Initially released in January 1998 on the Sony PlayStation, Resident Evil 2 is a survival horror game developed by Capcom.
In August 2015, Capcom officially announced working on a remake of the original title, thus creating huge expectations among fans of the Resident Evil series worldwide. Three and a half years later, they could finally put their hands on Resident Evil 2 Remake in January 2019. With 7.8 million copies sold to date, this remake was a big success.
- Was the fuzz justified?
- Is it still worth playing today?
Answer in this late review.
What’s new in Resident Evil 2 Remake?
Well, pretty much everything, except maybe for the main story itself.
In application, if you’ve played the original title, you will most likely be surprised by how Capcom imagined this Remake. While the story remains the same, its layout and locations have been shuffled a little. And that’s much appreciated.
Newcomers will discover one of the most iconic adventures ever created, and fans of the 1998 version will also re-discover Resident Evil 2.
What is Resident Evil 2 about?
Let me ask you this: what’s your idea of a terrible first day at work?
- Not mingling with colleagues?
- Feeling too much pressure from your boss?
- Feeling overwhelmed by the task?
- Making an unforgivable big mistake?
Try having an entire city trying to eat you alive! This is, at least, how Leon S. Kennedy went through his first day as a police officer in Raccoon City.
To get a better idea of the game, discover the first hour of Resident Evil 2 Remake, with Leon S. Kennedy (no commentary)
Just like in the original title, you are given the possibility to play Leon Kennedy’s or Claire Redfield’s scenario.
Claire and Leon will experience Raccoon City differently; Leon as a rookie police officer, and Claire, as a college student on a quest to find her brother, Chris Redfield.
But the beginning and ending remain the same, regardless of the campaign you choose.
Both Claire’s and Leon’s adventure starts right at the border of Raccoon City, in a location that wasn’t part of the original title. I won’t reveal much more as this is one of the new exciting additions of the game (you can watch the First Hour gameplay video above, if you’re curious).
Shortly after, Leon and Claire will get separated and will begin their respective adventures. In other words, you’ll be on your own, even though you will receive (partial) assistance from a couple of NPCs.
A real remake?
Yes. A million times, yes.
From the very beginning, it feels that RE2R isn’t just a better-looking version; it’s a whole new game. For instance, when playing a game like Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes, the feeling of novelty wasn’t as important because the game was almost identical to the original title. Twin Snakes offered the same rooms, same enemies, and same dialogues. Worst even, its game engine and new mechanics, borrowed from MGS2, denatured the game.
If you’ve played the original Resident Evil 2, you’ll see that the main storyline is pretty much untouched. However, Capcom didn’t simply produce a polished version of RE2. They revisited it while respecting the original material (read: it feels like RE2 Remake is a game made by people who loved the PSX title).
At the end of the day, RE2R will take you to places you know and introduce characters you know, but in a different order, with a different context.
The Raccoon City Police Department will play a central part in Leon and Claire’s terrifying adventures.
Rest assured, characters like Sherry Birkin and Ada Wong are still part of the equation.
Is Resident Evil 2 Remake scary?
Enemies are terrifying, numerous, and quite resistant to bullets—especially lickers. If you’re careful, you shouldn’t fall short of herbs and sprays, but you might run out of ammunition if you let your stress get the best of your aiming abilities and shoot aimlessly.Now, I would argue that the last segment of the game, with cleaner and slightly wider rooms, is less scary. But this is entirely subjective, and it might change based on each player.
Additionally, you might get surprised by Mr. X on many occasions.
The enigmatic Mr. X Tyrant
Mr. X also plays a central role in Resident Evil 2 Remake. He’s a Tyrant, a super-soldier experiment coming out of Umbrella’s labs, and he’ll chase you (Leon or Claire) relentlessly throughout the game.
What makes Mr. X particularly interesting is that, while he’ll make scripted appearances at times, he follows a search algorithm that makes him look for you, room by room. As a consequence, you’ll randomly meet with him when you expect it the least.
Another factor that makes encounters with Mr. X stressful is that you can’t kill him. You can slow him down and momentarily incapacitate him, but you can dispose of him.
My advice? If you hear loud footsteps in a neighboring room, run away.
Looking on the bright side, he’s pretty slow, and you shouldn’t find it too challenging to escape him.
Gameplay: a sweet mix of new and old
Have you tried to play the original RE2 lately? Genius back in the days, the game now shows evident signs of age. Fortunately, RE2 Remake has nothing to do with the original game when it comes to pure gameplay.
RE2 is now a third-person shooter
Leon and Claire will respond perfectly to your commands.
They run and can move in all directions, even while aiming (unlike Leon, Chris, and Sheva in Resident Evil 4 and 5). Switching between weapons is smooth (for instance, you can set shortcuts on your D-Pad to switch between weapons in the blink of an eye).
Now, after playing Resident Evil 3 Remake, I will say that I regret the inability to dodge enemies, even though you can use knives or grenades to escape their grab unharmed.
The use of knives and grenades
When enemies grab you, you can use knives or grenades to kill or incapacitate them temporarily.
The trick here is that knives will wear off as you use them to attack enemies or defend yourself when they grab you.
Worse, when stabbing an enemy to avoid a bite, you won’t be able to retrieve your knife until you kill the creature.
Use your knives and grenades sparingly! They will prove useful against bigger fishes.
Save using Typewriters
If you’ve played the original game, you know how painful and stressful it was to save the game. You needed to find ink ribbons to save.
To make Resident Evil 2 more current and, therefore, more accessible to more people, Capcom added the possibility to save your progression without ink ribbons while playing in Easy and Normal modes. Additionally, you can activate auto-saves.
For a player like myself who prefers to be safe than sorry, this is great. I’m more of the cautious type and saved 40+ times when playing the game.
And, if you’re looking for a more demanding and old-school experience, the Hardcore Mode is here for you. In this mode, you will need ink ribbons to save (just like in the original title).
Other than that, the mechanics of the original title are still here (and improved).
Manage your inventory with item boxes
Leon and Claire can only carry so much gear and items.
In RE2 Remake, you will need to use item boxes to store your weapons, bullets, and other items. Those boxes come in quite handy since quest items (meaning things you need to advance in the game) will take space in your inventory.
You start the adventure with eight slots in your inventory. As you progress through the game, solve puzzles, and look around for things, you’ll find extra pouches to increase your inventory space.
Herbs and Sprays
Like in any other Resident Evil, you will need to find herbs and first aid sprays to heal your injuries.
As per usual, you will need to combine (or mix) herbs to increase their effect or create whole new effects.
There are three types of herbs in Resident Evil 2 Remake:
- Green Herb: increases life (can be combined with multiple green herbs to increase the effects).
- Red Herb: it fully increases life when combined with a green herb.
- Blue Herb: combined with a green herb, a blue herb will save you from poisoning.
Note that zombie bites won’t result in Leon and Claire being infected with the T-Virus. It will, however, cause injuries that you can heal with herbs and sprays..
If you’re used to the newest episodes in the series, know that there’s no yellow herb in this RE game. Unlike RE4 and RE5, you can’t increase your life bar.
Loot to survive
What makes a good survival-horror game? The fear of not being able to defend yourself when the time comes.
I felt that the game is well-balanced when it comes to that. If you’re not careful and waste your resources, you will be in trouble. But if you take the time to loot and carefully use your bullets, you should be okay.
For that, the map is your best ally.
Rooms you haven’t visited yet will not appear on the map (unless you find plans for a given location, in which case, they’ll appear darkened), visited rooms with items to pick will appear in red, and rooms cleaned off items will appear in blue.
Take the time to loot if you want to see the end of the game.
Hungry and voracious enemies await
Zombies have never been so exciting to fight. Besides being well-modelized, they are also highly resistant to bullets. Using a regular pistol, you’ll need to score 5 to 6 headshots to kill them for good.
Another thing to consider is that a zombie falling on the ground isn’t necessarily a dead zombie. More often than not, they will get up again to attack you until you kill them for good.
Now, zombies and Mr. X aren’t the only threat in RE2. You’ll cross paths with a lot of nightmarish creatures throughout the adventure. And one of the most terrifying is lickers.
Lickers are fast. They can walk on walls and ceilings and even grab you from afar with their slimy tongue. But they have a weakness: they are blind.
My advice? When you see a licker, stay calm, walk slow and try to avoid them, especially at the beginning of the game. Once you get better weapons, you will be able to eliminate them without too much trouble.
One thing that I appreciated in this game is that enemies don’t respawn. So, if you plan to scout and explore peacefully, I recommend that you take them down…before they take you down. Besides, I found dealing with Mr. X a lot easier when not having to escape a ton of other enemies.
Enigmas and puzzles
As for any other Resident Evil game, except maybe for Resident Evil 3 Remake, RE2 Remake contains many puzzles and enigmas for the player to solve.
You won’t need too much brainpower to solve them, but you’ll need investigation skills to find codes to open the many safes scattered around the police station and the other locations you’ll visit.
RE Engine: Stunning graphics, physics, and sound
Resident Evil 2 Remake uses the RE Engine, initially developed for RE7, released in 2017.
Well, the game looks stunning, and I say this after playing on a base PlayStation 4. Everything looks credible, and enemies are terrifying.
Claire and Leon also benefit from the RE Engine and are quite well-modelized.
Reflections, lighting, and shadows are simply beautiful in this Remake.
A credible zombie-infested Raccoon City
Zombie physics feels quite realistic (or, as realistic as it can be since we’re dealing with the undead), and you can feel the weight and impact of each bullet you shoot.
Another notable fact is that the RE Engine does a fantastic job at keeping a stable 30 frames per second, even on a base PS4, which never ceases to amaze me. What’s more, I was pleased by Capcom’s attention to detail. Computers, for instance, look like they run with 1998 OSs. They look slow, loud, and bulky. You’ll even need to find one of those funky branded USB keys at some point to unlock a powerful weapon that’s iconic in the series.
A VERY graphic game
If you don’t like the view of blood, walk away.
Exploding heads, flying limbs, etc. Resident Evil 2 Remake doesn’t shy away from horror.
Here’s an illustration of what you’ll get to witness as you play RE2 Remake.
A blood curling soundtrack
Here again, Capcom’s teams did an incredible job in creating such a horrific yet credible environment. From hearing loud footsteps when chased by Mr. X to exploring the dark hallways of the RDP, Resident Evil 2 Remake doesn’t disappoint.
For the best experience, I highly recommend playing using headphones (and, if possible, in the dark).
Note that if you purchase the Deluxe Edition, you will be able to switch between the original and the remade soundtrack. If you purchase the regular version of RE2 Remake, you also can buy and play with the original soundtrack.
Is Resident Evil 2 Remake difficult?
More than difficult, I’d say that the game is well-balanced.
Resident Evil 2 will be hard if you rush your way through and shoot aimlessly.
Be strategic and take your time, and you’ll be fine.
However, in the second half of the game, Mr. X does add a layer of complexity to RE2. You can’t kill him, only slow him down, and he will strike you pretty hard if and when he catches you.
In reality, Mr. X is here to make you move more than he’s here to kill you. As soon as you realize that, your stress levels should go down a notch when he appears.
What’s more, the possibility to save as many times as you’d like makes the remake a lot more accessible than the original (if you play in Easy or Normal).
How long to beat Resident Evil 2 Remake
Remember that there are 2 scenarios to complete.
Leon’s story shouldn’t take you more than 7 to 8 hours to complete. I also managed to complete Claire’s scenario (or 2nd run, in my case) in less than 6 hours, after taking the time to solve all puzzles and clean all rooms.
4 extra game modes (+1)
The 2nd Run
Once you complete the game the first time with Leon or Claire, you will unlock the alternative story to complete with the other character. In my case, I completed the main story with Leon and played the alternative scenario as Claire.
Milestones in Claire’s story are quite different from Leon’s and you’ll get to discover a whole new place. However, you will visit the same places, fight the same bosses and solve the same puzzles as you did with Leon – which can be a bit frustrating. In fact, the safes and locks codes are even the same.
Now, revisiting the game from a different perspective, with another character and a whole new set of weapons, is still pretty fun!
What I found very interesting, however, is that Mr. X was more present and much more aggressive in the alternative scenario. Consider yourself warned.
One important detail is that completing the 2nd run is the only way to experience the game’s real ending and to unlock the 4th survivor game mode.
The 4th survivor
In this mini-game, you play as Hunk, a soldier trying to escape Raccoon City with a sample of the G-Virus. Just like for the Ghost Survivors, you’ll have to complete the challenges as fast as possible while managing scarce resources.
The Ghost Survivors
The Ghost Survivors mode offers you to play through 3 short challenges. You will have to try and complete each challenge as fast as possible, knowing that dying will immediately end the game.
The Tofu Survivor
The Tofu Survivor is a copy/paste version of the 4th survivor, except for one crucial detail. You’re not Hunk, but a giant piece of tofu.
You start the challenge with many knives that you can use to push enemies back, and you won’t be able to use any other weapons.
It’s fun—especially since taking damage and bites will result in the tofu piece shrinking a lot—, but it’s also quite challenging.
Resident Evil 3: Remake
Considering Resident Evil 3 as an extra game mode might be an overstatement.
But I found it interesting to see it advertised on the main screen of RE2. The events of RE2 and RE3 being kind of related, it makes sense. But seeing it advertised on the home screen of RE2 makes it look like a DLC (and it’s not entirely wrong, given the time it takes to beat RE3 Remake).
Verdict: good buy, or goodbye?
This is a good buy (imo).
If you like action and survival horrors, you will love Resident Evil 2 Remake. It is one of the best games of its genre. If, however, you’re not okay with graphic scenes and dislike claustrophobic environments, you might need to pass on this one.