Ev­ery­thing old is new again in Res­i­dent Evil 2

Hands-on WITH CAP­COM’S Stun­ning REIMAG­IN­ING of A Sur­vival Hor­ror CLAS­SIC

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It has been two months since the in­ci­dent at the Spencer Man­sion. Chris Red­field – Point Man for the in­fa­mous S.T.A.R.S. Al­pha Team – is miss­ing in ac­tion, prompt­ing his sis­ter Claire to make the long trip down to Rac­coon City in search of a few an­swers. Un­for­tu­nately for her, all she finds is a sit­u­a­tion that begets more ques­tions; locked in a deadly strug­gle to sur­vive the out­break of a deadly virus, forced into an un­easy al­liance with rookie cop Leon S. Kennedy as the pair look for a way out of the city be­fore it’s too late.

We ex­pe­ri­enced this hellish sit­u­a­tion first hand as we were given the op­por­tu­nity to take con­trol of Claire, our demo be­gin­ning a few hours into her cam­paign. We crawl ap­pre­hen­sively through the back­rooms of the Ra­coon City Po­lice Depart­ment, long after

Leon has al­ready scoured the build­ing for in­sight into why the res­i­dents of the city have trans­formed into night­mar­ish ghouls. It’s dif­fi­cult to not be­come dis­tracted by the de­tail in the en­vi­ron­ments, Res­i­dent Evil 2 looks pos­i­tively oth­er­worldly ren­dered through the RE En­gine. Still, there are more press­ing mat­ters to at­tend to than the scenery.

Namely, the sham­bling hor­ror known to us as G; the sight of his huge shoul­der­mounted eye sum­mon­ing a con­coc­tion of nos­tal­gia and ab­stract hor­ror within us that we find to be cap­ti­vat­ing. And so there we are, drunk with ter­ror, once again fac­ing off against a crea­ture that has been known to oc­ca­sion­ally haunt our night­mares over the past 20 years.

We’re run­ning hap­haz­ardly through a maze of cor­ri­dors in a main­te­nance room now des­per­ately wrestling with a con­trol scheme that at once feels ar­chaic and fluid all at the same time. G emerges through the thick mist fill­ing the room as we at­tempt to nav­i­gate a twist­ing labyrinth of tight cor­ri­dors. We root Claire in place, the cam­era fas­ten­ing tightly above her shoul­der as we pump round after thun­der­ous round into G’s head un­til he stum­bles to­wards us within grap­pling dis­tance, forc­ing us to swivel on the spot and break into a light jog to gain some dis­tance.

The ping of a cas­ing re­leased from the grenade launcher as sat­is­fy­ing as ever, the low-whir of rounds pep­per­ing G’s torso from an Uzi an in­ef­fec­tual com­fort in amongst the chaos of the strug­gle. All of this done in an ef­fort to get that eye to re­veal it­self – a weak point that can be at­tacked for mas­sive dam­age.

In a sense, it’s so strange to be back here. Res­i­dent Evil 2 con­trols far bet­ter than the orig­i­nal ever did, al­though it feels a lit­tle more tem­pered than the setup fea­tured in Res­i­dent Evil 4. Then again, per­haps that’s just our brains wrestling with the re­al­i­ties of mod­ern ac­tion games ver­sus some­thing that is an­ti­quated by its very de­sign; with no dodge but­ton to speak of, get­ting out of harm’s way is all stiff turns and fran­tic dashes with your back turned to the en­emy.

It seems strange, but then we can’t help but feel as if it is sup­posed to be. Claire’s seg­ment is de­signed to high­light Res­i­dent Evil 2’s ac­tion and in­tense boss bat­tles – a far cry from

Leon’s far more at­mo­spheric and tem­pered seg­ment, as re­vealed at E3 2018. We have to ad­mit, this demo has done a com­pelling job of demon­strat­ing just how bril­liantly Cap­com has mod­ernised Res­i­dent Evil 2’s gun­play and move­ment. The con­trols are pre­cise and easy to use, even if the frame­work they are pre­sented within is a lit­tle rigid. See­ing a room lit­tered with Green Herbs, twin­kling red am­mu­ni­tion boxes and strange com­po­nents beg­ging to be com­bined within your brief­case hasn’t lost any of its lus­tre, nor has the dis­tinc­tive en­emy, en­vi­ron­ment and sound de­sign.

Res­i­dent Evil 2 feels at once fresh and fa­mil­iar. Cap­com’s as­ser­tion that this is no mere re­make but a to­tal reimag­in­ing holds true, with the 2019 re­lease re­tain­ing the spirit of the 1998 clas­sic while up­dat­ing its most out­dated as­pects – and it has done so with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any of the char­ac­ter or charm that made it leg­endary. Whether you’re a Res­i­dent Evil vet­eran or a new player eager to see what all of the fuss is about, we are cer­tain that this is go­ing to be a must-play game of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion.

Right: Slight changes are be­ing made to the story and or­der of events, forc­ing us to rec­on­cile with the rec­ol­lec­tion of lost mem­o­ries as they are im­me­di­ately re-writ­ten. We got a sense of this as we saw Sherry Birkin get snatched up in a park­ing garage by Po­lice Chief Irons. We’ll have to wait a lit­tle longer to meet Ada Wong it seems. Right: Wil­liam ‘G’ Birkin looks ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fy­ing in this lat­est in­car­na­tion. He’s the sort of char­ac­ter that scared the hell out of one gen­er­a­tion and now he is back to ruin an­other. The level of de­tail that has gone into ev­ery as­pect of his mu­tated body is, frankly, ab­surd.

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