Playing the remake of Resident Evil 2 gives you several happy emotions. You are drawn back to a simpler time when you played the first game, you are amazed at how good the game looks graphically and most of all you are drawn in by the feeling that the game is the finished article. These pillars make RE2 one of the games of the year already.
Most people will be familiar with the story beats and locations from Resident Evil 2. The Racoon City Police Department with all its secrets and passageways were a high point in level design at the time and the transfer unto the current generation of consoles has just reinforced what made the game so fondly remembered. Playing as either Leon Kennedy or Claire Redfield you make your way through the labyrinth of a Police station and fight off hordes of Zombies and other horrific mutations. What makes this game so special is how good a remake it is. The game has been rebuilt from the ground up to harness modern technology and style whilst retaining the design that made the original the best of its kind.
You notice the change immediately, the lighting, the particle effects the tactics used to hide the zombies from you until the most inopportune moment. All of it has been crafted to perfection. What I noticed the most however was the continual struggle for ammo, even on normal difficulty. A quick refresher with the original on my N64 explains why. The new game with its pixel-perfect aiming makes you miss more. Especially If you are going for a headshot or even a brain shot such is the accuracy of the aiming. Previously the game had very few misses, so every bullet counted. Now the zombies’ charge at you and with their natural movements are harder to hit especially under duress. Walking through a room only to discover a licker, then turning and another one drops means nailing a headshot with the pistol can be tricky. The zombies are also much more robust and take a good few bullets to put down. Shots visibly enter the bodies exactly where you aim and taking them down with knee shots and then running past them is a more than viable option when you are short of ammo.
The most obvious change is the introduction of the Tyrant/Mr X at an earlier stage. This makes early puzzles very stressful as he can burst through walls and attack you even in previously safe havens. It just all adds up to a far more engaging and heightened experience that reminds you of your favourite horror film. The jump scares in the game are genuinely upsetting because they tend to disturb you when you have just completed a stressful scene. The worst so far was after fighting my way through some lickers and examining corpses in the morgue. Having negotiated this, I was running for the elevator when another enemy dropped in front of me. Despite being easily avoided it was the fact that I had just relaxed before getting pounced on. The game is perfectly paced and despite the need to backtrack to solve puzzles, you will never feel at ease.
There are a number of things you can try, you can board up windows to stop zombies entering, you can carry a grenade launcher once unlocked, but this will be at the expense of inventory slots, or you can just keep avoiding them as they stumble towards you, despite all this, the design is so perfect that you will always have another issue to contend with as you backtrack, whether it is the Tyrant, zombies that have broken through or of course the helicopter near the beginning.
There really isn’t much more to say about this game. It is the best remake/remaster I have ever played. It surpasses both Shadow Of the Colossus and Crash Bandicoot on this front with its sheer presentation. Both those games made tweaks to the already excellent formula. RE2 remakes the game completely up to 2019 standards on every level. If it leads to more remakes of this quality it can only be a good thing.