Resident Evil 2 Review – RE-vived Nightmares
Resident Evil 2 Review – RE-vived Nightmares. Reliving familiar frights can often make for a less-than-exciting horror experience. But with the remake of Resident Evil 2, Capcom shows respect for the original while also going to great lengths to give the macabre atmosphere and tense gameplay a noticeable upgrade. In doing so, this revamp of the classic survival horror game shows that the series can still offer a terrifying experience like no other.
You once again play as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield. A viral outbreak has unleashed hordes of zombies and other grotesque monsters upon Raccoon City, leading to a series of dangerous and nightmare-inducing encounters for the two characters. While both protagonists’ storylines have similar plots and take place in the same locations, there are different supporting characters and unique challenges in each that set the two playthroughs apart.
In traditional Resident Evil fashion, you’re tasked with surviving through the night and overcoming the nightmarish creatures and devious puzzles found throughout the infested streets of the city, the tight, dimly lit halls of the Police Station, and in the subterranean passages below. RE2 is a great mix of the understated survivalist approach from the original games and the tactile, reflex-oriented gameplay from more recent entries. It’s very much a game about escalation; as your resources dwindle and the monsters become fearsome and more elaborate, the pressure is always mounting as the story progresses, and each moment feels just a bit more desperate than the last. Even the smallest of victories can feel like major wins in RE2, and you’ll often find yourself onto the next struggle before you know it.
While those who played the original game will enter with an idea of what’s to come, the remake does a lot to refresh certain encounters and locations. Though many locales and their layouts are similar–save for the addition of a brand-new area and a new monster to deal with–the events therein are new. Jump scares don’t trigger when you expect them to, or a room that once spelled certain doom in your head is now a safe haven–but then the question arises: if this room is safe, which room is the real dangerous one?
Early Resident Evil games have a reputation for being melodramatic, often unintentionally, but the RE2 remake a more serious tone that makes for a more evocative story. While there is still the undercurrent of the hokey tone from the classics, with the characters cutting the tension with humor when appropriate, the remake’s narrative is far more convincing, propped up by some impressive writing and strong performances that help convey urgency and despair. This is especially evident during the more quiet moments, when the protagonists will try to psych themselves up for what’s to come. Even minor characters are given additional substance in the remake, with poignant moments given to the doomed police lieutenant Marvin Branagh and gun shop owner Robert Kendo.
Both Claire and Leon have two different versions of the campaign, and after finishing the first run for one, you’ll be prompted to start a follow-up with the other. Called Second Scenarios, they allow you to see the larger story from a different perspective. Both scenarios are totally isolated from another, and choices therein won’t impact the other, but what makes these second runs worthwhile are the different encounters and sub-plots that don’t occur in the first. It’s a very interesting way to experience the narrative, and with four versions of the campaigns between the two leads–with the first two averaging 12-15 hours–you constantly uncover new details and events that weren’t present in the previous playthroughs.
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