Resident Evil 2 (2019) Review
Platforms Released on: PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Platform Reviewed on: PC
Release Date: January 25th 2019 (PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4)
Review Date: February 2019 (Post “Ghost Survivors” Update)
This article contains spoilers to the story of Resident Evil 2, I recommend you finish the main story at least once before reading further.
Having never actually played the original RE2, I was very excited to see the game remade in the newest, shiniest RE Engine. I’ve been following this game throughout development and was over the moon when it came out. I pulled my first all-nighter in years just to satiate my craving for all the hype this game generated, finishing Leon A in under 8 hours.
Let me start out by saying, this game looks ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL. I’m no graphics snob but this is legit some of the best looking video game I have ever seen. From what I understand the characters in game were created using Motion Capture which while not a new thing in the gaming industry, still looks incredibly impressive. All the objects and environments in RE Engine are also super photo-realistic. I’m told that everything in game was scanned in real life, which means everything we see in game has a real-world counterpart, from plant pots to Claire’s jacket.
I only had a couple of complaints graphically speaking. The first is a flickering light bug I personally had which is to do with my brightness settings, and while I allowed the game to choose a preset based on the hardware I have, I still had the occasional flickering in the dark. While a minor issue, it sometimes took me away from the atmosphere the game did a brilliant job at creating otherwise. The other complaint was that sometimes the game felt TOO dark. Not scary or disturbing dark, the “I can’t see my hand in front of my face” dark. I remember playing through Ada’s section of Leon’s campaign and being stuck for a good 10 minutes because I couldn’t see a set of stairs shrouded in darkness. OK, I suppose it could be me being less than perceptive, but come on! I’d like to think I can see stairs without squinting until my eyelids merge.
Lets talk Enemies. The zombies you face in RE2 are like nothing else in the series. They are slow and stupid, sure, but they feel like what I think actual zombies would be like in the event of an outbreak like the one in-game. You can dismember zombies and make it harder for them to grab you or crawl towards you. The Shotgun can even cleave a zombie in two with a well placed body-shot. My favourite thing about them, though, you can put enough bullets into a zombie and it will go down and “act” dead. Only to rise once more once you’ve exited the room. The only way you know for sure that a zombie is truly dead is if you manage a critical hit on their heads and make their heads explode.
Lickers are another major enemy type I wanted to talk about, these enemies are blind but possess excellent hearing as well as sharp claws and a vicious bite. My first encounter with one was one of genuine angst as it slowly backed me up down a corridor and into a corner as I managed to slip past it. They start to track you if you get too close but won’t actually attack until they can touch you or you make sufficient noise. This was very well done as it forces players to slow down to avoid detection instead of running away from zombies.
I don’t think any RE2 review worth it’s salt won’t mention the infamous Tyrant known colloquially as Mr X. About halfway through the game, you encounter this absolute unit of a monster, a 7-foot tall, Fedora-wearing man in a trench-coat and heavy boots starts stomping after you. This guy wants nothing more than to introduce your teeth to the back of your head, chasing you between rooms and forcing you to run away. Mr X is almost immune to damage and only goes down to heavy firepower. Even then, it’s not long before he’s up and stomping about again. He’s so very well implemented into the game, he ups the tempo of the game by forcing you to not only carefully navigate zombies and lickers but also outmaneuver the hulking mass of fist coming towards you.
Next I wanna talk about the weapons in the game and how they feel, for the most part, sublime. There isn’t too much recoil or sway and they sound just the right amount of Action Vs Realistic. Leon gets his trusty handgun Matilda. An unlockable back (or I suppose forward?) in RE4, now his weapon of choice, it does a decent amount of damage and can be upgraded with all sorts of modifications. I personally found the 3-round burst upgrade to be more of a hindrance than a help though, so I took it off.
The other weapons in Leon’s story include the Shotgun, Chemical Flamethrower and Lightning Hawk. The Shotgun and L. Hawk felt very powerful, often being strong enough to fully decapitate zombies in a single bullet. The Flamethrower, however, outside of Ivy’s was underwhelming against most enemies. Most Flamethrowers in the RE Series have this issue though so I can’t say I’m surprised. Flamethrowers seem to serve a specific function rather than being actual firepower for your arsenal. In this game, they stop the otherwise immortal Ivy enemies from getting back up.
The game does a fantastic job of giving you enough ammo to get by but little enough for you to be constantly looking for it. RE2 also has mechanics similar to RE7 that allow you to craft most ammo types out of Gunpowder. This allows the player some degree of stockpiling if you know a particular boss or enemy is coming up and further reinforces the “inventory management” aspect of the older RE games.
Storywise, this game follows the original story of Resident Evil 2 with some slight alterations to the 1998 version of the game. I haven’t played that version so I can’t say from experience how well this game holds up to the original. However, I can say with some confidence that the story of the 2019 version is still very good. It has subtle comedy at times which is about right for a Resident Evil game.
One of my major complaints about this game is it’s replay-ability. My opinion is that the criteria you have to achieve to get some of the higher ranks is just too much for the average player. For an S+ Rank, the highest attainable, you have to finish the game in under 3 hours with less than 4 saves. Some of the bonuses require you to do this on hardcore difficulty which means not only limited saves but also no checkpoints and harder enemies. Maybe I’m not as good of a “Gamer” as I used to be but I don’t want to have to grind through failure after failure for this. It just doesn’t interest me and because of that, now I’ve seen all 4 scenarios, I’ve basically seen all RE2 has to offer me.
“But Josh, what about 4th Survivor?” Oh, I tried it, and for me it feels like more speedrunner fodder. For those that don’t know, 4th Survivor is a mode where you follow HUNK on a mission to escape the sewer through the police station and out to a rescue chopper, fighting off hordes of enemies along the way. The mode requires you to memorize enemy locations and how to best avoid them so you can get the best time for completion. The thing is, I’m not a speedrunner and so again, it doesn’t interest me.
My penultimate thoughts will be about the recently released Ghost Survivors update. In Ghost Survivors, you follow three What-if? Scenarios where you have to escape something or other. To be honest, to me this update feels like more 4th Survivor and I’ve already given my thoughts on that. My hopes weren’t high with the release being so close to launch but still, I hope any further DLC might reignite my interest in RE2 but for now, it’s being shelved.
All in all I think Resident Evil 2 is a fantastic game and a brilliant experience. It’s 100% worth the price you pay for it. I just hope Capcom can bring people like me who aren’t into the “grinding for unlockables” aspect of the game back with future DLC. Have you tried RE2? If so let me know what your thoughts are with a comment! As always a like is also super appreciated!
Cheers for Reading!