Playing Resident Evil 2 is the most fun I’ve had gaming on my console for a while. The whole package was something I was excited about as soon as I heard the game was in development. Of course my worry was that they were going to mess up, my favourite iteration of the series. Alas they did not and improved upon the original, bringing it into the modern generation of gaming. The scares, the ammo & health conservation, the immersion all gave me a superb journey back to the world of survival horror.
Graphics are excellent with superb photo realism. Raccoon city petrol/gas station is the starting point and really is superbly rendered. The initial moment you come across your first zombie is both horrifying & visually stunning. Shooting a zombie leaves blood soaked areas on their body and bullets blow chunks off of their festering corpses. All of which is plain as day. Upon gaining access to the shotgun, I squeezed of a round at close range to a zombie and the devastation that ensued was something that could be easily taken from a fairly graphic horror movie. The entire surface of the zombie both facially and bodily seemed to just vaporise in front of my eyes. It was a normal groaning zombie but after the trigger pull they turned into a walking butcher shop both fleshy and blood soaked. Another way to describe it is as if the flesh was instantaneously stripped from their body. Truly terrifying yet unashamedly satisfying.
The journey through the streets of raccoon city is a superb way to deliver a graphical marvel at the start of this game. It really does set the bar at an extremely high level & I was very impressed with what I saw. With fire and lighting effects being on show they detail the superb nature of the work that has gone into Resident Evil 2 (remake).
Other areas in the game are of a similar high standard with lighting again being a big hit. The use of the flashlight really punches in certain areas making the game both visually stunning and horrifyingly scary.
There is of course one small gripe from me and that is the game is EXTREMELY dark and I’m not talking about the tone of the narrative. This of course is by design and contributes to the claustrophobic effect, however at times I would have liked it to have been a little brighter. Overall the graphics are top drawer and is one of the main reasons the game immerses you so well in “the world of survival horror”.
2. VOICE ACTING
Apart from the work performed by Leon & Claire at the very start of the game it is Lieutenant Melvin Brannah who really sets the tone for the voice acting early on in Resident Evil 2 (remake). He really does give a great turn as the wounded cop in RPD station. Full of emotion & I genuinely felt for him during the fleeting scenes he was involved in. Leon and Claire are very good also without being truly stellar in my opinion. Considering both characters I’d say I preferred the voice acting on Claire Redfield as opposed to Leon Kennedy. She brought more realism & emotion to the role in my view. This could be down to her relationship with the characters she comes in contact with when compared with Leon, but I am of course splitting hairs here and both do a very good job. Other characters within the game also provide a good backdrop, Chief Irons & Ada Wong are strong support characters who definitely add a little intrigue into the games narrative & I would opine that their performance adds a lot to the game overall.
Sound as you can imagine would need to be top notch here and thankfully it is excellent. From the burning fuel of a crashed helicopter to the eerie squeaky door hinges and flickering lights, it does immerse you fully and as such really provides you with a sense of imminent danger or peril. Footsteps from one particular foe are simply blood curdling at times especially if you are low on health (Which happened to me A LOT). As always for games of this type, a good set of headphones are the way to go and they really did improve my experience. From all the sounds in the game I’d say the one that could be improved upon is the handgun. It sounds positively weak in my estimations. This of course is a truism as the weapon itself is nowhere near the most powerful weapon in the game. It just didn’t hit the mark for me. Again this is a minor point as the other weapon sounds or weapon upgrades make up for its slightly weak performance.
Shusaku Uchiyama & Zhenlan Kang have done a stellar job scoring this game. This music is of course perfect for the environment of survival horror. The correct percussion surrounding points of danger and lighter more mellow tones when at a save point or safe space. In regards to the save space the music here is reminiscent of the original piece of music by the Capcom sound team & was a nice touch. The eerie / creepy feel when playing the game is of course down to the subject matter, dark environment, zombies etc but the music does help with this hugely. At times there is just a slight timbre of music very understated in the background that helps keep that tension level high, or at the very least keeps you thinking about what’s coming next. I really enjoyed the soundscapes and would definitely have a listen to them out with the game itself if they ever become available.
5. OPTIMISATION / LOADING TIMES
One small moment of slow down within my first 2 hours of gameplay and very few instances during my entire play means this game is extremely well put together. Capcom R&D 1 should be proud of their efforts in this regard and it truly made my gaming experience much more fluid and by definition more enjoyable. The game runs exceptionally well on the aptly named RE Engine. This was the same engine used for the superb and terrifying Resident Evil 7 & will also feature in the upcoming Devil May Cry 5 game.
The only loading that takes place is when booting up the game itself, or I should say when you are saving your game. These are both a matter of seconds and in no way hinder my experience of the game. Upon dying of which I did a fair few times, the reload into a previous save was very quick. Clocked in at under 20 seconds in most instances. Having played some titles in the past where this aspect has not been shall we say, up to par, really does break the immersion. Thankfully this is not something that happens with Resident Evil 2 (remake) and the load times are very quick.
6.CONTENT / WORTH THE MONEY
The amount of content here is sizeable. Much like the original game Resident Evil 2 (Remake) has two scenarios for both characters & depending on your speed of play through I’d say you are in for at least 10 – 15 hours for each characters play through of both scenarios. In addition to this you have the survivor section which also adds on another few hours to your overall journey. Unless you’re into speed runs I’d say a conservative estimate on play time with Resident Evil 2 (remake) is around 35 – 40 hours. As I say this number is completely subjective but I would imagine most gamers would get the 40 hours or more. This for me, considering the level of enjoyment with the title, means it is well worth full RRP. I haven’t, at this point, heard of any further DLC but it wouldn’t surprise me if they went down this route due to the popularity of the title.
The gameplay was a little jarring for me as the sparse ammo count and my foolish gung ho attitude made me fall foul upon my initial hour of the game. I had to adjust my mind-set back to what the older Resident Evil games were like & I would suggest a quick refresh on that type of inventory management would not go a miss. Straight off the bat I would like to say that all the elements that made the original a superb experience are still here & are on show. This truly is a SURVIVAL horror experience. Playing on normal difficulty, auto aim is disabled and due to this a reasonable amount of ammo is spent poorly, well at least from my own play it was. As I alluded to earlier, it took me an hour or so to adjust to the speed of the enemies and the sort of ammo count it takes to floor them….for good. Not to say my initial hour wasn’t a good experience it’s just that the game has a fairly high learning curve if you are used to games being slightly more forgiving.
Running is my friend
Once accustomed to certain aspects of the game I got into the mind-set of “running is my friend”. Conserving ammo is a must for the battles that come later on & health is something that can be sparse if you are a little more casual in your approach to enemies like myself. As always with games of this type, if utilised correctly and rationed properly you won’t have much problem in this regard.
The classic Resident Evil storage system is a staple of the series and makes an appearance. Who doesn’t love a storage box when your knee deep in lickers trying to do everything but LICK YOU! Needless to say it reminds me of a simpler gaming time when genuine management of your items IS important. Throughout the game your storage is expanded through storage / ammo pouches so it does become easier. Initially this could be annoying for gamers new to the series. As a veteran of Resident Evil, I was well versed in making storage box runs to pick up crank handles and red herbs etc.
Overall the gameplay is excellent & the return to over the shoulder style from Resident Evil 4, 5 & 6 is both satisfying and still a completely terrifying experience.
With many games that operate with over the shoulder style (3rd person), it can lend itself to the camera in the way. Resident Evil does a great job in NOT letting that happen. There were very few occasions where I was unable to see enemies due to the control / camera system. The controls themselves were responsive and suited the game perfectly. A short learning curve for aiming was required much like most games but was something, that when mastered, that becomes truly satisfying. Quick turn moves are still in operation like most of the other Resident Evil games and are definitely a welcome addition to this one. Getting away from enemies quickly is something that is necessary as they are very deceptive. Many times I would think I have plenty of time to “down” a zombie only to realise it was on top of me ready to snack on my leg or neck.
Really excellent controls with only a miniscule amount of annoyance when it came to traversal from time to time. (I’d like a sprint button please)
Looking at the story from both perspectives, Claire & Leon’s, I would say that the game achieves what I want to without much direction. Don’t get me wrong the story itself clings pretty much perfectly to the original game with a few, welcome, additions. All I am saying is that Resident Evil 2 (remake) is about scaring the hell out of you whilst allowing you to blow apart some zombies. The story is there of course but the cut scenes are not particularly long, not much character development is evident and they don’t really do much of a job explaining, or discussing the whole zombie apocalypse within Raccoon City. It’s essentially a, get out of the city at all costs, type fair. Excitement, scares, action, immersion, they all come first, story sadly comes second. That said it is a passable story and one I, of course, did enjoy but I felt they could have added a little more.