Review by TheChoujinVirus
Note: There will be spoilers to the game (and to the PS1 original version), so if you want to avoid any spoilers, I’d advise not reading it. Also I’m sorry for the article being this late.
Survival Horror and Action are something synonymous with each other. Especially when it comes to the good old fashioned zombie-themed ones. From The Walking Dead to more original items, none fit well in this niche. One such franchise has run with it for extremely well renown is the Resident Evil franchise. A game series that spans well over seven games (including several side games, comics/manga, a few remakes, and even a big, if not so famous, movie series). With the games so vast (and the upcoming Resident Evil 3 remake coming up), I’ve felt that the best way we can start is with the game that was launched nearly a year ago in 2019. It’s not new, but it’s the 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2. For those new to the Resident Evil franchise, Resident Evil 2 was the sequel to the first Resident Evil game released in 1996 (and 2002’s prequel Resident Evil 0). The survival horror game has you fighting zombies and monsters in a confined area while digging deep in what was going on. Some of the games have two different stories determined by the Character you play. For Resident Evil 2, you have two characters: Leon S. Kennedy, the rookie cop of the Raccoon City Police Department, and Claire Redfield, the sister of Resident Evil’s protagonist Chris Redfield.
For this playthrough, I’ve played as Leon Kennedy (I am working on Redfield’s story mode.) So my playthrough is through that game’s experience. As a note, if you’re wondering more about the events of RE2 happened, or curious about the two games before it. I would suggest watching GamerThumbTV’s videos that give an explanation of the story and lore (Note: they’re spoiler alerts for the games as well). With that out of the way, Let’s get explaining about Resident Evil 2.
The game starts you with a brief tutorial as you play Leon S. Kennedy as he stops by a gas station. Something is off as he notices everything is ransacked. He sees a wounded cop telling him not to go in there. Leon ignores it and finds a man fighting off and getting killed by a zombie. Escaping the place, he opens the door and runs into Claire Redfield, who just stopped by to investigate as well. Both of them escape and introduce themselves as they enter Raccoon City. They notice the place has gone to hell until they hear a broadcast telling survivors to meet at the Raccoon City Police Department. The group gets divided as a wounded trucker crashes into their police car and explodes, separating the two. As Leon, you get to the police department first. Leon notices a surviving office on a security camera fleeing and telling whoever is there that “he found a way out of the Department.” Leon goes out and tries his best to save the guy, only for him to be torn in half by a zombie. He does leave you a clue on getting out of the place. Leon later runs into an officer named Marvin Branagh, a wounded survivor who is surprised to see the rookie cop made it. After getting him his standard uniform, he lends his aid to Leon for a brief moment from the main hall while Leon goes to solve puzzles to acquire three medallions to open a secret passage out of the Police Department. Braving the zombies, he finds the three pieces needed to escape. Marvin sadly refuses to leave with Leon, indicating that the office was infected by the zombies. The rookie cop has no choice but leaves him behind, entering the secret passage.
As he moves through the tunnel, he gets his first encounter with a sizeable hulking monstrosity. Once he dispatches him, he continues through and finds himself in the RCPD garage. He is rescued by an FBI agent named Ada Wong. They both realize that they need to find the garage key card to get out and that a man named Ben Burtolucci, an Investigative Journalist who was locked up in a jail cell. He’s willing to give you the keycard to open the garage, but is slaughtered when a large hand bursts through the wall and crushes his skull. With the circuit breaker to his cell busted, Leon now has to find the missing parts needed to open the cell. While searching, Leon finds a way in extinguishing the burning helicopter, thus allowing him a new path. Though he gets a run-in with Mr. X, a giant hulking monster in a trench coat and fedora. This part of the game has Leon searching for the last part while avoiding this invincible monster. He finds a large gear and makes it to the clock tower, where through solving another puzzle finds the last generator part. Leon backtracks to the basement again and unlocks the cage and acquiring the keycard. Though it opens the cages containing zombies and alerts Mr. X as well. Though as Leon escapes, Mr. X pulls a Kool-Aid man and catches up to Leon. Ada rescues Leon via slamming a SWAT van into X and puts and end of the monster.
The two leave the Police department, having to find a way to get into “Umbrella’s lab.” After witnessing a sad moment between a gun shop owner and his daughter, they both continue until they’re at the sewers. Leon is ambushed by a giant alligator mutated by the outbreak. After an explosive finish, Ada helps Leon out, but are ambushed by a woman named Annette Birkin. She states that Ada won’t get the G Virus and tries to kill the agent, only for Leon to be severely wounded. The game switches you to Ada Wong as you have to reactivate switches and panels to progress through the game while dealing with the undead and Mr.X (yes, he survived that ordeal before.) Once she finds an ID band and surviving being extra crispy by Annette, Ada makes it through but again is ambushed and left severely injured. You’re handed control back of Leon as you now have to make your way out. Going through the sewers and having your first encounter with the ugly G Imago, you soon find the wounded Ada and have to solve a spark plug puzzle to get to her. Going through said puzzles and horrors have you running into the massive beast you met the first time, now looking more grotesque. Once he’s beaten, Leon rescues Ada as the two take a railcar down into NEST, the laboratory of the Umbrella Corporation that’s been under Raccoon City.
Leon travels through several areas overrun with zombies and monstrous plants as he learns what has been going on. The whole outbreak in Raccoon City was due to a special operations group of Umbrella murdering a man named William Birkin and that the stolen G Samples were damaged by the massive creature and was spread by rats in the sewers. He eventually reaches the west part of the facility and acquires the last G Virus sample. Though once he acquired it, he’s met by the beast again. This time, he’s rescued by Annette, and she reveals to Leon that the monster was her husband, William Birkin. William, who was on death’s doorstep, injected himself with the G Virus and was transformed into the hulking monstrosity. William wakes up and attacks Annette, killing her and further mutating. Leon manages to kill the mutated Birkin. It’s revealed that Annette set a self-destruct countdown while Leon fought the mutated Birkin. He also later learns that Ada Wong isn’t an FBI agent as she claims she is. Ada gets injured by a dying Annette, and the G sample is lost as well as Ada. Leon now has to evacuate the facility before it blows all while dealing with Mr.X. Once he’s on an elevator platform, he now has to deal with a battle-damaged (and still deadly) Mr.X while avoiding being gored by his nails. He’s intervened by a not so dead Ada who drops a rocket launcher. With one rocket blast, Leon defeats Mr.X and survives by escaping on the train out of the area. Reunited with Claire and Sherry Birkin.
With that, the Leon side of the story is complete. (though the game leaves an ending to a secret boss with Birkin with a tentacle trying to open a door)
The remake does a lot of good things for Resident Evil 2, and one such that I liked was the camera (which is notorious for old RE titles). The Graphical overhaul is impressive as it allows rooms to reflect various atmospheres as if the room’s power is out and the place is dark or when Leon is moving through the sewers, and you can see details of waste and garbage in corners. The graphics also give detail to the characters as well. For example, when I was fighting the G Imago and Licker, you got an excellent detailed look at their bodies. How they look like slabs of flesh and meat, grotesque in all their gory glory detail. Characters are also pretty good looking too, especially with reacting to environments. When they enter something wet or run into the rain, their clothes look dirty. When they get attacked by a monster or bitten, they show wounds (until healed), and as the story progresses, you can see dirt and grime on their clothes. Lastly, the game has an excellent story, which is divided between the two characters. The Claire story (sadly I couldn’t complete as this review) has you running into Sherry Birkin (The daughter of William and Annette) and rescuing her from Chief Irons, a psychotic police chief and later having to cure her of a G Virus infection. Leon’s is what I described, and both feel as though they’re different, they cross paths as slight references.
Though the remake did do a lot of things great, some things make the game a bit lackluster. One such that I wasn’t fond was the lack of some enemies in the game. The remake has you fighting zombies (human and canine), the aforementioned Mr.X Tyrant, Lickers, G Imagos, and Birkin himself. The sad part is some old enemies were cut out. Some such as the giant moths, man-eating Plant 42s (they were replaced with just ivy infested zombies), and even zombie crows that would attack you. I don’t know if it’s due to the graphical engine that would make some of the harder to design or if they were insignificant by their standards. Though it would be pleasant dealing with more threats than just those. Another problem is that though the game is good, some of the threats feel weak (even on assisted), as most zombies will either die quickly with some headshots. The only danger is when Mr.X is in the police department as all he will do is just attack you if he sees you. Even then, he comes off as inconvenient than a scary threat. One personal quip is that the game retcons some events of the game, thus changing how some characters are met or how they die. The last criticism is the game requires you to beat both games to beat Birkin in one “secret final boss,” which kinda feels a bit disappointing as it left me with making this reviewed rushed.
One surprise I’ve noticed after beating the game is that once you do beat one story, you unlock some new secrets such as “survivor stories” which play characters that may have small events going on. Though one I like is a neat little costume that gives Leon and Claire their original costumes from the PS1 game released.
The remake is a pretty good game for those who are interested in seeing a good remake of the Resident Evil franchise and a right tie over until the third remake is made. It’s a pretty good-looking game with some good stunning graphics and gameplay. I’d recommend buying the game if you like it.