When I saw the reveal for the much anticipated Resident Evil 2 Remake at this year's Sony E3 press conference, I almost fell out of my seat. As a '90s kid I can remember the sleepless nights me and my friends spent trying to navigate then rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy through the horrors of an infected Raccoon City all before our Blockbuster rental time was up. Resident Evil 2 is a close second to Final Fantasy 7 as my favorite game of all time, but in recent years its been a bit difficult to go back to. The tank controls, B-movie voice acting, and almost recognizable character models have made the once ground breaking experience a very dated relic of the past. Until now.
Capcom has always had a more over the top presentation at E3 and other conventions. If you were lucky enough to demo Resident Evil 7 like I did two years ago, you'll definitely remember having to navigate a recreated Baker house that reeked of dried up blood and bad hot dogs. Thankfully the smells were absent this year, but in turn me and video producer Alex Parker were sent through a haunted house of sorts full of RPD zombies and half-eaten corpses (You can find the video of that experience at the bottom of the article.). After getting the shit scared out of me (I seriously hate jump scares in real life) we were sat down at a desk in a recreated RPD office (complete with cutting edge laptops from 1998), and I was allowed to play a 45+ minute demo.
[gallery size="full" link="file" ids="242965,242970,242969"]
To answer the obvious questions about the demo, its controls, and the games obvious departure from the originalI've decided to break this article down into sections.
ControlsResident Evil 2 Remake is probably one of the best examples of staying true to the original formula but also adding in modern quality of life improvements we've seen over the past decade and a half since Resident Evil 4 moved the series from survival horror to "Action Horror." Gone are the tick tack health packs and strafing to awkward cover shooting mechanics of 6, as well as the windmill kicks and knife combat of 4. While the tank controls of old are NOT back, you definitely aren't as nimble as you were in 6 and even 7. Leon and Claire aren't going to be sprinting through crowds of zombies anytime soon in this game, and its modern controls actually help with the suspense. The hallways and environments do Leon no favors when it comes to staying away from the seemingly invincible zombies.
Aiming & CombatI'm probably not the only person who assumed that modern aiming mechanics from every game in the series post Resident Evil 4 might hurt the suspense from Resident Evil 2 overall. I'm happy to report that this game has one of the most frustratingly satisfying shooting mechanics of all time. When you draw your pistol towards an enemy, the crosshair takes a few seconds to narrow down to a precise shot, and in a game where two seconds can mean the difference from living and becoming a Jill sandwich, the act of debating if I have enough accuracy to take down a zombie right this second definitely adds to the game's tension. What makes this even better is how inaccurate your aiming is. When tilting the stick towards the right to align a better head shot, I occasionally found myself much further off than I had anticipated. Leon gets nervous as the enemies get closer, and this simple mechanic not only adds to the terror, but separates this remake from every game that's been released since the GameCube remake of the original title. You can also lose your knife in a zombie and they'll totally just walk away with it, so that's cool.
Simply put, it's not going to be a shooting gallery like Resident Evil 7.
AtmosphereI'll be the first to admit that back when I was nine and Resident Evil 2 first came out, I was way too scared to play the game alone. The creepy music, horrific low res zombies, and the various documents and journals spread around Raccoon City really helped an imaginative me fill in the blanks that the PS1 hardware simply couldn't do. It sounds cheesy, but the small slice of the game I got to play met those expectations a younger me had with the game and its environmental storytelling. Every room and hallway is oozing with detail, and I found myself looking around in empty rooms, not for a threat, but for the story that space wanted to tell. From the distant buzz of a radio stuck on a corpse, to the hastily opened drawers in an evidence room, every nook and cranny in the castle-like Raccoon Police Department building had my imagination running wild, much like it did 18 years ago.
PresentationResident Evil 2 Remake is running on the same engine as Resident Evil 7. While it's not as good looking as something like The Last of Us 2 or Horizon Zero Dawn, the grittiness and color palette Capcom chose for this remake makes the game look astounding. While watching a cutscene featuring a familiar face, I felt like I was watching a well-shot horror film rather than a. almost life-like cutscene. From the chromatic aberration on the edges of the frame to the anamorphic bokeh and subtle film grain, Resident Evil 2 Remake looks as spooky as I had imagined it in my mind when I was reading the novels as a kid. Light and sound go the distance in this game as well, and I would absolutely recommend that this be played with headphones.
In ConclusionResident Evil 2 Remake is everything I hoped it would be and much more. I went into the demo expecting an updated version of one of my favorite games of all time, and instead I was treated to a complete and faithful re-imagining of the survival horror genre. This is what a proper remake/reboot should look like, and Capcom is absolutely hitting it out of the park with this one. Fans and first timers alike will be delighted with the horrors that await Leon and Claire next January and I for one cant wait to get scared all over again. Maybe I'll even play it with the lights off.
Resident Evil 2 Remake is set to release this January 25th on the PS4/XboxOne & PC. It will also feature XboxOneX and PS4 Pro enhancements. The demo was played during a closed door session at E3 2018.
What do you think about a remake of Resident Evil 2? Does it look like it will be a faithful recreation? Do you actually miss tank controls? Are you a Leon or Claire person? Let us know in the comments below!