based headshot accuracy is what makes the combat encounters pretty enticing. And of course, we have extremely limited resources to ensure that the combat is strategic at the same time, somewhat similar to what witnesses in the classic, Resident Evil 4. The gunplay is absolutely phenomenal and one can experience the whole gratification of killing enemies with the awe-striking visuals. If you remember and were a fan of the combat in Resident Evil 4, wherein one would wait for the right opportunity to target weak spots in enemies, you’ll be pretty happy to witness similar combat in Resident Evil 2 Remake as well.
Finally coming to the puzzles in the game. A large number of puzzles in the game are optional and the ones which are required to progress through the story are of intermediate difficulty if not advanced. Many of them require situational awareness than anything else. For instance, there was a sequence in which one had to find a sequence of patterns to unlock a door. I wandered across the entire map a number of times and completely finished off three magazines of pistol thanks to veggie-enemies which kept getting resurrected, and at the end, I realized that I had to properly examine an item in my inventory to get the exact sequence. The puzzles in Resident Evil 2 Remake are excellent because they have ample variety. Apart from the few safes in one section of the game, as one progresses through the game the puzzles range from cracking down specific combinations via notes to adjusting the exact frequency of current regulators.
Graphics & Sound
Resident Evil 2 Remake was made on the same engine as Resident Evil 7, and it looks phenomenal. Although some of the shabbily lit places have some areas which look as if they have some low-quality textures, it might just be there due to the fact that the video memory of my GPU was short for maxing out the textures. Ignoring these subtle and rather insignificant drawbacks, Resident Evil 2 Remake is the best looking remake of all time. It is pretty noteworthy to see Capcom putting up so much work behind visuals. Each and every combat sequence is pretty impactful and the amazing visuals add to the gratification. Speaking of optimization, the game ran at a constant 60 FPS on a PC with the following specifications, with absolutely no FPS drops whatsoever -:
- Ryzen 5 2600 @ 3.9Ghz
- G. Skill 8GB DDR4 3000 Mhz RAM
- Gigabyte GTX 1060 3G OC
- WD Green 240GB M.2 SSD
The background score is also one of the most impressive aspects of the game. While the music does take a backseat in a majority of the game, it delivers pretty well when the time comes. The encounter with Mr X and some of the other sequences have one of the most thrilling and well-composed background scores of all time. Apart from making the combat sequences more enticing, they do add to the adrenaline rushes as well.
Of lately, I got tired of single player games since I felt that a majority of them sacrificed quality for quantity. A number of games are turning into repetitive loops just to increase the total length of the game. This is where games like Resident Evil 2 excel. The game is just around 10 hours long for each playthrough, and nowhere would one feel that the game is unnecessarily dragged or is repetitive. It’s pretty noteworthy to see a game having the elements of a 20-year-old classic holding up so well in the current age as well. Irrespective of the fact whether one is a fan of the franchise, or has played the original game, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t play Resident Evil 2 Remake. Although this is the first new game I played this year, I can pretty safely assume this is one of the best games I will be playing this year.