Resident Evil 2 is exactly what Resident Evil HD Remaster should've been. A bold statement of intent that presents the true vision for a beloved classic. By sticking to the spirit of the original and modernizing it in some clever ways, Capcom has produced a stunning built-from-the-ground-up remake. The end result is an exhilarating experience that’ll satisfy both nostalgia fiends and those looking for a thrilling new game.
Resident Evil 2’s greatest triumph is its ability to recapture the unique charm of the original. The game definitely isn’t one that takes itself too seriously, recapturing the series’ wonderful B-movie spirit with its sincere cheese. The writing - although sometimes serious - is often goofy and ridiculous. Leon and Claire will both curse up a storm when fighting off zombies, generally sounding more annoyed than scared. Meanwhile, the over-the-top narrative delivers its nonsensical plot with unflinching confidence that’s impossible not to enjoy.
One particularly silly interaction between Leon and Claire takes place early on. After making their way into the zombie-infested city together, the two become separated. When they’re briefly reunited, they have an oddly upbeat conversation that feels like it fell out of a romantic comedy. There’s no semblance of terror despite the hordes of zombies closing in on them both. It’s weird, charming, and a lot of fun.
The narrative divides into a campaign for each character. If you want the “true ending”, you’ll have to complete the 2nd Run option that unlocks once you beat the game. This allows you to start a new campaign with the character you didn’t pick the first time around. The second run - essentially a condensed version of Leon or Claire’s campaign - features alternative puzzle solutions, different key item locations, and unique weapons. It allows you to experience that character’s story in a tighter package that reduces repeated content.
What you’re actually doing is mostly the same - you’ll repeat some boss fights and puzzles - but the narrative context is wildly different. Each campaign feels unique, despite the repeated content. They differ dramatically in pace and impact. Playing both campaigns is essential if you want to get the full story. Unfortunately, the way the game presents this can be a little confusing. It fails to make it clear that the 2nd Run features enough unique content to be worth repeating. It’s also not transparent about whether - after beating the 2nd Run - beginning a fresh save with the other character would allow you to see any new material. From what I could gather, doing another full playthrough in reverse order won’t offer any meaningful changes.
Although its structuring can be a little confusing, the core of Resident Evil 2 is simply fantastic. The horror is extremely effective, presenting you with gruesome imagery and chilling sound design that’ll make you flinch whenever a floorboard creaks or the music shifts. There’s a constant feeling of unease and claustrophobia tailing you as you make your way through the abandoned police station. Lightning dramatically flashes and zombies pound on windows and doors as you slip through blood-soaked corridors.
The infamous Mr. X (referred to here as the Tyrant) makes an unforgettable return. Donning a fedora and a huge trench coat, the towering giant begins to tail you through the police station after you first encounter him. He likes to show up at the worst times and can even break down walls to pursue you. Between his immortality and threatening presence, it’s an exhilarating experience knowing he’s after you.
Resident Evil 2 makes atmosphere and tension its number one priority, but never at the expensive of gameplay. Between the responsive controls and tight gunplay, it immediately cements itself as the best-playing entry in the series. The shooting - supported by gratifying physics that see zombie limbs detach and heads explode - looks and feels great. You’re somewhat lacking mobility, but it feels intentional and never stiff or clunky. Your handy quick-turn is more than sufficient for getting you out of sticky situations.
As with most Resident Evil games, there’s an extremely satisfying power curve to Resident Evil 2 that is addictively gripping. You begin with a feeble peashooter but quickly acquire stronger and more exciting weapons. It doesn’t take long before you’re rolling through the station with a shotgun and grenades. Returning to a clear out a zombie-filled room that you previously had to retreat from is a rewarding feeling that never gets old.
Resident Evil games can be quite confusing. There’s a lot of backtracking and even more looking at an item and wondering “what on Earth is that for?” Thankfully, you’re equipped with a map that’s both informative and intuitive. While previous games have had basic maps with a blueprint-like layout of the area, Resident Evil 2’s map provides you with a ton of useful information. Rooms are color-coded to indicate which you’ve fully explored and which you’ve yet to see. Annotations denote new barriers as you come across them and locked doors are marked with their appropriate key. The police station can be quite labyrinthine, so a map that’s helpful and easy to read is essential.
Similarly, the Assisted difficulty helps make the experience more accessible. The assisted mode is essentially the lowest difficulty option. Instead of simply tweaking health and damage numbers, this mode enables aim assist, greatly increases the ammo you’ll find, and provides you with minor health regeneration. It’s a good option for newcomers, but the overabundance of items and lack of threat enemies pose certainly diminishes the tension.
Technically, Resident Evil 2 is extremely impressive. It looks and sounds tremendous and runs at an uncapped frame rate that mostly hits 60 on the PlayStation 4 Pro. The game features gorgeous lighting, impressively realistic faces and hair, and superb animations. The fantastic technical and artistic prowess of the game is essential to the building of the tension and atmosphere.
Resident Evil 2 is ultimately an incredibly effective remake of a beloved classic. It sets a soaring new standard for remaking classic games with its deeply impressive aesthetics, responsive gameplay, and incredibly effective horror. Regardless of whether you love the original, Capcom’s remake is something that anyone with an appreciation for horror should experience.
TechRaptor reviewed Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation 4 Pro with a copy provided by the publisher.
Resident Evil 2 is a triumphant celebration of the original that scares to the core and sets a new standard for remaking old games.
- Faithful Remake That Mixes Things Up
- Incredibly Effective Horror
- Stunning Visuals and Sound Design
- Tyrant Is An Extremely Effective Villain
- Differences Between Playthroughs Poorly Explained