Rookie cop Leon Kennedy’s naïvety in the face of overwhelming fear shines through in the Resident Evil 2 remake. “This is not how I imagined my first day” is possibly the politest way to say, “everything has gone to hell and I’m probably going to die”. Poor Leon.
Every single update from the 1998 game serves to improve on a beloved classic. Every character encountered feels and looks as horrifying as you’d expect, though don’t expect major changes to the overarching story – do expect a far greater attention to detail for every single character and encounter.
Capcom had multiple audiences to please this time round: both fans of the classic Resident Evil survival horror and of their third-person action games, but also fans of the new first-person, claustrophobic horror of Resident Evil 7. Combining the best features of these has led to a game that truly cements Capcom’s return to form.
Tank controls and fixed camera angles are replaced with a RE4-style third-person camera angle, reinforcing a sense of discomfort and claustrophobia in Raccoon City’s narrow streets, sewers and corridors. Dynamic lighting makes environments incredibly terrifying, and Capcom have developed a truly palpable sense of fear through lighting and sound.
Using weapons to start is smooth but forces a tense and slow-paced playstyle, making you acknowledge your own mortality – and humanity – in the face of true horrors.
Similarly to RE7 is the near-total lack of heads-up display. While you’ll see your ammunition count, most relevant information is accessed via the pause menu, meaning you can temporarily stop the action to assess your situation. On-screen info will pop up as it’s required.
Combat is tense and frantic, with each enemy refusing to go down without a fight, with gunfire only serving to blow bloodied chunks from your foes as they give chase. Using weapons to start is smooth but forces a tense and slow-paced playstyle, making you acknowledge your own mortality – and humanity – in the face of true horrors.
I should note: Capcom are not messing around with the gore. The Raccoon City incident is truly a living nightmare, and you’ll find once-allies infected and be forced to put them down, or attempting to save people only to find them dead, their lower body ripped apart by foes that are definitely waiting for you now.
Capcom have developed a truly palpable sense of fear through lighting and sound.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake returns to the old ammo conservation style of gameplay, where avoiding conflict is just as important as engaging in it. It’s just as difficult, mind you; the T-Virus infected zombies are relentless. Each action feels deliberate, every decision you make and every shot fired has weight behind it.
Nostalgia won’t save you though; if you think you’re safe because you’ve memorised the original game, think again – Capcom have mixed things up enough to keep you on your guard.
Enemy placement is changed, leaving you on edge. Think you’re safe, and you’ll find yourself a recipient of a surprise visit from Mr. X or another powerful creature, usually ending up with the gory remains of your corpse decorating the scenery.
I found playing the original RE2 scary – but I found experiencing the remake utterly terrifying. The forefathers of survival horror have returned to their roots at full strength with this release.