The act of remaking a seminal, classic piece of work in any artistic medium can be a massive undertaking in terms of pressure. Video games in particular are especially tough to remake. Stick too close to the original and you risk being criticized as derivative. Change too much and you might be accused of losing the spirit of the original. This is why Resident Evil 2 wisely, and boldly, chooses to straddle the line between these two extremes.
Even with the staggering mountain of hype that has preceded the Resident Evil 2 remake, Capcom’s latest undead odyssey not only manages to live up to the expectations of one of the trailblazing grand-daddies of survival-horror, it manages to make one of the greatest horror games of all time nearly obsolete in the process. The quality, attention and care that Capcom has paid to both old and new Resident Evil fans alike cannot be overstated in regard to this game.
Marrying the stellar design and campaign of the original Resident Evil 2, the game-changing over-the shoulder POV of Resident Evil 4, and the fantastic new engine from Resident Evil 7, the Resident Evil 2 remake may not be just the definitive version of this game, but the definitive game of this entire series.
Starting with the same ass-kicking opening of RE2 that long time fans will know and love, this update turns the game up to 11 right out of the gate. Everything about the game is familiar enough to bring back fond memories and yet divergent enough to pack in plenty of surprises along the way. Expect to see everyone’s favorite walking nightmare, Tyrant, a hell of a lot sooner than you would have guessed, for example.
Conversely, however, Resident Evil 2 is not over-loaded with the notoriously ridiculous series lore. Like RE7, the new RE2, smartly side-steps the complex history of the franchise and instead focuses on telling the story at hand. There are plenty of easter eggs and references for eagle-eyed fans to appreciate but they’re never so egregious as to make the game inaccessible for newcomers who may be following the social media blitz left in the wake of the previous installment.
Another thing that might take players by surprise is the difficulty of this game. If you decide to play on the standard or, God forbid, the hard difficulty mode, expect to be in for a significant challenge. Lickers, Ivys and the almighty Tyrant can send your status into the danger zone with only a single strike if you’re not careful, so don’t be too proud to switch to easy if you’re struggling unnecessarily.
Of course, in regard to things you’re going to notice, one of the first is how amazing this game looks. I know it’s old hat at this stage to gush about the graphics of every new triple A game, but rest assured, you will find your jaw on the floor when you see the staggering level of detail that has been put into every little element of Resident Evil 2.
From the captivating motion capture of the lead actors, to the zealous grotesquerie of the creature design, to the bevy of beautifully rendered background elements, you can play through this game multiple times and spot new things to marvel at with each successive go.
And play through multiple times you should! Fans of the original will be well aware of RE2‘s legendary scenario system but for those who are less familiar, it basically breaks down to the fact that there are two separate scenarios of the campaign that run together in tandem. The first playthrough you’re the person who reaches the zombie-infested police station first, and in the second playthrough you’re lagging behind, and experiencing the game from a different vantage point.
This makes for 4 different playthroughs of the game that, while familiar at times, will pack in plenty of new surprises and story beats to keep the experience fresh and invigorating for superfans and newbies alike. Also, speaking of 4, the insanely difficult 4th Survivor mode also returns here for gamers looking for an extra bit of challenge.
Truly, if you’re even remotely into survival-horror games, Resident Evil 2 is an absolute must-have. From the terrifying sound design, to the sharp writing, to the wonderful score, to the perfectly intricate updates to even the puzzles of the original game, Resident Evil 2 is so stuffed with things to praise that one could gush all day about them.
But rather than that, suffice it to say that January has unleashed a true game of the year contender right out of the gate. Resident Evil 2 is a massive achievement for Capcom, a game pumped so chock full of the g-virus that you’ll keep coming back for more long after that first campaign has been put in the ground. Let me reiterate, without a shred of hyperbole, that Resident Evil 2 has just set a new standard for remakes.