Resident Evil 2 is the first big game of 2019, which is a weird thing to say since it’s based on a PS1 title from over 20 years ago. Thankfully Kingdom Hearts III is close behind with a lot more on the way. Getting back on track, this was something I've been itching for since it was unveiled in 2015, which was just a few months after Square Enix announced Final Fantasy VII was getting remade. What a glorious summer that was to find out two of my favorite PS1 experiences were getting retooled for a new generation. In my mind Resident Evil 2 was still the best "classic" game in the series with the best obviously being Resident Evil 4.
To get hyped up for the remake, and for research purposes, I decided to replay the original game on PS1 via my PS3. What I found out was surprising. Again, in my head it was still an amazing experience, but it was surprising to go back to and come out thinking this. I don’t believe it holds up terribly well and I'm not talking about the graphics and tank controls. Those were two obvious things I knew weren’t going to be great. It was not the game I remembered it being. Nostalgia can be a funny thing. The Resident Evil 2 remake is much better, but bad in some similar ways, which is a whole other story. If you're on the fence, maybe these 25 data points will help your purchasing decision. If I knew half the things I know now, I may have just rented it instead.
25 There Are Still Four Scenarios
Despite what early advertising seemed to imply, there's basically still a zapping system, which is to say there are four scenarios. In the original, if you started with Leon he'd be labeled as Leon A and continuing on with Claire would label her Claire B. Both A and B were ultimately the same no matter who you chose, it's just that certain characters would react differently. The same is true here and that's disappointing. I thought there would be one canonical run. It’s my biggest gripe.
24 Difficulty Adjusts As You Play
Here's a nice little tidbit of information. There are three choices for difficulty at the start: Assisted, Standard, and Hardcore. That's the basis for your run. However, depending on how well you're doing either good or bad, the game will adjust accordingly. Do you keep running out of ammo and are getting trounced by enemies? More health and ammo will appear. That's apparently how it works, but it's hard to tell what exactly changes. Take this with a grain of salt from Capcom.
23 It Can Be A Bit Too Intense
The original game was pretty bloody even though looking back at it now seems silly. It's just a bunch of pixels, after all. Even if heads do explode and limbs fall off. I expected the realism to be turned up for this remake, but I had no idea it would be cranked up to eleven. I have a pretty good stomach when it comes to this stuff, but I gasped in a few instances. It was more from shock than actual fright.
22 The Default Brightness Options Are Too Dark
One thing that kind of bothered me about my time was the lighting. Yes, going through dark hallways only to have a zombie pop out at you is frightening, but it can also be annoying. It was fine in the station, but the sewer was so awful I had to crank up the brightness just so I could see what I was doing. I used the default brightness at first thinking it would be fine, but I was wrong. It may defeat the ambiance, but don't be afraid to let the light in.
21 They Changed Voice Actors
This shouldn't have surprised me that much. After all, Capcom has changed the voice actors for a lot of their characters throughout the years. For example, Leon was different between the original on PS1 and Resident Evil 4, but it stayed the same from that point forward for all of his appearances. I does make sense to change them again for this since they are younger. Perhaps a bit too young, though. Especially Claire, but that's a different point we'll get to later.
20 The Tyranny Of Mr. X
In the original game, Mr. X, the trench coat wearing Tyrant, was only in one scenario: aka B. This gave that scenario a different feel compared to the Birkin plot in A. This time, however, he appears in both and boy is he annoying.
He literally will not leave you alone unless you go into a save room, but he'll be waiting for you when you get out. If you damage him enough he'll take a quick knee before giving chase again. It makes exploring really difficult.
19 Don’t Get Board
When I first heard there was going to be a mechanic that made you board up windows I was worried. Does this mean zombies are going to be coming in on a constant level? It turns out I was scared for nothing. Yes, zombies can become annoying, especially if they pour in on areas where Mr. X is chasing you, but the police station is such a small portion of the game. That is to say it was kind of a meaningless add on and not something worth sweating over.
18 Using Headphones Is A Great Strategy
I just bought a new TV over Black Friday last year and I've been itching to test it on some new stuff. While the visuals and sound quality are great, I found that, for this game, headphones helped out a lot. It's not just for ambiance either. It will actually help alert you of danger. I played a good portion of the game without them and once I decided to try them out, I regretted waiting. The best thing it does is alert you of how close Mr. X is. Well, that and other zombies, but mostly that hose biscuit.
17 Knives Are Breakable
If there's one thing I hate in games, it's weapons that break. If I'm using something flimsy like a piece of plywood as a sword, sure, I can believe it will break. What I can't believe is a knife snapping in two after a few combat scenarios.
The game already holds ammo from you so a good strategy in the original version was to down a zombie and then cut it up to finish. Now you can't really do that. On the plus, I do like countering so that was a good surprise.
16 Zombies Are More Aggressive
When Capcom remade the first game for the GameCube, one of the biggest changes they made to it was the zombies. If you did not burn a corpse, it had the potential to become a Crimson Head, which was basically a super zombie. While it's not as extreme as that for this remake, zombies are surprisingly more aggressive and smart too. Sometimes they may seem gone only to be reactivated by another zombie’s moans. It's really hard to tell unless their head explodes upon a critical hit.
15 Upgrading Your Gear
I understand I've been pretty negative in my surprises up to this point, which may dissuade some from playing it. However, this is one for the better. Inside various lockers and safes, guarded by secret codes, lie valuable upgrades for your pouch and for your weapons. Here's the downside though. You come across the codes sporadically on your journey through notes, or visual cues on walls, which is a cool method of storytelling. However, part of me wishes I just cheated with answers online because it would have made some things easier if I got these upgrades sooner.
14 There Are No Loads
This remake is kind of like an open world game, or more like an open hub. What does this mean? Areas are now seamless transitions into the next. Unless you perish, there are no loads, which makes the backtracking less hectic.
It also means that you can go crazy trying to escape from Mr. X who won't leave you alone, but it's a technical marvel nonetheless. Granted, I'm sure areas do load secretly on elevators, but even so they're pretty quick. It's the best thing about this game.
13 Inventory Still Limited
As much as the game has made improvements to the overall quality of actually playing, there are some downsides too. As I said earlier you can upgrade your pouch to increase your inventory slots, but that shouldn't really exist in the first place. At the very least have it make sense. For example, later on in the game you get a bracelet you can use to open doors. Uh, why is it taking up an inventory slot? It's a bracelet Leon, wear it! The inconsistency is what drives me crazy.
12 Leon And Claire Look…Different
As I mentioned earlier with the voice actors, Leon and Claire have been de-aged. It's almost like Disney had a hand in it. Leon looks pretty close to his original portrait, but Claire is the jarring one. She was a college student in the original, true, and while she still is here, she almost looks like someone out of high school. Maybe it's just her height that's the problem. It's not really a complaint, or a tip. It's just something strange to make note of.
11 You Still Can’t Explore Raccoon City
On the back of the PS4 box for the game it says the following. "Explore a stunningly rebuilt Raccoon City infested with zombies." Now I don't know about you, but I feel like that insinuates you actually get to explore Raccoon City as if that were a major area they included for this remake. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There are some set pieces, but again not much. We hoped for more.
10 More Than A Remake
While there is no big exploration recreation of Raccoon City, the game has been radically restructured. Moving from one area to the next makes sense while keeping to the original's layout to a point. You can still recognize a lot of areas just with a lot more polygons, but it's the subtle differences that really make this remake shine. For example, in the original, the reception desk was in the back of the entrance hall, which made no sense at all. When I saw it was switched to the front in the remake, I knew I was in heaven.
9 What’s Cut?
That said, there's also a lot of changes I wasn't into. I already went over a few like the zombie aggression and Mr. X, but there were also some cut moments and things that I missed. For example, there are no creepier zombie spiders in the sewers. They have been replaced with bulging blobs that look like mini versions of William Birkin. They also got rid of the opening scene in the gun shop and replaced it with a later scene that is just bizarre to say the least.
8 Saving Options
Let's talk about saving the game, which is always a hot button topic for Resident Evil. Well, it can be for me at least. Now, on the Assisted and Standard modes, typewriters do not take ink ribbons meaning you can save to your heart's content.
The game also autosaves sporadically, especially right before big story bits and boss fights. In Hardcore mode, there are ink ribbons and no autosaves so whatever camp you fall into, there are options for every gamer.
7 Doors Won’t Protect You Anymore
Just to be clear, Mr. X isn't the only fiend that ignores doors. All zombies can break through doors. Running through a hallway and avoiding hordes isn't always going to keep you safe. That said, this could be to your advantage if you make it to an area with only one entrance. Using an area type weapon like a grenade or shotgun as they funnel in is a great strategy. While it leaves you feeling vulnerable, I actually liked this change for the most part.
6 Now With More Moaning
Using headphones is a great strategy, sure, but there is a downside. Leon and Claire now mutter to themselves about current situations. Nothing huge, just little things like cheesy one-liners. They don't make enough reactions if you ask me. On the other hand, I would have liked less heavy breathing when I was injured. If I was in the Danger margin of health, I'd understand, but this is true of Caution too. This was the state I was in for a good portion of the game to save on items and this ASMR was not pleasant.
5 Crafting Bullets
Ammo crafting was first introduced into the series with Resident Evil 3: Nemesis as the focus was more on action, or at least leaned heavier on it than puzzles. This was a keen way for players to customize their play style. It's been in games since, but it was great to see it implemented in the remake. Do you prefer to use your handgun to your shotgun? Well then craft that ammo. It's a small feature, but I had no idea this mechanic was in the game prior to release.
4 The Map Is Overpowered
Backtracking was a huge headache in the original game for three reasons. One, your limited inventory space. Two, load times. Three, figuring out how to read the map was impossible. On that last note, the map system was been rebooted so much so that maybe it gives too much away. Not only are rooms named along with puzzle points of interest, but areas will appear red until you find everything in that room. It's a small change, but one for the better even if it doesn't make sense. The notes are better too!
3 Don’t Forget The Shotgun
This is my biggest tip to you, which can make a big difference. The first big puzzle of the game is finding three medallions, which then lead you into the police station's basement. In either scenario if you leave through the porthole, you can't come back for a while. I missed the shotgun my first time through because I didn't find the keycard. I assumed it was in a new area I couldn't get to yet, but I was wrong. Boy, was that Burkin fight rough without it. Before you leave, make sure you get it!
2 What Carries Over?
I don't know why I thought this, but I had hoped progression from Leon would continue into Claire. That is to say, I thought my item box possessions would help her out. No, it wouldn't make sense, but a lot of things don't make sense about the two runs. If I had known that, I wouldn't have been so stingy with using my gear with Leon, which would have saved me some headaches. Ah well, now you know at least.
1 Gory, But Beautiful
From the one trailer I saw, yes, just the initial one, the visuals were impressive. That's because Capcom decided to use the same engine as Resident Evil VII, which makes sense now. Right from the opening scene, showcasing a cheeseburger in all its gristle, I knew I was in for a treat. Where it really got me was the gore and lack of load times, two things I already brought up. For a remake, they sure didn't spare any money on the visuals. I still wish it were brighter though.