The Resident Evil series has been one of the most iconic horror franchises in entertainment, with plenty of classic titles under it’s belt. After Resident Evil 4, the series underwent a huge overhaul that changed it forever. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard may have changed the formula again, but the RE4 style is still considered a staple. Since the original Resident Evil got remade, fans have wanted the same for Resident Evil 2. As of Sony’s E3 press conference on Monday, that wait will soon be over.
Capcom announced that Resident Evil 2 would release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on January 25th, 2019. Using the new RE Engine used for Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, it definitely spawned many different reactions. No matter what players may think of the new look, it shouldn’t matter; Resident Evil 2 is terrifying. Having barely played the original when it came out, going into the remake was sort of tricky. Regardless, it would feel almost like an entirely new game even to veterans of the series. A lot has changed in the last 20 years.
Whether or not you’re on board with the new appearance of characters, Resident Evil 2 is still gorgeous. With the graphical overhaul also comes a gameplay overhaul. Not only does Resident Evil 2 look more current with today’s games, but it plays like a modern Resident Evil. There are a few exceptions, but we’ll get to that later. Using an over-the-shoulder view, players will move around in a third person perspective. This is incredibly different from the fixed camera perspective of the original. Due to this, this means players will have an all new way to experience this classic game.
Getting back to the graphics a bit, there are quite a few things to discuss. Capcom made Leon look much younger with his appearance here. His face is cleaner and his eyes are more youthful. He looks so young that the word “rookie” is just painted all over him. One thing that actually didn’t change much is his hair, looking to be very detailed in this game. Environments are where the title really stands out, using lights and shadows to create a creepy atmosphere. Hallways are covered in blood, furniture is used to barricade walls, and lights are out in various rooms, requiring the use of a flashlight. This helps to set the mood for a lot of Resident Evil 2’s scariest moments.
Speaking of setting the mood, let’s talk about the sound design and the music. The sound in the game just increases the horror, as sounds could pretty much always be heard. Zombies knock on doors before eventually barging into a room and their moans can send chills up your spine. Capcom did well to make these zombies into scary creatures. They may not be smart like more recent Resident Evil enemies, but they’re not easy to take down. Even a head shot requires a bit of luck to get a one-hit kill. When zombies are in groups, that’s when they’re incredibly dangerous. Fighting my way through a dark hallway full of zombies has never been so tense.
Even safe zones where typewriters can be used to save your game don’t exactly feel welcome. Sounds can be heard outside and there’s just an unsettling air about that makes it difficult to move on. Coming across other humans is rare, especially ones that aren’t already marked for death. Leon will still come across Lieutenant Marvin Branagh, and he’ll even give Leon a knife. The knife has an added twist as players can still swing it to deal damage, but now it also works like an escape tool. If a zombie manages to catch Leon in a grab, players could use the knife to escape the struggle. This puts the knife on the enemy, which means if you want it back, you have to kill it.
Zombies might not always stay down too, sometimes coming back when you least expect it. One zombie that was presumably dead, eventually got up and went after me in another room. This wasn’t even a crimson head, so not sure what it really was. Sometimes a zombie will fall to the floor, only to reach out and grab your ankles to take a bite. Acting more like bullet sponges, avoiding them may be smart, but with the new perspective, it could also be tricky. Controlling the camera in general may take a bit of adjustment in the options. This can also be true with performing certain actions, as it feels like it’s not as responsive as past games. The game is still a work in progress, so it’s likely going to be tweaked.
Getting to the puzzles, Resident Evil 2 doesn’t sacrifice them at all with this remake. Plenty of doors require certain keys, statues ask for various trinkets, and obstacles demand certain items. There will be locks with codes, maps to follow, and plenty of exploration to get further in Leon’s mission. Unfortunately, I only had twenty minutes in my demo to figure things out and I didn’t get to solve any aside from using a knife to access a gate switch. Regardless, I still looked at quite a few doors and locks, which present themselves on screen with the inventory next to it. Use the required item and it should get you through, though the challenge would be finding said items.
One thing that seemed really cool was just how unique each zombie was. No zombie seen was the exact same model. Some were clearly female, police officer or civilian. One zombie was more heavyset while most were typically lean and average. It’s a minor detail, but these details help to make a much more immersive experience. If you want to play this game to get scared, we recommend playing with a headset on. It’s also worth mentioning that the voice acting was well done, even if Leon’s voice actor was changed. He sounded much younger and gave off the right performance for the role.
We’re certain series veterans are looking forward to stepping back into the shoes of Leon during his rookie days. They’ll likely be able to use a lot of the same strategies for solving puzzles, but there will be extra challenge with the combat. Even experts may have trouble with the extra level of horror added to the game. Do you think you have what it takes to make it out alive? Look forward to more coverage on Resident Evil 2 as it makes its way toward its January release date. We also recommend you stay tuned for more E3 2018 previews as well, as we have plenty more.